Mealworms as Feeder Insects

If you have an insectivorous pet reptile or amphibian of any variety, odds are you have at least heard of mealworms. But just in case you haven’t, you should know that in the reptile enthusiast world, mealworms are feeder insects that are commonly consumed by virtually every type of critter that needs protein in its diet.

In this article, we’ll touch upon the life cycle of the mealworm, tell you why you should feed your critter mealworms, and even discuss how you can raise feeder mealworms of your own.

What are feeder mealworms?

Mealworms are the larval form of a beetle called the mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor). They essentially look as their common name describes them – like worms. If you examine them closely, however, you will be able to see that they do have segmented bodies with short legs towards their heads.

When in the larval state, mealworms are light brown and can have darker brown accent bands. Standard size worms will range in size from a quarter of an inch up to three quarters of an inch. There are also giant mealworms available, which measure approximately an inch long on average.

In their natural habitat, mealworms can be found in dark, damp and warm places such as underneath decaying logs or compost. They are composters by nature  and will essentially eat anything that is decomposing, including garbage.

mealworms as feeder insects
These mealworms are being kept in a container that is too tall for them to climb out of.

Why should I use mealworms as feeder insects?

Mealworms are readily available at pet stores and are extremely common feeder insects for all types of exotic pets. This is mainly because they are extremely high in protein content which makes them very nutritious to reptiles and amphibians.

Reptiles and amphibians such as bearded dragons, frogs, chameleons, leopard geckos, and even some turtles enjoy eating mealworms. In fact, pretty much any carnivorous reptile, amphibian, and even tarantulas and scorpions on occasion will consume mealworms.

Because mealworms can vary so much in size, we do recommend that you carefully assess whether or not the mealworm in question is too large for your pet. Generally, if the invertebrate is not larger than the space between the eyes of the animal that will be consuming it, it is safe to feed to your pet.

Interestingly enough, mealworms can also be frozen or dried as a means to preserve them. However, we want to make it clear that not many reptiles or amphibians will recognize dead insects as a food source. The movement of the invertebrate is usually what triggers the food response in your pet, so a dead mealworm is not usually a viable option for most owners, even if it might be more convenient. We’ve really only seen dried/frozen mealworms work as feeders for aquatic eaters like some species of turtle.

How can I raise mealworms of my own to feed to my pet?

mealworm
On this close up photo of a single mealworm, you can see that this “worm” has small legs near its head.

Once they have stored up enough energy to transform into the next phase of their life cycle, a mealworm will become a pupa and then a beetle afterwards. If you want to continue the life cycle of your mealworms on your own, it won’t really require much effort on your part.

If you intend to prolong the shelf life of the larval worm stage, keep uneaten worms in the refrigerator and take them out every few days to feed them. The cold will slow their metabolisms and hopefully give you more time with the worm phase (i.e. the edible phase).

Once you are ready to start the worms breeding, all you need is a container, substrate, food, water, and approximately a hundred worms to start your colony.

A container tall enough that the worms can’t crawl out is all you need. Your mealworm’s substrate will be its food. Wheat bran, oatmeal, corn meal, and other dry grainy foods are all options.

Don’t put a water dish in the enclosure as the worms will just drown. Instead, some water-heavy veggies are the way to go. Try putting some potato slices, carrots, or apples in the mealworms’ home for the best results.

Allow the life cycle to continue on and remove any new beetles and pupa as they accumulate.

Conclusion

Mealworms are very tasty treats for reptiles and amphibians of all types. If you own a carnivorous pet, odds are it will avidly consume mealworms.

Backwater Reptiles sells feeder mealworms of various sizes and in various quantities.

What to Do If Your Pet Scorpion is Gravid

Even if you haven’t taken steps to breed your pet scorpion, it’s possible to receive a new pet scorpion and – lo and behold – it’s a girl and she’s gravid. By the way, when a scorpion female is going to have babies, we don’t call her “pregnant.” The appropriate term is gravid.

If you plan to keep mating pairs of scorpions in the same enclosure or you happened to discover your female scorpion is gravid, then read on to have these frequently asked questions addressed:

-How can I tell which gender my scorpion is?
-How do I know if my pet scorpion is gravid?
-How do I care for my gravid scorpion?
-What happens when my scorpion gives birth?

