Feeding birds and fish with worms, grubs etc. is a common practice around the world. Mealworms are one such species that are used as bird feed or fish bait. The mealworm is the larval stage of a variety of beetle. There are three kinds of mealworms and the habitat mainly depends on the variety. These grubs can survive anywhere and also go into dormancy when the climate becomes colder.
Considered to be an ideal pet food, mealworms are known to be rich in proteins and they make a nutritious source of food for both birds, fish and other amphibious pets. So if you are planning to rear mealworms for your pet's food or as a project work, you should be familiar with the aspects of mealworm care, so that you don't end up with a handful of diseased or unhealthy looking worms.
How to Take Care of a Mealworm
It is essential that you feed your birds or fish with healthy mealworms, rather than sickly looking ones. For this you should be familiar with the life cycle of mealworms. Though mealworms do not require much extensive care, certain factors like feeding, hygienic condition of the container they are kept in, etc., should be taken into consideration.
- Mealworms usually come in containers, that are shipped on order. If your mealworms are arriving by parcel, then you must keep another container, ready to transfer them once they arrive.
- Take a wide, plastic container, preferably with a cover and line it with a layer of crushed wheat, cornmeal, oatmeal or oat bran. These will provide a bedding, as well as food, for the mealworms. Poke holes on the lid of the container, for ventilation purpose. Place the mealworms in the container and close the lid, just to make sure that they do not climb out of the container.
- Mealworms can feed on a variety of food. You can feed the worms on fruits and vegetables. Do not try to experiment by feeding other foods like meat pieces, cheese and other dairy products, onions, oils and citrus fruits, etc. Instead you can place slices of apples, bananas, carrots and potatoes.
- You can crush them or cut them in smaller pieces before you keep them in the container. Worms are voracious eaters, hence it is essential to replenish the food source once every three days. Place a source of moisture in the bin, so that the worms don't die out of dehydration.
- Keep the bin clean and remove any moldy fruit, as it may harm the worms. Additional food or substrate should be regularly provided to the mealworms. Always ensure that the substrate is adequate and in case the level comes down, replenish it immediately.
- Place the container in a cool, dry place in a room which has temperature of about 60 to 80 degrees. Light is also not necessary since these worms prefer darkness over bright light, so that they grow undisturbed.
- Cleanliness is another important aspect that should not be given a miss, when it comes to mealworm care. Clean the container once every month, for healthy mealworms. In the mean time, as you clean the container, transfer the worms to a separate jar or box. Remove any residual substrate from the container and wash the bin. Allow the bin to dry completely before replacing the bedding and substrate. Now return the worms again to the fresh container and close the lid.
Mealworms can be purchased from pet food stores or even in online stores. Make sure you obtain this pet feed from reliable sources. Remember to feed your pet with only good, healthy mealworms.