Can tarantulas eat hornworms? If they can, then can hornworms become their primary feeder? A lot of tarantula owners tend to gravitate toward cricket, mealworm, and dubia roach feeders instead of making use of the hornworm. Why is that?
Tarantulas can eat hornworms. However, they cannot be used as your primary feeder as they still lack the essential nutrients your T needs. You can simply view them as a special treat for your T. Further, they are a good source of water which benefits Ts that fail to drink from their water dish.
If you want to find out more about feeding hornworms to your tarantula, then this is the article for you! We are going to talk about some fun facts about the hornworm, its nutritional content, and also the pros and cons of using them as a feeder. So read on!
Are Hornworms Nutritious For Tarantulas?
Given that you were able to get hornworms from a reputable breeder, they more or less have the following nutritional content:
- Protein: 9%
- Fat: 3.07%
- Calcium: 46.4 mg./100 g.
- Water content/Moisture: 85%
Based on their diet, they also have the ability to contain essential antioxidants, even carotenoids, which help to alleviate the damage of cells. Given these facts, hornworms are nutritious and specifically beneficial to your tarantula when it comes to proper hydration.
On the other hand, if your hornworm supply did not come from a good breeder or you simply caught wild hornworms, they may have toxic properties within them as they also feast on nightshade weeds.
Can Hornworms Be Dangerous For Your Tarantula?
If you are talking about hornworms per se, then they are not directly harmful to your tarantula. They will not attack your T nor try to bite him as a form of offenses.
When a hornworm is placed inside your T’s enclosure, 100% of the time, it will just stay at the same spot waiting for its doom.
However, hornworms are prone to be infected with braconid parasite. From the very beginning, the parasite eggs will remain dormant within the hornworm and will slowly eat the hornworm away.
Therefore, you should always be vigilant of the hornworm you use, just to make sure that this parasite will not get transferred to your T.
Moreover, due to their diet, they usually contain solanine. In trace amounts, solanine is generally not harmful. However, at high levels, it can be toxic. It can cause inflammation and even paralysis.
Can Hornworms Be Used As A Primary Feeder?
Hornworms cannot be used as a primary feeder of your tarantula. Your T needs fat and protein in order to grow healthy, and these are the two aspects where the hornworm is lacking.
This does not necessarily mean that you cannot feed them hornworms every once in a while. In fact, you can treat hornworms as a supplementary feeder to your primary feeder.
For example, if your primary feeder is crickets, then you can also offer one hornworm to your T together with the crickets. The reason for this is that hornworms are a good source of water.
Tarantulas are known for not being good in drinking water, which somehow leads them to become dehydrated. It is only on extreme levels of thirst that they go out of their way to drink from their water dish.
Therefore, it is good that they have a feeder where they can also source their moisture, so you never have to worry about them being dehydrated.
Advantages Of Feeding Hornworms To Your Tarantula
- Provides adequate moisture to your tarantula
- Does not attack your tarantula
- Does not burrow which paves the way for being an easy prey
- Does not stink nor bite
- A good size for a large tarantula
Disadvantages Of Feeding Hornworms To Your Tarantula
- Can be very expensive
- Hard to find a reputable supplier or breeder
- Cannot be used as a primary feeder
- Will eventually turn into moths
- Considered as pests
- When left to pupate in the enclosure, they will disrupt the plant life inside
- Contains trace amount of toxic material
Here Are Some Facts About The Hornworm That You Might Not Know!
You might be surprised that the hornworm does not have any horns despite the fact that it is called as such. The “horn” in its name actually refers to its tail that has a horn-like appearance.
At a very young age, they can also be picky eaters. They mainly feed on plants that belong to the nightshade family. Some examples are white potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, bell pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, etc.
This diet is also a form of defense mechanism as once a predator eats them, they somehow have a peculiar taste. At first, it can be disconcerting, but it does not cause any harm at all.
On the other hand, they also feed on fruits from time to time and can chew holes in fruit just like any other caterpillar. More than that, they also eat leaves and primarily stay in the plant of their choosing.
This is also the reason why they are considered as pests. They chew the plant of their choice to death, and once it dies, they will move on to another plant.
It is hard to find suppliers of hornworms. Given their pest-like tendencies, breeders should have the necessary permit if they wish to breed hornworms. Once the permit is given, the breeder is also subjected to various random checks.
Are Tomato Hornworms And Tobacco Hornworms The Same?
These two hornworms are usually mistaken for being one or the other. The reason behind this is their similarity in appearance. But can both hornworms be fed to your tarantula?
Yes, you can feed both of the types to your T. Just make sure that they came from reputable breeders or suppliers just so they do not contain the toxic materials that wild hornworms have.
In order to tell them apart, take a look at their stripes and horns. Tomato hornworms have green margins and white stripes. Further, their horntail is blue.
As for the tobacco hornworm, it has black margins and white stripes. Its horntail is red. When it comes to distinguishing the two when they are already adult moths, the tobacco hornworm has six spots that are colored orange on its abdomen.
While the tomato hornworm also has the same colored spots, but you can only see five of them.
Easy Guide In Breeding Hornworms
If you are now set to use hornworms as another feeder for your tarantula, you might also be considering the fact to breed them. Here are some things to keep in mind.
As we have discussed previously, hornworm breeders need permits. This is because hornworms are considered agricultural pests.
Therefore, if you want to transition from being a hornworm buyer to a breeder, you better check your area first if there are any requirements you should have.
Usually, these permits are needed in places where there are farms or preservation parks. Once you have the permit, you are good to go. You only have to be ready for seasonal inspections from the agency where you got your permit.
Start With Eggs
You might think that since you already have larvae, you can breed with that. This is also possible. However, it can be a bit difficult to sustain. The easiest way to breed hornworms is to start with eggs.
Once you have bought your eggs, you can simply place them in a plastic container that has a lid. You can then prepare a liquid diet and put a layer of it at the lid (make sure that it is no deeper than seven to 10 mm.)
Wait for the liquid diet to solidify. Once it is completely solidified, you can place a netting inside the cup, which extends to the food. This netting will help support the food once you invert the cup, and the larvae can easily get to their food.
You can then invert the cup and line the bottom with tissue paper. You must place the eggs on the paper, making sure that the solidified food is hanging above.
Temperature And Humidity
The eggs will eventually hatch if you maintain the proper temperature and humidity levels. For temperature, it should be within 27-30 C. While the humidity level should be 40% to 50%.
If the conditions and the lid set up is right, then you can expect the eggs to hatch in just three days.
Care For Larvae
Once your hornworm eggs are larvae and are a bit bigger in size, it is now time to separate them in different vials. You can follow the same temperature and humidity levels when you were still hatching the eggs.
Just for practicality purposes and so that your room is not filled with hornworm vials, you can simply house vials in one huge plastic container.
Just make sure that the temperature and humidity levels are even, and then you can move on to feeding them regular food like tomatoes, potatoes, etc.