How can I tell which gender my scorpion is?

First of all, if you have a juvenile or very young scorpion, odds are it will be nearly impossible to distinguish the gender of the animal. Until they are fully mature, scorpions species of both genders tend to look nearly identical.

gravid pet scorpion
Pictured is a gravid Pandinus dictator scorpion.

If you are dealing with a fully mature scorpion, there are several tricks used to determine the animal’s gender. You can assess the animal based on its physical traits. Females are generally larger than males with thicker, heftier bodies. Males tend to appear longer and skinnier with longer, thicker, or fuller pincers (AKA pedipalps).

You can also take a look at the underside of your scorpion at what are called pectines. These are a series of comb-like sensory organs that are visible on the last pair of legs closest to the tail. Males will have very long, defined pectines, whereas the female’s will be shorter. Place the scorpion on a see-through surface to look at the pectines. It’s not wise to try to flip the scorpion on its back as this could stress the animal and incite it to sting.

How do I know if my pet scorpion is gravid?

You can assume your female scorpion is gravid by witnessing actual mating behavior between two animals.

If you happen to see two scorpions whose pincers are locked together doing a sort of dance, you have just witnessed scorpions breeding. When scorpions mate, the male deposits a sperm packet on the ground and then drags the female over it. Hooks on the sperm packet latch onto the female’s genital opening and fertilization occurs internally.

If you haven’t actually seen your scorpions mating, you will probably notice a change in your scorpion’s physique. Like any pregnant animal, gravid scorpions will swell up due to carrying the babies internally.

A gravid female’s abdomen will enlarge, stretch, and even become semi-transparent. It’s not uncommon to be able to see the outlines of baby scorpions through her skin!

gravid pandinus dictator
This side view of a gravid Pandinus dictator scorpion shows how the female’s abdomen is stretched and swollen. The babies are even visible!

How do I care for my gravid scorpion?

Not a lot should change when caring for a gravid scorpion. Obviously, your scorpion will be very hungry, so don’t neglect to feed her regularly.

She might also be shier or more aggressive, so we recommend providing plenty of places for her to hide out if she doesn’t feel social. Keep the handling of her to a minimum as you don’t want to stress her out or risk being stung due to an unpredictable temperament.

Gestation can range from seven months to a year, so watch her closely as care requirements will need to adjust slightly once the scorplings are born.

What happens when my scorpion gives birth?

Most females will bear anywhere from eight to thirty babies. The scorplings are born alive as scorpions do not lay eggs.

The babies will be white or nearly transparent and will stay attached to the mother’s back until their first molt.

If you keep multiple scorpions in the same enclosure, be sure to remove all other scorpions once the babies are born. Don’t move the mother as this will stress her out unnecessarily. She will get aggressive, defensive, and stressed if other scorpions are present. Not to mention you don’t want any cannibalism to occur.

scorplings
Baby scorpions (AKA scorplings) ride on their mother’s back until their first molt.

Never attempt to dislodge the scorplings from the female’s back. There is a high chance she will eat them if you attempt this. Plus scorplings that are raised by the mother fare much better and are healthier overall.

The baby scorpions will eat small insects. Pinhead crickets, small waxworms, and freshly molted small mealworms are all acceptable food for scorplings.

Conclusion – Gravid pet scorpions

Scorpion breeding will occur naturally if you house a mating pair together. Keep an eye out for swollen, stretched abdomens as this is the best way to tell if your scorpion is expecting.

Think you want to start a scorpion family of your own? Backwater Reptiles has quite a selection of scorpions for sale. You may end up with a gravid pet scorpion of your own!

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Care (Avicularia versicolor)

Many exotic pet enthusiasts are drawn to the Antilles pink toe tarantula for its striking coloration and fairly mild disposition. People enjoy purchasing these tarantulas as spiderlings and watching the animal molt, change color, and mature into a big, beautiful arachnid.

Below you’ll read our Antilles pink toe care sheet, based upon our experience with these strikingly beautiful tarantulas.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Description

This brilliantly colored spider is found in Martinique, which is off the coast of South America. It makes its home in trees and is therefore also commonly called the Martinique Red Tree Spider.

antilles pink toe tarantula care
Pictured is a juvenile Antilles pink toe tarantula. Notice it steely blue coloration. Their care isn’t complex, although we do recommend doing your research.

