My reasons for raising my own mealworms are similar to the same reasons I have decide to not only make my own rat food but also my own dog food for my two pooches...I just don't trust companies. In the case with mealworms, its debatable as to how healthy the mealworms actually are. Healthy, well kept mealworms mean healthy, nutritious mealworms for my beloved ratties. The mealworms sold at pet stores appear to be living in sawdust, so I wonder just how healthy the larvae themselves actually are, not having a beneficial diet on which to grow. Now with raising my own mealworms, I don't have to pay for them again and can guarantee that they are well kept, fed foods that make them more beneficial for my rats.
With that being said, let's learn a bit more.
Mealworms are the larvae of the flightless darkling beetle (Tenebrio molitor). They are not slimy, although at room temperature they wiggle a lot. While this might gross some people out, most ratties LOVE them and the more they wiggle the more interested in them they are! Rats get to use their natural behaviors to forage for these squirmy treats, especially if you put them inside a bowl with some whole grains such as whole oat groats and buckwheat.
Mealworms are high in protein and fat and should be fed in moderation. Three to four meal worms daily should suffice.
The basics for maximum productivity:
- Place large mealworms in a shallow plastic sweater container. Cut a hole in the top for ventilation and use a hot glue gun to adhere window screen to it to keep critters and moths out.
- Add 2-3" of bedding/food. I found that infant cereal works well.
- For moisture, add a small wedge of cabbage or half a potato. Put it on top of a plastic lid or newspaper to keep bedding dry. Replace vegetable at least weekly or if moldy. I personally like putting a piece of apple in there and a leafy vegetable for added nutrition.
- Ideally keep at around 80°F (room temperature is fine too) and around 70% relative humidity. Use a moistened sponge on a recycled jar lid for added moisture.
- Periodically (e.g., every 1 to 2 weeks) sift out beetles from bedding that will contain the eggs/tiny worms. Once worms are big enough, sift frass (waste) and bedding out once a month, dispose of in garden, wash and dry container, return worms and add new food.
So how many of you raise your own mealworms? Are any of you going to start? Good luck!
|Photo Credit: http://www.sialis.org|