How many hornworms can you feed bearded dragons?

Bearded dragons are omnivorous lizards that require a balanced diet of vegetables and insects to thrive. Hornworms are a popular feeder insect for bearded dragons due to their soft bodies and high nutritional value. However, it’s important not to overfeed hornworms, as they are high in fat. So how many hornworms can you safely feed a bearded dragon?

The Basics of Feeding Hornworms to Bearded Dragons

Hornworms are the larval form of the hawk moth. They are soft-bodied caterpillars that bearded dragons love to eat. Hornworms contain high levels of calcium and protein, making them an excellent supplement to a bearded dragon’s diet. However, they are also high in fat. Too many hornworms can lead to obesity and other health issues in bearded dragons.

It’s recommended to feed bearded dragons a variety of insects like crickets, mealworms, silkworms, and roaches in addition to hornworms. This provides a balanced nutritional profile. Vegetables should also make up a significant portion of a bearded dragon’s diet.

The number of hornworms a bearded dragon can eat depends on the age and size of the dragon. Baby dragons under 4 months old should not be fed hornworms, as their digestive systems are too immature. Juvenile and adult dragons can eat hornworms, but the portion size should be adjusted based on the individual dragon’s needs.

How Many Hornworms for Juvenile Bearded Dragons

Juvenile bearded dragons are typically 4 to 18 months old and range from 10 to 18 inches long from head to tail. At this stage of development, bearded dragons are growing rapidly and need a lot of nutrition.

For juvenile dragons, here are some general portion guidelines for hornworms according to the dragon’s size:

  • 10-12 inches long: 2-3 hornworms 2-3 times per week
  • 13-15 inches long: 3-4 hornworms 2-3 times per week
  • 16-18 inches long: 4-5 hornworms 2-3 times per week

It’s important to feed an appropriate number of hornworms based on the juvenile’s size. Provide fewer hornworms for smaller juveniles. Larger juveniles who can handle more insects overall will need slightly bigger portions of hornworms to meet their nutritional needs.

Keep in mind that hornworms should never make up the entire insect portion of a juvenile bearded dragon’s diet. Crickets, roaches, silkworms, and other feeders should also be fed.

How Many Hornworms for Adult Bearded Dragons

Adult bearded dragons are 18 months old or more and typically reach lengths of 18-24 inches long from head to tail. Their growth has slowed compared to juveniles, but adults still need a nutritious, balanced diet.

For adult dragons, here are general feeding guidelines for hornworms based on the dragon’s size:

  • 18-20 inches long: 4-6 medium hornworms 2 times per week
  • 20-22 inches long: 5-7 medium hornworms 2-3 times per week
  • 22-24 inches long: 6-8 medium hornworms 2-3 times per week

An adult dragon over 24 inches long can eat 8-10 medium hornworms 2-3 times per week. Keep in mind that adult dragons have slower metabolisms, so overfeeding hornworms can lead to obesity.

It’s essential to feed an appropriate veggie-to-insect ratio for adults. Around 80% of an adult bearded dragon’s diet should consist of leafy greens and vegetables, with insects making up the other 20%.

Factors That Influence Hornworm Portions

In addition to size and age, there are a few other factors to consider when determining the right number of hornworms to feed a bearded dragon:

  • Activity level – More active dragons with lots of space to run around will burn more calories and may need slightly larger portions of hornworms.
  • Overall appetite – Every beardie has different appetite levels. Some may need more or less than the guidelines recommend.
  • Breeding season – Gravid female dragons tend to eat less when ready to lay eggs. Males also eat less during this time.
  • Temperament – Shy, less assertive dragons may not compete as strongly for food and need smaller hornworm portions.
  • Weather – Hot summer months may reduce appetite, requiring smaller portions.

It’s important to monitor your individual dragon and adjust portions based on these factors. If they seem to eat all their hornworms enthusiastically and aren’t becoming overweight, slightly larger portions may be beneficial. If appetite decreases, cut back on portion sizes.

Hornworm Nutrition Facts

Here is the nutrition profile of hornworms per 100 grams:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 85
Protein 9 g
Fat 1 g
Calcium 46 mg
Phosphorus 82 mg

As you can see, hornworms are high in calories, protein, and calcium – all essential for healthy bearded dragons. However, they are also moderately high in fat compared to other feeders. This demonstrates why variety and portion control are so important when feeding hornworms.

Tips for Feeding Hornworms

Here are some tips to safely provide hornworms as part of your bearded dragon’s insect rotation:

  • Purchase hornworms from a reputable breeder to avoid introducing parasites or disease.
  • House hornworms in the refrigerator in nutritional gel or food until ready to feed out. This keeps them alive longer.
  • Gut load hornworms with nutritious produce like carrots, sweet potato, or high-calcium greens before feeding for extra nutrition.
  • Coat hornworms with calcium powder just before feeding to boost calcium intake.
  • Watch your dragon’s weight, energy levels, and droppings to gauge whether hornworm portions should be adjusted up or down.
  • Feed hornworms earlier in the day. As they are high in fat, this gives plenty of time for digestion.

Following these best practices will allow you to provide your bearded dragon with the benefits of hornworms safely.

Signs You Are Feeding Too Many Hornworms

While hornworms are a nutritious treat, overdoing it can negatively impact your beardie’s health. Here are some signs you may be feeding too many:

  • Weight gain, especially concentrated around the abdomen
  • Lethargy and decreased activity
  • Not finishing their veggie portions
  • Changes in droppings – overly loose or runny
  • Decreased appetite over time
  • Difficulty shedding

If you notice any of these warning signs, cut back on hornworm portions and increase veggies. Also, limit fatty feeders and increase exercise opportunities.

Can You Feed Bearded Dragons Hornworms Daily?

It’s generally not recommended to feed hornworms to bearded dragons every day. Here’s why:

  • Hornworms have a high fat content that can lead to obesity if overfed.
  • Variety is important – no single feeder should make up the entire insect portion of a beardie’s diet.
  • Daily hornworms may cause your dragon to start refusing other nutritious feeders.
  • Your dragon may stop eating their all-important veggies if they know hornworms are coming daily.

The occasional hornworm can be a great treat. But keeping them to 2-3 times a week and rotating in other insects like crickets, roaches, silkworms, etc. is healthiest for your bearded dragon.


Hornworms are a nutritious feeder insect that most bearded dragons love. However, they should only be fed in moderation as part of a varied diet. Use portion guidelines based on your dragon’s age and size, adjusting as needed based on appetite and weight. Feed juveniles smaller servings 2-3 times per week. Adult dragons can handle slightly larger portions. But restrict to 2-3 feedings weekly. Combine with other feeders, vegetables, and regular exercise for a balanced bearded dragon diet that keeps your pet happy and healthy.

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