As baby spiders, Antilles pink toes are a metallic, steely blue-black color, but once mature, they become remarkably more colorful. Adults have a metallic greenish blue carapace while their abdomens are covered in red hairs. Their long legs are coated in a combination of red, brown, and pink hairs.

Antilles pink toes are considered to be medium-sized spiders. Adults will grow to have leg spans of four and a half to six inches. Males will be thinner than females with a more spindly-like appearance, while the females will tend to be a bit meatier and heftier of body.

The disposition of these colorful spiders is relatively even-tempered. They are not particularly aggressive, although they can and do bite from time to time. Overall, they prefer to be left alone as they can be quite skittish. In fact, Antilles pink toes are very fast and can jump quite far. This means that if you do handle your spider, you’ll want to stay near to a flat surface and make sure that the spider doesn’t have very far to fall if it should decide to jump out of your hands.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Housing

Because they are an arboreal species, Antilles pink toes should be kept in an enclosure that is vertically oriented. Be sure to provide hide spaces and objects to climb on. Plants, wooden decorations, and other stable, vertically-oriented pieces are best.

The cage or enclosure needs to be kept at a relatively high humidity level, but also needs to be well ventilated to prevent stagnation. Generally, enclosures with one or two mesh screens or vents meet this requirement. Ideally, humidity levels should be kept at 75 to 85%, while the temperature range should be 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

antilles pink toe tarantula
Spiderlings can be housed in an enclosure as small as a shoebox stood up vertically.

Although they live in colonies in the wild, in captivity, Antilles pink toe tarantulas should be housed separately with the exception of mating pairs.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Feeding Habits

These tarantulas are aggressive feeders and usually don’t reject food. It is acceptable to feed your Antilles pink toe nearly any type of feeder invertebrate – roaches, crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and horn worms are all great fare for this spider.

Interestingly enough, in the wild, Antilles pink toes are known to consume anole lizards and other small vertebrates, but in captivity, it’s best to stick to various insects.

Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula Molting

If you’ve never kept a pet tarantula before, you need to know that spiders molt and shed their old exoskeletons on a regular basis.

Prior to the actual molt occurring, tarantulas generally start to behave differently, and this is also true for the Antilles pink toe. Don’t be surprised if your spider becomes lethargic and even refuses food. The spider might also do a lot of extensive web spinning.

Eventually, you’ll notice that your tarantula has flipped over onto its back. It will appear to be dead, but don’t be misled. This is a completely normal behavior for molting spiders. Just be sure to not disturb your spider when it is in this state.

adult antilles pink toe tarantula
When your Antilles pink toe has undergone enough molts, it will be bold red and blue/green in color like the one pictured.

Once your tarantula has righted itself, it will be vulnerable until its new exoskeleton hardens. Be sure not to feed it until a fair amount of time has passed. Feeder insects can actually hurt the spider if you feed it before the hardening process has completed.

If you want more information on this process, we wrote an entire separate article on what to do when your pet tarantula molts.

Conclusion

Antilles pink toe tarantulas are best looked at and kept as pets for display purposes. They are not considered aggressive, but are very fast and can jump far. This means they are not ideal for being handled or coddled.

If you are ready to commit to a colorful spider that you can show off to your friends and family, Backwater Reptiles has Antilles pink toe tarantulas for sale.

Whip Spider Care (Amblypygi sp.)

Wondering how to care for a Whip spider? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Whip spiders are arachnids also known by the name tailless whip scorpions. They belong to an order of arthropods named Amblypygi and are not to be confused with whip scorpions and vinegaroons, which are similar invertebrates that belong to a different order.

Although these arachnids are commonly known as tailless whip scorpions, they do earn their name, as they are indeed tailless. In fact, the word Amblypygi actually means “blunt rump” and refers to the fact that these animals don’t actually possess stinging scorpion tails or silk saks.

They do, however, have pinching pedipalps (AKA pinchers) that can grab your fingers if the scorpion feels threatened. But they aren’t venomous, nor are they usually aggressive, so they aren’t considered dangerous pets.

tailless whip spider care
Whip spiders are harmless, even though they might look rather intimidating. Caring for them as pets is very easy.

