Complete Guide Can Ducks Eat Mealworms To Meet Their Diet With Awesome Benefits

Updated: 03 Mar 2024


In my years of keeping ducks, one question that often surfaces is, “Can ducks eat mealworms?” The answer is a resounding yes! Mealworms are not only a delicious and healthy treat for your feathery friends but also a great source of protein.

These larvae of the mealworm beetle have gained popularity among poultry birds and other captive animals in zoos due to their high protein content and ease of feeding.

When preparing mealworms for your ducks, I’ve found that rinsing them off with cold water to remove any dirt or debris is crucial. You can then boil a pot of water and pour it over the mealworms to kill any bacteria or parasites.

Table of Content

    Can Ducks Eat Mealworms?

    Mealworms, rich in high protein and fat, serve as a good source of energy for ducks. They should not be the only food in a duck’s diet to prevent health issues like vitamin A deficiency and obesity.

    It’s important to feed ducks a variety of foods to ensure they receive all the necessary nutrients they need, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and insects.

    Mealworms have become popular among reptile owners and can be consumed by pets both live and dried, provided it’s done in moderation to prevent health issues.

    Ducks And Baby Ducks Eat Mealworms

    This method ensures that the mealworms are safe for your ducks, providing a nutritious supplement to their diet.

    While mealworms are an excellent option for a high-protein treat, it’s important to not overdo it. Ducks typically eat a variety of foods in the wild, including insects, small frogs, and fish.

    Therefore, it’s perfectly normal behavior to find your duck snacking on a few mealworms here and there. However, too many mealworms can lead to health problems.

    As a recommended practice, incorporating mealworms into your duck’s diet should be done in moderation, about three times a week, to supplement their main diet of feed, fruits, and vegetables.

    This approach ensures that your ducks receive all the nutrients they need without the risk of nutritional imbalances.

    Can Ducklings Eat Mealworms?

    Yes, ducklings can eat mealworms, but it’s crucial to make sure they consume other foods too. Mealworms are nutrient-dense and support a young duck’s healthy growth, development, strong body, and immune system.

    However, too much of this good thing can be bad, potentially causing wing deformity known as angel wing. It’s advisable to feed only a single mealworm per week, and consider chopping them up to prevent choking, especially since a live mealworm may bite and irritate the duckling’s sensitive esophagus.

    What Are Mealworms?

    Mealworms, often mistaken for worms, are actually the larval form of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, a type of darkling beetle.

    These small bugs, usually less than a half-inch long, can be found in different parts of the world and are known to eat almost anything. Their diet primarily consists of grains and seeds, but they can also consume plants, leaves, flowers, fruits, and animal products.

    Mealworms play a crucial role in our ecosystem by helping to decompose dead organic material, thus breaking it down into compost that allows plants to grow.

    They are considered both plant-based and animal-based food sources and are commonly used as bait for fish or as pet food for animals like reptiles and birds.

    Mealworms for Ducks

    Mealworms are not just versatile in their diet; they also offer significant nutritional value, being high in protein and fat, which makes them a good source of energy for waterfowl, including ducks.

    They contain about 22% protein and 18% fat, making them an essential part of the diet for ducks, especially during the breeding season and in winter.

    Ducks, both in the wild and in captivity, have been observed eating insects similar to mealworms, such as slugs and earthworms.

    Given their high protein content, mealworms provide the necessary nutrients that ducks require to grow and mature effectively. The protein requirements for ducks vary with age, typically ranging from 14 – 22% of their diet.

    Can Ducks Have Dried Mealworms?

    Dried mealworms are a favorite food of ducks and are easier to keep than their live counterparts, eliminating the need for frequent trips to the pet store and making them less expensive.

    Though they have less protein and fat content, they’re still a nutritious and tasty treat for your feathery friend. Being already dead, they don’t require feeding or care, making them a more affordable and comfortable method of feeding your pet these insects.

    Can Ducks Eat Live Mealworms

    Live mealworms are good for ducks, offering higher protein, fat content, and moisture content, making them more nutritious and easier to digest.

    Although they are more expensive to feed, you can reduce the cost by raising them on your farm or backyard, providing an endless supply.

    Ducks love chowing down on them, but keeping live mealworms requires effort to ensure appropriate environmental conditions for their breathing and regular trips to acquire additional supplies.

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    Why Are Mealworms Good for Ducks?

    Mealworms, whether live or dry, are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other substances crucial for a duck’s health. They are a rich source of nutrients, making them an excellent addition to the diet of waterfowl. As a natural food item, mealworms help maintain the balance of a healthy diet, providing a variety of essential nutrients ducks need to thrive.


    Mealworms offer an impressive amount of protein, crucial for the development and maintenance of muscles, blood, skin, feathers, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments in ducks.

    Live mealworms contain around 20% protein, while dried mealworms boast 53% to 55% protein, supplying vital amino acids for energy and movement.

    A diet lacking in protein can lead to a weaker immune system and various health issues, highlighting the importance of mealworms in promoting growth and preventing illnesses and diseases.


    With a high content of healthy fats (around 28%), mealworms assist ducks in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, and E, and provide crucial fatty acids that ducks need for energy to move around. This makes mealworms an essential part of a duck’s diet, ensuring they receive sufficient fat for optimal health.


    Mealworms are rich in potassium, a mineral that supports healthy heart and muscle contractions, activates nerve impulses, and plays a role in fluid balance regulation to prevent dehydration. This helps ducks maintain their ability to walk and eat without difficulty, showcasing the importance of potassium in their diet.


