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Live Mealworms

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Help and advice on shopping for: Live Mealworms

A staple of reptile feed

Mealworms form a huge part of the diet of birds, reptiles and many other animals. They offer lots of nutritional value, with high levels of key vitamins, fats and proteins that all animals require for growth and development. We sell a wide variety of mealworms to suit many reptile and bird species.

What are mealworms?

While mealworms traditionally refer to the larval form of the mealworm beetle, the term often gets expanded to a wide range of similar larval insects. Mealworms are a nutritious and high protein reptile live feed that are suitable for most reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and even birds. Live worms are very easy to keep, however they rarely prove much of a hunting challenge.

How long can you keep live mealworms?

While the term 'mealworm' is often applied to many different species, they all generally follow the same lifecycle. As the larval form of a beetle, each worm will develop, transform into a pupa and then emerge as an adult. The trigger for this is linked to temperature and time so you can extend the larval stage from around three months up to a year depending on the conditions of your livefood storage. Generally, as long as you keep the environment cool, without it being damagingly cold, you should be able to keep your mealworms for at least three months with ease. Warm areas, like directly above a terrarium, can speed up the lifecycle so it is important to use a fridge or at least a cold part of your house like a garage or utility room. To store live mealworms, you can keep them in a plastic tub or any small enclosure.

Can I buy live mealworms?

Yes, Swell Reptiles sells a wide selection of live mealworms that are ideal for insectivorous birds, reptiles and other animals. Live mealworms are also often used as bait for fishing and feature lots of fat and crude protein to stimulate growth in young pets. Keeping live mealworms is fairly straightforward and you can receive them via Royal Mail post from our supplier on a next day delivery service to ensure you have plenty of reptile and bird food. It's worth noting that if you do place an order with us for live food and other items, your order will be split and sent in separate parcels.

Are live mealworms better than dried?

While the nutritional value of live and dried mealworms is pretty similar, there are two big advantages that live mealworms offer. First, the movement of mealworms as they crawl and squirm is very attractive to predatory reptiles and birds. Secondly, they can be gut-loaded with nutritious feed, like porridge oats and fruit, to offer more nutrition. Generally, these advantages attract reptile and bird keepers, as well as fishermen, to use live mealworms over dead worms.

How do you feed mealworms to garden birds and wild birds?

Feeding mealworms to insect-eating garden birds is pretty simple and beneficial to the local bird community, especially during the breeding season. You are likely to need around 100 worms for each day of feeding so you may wish to bulk buy worms and then store them within your fridge to prolong their larval stage. You should then place some fruit and fibre in with the worms to gut-load them with extra nutrition, porridge or rolled oats are particularly good for this. When serving you will need to place the worms in a feeder to ensure multiple birds have the chance to get at the food, you can use most regular bird feeders for this but there are also purpose-built ones on the market. Birds love mealworms and are likely to flock to any garden where they can find them. In the UK, House sparrows, Blue tits and Robins are particularly partial to mealworms but almost all the birds in England will at least try them and you may even be surprised by some of the other birds that arrive for a mealworm feast.

Why should I buy mealworms as live food?

Mealworms are super-easy to keep and make a good staple in the diets of a lot of different animals. While they are best combined with a few different types of live food and supplements they are extremely nutritious and fairly cheap. Mealworms will keep for a few weeks in the right conditions and are extremely easy to handle, upkeep can be as simple as throwing a small handful of oats in with them every couple of days.

What are the main types of mealworms for sale?

We currently sell five types of mealworms; Buffalo worms, Mini mealworms, Standard mealworms, Giant mealworms and Morio mealworms. Buffalo worms are the larva of the buffalo beetle and feature a thin exoskeleton that’s much more nutritious than standard mealworms. Mini mealworms are short mealworms 10-15mm in length, ideal for smaller creatures and infants. Standard mealworms are the most common variety of mealworms and are suitable for a wide range of species. Giant mealworms are extra-large worms, better for large reptiles like bearded dragons. Morio mealworms are large and fatty mealworms that are good for helping animals gain weight.

What should I look for?

Check which mealworms your pet can eat before buying any. We sell many of our worms in both smaller packs, containing enough for a couple of feeds and bulk bags, suitable for long term storage setups or feeding multiple reptiles and garden birds. If you’re planning to bulk buy we recommend double-checking you have plenty of space in your feed enclosures before making a purchase.