Tailless whip scorpions are flat, wide invertebrates with eight legs. Only six of these legs are actually used for walking and the scorpion has a somewhat sideways gait similar to that of a crab. The front appendages are modified into long, thin segmented feelers, which the scorpion uses to orient itself and find prey. These feelers, which just happen to resemble whips, are also what gives these arachnids their common name.

When their legs are not stretched out, most whip spiders will average around two to three inches in length. However, it has been reported that these scorpions can stretch out to make their leg span as long as twenty three inches.

Tailless Whip Spider Care

When it comes to feeding, tailless whip scorpions are sit and wait predators. They will patiently wait and feel around with their long “antennae” until they sense that prey is nearby. Once the scorpion detects that prey is close enough, it will pounce and grab the prey using its pinchers and immediately begin chewing.

In the wild, whip spiders are insectivores primarily. In captivity, we give ours meals of crickets, roaches, and occasional wax worms. Sometimes, if your whip spider isn’t too shy, you can even get it to accept an insect from tongs.

amblypygi
A close up of the whip spider shows its pincers that it uses to snatch prey.

Like all arachnids, whip spiders molt as they grow. However, unlike most spiders and scorpions, they require a place to hang from while molting. Most arachnids will molt on the ground, but whip spiders need a vertical space to hang from while they wriggle out of their old exoskeleton. Therefore, it is absolutely imperative that owners provide a surface that the scorpion can cling to in order to perform this behavior.

Directly following a molt, your whip spider will be a white or green color and will be far more vulnerable. This means that prey items such as crickets or roaches that can bite your whip spider need to be removed immediately from the cage if they are not eaten.

Believe it or not, prey can actually injure the whip spider while it is green or white. But not to worry – after a few days, your whip spider’s new exoskeleton will harden and you can resume feeding as normal.

Whip spiders are fairly active arachnids, so we recommend a decent sized enclosure. A ten gallon tank should suffice for a single scorpion, but if you add additional house mates, a larger home will obviously be required.

As previously mentioned when molting was discussed, be sure to have multiple angled surface with various textures that your scorpion can cling to and hang from while molting. And as far as substrate is concerned, anything that holds moisture will do just fine. We recommend coconut fiber, peat moss, or organic potting soil.

Be sure to maintain high humidity levels in your whip spider’s enclosure. These are animals that are naturally found in wet caves with naturally collecting water. They need humidity to thrive and go through proper molting.

A good way to maintain humidity is to mist your whip scorpion’s enclosure. This is also helpful because the scorpions won’t drink from a standing water dish, but they will drink water that has naturally collected on cage décor.

tailless whip scorpion
Notice the long “feelers” on the tailless whip scorpion that help it detect prey.

Caring for Tailless Whip Spiders – Conclusion

We think that whip spiders make excellent pets and are simple to care for, especially for people who want an arachnid but don’t want to be bitten by a spider or stung by a scorpion.

Best Pet Tarantulas

Welcome to our list of the best pet tarantulas in the world. Pet spiders are very polarizing – people either love the idea of keeping a large spider in their home or they hate it. At Backwater Reptiles, we take care of spiders destined to be people’s pets every day, so we understand the appeal of arachnids.

Our goal for this blog article is to describe and detail our picks for the top four best pet tarantulas. Read on to find out which species we chose.

Mexican Red Knee Tarantula (Brachypelma smithi)

Red Knees are one of the most commonly kept pet tarantulas. They are readily available in chain pet stores and most people probably think of this species when they imagine what a tarantula looks like.

As you’ve probably surmised, Mexican red knee tarantulas are dark brown or black with distinctive red knee patches on the joints of their limbs. They grow to have a leg span of approximately seven inches. Males will live for around three to six years old, while females can live for around twenty five years.

best pet tarantulas
Although we don’t necessarily recommend putting any tarantula with urticating hairs on your face, red knees are so docile that most owners feel comfortable enough to take the risk. Here’s one of our employees (Amanda) with her favorite Red knee.

Known for their reasonable temperaments, red knees usually don’t mind being handled. Although there is always some danger of being bit or getting urticating hairs in your skin, you don’t usually need to worry about this behavior with red knees. For the most part, although they can be skittish at first, red knees would rather hide from you than attack you.

