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Can Turtles Eat Mealworms? (Read This First!)

Turtles are reptiles that belong in the Chordata phylum and the Testudines order. They are popular both as pets and wild animals. Most of the turtles are omnivorous which means they eat both meat and vegetables. 

Today, we are going to discuss whether turtles can eat mealworms or not.

Can turtles eat mealworms?

Mealworms can be fed to turtles as part of their carnivorous appetite. But it depends on a lot of things. First of all, turtles can not eat mealworms on a regular basis. Mealworms work best as an occasional treat as they provide the required food nutrition for turtles. 

Let’s look at different types of mealworms and discuss whether they can be eaten by turtles.

Dried mealworms:

Turtles are omnivorous animals. That means they possess both herbivorous and carnivorous eating habits. They satisfy their carnivorous eating habit by eating different kinds of insects and worms. One of those insects and worms are a dried version of mealworms. 

Turtles can certainly eat dried mealworms.

Live mealworms:

Live mealworms are part of a turtle’s natural diet. The turtles living in the wild satisfy their carnivorous needs by feasting on live mealworms. So you can give live mealworms to your pet turtle too.

Mealworms that are not alive:

Turtles can eat mealworms that are not alive. Turtles can eat mealworms that were recently alive. But they can not feed on mealworms that have not been alive for a long time and have reached their decomposing stage.

Freeze-dried mealworms:

Freeze-dried mealworms can be found at pet stores. It is a popular turtle food. Freeze-dried mealworms are usually fed to pet turtles to meet their carnivorous needs. It is safe for turtles to eat freeze-dried mealworms as they are packaged carefully.

Mealworm beetles:

Another name of mealworm beetles is darkling beetles. Darkling beetles are the adult version of mealworms. It means it contains more nutrition than other varieties of mealworms. Mealworm beetles are a good food choice for turtles.

But mealworm beetles are not a permanent solution for turtles as they are not allowed to eat them regularly. But mealworm beetles can be a short-term calcium and phosphorus booster for turtles.

Are mealworms good for turtles?

Mealworms are a nutritious bunch of beetles for turtles. They contain protein, fiber, and fat. That is why they are very often fed to reptiles and fishes. Turtles need mealworms on an irregular basis in their daily diet. 

Mealworms are good for turtles on a short-term basis. But in the long run, it is not wise to feed your turtles mealworms regularly.

Mealworms contain useful amino acids like cysteine and methionine. Methionine is crucial for the wound healing of turtles and it also keeps their liver healthy.  Turtles require cysteine for their natural growth. 

Mealworms are also high in protein possessing sixty-six percent protein in their body.

But all being said, mealworms can not be a regular part of your turtle’s diet. But it can be a great temporary addition.

What turtles can eat mealworms?

Let’s talk about some species of turtles and see if they can eat mealworms or not. They are:

Box/Eastern box turtles:

Box or eastern box turtles are famous species of turtles. Eastern box turtles are omnivorous which means they can eat anything including vegetables and meat. So Eastern box turtles can certainly eat mealworms as part of their carnivorous diet. 

In fact, mealworms are beneficial for the strong shell of box turtles.

Musk turtles:

Musk turtles are another species of turtles that are omnivorous in nature. So musk turtles can definitely eat all forms of mealworms. Mealworms can be an important part of their diet for a short time when their growth is at its peak.

Baby turtles:

You can feed baby turtles mealworms in small amounts. Too many mealworms on the diet of the baby turtles are not recommended. Baby turtles can eat mealworms occasionally as an occasional food. 

The mealworms should be cut into pieces so that baby turtles can consume them easily.

Painted turtles:

Painted turtles are most famous for their aesthetic looks. Their food habit makes them an omnivorous species. It means they eat both vegetables and meat. Painted turtles can eat mealworms to satisfy their carnivorous needs.

Aquatic turtles:

Aquatic turtles need meat to cover the need for protein. Mealworms can certainly fulfill that need as they contain a large amount of protein. Protein can fasten the growth of aquatic turtles and make them stronger than before.

Snapping turtles:

Snapping turtles are mostly known for their large size and erratic behavior. They are believed to be the largest available water turtle living in the USA. Mealworms are one of the favorite foods of snapping turtles. It provides the much-needed protein for snapping turtles.

Red-eared slider turtles:

Red-eared slider turtles are seen to be carnivorous at a young age but become herbivorous as they mature. So the young red-eared slider turtles crave mealworms more than the older ones. So red-eared sliders of all ages can eat mealworms.

How many mealworms should my turtle eat?

Turtles are omnivorous animals. It means they need to and can eat both vegetables and meat. That is why the daily diet of your turtle needs to have both plant-based and animal-based foods in it. Mealworms can be a great occasional addition to the diet of your turtle.

But you should not feed only mealworms to your turtles. You can feed your turtle three mealworms at a time along with other foods. If your turtle is small in size, then divide the mealworms into several pieces so that your turtle can eat it without any hassle or problem.

One of the important things to remember here is that your turtle should not be fed mealworms on a regular basis. They work best as an occasional treat rather than regular food. 

You have to change the daily diet of your turtle on a regular basis to make sure that it receives all kinds of necessary food elements.

How do you feed live mealworms to turtles?

There are basically two ways you can feed live mealworms to turtles. Let’s talk about them.

Float them in the water:

You can put the live mealworms into the tank of your turtle. Some turtles like it when you serve their food directly into the tank. Turtles will swim upwards and will be seen eating the live mealworms if you float them in the water. 

If your turtle does not eat the floated live mealworms, then it can mean two things. It is not hungry or it does not want to eat the mealworms in the water.

Put them in a bowl:

Another way to feed live mealworms to your turtle is by mixing the mealworms with other foods in the bowl. Some turtles are seen eating only once a day. So you can feed live mealworms to your turtle when it comes out to eat.

What kind of worms do turtles eat?

Let’s talk about some kinds of worms that can be eaten by turtles occasionally. They are:


The silkworm is one of the most favorite meat-based foods of turtles. They love eating the silkworm. The silkworm contains a high amount of calcium that can help the growth and development of turtles.


The butterworm is another insect that is seen possessing a significant amount of calcium in it. In fact, they possess more calcium than any other edible insects for turtles. So without any shadow of a doubt, the butterworm can be added to the food list of turtles.


The bloodworm is also full of calcium. Young turtles need calcium as part of their natural growth and development. A bloodworm can be a wonderful occasional treat for turtles.


The mealworm is rich in protein, fiber, and fat. You can feed your turtle the mealworm occasionally as turtles are omnivorous. Especially, baby turtles require the nutrition of mealworms for their physical growth and development.


The waxworm works best as an occasional treat for turtles. They satisfy the need for fat in turtles.


Turtles are omnivorous. So they need to eat both vegetables and meat. Earthworms can fulfill the need for meat for turtles by being on the diet occasionally.


Cricket is another insect that is needed by turtles on a daily basis. It contains a significant amount of protein and calcium that a turtle requires for its natural growth and development.

Final thoughts

One can certainly feed mealworms to turtles but not on a daily basis. They work best as an occasional treat because turtles are omnivorous animals and need meat on their diet too. A turtle should not eat more than three mealworms at a time. Turtles can eat both live and freeze-dried mealworms.