Can Ducks Eat Mealworms? (how many and how often?)

As a seasoned duck keeper with over 20 years of experience, I often find myself in a position with newer duck keepers asking me questions.

Some of the most frequently asked questions revolve around what ducks can and can’t eat. Ducks like a varied diet, but they are also incredibly greedy. They will pretty much eat anything they come across.

But just because a duck will eat something does not necessarily mean it should eat it!

In this article, I answer the question ‘Can ducks eat mealworms?’.

Yes, ducks can eat mealworms. In fact, both live and dried mealworms are a great source of protein for ducks. Ducks do need plenty of protein in their diets, especially when young, but mealworms should only be fed in moderation.

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Can Ducks Eat Mealworms?

Over the years I have kept hundreds of ducks and feeding my ducks is probably the most enjoyable part of having them (except possibly eating the eggs!).

I have tried almost all of the commercially available duck foods, but I have also tried many, many different treats for my ducks. Some they really loved, others they simply tried, then ignored.

Both live and dried mealworms make excellent treats for ducks. Certainly, my own ducks go bonkers for them, quickly devouring every single mealworm I throw into their enclosure.

What are mealworms?

Mealworms are the larval form of the Mealworm Beetle (which is also known as the Tenebrio molitor).

Mealworms typically measure around 1/2″ to 3/4″ (1.25cm to 1.9cm) long, although they are available both smaller, and larger.

Mealworms are bred in their millions worldwide to be sold either live or dried to the pet industry.

These days just about every half-decent pet store, and certainly every pet store that deals in reptiles, will sell either live or dried mealworms, or possibly both.

I typically feed my duck’s dried mealworms simply because they are easier to store, and I can buy them in 10lbs sacks which work out great value from Amazon.com.

Are mealworms healthy for ducks?

Providing they are fed in moderation, mealworms are healthy for ducks. It is said that mealworms contain around 18% to 22% protein and 12% to 18% fat, making them ideal for any ducks that need to add a little weight or that have become underweight due to an illness.

I am reliably informed that mealworms also contain around 1% to 2% fiber and 4% to 8% carbohydrates.

Do ducks need protein?

Ducks do need protein. In fact, when they are ducklings it is recommended that ducks have a high protein diet. The duckling food I use has a protein rating of around 22%.

As the ducks get older however it is recommended that the amount of protein they have in their diet is reduced considerably, otherwise the ducks can suffer from pointed or drooping wings (sometimes referred to as Angel Wing).

Can ducks eat live mealworms?

Yes, ducks can eat mealworms live. Although people often sight the fact that mealworms have teeth, those teeth will not cause your ducks any issue at all.

Your duck will happily swallow the mealworm live, but once they reach the duck’s gizzard they will quickly be ground up with small stones and pieces of grit.

How to feed mealworms to ducks?

Feeding mealworms to your ducks could not be easier. Whether you are feeding them live or dried, simply take a handful and throw it into the enclosure in front of your ducks.

Ducks will quickly devour any mealworms they find, and the chances are you will soon have a feeding frenzy until all the mealworms are gone.

Alternatively, you can add a few dried mealworms into your duck’s normal food and allow your ducks to eat them as and when they come across them while eating. This is a great way to get extra fat and protein into your duck’s diet.

What Other Worms Can Ducks Eat?

Ok, so mealworms are not actually worms, but there are lots of other ‘worms’ your ducks can eat. These include;

  • Earthworms
  • Waxworms
  • Superworms
  • Tiger Worms

Earthworms

Ducks will naturally consume many earthworms during their lives. Ducks are true foragers and although they don’t actively dig for earthworms, they will happily consume any they come across on the surface or in the pond.

Alternatively, you can purchase a tub of earthworms either from a local pet store or from a store that sells fishing bait.

Waxworms

Like mealworms, waxworms are not true worms, but rather the caterpillar larvae stage of wax moths.

Waxworms have a very high fat and protein content, and as such must only be fed as an occasional treat.

Waxworms are available from pet stores that sell live reptile food, and they are normally only available as live food rather than a dried one.

Superworms

Superworms, which are also called Morio worms or Zophobas morio are essentially giant mealworms.

Much like mealworms, Superworms are high in protein and high in fat. They are usually available as live food, and a small tub will make a great treat for a flock of 6 to 8 ducks.

When I feed my own ducks Superworms I will typically just tip the whole tub out in front of my ducks and they will quickly consume every single Superworm in the tub.

Tiger Worms

Tiger Worms gain their common name from the distinctive bands they have across their bodies. They also go by a number of different common names including manure worm, redworm, brandling worm, panfish worm, trout worm, tiger worm, and red wiggler worm.

If you have a compost pile in your backyard, there is a good chance you have a near endless supply of Tiger Worms.

Tiger worms can usually be found by digging carefully into the compost pile. The chances are you will have hundreds, and our ducks will consume as many as you give them.

I typically dig through one of my compost piles once or twice a month and collect a pot of Tiger Worms to feed to my ducks, chickens, and geese.

In Conclusion

Mealworms make an excellent addition to a ducks diet, and providing they are only fed occasionally as a treat they will bring some much-needed protein to your ducks.

Mealworms should only be fed as a treat however due to their high fat content.

Mealworms can be fed either live or dried, and your ducks will quickly consume them in whatever form you offer them.

I give my ducks mealworms around once a week, and in my experience that works well.

If you found this article helpful, why not check out another one I wrote recently titled ‘Why are my ducks always hungry?’.


Aaron Homewood

Aaron Homewood is HomesteadSavvy.com‘s poultry editor. Arron has spent over 20 years keeping, breeding, and showing different poultry breeds, including chickens, ducks, geese, and quail.​
Poultry Editor

Article Sources:

  1. Mealworms Wikipedia.com
  2. Waxworm Wikipedia.com