We highly recommend a docile Mexican red knee tarantula if you are interested in acquiring a pet tarantula.

Rose Hair Tarantula (Grammostola rosea)

Rose hair tarantulas get their common name from the color of the hairs on their bodies. Some are more brightly colored than others with semi-metallic pink hairs, while others just have more of a dull pink tinge to them.

The rose hair is another species of tarantula that is known for its docile disposition. Many rose hair owners play with and handle their spiders on a regular basis without fear of being bitten or getting irritating hairs embedded in their skin.

rose hair tarantula
This particular rose hair tarantula only has hints of pink or rose to its coloration. The amount of pink to the spider’s hairs varies from animal to animal.

If you purchase a spiderling rose hair, it will take approximately three to four years for it to reach maturity. A spiderling that starts off life around the size of a pencil eraser will eventually grow up to have a leg span between four to five inches.

Purchase your own pet rose hair tarantula from Backwater Reptiles.

Brazilian Black Tarantula (Grammastola pulchra)

Many people label the Brazilian black tarantula as the “ideal” pet spider. This is because they are a bold, jet black color with highly docile attitudes. They have simple care requirements and healthy appetites. They actually make great pet tarantulas for beginners and we’d even recommend them as a classroom pet.

Brazilian Blacks are terrestrial spiders, so although they don’t require a massive amount of space, we do highly recommend that your spider live in an enclosure that is wide and not super tall.

brazilian black tarantula spiderling
Pictured is a baby Brazilian black tarantula. They start out small, but they grow quite large.

Interestingly enough, we do recommend keeping a water dish in the Brazilian Black’s enclosure. Even though you might never see your spider drink water, both spiderlings and adults need humidity, and a water dish helps to maintain that.

Ready for a classroom pet? Or just want a friendly pet spider? Backwater Reptiles has healthy pet Brazilian Black tarantulas for sale.

Golden Blue Leg Baboon Tarantula (Harpactira pulchripes)

We’ve included the rare golden blue leg baboon tarantula on our list because it is almost a “collector’s” spider. Because it is so hard to find in the U.S., it becomes a highly sought after spider for arachnid enthusiasts. Keep in mind that because it is so sought after, it does come with a fairly steep price point.

Although it begins life as a relatively unremarkable spiderling with a tinge of blue to it, the golden blue leg baboon tarantula matures into a beautiful, large spider with metallic blue legs.

golden blue leg baboon spiderling
This spiderling is a very rare. When this little spider matures, it will have brilliant blue legs.

Like all the spiders on this list, the golden blue leg baboon will happily eat crickets and other appropriately sized invertebrates. Spiderlings can eat a small cricket every day, whereas adults are perfectly happy eating once or twice a week.

If you’re a spider enthusiast, Backwater Reptiles does sell rare golden blue leg baboon  tarantulas.

Conclusion – The Best Pet Tarantulas

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our guide to the best pet tarantulas in the world. Indeed, tarantulas aren’t for everyone. But, if you’re not an arachnophobe, then we would recommend any of the spiders on this list as a pet. Most are pretty friendly and all of them are very easy to care for in captivity.

 

Gooty Sapphire Tarantula Care Sheet (Poecilotheria metallica)

We wrote the below Gooty Sapphire tarantula care sheet to help arachnid hobbyists understand more about this visually stunning spider, which also commonly goes by its scientific name: Poecilotheria metallica.

Even people who don’t “get” why anyone would want to keep a tarantula as a pet have to admit that the Gooty is a really beautiful spider. Although it begins life as a fairly ordinary brown color, after a series of molts, it will transform into a vivid, metallic blue color with accents of yellow or white in fractal patterns on its abdomen. The end result is a highly sought after species of spider that any hobbyist would be proud to own.

gooty sapphire tarantula care sheet
This is a Gooty Sapphire Tarantula spiderling. They start out a dull brown color but will mature into a bold blue. Read our care sheet to learn how to raise them to stunningly beautiful adults.

Not only is this tarantula lightning fast as both a baby, juvenile, and adult spider, but it’s also armed with a potent venom–more potent than New World tarantulas. Bite victims will experience increased heart rate followed by sweating, head ache, stinging, cramping, and of course, pain and swelling at the site of the bite.

