Raising mealworms for your gliders or even profit!
Keeping up with your sugar gliders diet can become expensive. Between fruit, vegetables and live insects, all things that go quickly and are not necessarily cheap, any ways you can find to save money, without going down in quality will help! Sure you can buy them freeze dried or in cans to preserve them, however they are much more expensive this way and you usually get a smaller quantity then paying the same price for them alive.
The best thing you could possibly do is start your own mealworm farm! It has so many perks! You save money by not having to go to the pet store weekly (gas & pet stores charge a lot for mealworms). Mealworms reproduction and cycle is a little slow, however for every 20 beetles you get about 350 mealworms, which once you get going, you will reap the benefits. If you have too many mealworms you can also sell them for money to friend or on craigslist. Many different animals eat mealworms such as reptiles and birds! By selling some of your mealworms you could be saving someone else money instead of going to a petstore, however making money for yourself! All in all raising mealworms is pretty easy and they are low maintenance. If you can raise a sugar glider, mealworms will be a breeze!
purchase your worms. Start with anywhere from 500 to 1000 worms. I know that sounds like a lot of worms - but it really isn’t. I have 2 gliders and I started with 1000 worms. I highly recommend ordering worms online from Grubco or Worm Man Worm Farms. They cost under $15.00 for worms and shipping. Cost when purchasing from a pet shop is about $3.00 for maybe 30 worms.
a container is necessary for your Worm Farm. You can purchase a 3-drawer plastic container at Wal-Mart for under $6.00. Take a small drill bit and drill holes all around the top edges of all the drawers. (You don’t want to drill holes anywhere near the bottom or the mealies will escape!!) These will act as air holes and are very important. I also keep the drawers open just a little for some extra air source. Something else you can do is cut out a small hole in the top of the box. Then take a glue gun and glue screen over the holes. This is where you can keep the beetles since they are really the only ones you will not want getting out. The worms and larva you really do not need to worry about.
Bedding - Worms, beetles and pupae all need bedding. I use oatmeal (real oats - not cooked and not instant!) and oatmeal baby cereal. Use about 3/4 oats and 1/4 baby food cereal. That equals about 3 cups of oatmeal mix. Place about 1 1/2″ for the beetle tray, 1′ for the pupae tray and 1 1/2 to 2″ for the worm tray. The worms and beetles will eat the oatmeal mixture. Some people also use cornmeal in their bedding.
Cleaning the Bedding - To clean the bedding in the worm drawer, you will have to remove all the worms. This isn’t recommended until the worms get larger or you will throw out some of your tiny worms. To remove the worms, you can use a wire mesh sifter. It won’t sift out the oatmeal, but will sift out the waste - which is called Frass. Wash and disinfect the drawer and dry thoroughly. You can leave the remaining oatmeal adding fresh oatmeal mix to the drawer. Some may feel more comfortable adding totally fresh oatmeal mixture. To do this, you will have to go through the old mixture and pick out ALL the worms and place them in the fresh mixture. This can be a little time consuming!!!
It doesn’t really need cleaned very often. About 3 times a year.
And in the beetle drawer - you just pick out the dead beetles and beetle remnants. I use tweezers for this job - Yuck! You can’t replace the bedding in the beetle drawer as that is where your eggs are. You would be throwing away your next generation of worms - defeating the purpose of the farm. Also be careful throwing away any cardboard egg cartons, paper towels, etc. that have been placed in the drawer as beetles lay eggs on them.
Moisture - Carrots are the best thing I have found for moisture (some use potato slices) - worms, beetles and pupa need something to drink, too! Replace the carrots when they get dry. How long this takes will depend on how many worms or beetles are in a tray. Mine usually need fresh carrots about every 2-3 days. It’s not advisable to use fruit or anything that will cause mold to form. If mold should form in your farm - the worms will become toxic to your gliders and you will need to throw it all out, disinfect your container and start all over again. You can also put a small container of water in each drawer for moisture.
This post is just the beginning of a series of posts on raising mealworms. In the next few days I will cover a few different things to keep your mealworms healthy and thriving so you can continue to do this for years!