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Can Tortoises Eat Worms?

Can Tortoises Eat Worms?

(Last Updated On: January 17, 2023)

Not all species of tortoises should eat worms, as exclusive herbivores (plant eaters) can get sick from ingesting animal protein.

How much and how often you feed tortoises worms depends on their species and size. However, animal protein should make up no more than 15% of a tortoise’s diet.

Fed in moderation, worms can be a healthy dietary choice. If your tortoise is an omnivorous species, it can eat wax worms, superworms, mealworms, nightcrawlers, and red wigglers.

Live superworms shouldn’t be fed to baby tortoises because they bite. Wax worms are high in calories and fat, so they should only be fed to tortoises in moderation.

Do Tortoises Eat Worms?

It can eat animal protein if your tortoise is omnivorous, such as red-footed and yellow-footed tortoises. A lack of protein can lead to shell disorders, so worms are a safe, natural part of their diet.

Exclusive herbivores, like sulcatas and leopards, can’t digest worms, so they refuse them or show no interest. If it were to eat a worm, it would gain no nutrients or experience digestive problems.

Can Baby Tortoises Eat Worms?

If your juvenile tortoise is an omnivore, it’ll need animal proteins in its diet.

Worms such as earthworms are a good source of:

  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Protein
  • Copper
  • Amino acids
  • Calcium

Calcium is important as baby tortoises need it to develop their shells.

A calcium deficiency can affect adults and juveniles, but it affects baby tortoises more, as their growth is more rapid. According to the Veterinary Record, baby tortoises that lacked adequate calcium failed to develop healthy shells.

However, worms shouldn’t be your baby tortoise’s main source of calcium. According to Zoo Biology, raised feeder worms (including mealworms, superworms, and wax worms) contain too little protein to sustain a tortoise. Instead, offer them as a supplement alongside other protein-rich foods.

Be careful when feeding your baby tortoise worms. Certain worms are known to bite, especially superworms with sharp pins on their backs.

Baby tortoises have softer mouths and less skill in eating worms. They won’t be grievously harmed, but it’ll make life unpleasant. For omnivorous baby tortoises, feed them mealworms and wax worms.

can tortoises eat mealworms?

Can Tortoises Eat Wax Worms?

Wax worms are the larvae of wax moths, which is pale yellow or white, with small, black markings on their side. Their feet are black-tipped, have small black or brown heads, and are smaller and rounder than other worm species.

Wax worms are safe to feed tortoises in moderation. However, they’re high in fat and calories, so they can cause obesity in animals with slow metabolisms, like tortoises.

Can Tortoises Eat Superworms?

Superworms are the larval stage of a darkling beetle, the sophabaas morio. For this reason, superworms are also called the morio worm.

Can tortoises eat morio worms safely? They won’t harm an adult tortoise when it eats and digests them, but they should be kept away from baby tortoises.

A fully matured tortoise will have the mouth strength and practice necessary to eat a superworm without getting pricked by the sharp pin on its back. You can feed them dead worms to lessen the chances of a bite. While this provides less enrichment for your tortoise, it’s much safer.

Ensure that you offer morio worms to your tortoise, not superworms. The term superworm refers to various large mealworms, which aren’t recommended for tortoises. The two will be similar in color and shape, but morio worms have dark ends on their bodies and are mostly black.

Can Tortoises Eat Mealworms?

Mealworms aren’t ideal for tortoises as they have a thick outer shell or lining.

There are no official studies that confirm if tortoises struggle to digest mealworms. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that mealworms can lead to compactions and intestinal blockages in tortoises. At the least, this can mean part of the worm passes through the gut undigested.

Since tortoises don’t often eat in large amounts, consuming food that can’t be digested may leave them nutrient deficient. Likewise, exceptionally large mealworms aren’t recommended for tortoises due to their large size and tough exterior.

Despite the name, mealworms aren’t worms but the larval stage of the mealworm beetle. When left to grow, mealworms become pupa and emerge as adult beetles.

Can Tortoises Eat Nightcrawlers?

Nightcrawlers are often raised as fish bait, but they’re also used as reptile food.

Their name refers to many different species of earthworms. However, they’re traditionally classed as large earthworms, with the most common type being lumbricus terrestris, which has a pale, light-brown color.

Nightcrawlers are safe for tortoises to eat, but be wary of their quality. Nightcrawlers are often sold by bait shops and can be purchased in bulk. However, bait shops raise them for bait, not to be fed to pets. For this reason, buy nightcrawlers raised specifically as reptile food.

Can Tortoises Eat Red Wigglers?

Red wigglers are a type of earthworm and a close cousin of nightcrawlers, sometimes even sharing a name with them. You can spot a red wiggler by its thin shape, small size, and deep red color.

Red wigglers are usually the best choice for tortoises, at least when compared to night crawlers. Their size makes it easier for tortoises to catch, chew, and digest.

Because they’re a close cousin of nightcrawlers, the same concerns apply. Only buy red wigglers raised as reptile feed, not bait.

How Many Worms Can Your Tortoise Eat?

The number of worms your tortoise can eat will depend on its species and size.

Alongside other animal proteins, worms should make up no more than 15% of a tortoise’s diet, so they can be offered 1-2 times a week.

When feeding worms to tortoises, ensure that they get enough calcium in their diet. Although worms contain this mineral, they don’t have enough to sustain a tortoise, especially when it’s growing.

Tortoises should eat worms and certain types of plants if they’re omnivorous. Worms are a good source of enrichment and healthy dietary addition for omnivorous tortoises.