Can tarantulas eat mealworms? The pet tarantula community is actually divided on this. Some say that mealworms are not very nutritious, while others say that it can be the staple food of your T. So which one is it? That is exactly what we are going to find out in this article.
Tarantulas can definitely eat mealworms. It is a good source of fat, protein, and vitamins. However, it is still best to give your tarantula a variety of feeders. Also, it is hard to keep up with mealworms as they often turn into beetles, which when left with your T, can prove to be harmful.
Are you planning to feed your tarantula mealworms as crickets prove to stink your home? Then keep on reading to find out the advantages and disadvantages of doing so!
Can Tarantulas Eat Mealworms?
Yes, your tarantula can eat mealworms. There are a lot of owners who actually make the mealworm as the staple food of their tarantulas. There is absolutely nothing wrong with doing this if it fits your lifestyle, level of maintenance, and most importantly, the needs of your tarantula.
So, if this is the case, why are there other owners that are opposed to mealworms being the staple food of their tarantulas? Here are some reasons:
Live mealworms tend to burrow almost immediately once put inside the enclosure. Therefore, your tarantula might find it hard to get to them. Moreover, as you always need to remove uneaten live food, it will also be a hassle on your part as you have to dig through the enclosure.
Some owners treat them as fast food. This does not necessarily mean that they are not nutritious, however, they have a huge amount of fat that can really increase the mass and size of your tarantula if you get carried away with feeding him mealworms.
These mealworms actually turn into their adult form which is the mealworm beetle. Therefore, if you plan on breeding them, there will be times when you will open your container only to find out that all of them turned into beetles.
These beetles can harm your tarantula when fed alive.
Are Mealworms Nutritious?
You will be surprised to know that mealworms can also be consumed by humans! In fact, they are considered a delicacy in Asia, specifically Southeast Asia. They can be fried or baked and they are also marketed as healthy snack food.
The same goes for your tarantula. They have significant nutrient content which makes them viable as food. With every 100 grams of mealworms, there are 206 calories.
There are also approximately 14 to 25 grams of protein. There are also traces of copper, sodium, zinc, selenium, and potassium. Although there are only trace amounts, they are still at the type of level that can rival that of the traces of these compounds in beef.
You can also find essential linoleic acids in mealworms and they actually have more vitamin content compared to beef. Keep in mind that mealworms do not have Vitamin B12.
So, if this is the case, why is that mealworms are branded as “fast food?” It is because of their massive calorie content. Even though fat and protein are essential for making your tarantula grow healthy, you should be the one to know where to strike a balance.
Advantages Of Feeding Mealworms To Your Tarantula
If you really think that mealworms are a good feeding option for your tarantula, take a look at the following pros.
Easy To Breed
Mealworms are fairly easy to breed so you do not have to keep on repurchasing them. You do not need any fancy enclosures, you can simply put them in a container. You can pretty much use any substrate, but you can go for food also as they tend to consume the substrate.
You can go for wheat, cornmeal, bran, oats, etc. You can then feed them fruit, like apples and oranges and this is also where they will get water. Make sure that the humidity and temperature level are not too high or else it will hasten their growth cycle.
Does Not Encourage Live Feeding
For those who are against live feeding of feeders to your tarantulas, using mealworms will be great. As we have mentioned earlier, they tend to burrow when initially offered to your tarantula.
Therefore, to ensure that your tarantula gets to them, you should first kill them beforehand so that they do not have a chance to get away.
More than that, doing this will save you the hassle of combing through the enclosure just to get to them when it is time to remove uneaten live food.
Does Not Stink
This is probably one of the reasons why a lot of owners prefer mealworms compared to crickets. Mealworms do not smell much, even if they do, they rarely stink.
Unlike crickets, they will surely leave your house smelling like a pigsty. In this way, maintenance will be easier for you not only in your T’s enclosure but also in the container of your mealworms.
Disadvantages Of Feeding Mealworms To Your Tarantula
Now that you know the advantages, let us now go over the cons of using mealworms as the primary feeder for your tarantula.
Chances Of Obesity
Mealworms have such a high-fat content that your tarantula will surely drown in calories. This can be a good thing if you are trying to beef him up, however, if his body cannot keep up with the calories, then you are left with an obese tarantula.
This can hinder his daily activities and might push him to go into starvation mode. During this time, he will refuse all types of food until he feels that his body is back to normal.
These mealworms can be a handful especially if they dig under the ground to hide. Not only will your tarantula fail to eat them, but you will also be bothered to look for them as you cannot leave uneaten food in the enclosure.
In the event that you miss one or more, they will stay in the enclosure and complete their growth cycle. This is dangerous as adult beetles can harm your tarantula while he is sleeping or molting.
They Turn Into Beetles
This is in relation to the ones that were left in the enclosure of your tarantula.
Yes, they can still be potential food, but they have a painful bite and by this time they already have a tough exoskeleton, and your tarantula should always be on top of his tactics so that he does not end up as food.
Needless to say, leaving them there will be harmful to your tarantula. Moreover, once there are fully grown beetles inside their breeding container, you have to constantly separate them from the mealworms. This is where breeding mealworms can be high maintenance.
How To Feed Mealworms To Your Tarantula
If you have decided to go the mealworm route, here are some things you can do:
- Do not make mealworms the only feeder of your tarantula. Yes, they are nutritious, but your T needs a variety in his diet to make sure that he gets all of the nutrients that he needs.
- Young mealworms that are about 10-15 mm. are great for young tarantulas. Standard mealworms that measure 20-30 mm. will be for your medium-sized tarantulas. Lastly, the biggest mealworms should only be fed to your biggest tarantula.
- You can prevent the burrowing behavior of the mealworms by placing them in a shallow dish which is also inside your tarantula’s enclosure. If you do not have a dish at hand, simply pound the mealworm (do not finely pound into powder, of course) just so their movements will be restricted, then offer them to your tarantula.
- If mealworms are the primary feeder of your tarantula. Feed him only once or twice a week.
- Do not forget to gut load the mealworms before giving them to your tarantula.