Acquired: Bred invertebrate myself
Minnesota, United States
Posted Aug 14, 2012
It all started with a little Styrofoam cup, half-filled with dead mealworms, in my 'fridge. We were buying the little buggers at the pet store as a treat for our painted turtle, but using them as occasional treats meant that they would start dying before he had a chance to eat all of them. So began the search on the Internets...
Turns out, you can just dump them into some type of friendly substrate, feed them your soon-to-be-rotting veggie scraps, and they thrive. They even love coffee grounds, although after a couple of filters-full, I decided that perhaps my turtle didn't need the caffeine as much as I do. I already had some old wheat and oat bran (that should have gone into homemade bread) lying around, so right away I got into the habit of using that as a base layer. Other than the base grain layer, I really didn't have to spend any money on the little critters. I just handed over a strip of banana peel, the shell of an avocado, or the seedy top from a bell pepper. They were happy to scrape the last morsels of nutrition from most anything (avoid citrus, though, I was told). It was fun to go back a couple days later and lift the edge of these trimmings to see who was living inside of them now. Sometimes I would have to kick them out of their little rotting nests in order to provide them with brand new fodder.
After a while, the larger worms would pupate and then turn into beetles. I got into a routine with my turtle's bugs. When the substrate started giving off a certain odor, I would "move" the critters to a fresh new home. I saved a few empty clamshell containers from salad mix, and I would put down a new layer of bran (and sometimes some other special grains, depending on what I had in the kitchen that day). All the beetles would get moved first, then the larger mealworms and pupae, and finally the smaller ones that I could actually pick up with a plastic fork (allows the substrate to fall through). After all the larger guys were gone, I'd "screen" the remaining mix for more worms, and finally, I would sort through the rest to pick out the tiny ones. This might sound like a lot of work, but it was therapeutic, I tell you! ;D
So, the turtle had a fresh supply of healthy eats, and it barely cost anything but my time. I'd highly recommend this labor of love for your own worm-eating pets.