Symptoms can persist for a week! Ultimately, what this means is that you should not handle your Gooty without protection, if ever. When kept as pets, these tarantulas are definitely made to be seen and not touched.

Although the Gooty Sapphires sold by Backwater Reptiles are captive bred spiders, this species is listed as critically endangered by the IUCN. This puts an extra degree of responsibility upon anyone who wants to own one as a pet.

Gooties are not common spiders, and therefore not common pets, so we highly recommend doing your research and being positive you can handle such a rare spider before you purchase.

As far as care is concerned, Gooty Sapphire Tarantulas are arboreal spiders, so their habitat needs to replicate a tree-dwelling spider’s habitat. Small spiderlings don’t require much room to thrive, but they do need items to crawl on and hide inside of.

We recommend our arboreal tarantula terrarium kit for the sake of convenience and visibility, although you can just as easily house a spiderling in a plastic shoe box with a very secure lid. Again, just make sure to provide a few hiding places.

gooty sapphire tarantula terrarium
This is our arboreal tarantula terrarium. It’s perfect for arboreal spiderlings.

Adult Gooties will require a bit more room than a spiderling, obviously. Due to their arboreal nature, we recommend an enclosure that has a bit of height to accommodate a tree branch or two for your spider to climb on.

No matter the age of your Gooty, it might be sensitive to light, so we recommend storing your spider’s home somewhere fairly dark and out of reach of direct sunlight.

Room temperature is generally acceptable for a Gooty, but make sure that it stays within the range of high 70s during the day and low 70s during the evening. If your home does not naturally stay at this temperature, invest in a heat pad and thermometer.

Poecilotheria metallica
Once your Gooty has gone through several molts, it will become a stunning blue color with white or yellow fractal shape markings.

Peat moss and coconut fibers are the recommended substrates. Both will retain moisture but not become overly soaked. We don’t recommend misting your Gooty’s enclosure, but rather moistening the substrate once per month. Keeping a water dish in the enclosure will also help keep the moisture level at an acceptable range, even if your Gooty doesn’t actually drink the water.

Feeding your Gooty Sapphire is relatively simple. Spiderlings will eat pinhead crickets and fruit flies, while adults will happily consume crickets, wax worms, reptiworms, and even roaches. Due to their photosensitivity, it’s usually best to feed your Gooty around dusk.

We’ve heard success stories that involved simply dropping an insect or two in the cage at night before bed.  The spider will eat it during the night. But always make sure the insect is no larger than the tarantula’s abdomen.

If you purchase a spiderling, you can expect for it to take approximately a year for your spider to undergo enough molts to finally start sporting the blue color these spiders are named and known for. Don’t be surprised if your Gooty refuses food prior to molting either as this is very common.

gooty sapphire spiderling
Gooty Sapphire spiderlings are about an inch to an inch and a half long.

Conclusion

Gooty Sapphire Tarantulas just might be the spider to cure your arachnophobia. They’re strikingly colorful tarantulas and can make extremely rewarding pets.

If you’ve done your research and are prepared keep your own Gooty Sapphire tarantula, Backwater Reptiles has some captive bred spiderlings for sale.

 

Are Hornworms Good Feeder Insects?

Tobacco Hornworms (Manduca sexta), or Goliath worms, are caterpillars that transform into the Carolina sphinx moth. They are green with seven diagonal markings along their sides and a red, spiked “tail” adorning their rear ends, which is where they get their common name.

These caterpillars, which are more commonly known as just plain ol’ hornworms, feed on both tobacco and tomato plants, which means they are widely considered to be pests by farmers and gardeners.

Hornworms make excellent and nutritious meals for many animals sold through Backwater Reptiles, but many people don’t know much about these juicy little feeder insects.

In this article, we will answer the questions:

-What types of animals eat hornworms?
-How do I care for my feeder hornworms?
-What is the nutritional value of hornworms?
-What is the difference between the two species of hornworms?

Hornworms as feeder insects
This is a tobacco hornworm. You can tell by the red horn on its rear end.

What types of animals eat hornworms?

Hornworms are great feeder insects for virtually all types of reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates including, but not limited to, turtles, frogs, scorpions, spiders, and lizards.