    Phosphorus is essential for protein synthesis, amino acid synthesis, cell growth, energy use, and energy storage, acting as a structural component of bone, DNA, and RNA. Mealworms help prevent bone fractures and decreased growth, underlining their significance in a duck’s nutrition.


    The calcium in mealworms aids the development and maintenance of bones and keeps eggshells rigid. This prevents osteoporosis, reproductive illness, and the production of soft-shelled eggs, making mealworms a vital part of a duck’s diet for calcium intake.


    Mealworms, containing more iron than sirloin beef, play a key role in the creation of hemoglobin for red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the body. This energy conversion is crucial for ducks to move around, stay healthy, and survive.

    Vitamin B3 (niacin):

    Niacin or vitamin B3 is crucial for maintaining healthy skin and nerves, promoting energy production, and participating in various physiologic and enzymatic reactions. Mealworms help prevent anorexia, bloody diarrhea, stunted growth, and unhealthy skin, which can be fatal for ducks.

    Vitamin D3:

    Vitamin D3 enhances the absorption of calcium for strong bones and eggshells, regulating the elimination of phosphorus. This is particularly important for young, growing ducks to prevent osteoporosis and soft shells.


    As a compound necessary for blood clotting and various biological functions, choline in mealworms helps prevent prolonged clotting times, anorexia, kidney problems, and stunted growth, ensuring ducks remain healthy.


    Mealworms also provide a source of fiber for healthy digestion and maintaining the digestive tract, aiding in elimination and preventing constipation, diarrhea, overeating, and obesity. This is crucial for ducks to avoid health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and joint pain.

    Rich In Essential Nutrients:

    Being a good source of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals, mealworms support brain development, immune system health, and overall health in ducks, making them an indispensable part of their diet.

    Better Digestion:

    Mealworms, easier to digest than pellets or grain, help improve digestion and prevent digestive issues like diarrhea, providing a more natural and beneficial food source for ducks.

    Things To Watch Out For When Feeding Mealworms To Ducks:

    While mealworms serve as a healthy treat for ducks, it’s crucial to be aware of potential dangers associated with feeding them. Mealworms can indeed augment a duck’s diet positively, but vigilance is needed to mitigate any risks that could compromise their health.

    Pesticides And Herbicides:

    Mealworms raised on commercial farms often consume a diet of grains and vegetables that have been sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, leading to contamination. These chemicals can harm ducks, emphasizing the importance of purchasing mealworms that are raised organically to avoid these risks.

    Mold And Fungi:

    Mealworms are susceptible to mold and fungi contamination, which can cause digestive issues in ducks. It’s vital to inspect the mealworms before feeding them to your duck, and if you see any mold or fungus, discard the worm immediately to prevent health problems.


    Mealworms can carry salmonella, a bacteria that poses a risk of food poisoning to both ducks and humans. To avoid this, it’s advised to wash hands thoroughly after handling mealworms, refrain from allowing your duck to eat straight from the container, and cook the worms before feeding them to your duck to kill any bacteria.


    Be cautious of parasites when feeding mealworms to ducks. These tiny creatures can attach themselves to the mealworms and infect your duck upon consumption. Monitoring and ensuring the quality of mealworms can help safeguard your ducks against such parasites.

    How Often Should I Feed Them Mealworms?

    Feeding mealworms to ducks is considered a safe and healthy treat that can be given regularly. These nutritious insects are a good source of protein and fat, making them an excellent supplement to the ducks’ diet.

    However, it’s crucial not to rely solely on mealworms but to ensure a varied diet including proteins, fruits, and vegetables. A general guideline for feeding mealworms is around 2-3 tablespoons per day, mixed into their main diet or offered as a tasty snack three times a week.

    This approach helps meet the nutritional requirements of ducks, providing energy and essential vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, iron, and magnesium for a healthy diet.

    How To Prepare Mealworms For Feeding To Ducks:

    For those wondering how to prepare mealworms for ducks, here’s a quick guide: purchase mealworms from your local pet store or online.

    It’s not recommended to find them in the wild due to uncertain environmental conditions. Rinse the mealworms with cold water to remove any dirt or debris, then boil them in a pot of water to kill any bacteria or parasites.

    Once cool, you can either chop them into smaller pieces or leave them whole, depending on the size of your duck’s mouth. This method ensures that the mealworms are safe from harmful bacteria and parasites, providing the best possible meal for your ducks.


    mealworms offer a nutritious and beneficial addition to a duck’s diet, providing essential proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals necessary for their health and development.

    Whether served live or dried, it’s important to feed mealworms to ducks in moderation, incorporating them into a balanced diet that includes a variety of other foods.

    Nouman Ali

    Nouman Ali

    I'm delighted to introduce myself as the voice behind the diverse array of insights and information you'll find here. With a passion for animals that spans over eight years, I've immersed myself in the fascinating world of pets, exploring their lifestyles, behaviors, and unique needs. Growing up surrounded by various animals, I developed an innate curiosity and deep connection with our furry, feathered, and scaly friends. This early fascination ignited a lifelong journey of learning and understanding the intricacies of pet care. Over the years, I've had the privilege of sharing my knowledge and experiences with fellow pet enthusiasts through various platforms. Whether it's offering tips on nutrition, behavior training, or health management, my goal has always been to empower pet owners to provide the best possible care for their beloved companions.

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