Worms for Birds – Benefits, Precautions and Care

Translated by Nick R

You have probably seen birds picking worms out of the ground to eat them or carrying them in their beaks for their young. But did you know that some common pet birds should also eat these delicious delicacies, read on to learn more about it.

Which birds should eat worms? 

One of the most relevant aspects of bird feeding that you should know is that the shape of the beak and other physical aspects dictate part of their diet. In domestic birds, those with short and/or slightly curved beaks will need a diet based on insects, for example:

  • Canaries.
  • Goldfinches.
  • Zebra Diamonds.
  • Hens.
  • Peacocks.
  • Turkeys.

Why should your birds eat worms? 

Worms have a high nutritional value for birds, especially because of the high fat and protein content, which helps them to supply some of their daily energy needs, especially when they are breeding, molting, or growing. They are also a natural source of nutrients that can be combined with feed or breeding pastes.  

How many worms should a bird eat? 

The high-fat content that mealworms have is a double-edged sword for birds and other animals, because of this, worms should be given as part of a snack or food supplement, but not as part of their base diet. Ideally, the indications are 1 to 2 times per week in quantities considerable to the size of the animal:

  • In poultry such as chickens and turkeys, the ideal would be 3 to 5 grams.
  • In canaries, goldfinches, and zebra finches it should be 2 to 3 grams.

Mealworms for birds 

The most popular worm for birds and other exotic pets such as reptiles is the mealworm, a worm that is actually the larvae of the flour beetle and is even easy to raise for those who need a continuous source of these worms. Some nutritional aspects of this animal are:

Alive tenebrion larvae:

Moisture62 %
Protein20 %
Fats13 %
Fiber2 %

Dry tenebrion larvae:

Moisture62 %
Protein49.5 %
Fats26 %
Fiber6 %

Protein and mineral values:

Magnesium87.5 mg / 100g
Zinc4.2 mg / 100 g
Iron3.8 mg / 100g
Copper0.78 mg / 100g

Commercial mealworms presentations 


The most frequent presentation of these worms, which go through a dehydration process at 60° C for 24 hours to finally be consumed.

Insect paste 

The insect paste as its name indicates is a combination of two or several insects in one presentation. It’s ideal to be combined with the breeding pastes and other foods you want to give to your bird such as fruits or vegetables.

Alive food 

Worms can also be given life, although it is important to be aware of their origin because if you take them from a source with uncontrolled breeding, it could expose your bird to disease.

Preservation of mealworms 

There are no complicated indications to keep dehydrated and paste worms, besides keeping them in a cool and dry place away from high temperatures. However, for live worms, you must be careful, and depending on what you want to do with them, you may need to:

Breeding mealworms 

If your goal is to start your own mealworm culture, you must start by giving them good living conditions, for which you can use:

  • A plastic box depending on the number of mealworms. If there are only a few, you can use a food container.
  • Holes in the lid of the container.
  • Cool temperatures of 25° to 27° C
  • Live mealworms, about 30 may work.
  • Wheat or oat bran to put in the base of the container and serve as food, you can also give them white bread.
  • Egg cups to darken the inside of the container.
  • Fresh vegetables and fruits such as apples, carrots, lettuce, or squash can be given every 3 or 4 days for hydration.

Remember that fruits and vegetables should be removed after 24 hours as the humidity can cause mites to appear and the larvae are not suitable for your birds.

Care of pupae 

The pupa stage comes after the larvae and before the beetle’s adult stage. In this metamorphosis, the larvae stay still while they develop, which exposes them to being attacked by the larvae and die; it’s recommended that you keep an eye on the hatchery, and as soon as you see a pupa, move it to a new container until it comes out of it.

How long can you keep them? 

Home-bred worms have a long life cycle, only the larval stage can have a duration of 3 to 4 months, even 18. It all depends on the growing conditions, usually the colder the environment, the longer it will take them to develop.

However, if your larvae reach the adult stage, you can use the opportunity to grow more mealworm larvae.

Preserving live larvae 

If your objective is not to breed them, the best you can do to keep them in a good state is to follow the same steps already mentioned to keep them alive, hence the number of larvae you order should be equivalent to the number of birds you have.

Where to get worms? 

Pet or farm stores 

Mealworms are nowadays popular as a food source for poultry, birds, and exotic pets such as reptiles, so you will most likely find them in specialized stores.

Worm farms 

Some people have devoted themselves to the breeding of mealworms and then sell them to local breeders. They are usually sold by larvae or by the gram.


It sounds obvious, but this tool makes it easier to access everything we need, and on e-commerce platforms, you are very likely to find people selling mealworm larvae.


If for some reason you cannot find this type of worm where you live, you can resort to insects such as dry cricket. However, keep in mind that this must be properly processed food that has no insecticides or chemicals that could harm your bird, so it is also important that you don’t try to take any insects that you find in your garden because they could harm your bird.


Mealworm larvae (Tenebrio Molitor) as a protein alternative in animal feed.

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