When you receive them, your hornworms will not be full-grown. At this smaller size, they can be fed to smaller animals or juvenile animals.

Once they have grown a bit and plumped up, your hornworms will be especially great feeders for animals that live in dry, arid environments where getting water from food is a requirement. Examples of these types of desert species that love to eat hornworms are: uromastyx lizards, collared lizards, agamas, tarantulas, and even scorpions.

Chameleons are also big fans of hornworms. We can’t stress enough that hornworms contain lots of water, so they are great to help your chameleon stay hydrated.

How do I care for my feeder hornworms?

When you place an order for feeder hornworms, you will receive a container that holds caterpillars that are either one inch or two to three inches long, depending on what option you select when you checkout.

Your hornworm pod will contain food for the hornworms on the top. It will also contain a screen for the hornworms to climb on to reach the food. The food will sustain the worms until they reach about four inches in size. This will usually take two to three weeks.

Feeder Hornworm Pod
This is what your hornworm pod will look like. The bottom is removable.

The hornworms you receive are basically in their own little ecosystem. Your hornworms are self-contained and have everything they need to thrive for a few weeks. All you need to do is remove the bottom of the container and empty out the hornworm droppings every few days.

What is the nutritional value of hornworms?

Hornworms are very high in calcium so they make excellent nutritional supplements for animals that need regular vitamin dusting such as leopard geckos.

As previously mentioned, hornworms are very succulent and high in water content. This makes them excellent food items for desert critters.

They are also great food for animals that are finicky eaters. They are even good for enticing animals on “hunger strike” to eat once more. If you have a picky eater on your hands, we suggest giving hornworms a try.

What is the difference between the two species of hornworm?

There are actually two types of hornworm that appear very similar – the tomato hornworm and the tobacco hornworm. People commonly confuse and mistake the two.

The tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) is the type of hornworm sold by Backwater Reptiles. They differ from the tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) slightly in physical appearance. Rather than diagonal lines on their sides like the tobacco hornworm, the tomato hornworm has “V” shaped markings. In addition, the tobacco hornworm’s tail spike is red, while the tomato hornworm’s tail spike is black.

Large hornworm
This is an average-sized feeder hornworm.

Both species feed on the same plants in the wild and we do not recommend capturing wild hornworms of either species to feed to your reptiles. This is because tobacco hornworms are actually capable of collecting and storing the toxin found in the tobacco plant, which means they could be fatal if ingested by your pet. So if you don’t know the difference between the two caterpillars, we suggest avoiding wild-caught hornworms altogether.

Conclusion

Pretty much any reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate that is large enough to eat a hornworm will find it a tasty treat.

If you have a desert-dwelling critter, picky eater, or spoiled rotten pet reptile, Backwater Reptiles has feeder hornworms for sale. Order some today – your herp will thank you!

Do Scorpions Glow in the Dark?

Did you know that scorpions can glow in the dark underneath a black light?

It’s true! Nearly all scorpions will glow a purple, blue, green, or white-ish color when exposed to an ultraviolet or black light in the dark. Below we’ll use one of our our scorpions as an example.

Do scorpions glow in the dark?
This Asian Forest Scorpion (Heterometrus longimanus) fluoresces a purplish white color.

Juvenile and freshly-molted scorpions don’t glow in the dark however. This is because their exoskeletons have not yet had time to develop enough to produce the unknown substance that causes the glowing.

Heterometrus longimanus
Here is a photo of the same Asian Forest Scorpion pictured above without the blacklight.

Interestingly enough, scientists are not 100% sure what causes scorpions to glow or what the purpose or advantage the glowing gives to the scorpion. All that is known is that the substance is found in a very thin layer of the scorpion’s cuticle known as the hyaline layer and that as the exoskeleton hardens, the fluorescence is brighter.

It has been hypothesized that scorpions glow under blacklight for multiple reasons. Some believe it’s so that they can find other scorpions – scorpions have pretty poor eyesight plus they already blend in very well with their desert surroundings.

Others have said it’s to protect the scorpion from the sun – i.e. it’s a form of sunscreen. However, this doesn’t hold up as scorpions tend to come out at night. It’s even been suggested that the glowing is just a fluke of nature and actually serves no purpose at all.

