Occasional snacks for carnivorous lizards, birds etc.,
- Can be grown at a low cost
- Requires less maintenance
Meal worms, the larvae of the Darkling beetle can be found in grass and decaying logs. They form a favorite food for many pets like chickens, reptiles, bluebirds, sugar gliders and small rodents. If you place live meal worms in the garden of your house regularly, definitely your house will be an attraction for many birds like titmice, bluebirds, kinglets, cardinals, robins, jays, thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers and waxwings. Meal worms can grow up to a length of 2.3cms.
Meal worms can be purchased from a mail-order company. When you get the pack of meal worms in your hands, put the entire package in your refrigerator for several hours. Then it is taken outside and the newspaper is shaken over a bucket. Meal worms will easily come off.
You can also breed meal worms in your home. A clean plastic container with a lid having drilled holes is taken. Oat bran, wheat chex, wheat bran or oatmeal can be used as the substrate. The substrate is taken in the container up to a height of 2 inches. About 100 meal worms are introduced into the container. The substrate acts as the food for them. Hence a little bit of substrate should be added daily.
Meal worms don’t drink water but they need moisture. So you should add small pieces of apple, banana, carrot, potato or cucumber. This will make your meal worms more active and lively. These slices should be removed daily and replaced with fresh pieces everyday to avoid molding.
No lighting is needed for meal worms. The temperature of the container should be maintained between 65°F to 75°F. If you want to have a particular size of mealworm for your pets, after they have attained that size, keep them in the refrigerator. This makes them dormant and their growth rate is decreased. In every four days they must be taken out of the refrigerator for a couple of hours and they should be fed with a slice of carrot or potato.
In every 2 weeks the mealworm bin should be washed. The substrate having old food, shed exoskeletons and waste should be disposed. The bin and the lid should be cleaned with baking soda and vinegar. The bin should be arranged once again. This cleaning controls the bacteria and mold. It lowers the die-off numbers and the meal worms remain healthier.
Meal worms don’t bite. If they are not afforded with sufficient food and moisture they will eat one another. So feed them frequently. If your meal worms need additional moisture, place a dampened fabric on the top of the substrate. Re-wet the fabric daily. To provide sufficient aeration and drying, you should mix the substrate well daily. The larval and pupal stages of mealworm can be good for your pets. While storing the meal worms it is better to make use of a shallow container since it provides a larger surface area. The mealworm’s bedding must be kept dry to avoid the invasion of mites.
Breeding of meal worms is a much easy task. The eggs develop into larvae in a very short span of time. So you can get a good supply of meal worms for your pets.