Scorpion under blacklight
Here’s one of our scorpions under a blacklight.

The most recent research that has been done on the subject comes from California State University archeologist Carl Kloock. He believes that because scorpions dislike the light, they use the UV levels as a way to know whether or not they want to come out to hunt. Apparently, when there are more UV rays present, scorpions tend to stay in hiding and be less active than if it’s darker.

Backwater Reptiles has all kinds of scorpions for sale if you are interested in checking out this neat trait for yourself! We also sell blacklights specially designed for getting your pet scorpion to glow in the dark! Just use the drop-down menu on any of our scorpion pages to purchase one.

What’s the Longest Scorpion in the World?

Have you ever wondered what the longest scorpion in the world is? If so, you’ve come to the right place because we’re not only going to unveil which species is the largest scorpion in the world, but we’ll also touch on some interesting facts about it, including how to care for it in captivity.

What's the longest scorpion in the world?
Meet the Flat Rock Scorpion (Hadogenes troglodytes), the longest scorpion in the world.

The Flat Rock Scorpion (Hadogenes troglodytes) is in fact the longest scorpion in the world. It might not qualify as the biggest in terms of overall body and limb size, but from pincer to tail tip, it is the longest. While it’s very common for the Flat Rock scorpion to be five to six inches long, it can actually can reach a length of up to eight inches!

Found only in Africa, this species of scorpion got its name from its body shape, which is long, flat, and segmented. This makes it ideal for squeezing into tiny crevices between rocks where it likes to make its home.

Large Flat-rock scorpion
Here is a top view of the flat rock scorpion showing how flat and long its body shape really is.

Like all scorpions, the flat rock eats insects. In captivity, they should be fed crickets, roaches, and other appropriately-sized invertebrates. A small water dish should also be provided.

Because flat rock scorpions are ground-dwellers, their cage should have more horizontal space over vertical space. A substrate that mimics that of their natural environment, such as sand, is ideal, coupled with some rocks and hiding crevices.

These scorpions make good pets for both novices and experienced hobbyists due to the fact that they are overall fairly docile with a sting that is very low in toxicity. Although they can sting, they are slow (at least for a scorpion) and would generally rather hide than sting their handler.

Flat Rock Scorpion Pincers
Even the pincer claws on the flat rock scorpion are flatter than the average scorpion’s claws.

Backwater Reptiles has flat rock scorpions for sale. If you’re lucky, maybe yours will grow to hold the next record for longest scorpion in the world!

What Do Halloween Crabs Eat?

Wondering what to feed your Halloween crab? It might not seem like a crab would be a good pet, but hermit and Halloween Crabs are actually very common in the pet trade. Known for their colorful shells which are bright purple coupled with brilliant orange, Halloween crabs have simple care requirements and make low maintenance, easy-going pets.

What do halloween crabs eat
This Halloween Crab is not as bright and bold in coloration because it is probably a female.

So, now that you have your pet Halloween crab, you need to feed it. Well, you might be wondering, what exactly am I supposed to feed a crab? No worries – although Backwater Reptiles does specialize in reptiles and amphibians, we also keep invertebrates and we’ll tell you exactly what type of diet to feed your Halloween crab.

Gecarcinus quadratus
This Halloween crab is displaying its orange underbelly and purple claws, and is likely a male.

Halloween crabs come from the coasts of Mexico, Central America, and Peru. They are primarily rainforest dwellers who feed at night by scavenging the forest and beach floors. They actually spend most of their lives living on land, so believe it or not, they don’t need a “sea food” based diet.

What to feed your Halloween crab

You should primarily feed your Halloween crab foods that it would find in the wild. Because it is a tropical invertebrate, you can feed it fruits such as papaya, mango, and coconut. Be sure the fruit is cut into appropriately-sized pieces and that it is fresh because the crabs won’t eat spoiled or rotting fruit.

Halloween Crab
Top view of a female Halloween crab.

Vegetable matter of all types is acceptable food for Halloween crabs as well. They will even eat meat, but make sure that the meat is thoroughly cooked as it is dangerous to feed it to them raw.

Want to care for your own crab? Backwater Reptiles has Halloween Crabs for sale.