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Can Axolotls Eat Hornworms? [What You Must Know]

If you’ve recently got yourself an Axolotl, or want to expand their diet, you might be wondering whether hornworms are a suitable, and beneficial choice.

Besides, they are often touted as an excellent feeder for bearded dragons, leopard geckos, chameleons, and various other reptiles.

So naturally you may be wondering if Axolotls can and perhaps should eat them too.

Well, that’s what I am here to help you with today.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the details to help you make an informed decision.

Can Axolotls Eat Hornworms?

Axolotls can eat hornworms. These worms are soft and easy for axolotls to digest. However, due to their high fat content, hornworms should be given only in moderation and ideally as an occasional treat for balanced nutrition.

What Are Hornworms?

Hornworms, scientifically known as Manduca sexta, are large, green caterpillars primarily known for their role as a primary pest to tomato plants in gardens.

These caterpillars are native to North America and can often be spotted on tomato, pepper, eggplant, and potato plants, munching away at the leaves.

They are named for the horn-like structure found at their rear end.

Benefits Of Feeding Hornworms To Axolotls

Hornworms Offer Hydration

One standout characteristic of hornworms is their high moisture content.

Feeding hornworms can contribute to healthy hydration levels in axolotls, taking the burden off their skin which is typically how they absorb water.

Learn more: Do Axolotls Drink Water? [The Essential Water Guide]

They Are Easy For Axolotls To Digest

Unlike some other feeder insects, hornworms don’t have a hard exoskeleton made of chitin. As such, due to their soft exteriors, hornworms are much easier for axolotls to digest compared to some harder-bodied prey.

This can be particularly beneficial for younger or smaller axolotls who may struggle with tougher foods.

Rich Nutritional Profile

Hornworms are packed with essential nutrients.

They offer a good dose of protein, which is crucial for the growth and muscle development of axolotls.

The high moisture content in hornworms also aids in keeping the axolotl hydrated.

High Palatability

Many axolotl owners report that their pets are particularly fond of hornworms.

Their vibrant color and wriggly movement can stimulate the axolotl’s natural hunting instincts, making feeding times more engaging.

Natural Variation

Introducing hornworms into an axolotl’s diet can provide a nice variation from their regular meals.

Dietary diversity is not only essential for balanced nutrition but can also prevent the axolotl from becoming bored with its food.

They Can Provide Much Needed Fat

While their high fat content means hornworms should be given in moderation, it also makes them a calorie-dense treat.

This can be beneficial for axolotls that might need a little weight boost or extra energy.

They Can Provide Mental Stimulation

The vibrant blue-green hue of hornworms can pique the interest of your axolotl.

This visual appeal can encourage more reluctant feeders to eat, providing mental and physical stimulation in the process.

Potential Concerns When Feeding Hornworms To Axolotls

As with any change or addition to an animal’s diet, there are considerations to be made. When it comes to feeding hornworms to axolotls, here are some potential concerns to be aware of:


Hornworms can grow to impressive lengths, sometimes reaching up to 4 inches.

It’s essential to match the size of the hornworm to the size of your axolotl.

A worm that’s too large can pose a choking risk or lead to impaction.

Always opt for smaller hornworms for juvenile axolotls and ensure the worm is an appropriate size for adults.

High Fat Content

As previously mentioned, hornworms are calorically dense due to their high fat content.

While this can be beneficial in moderation, excessive consumption can lead to obesity in axolotls.

Overweight axolotls can face various health issues, so it’s crucial to balance their diet.

Dietary Imbalance

Relying too heavily on hornworms can skew the nutritional balance axolotls require.

It’s essential to maintain a varied diet to ensure they receive all necessary nutrients.

While hornworms are nutritious, they shouldn’t replace other staple foods.

Source and Quality

Ensure the hornworms you’re purchasing are from a reputable source.

Hornworms bred for pet consumption should be free from pesticides or other chemicals harmful to axolotls.

Wild-caught hornworms, especially those from tomato plants, could carry residues of pesticides or toxins.


Because axolotls might be particularly fond of hornworms, there’s a risk of overfeeding.

It’s crucial to monitor your axolotl’s appetite and adjust the quantity accordingly.

Overfeeding not only poses a risk due to the hornworm’s high fat content but can also pollute the water with uneaten food.

How To Feed Hornworms To Your Axolotl

Introducing hornworms to your axolotl’s diet can be done, but it’s crucial to follow some guidelines to ensure the feeding process is beneficial and safe.

Here are the recommended steps and practices:

  • Size Selection: As previously emphasized, the size of the hornworm matters. For juvenile axolotls, ensure the hornworm is not bigger than the space between the axolotl’s eyes. For adult axolotls, while they can handle larger hornworms, it’s still best to avoid the very largest ones to prevent choking or impaction risks.
  • Frequency: Given their high fat content, hornworms should be considered an occasional treat rather than a dietary staple. Introducing them once a week or even bi-weekly is a safe frequency, ensuring you’re not overloading your axolotl with too much fat.
  • Quantity: One or two appropriately-sized hornworms per feeding session are usually sufficient for adult axolotls. For juveniles, starting with half or a smaller portion of a hornworm is recommended. It’s always better to start with less and gauge your axolotl’s reaction.
  • Preparation:
    • Rinsing: Before feeding, rinse the hornworms under cool, clean water to remove any potential contaminants.
    • Hand-feeding: Some axolotl owners opt for hand-feeding using soft-tipped tongs. This allows for a controlled feeding experience and ensures you’re providing the right quantity. It can also be an excellent way to bond with your axolotl.
    • Cutting: If a hornworm is slightly too large, you can cut it into smaller, more manageable pieces for your axolotl. Make sure to use clean utensils and offer the segments promptly.
  • Monitoring: After introducing a new food like hornworms, always monitor your axolotl’s behavior and stool. Any significant changes or signs of distress should be noted, and the feeding regimen should be adjusted accordingly.

Alternative Worms To Feed Your Axolotl

Earthworms (Nightcrawlers)

  • Benefits: Earthworms are a favorite among axolotl enthusiasts. They are rich in protein, which supports growth and muscle development. They also have a more balanced fat content compared to hornworms.
  • Comparison: Unlike hornworms, earthworms can be a staple in an axolotl’s diet due to their balanced nutritional profile. They’re usually more readily available and can be fed more frequently.

Learn more: Can Axolotls Eat Nightcrawlers? [What You Must Consider]


  • Benefits: Bloodworms are small, red worms that are high in protein. They’re often available in frozen or freeze-dried form, making them convenient to store.
  • Comparison: Due to their size, bloodworms are especially suited for juvenile axolotls. They don’t have the high fat content of hornworms but should still be offered as part of a varied diet.

Tubifex Worms

  • Benefits: Tubifex worms are another protein-rich food source. They are soft and easy for axolotls to digest, making them a good choice for younger individuals.
  • Comparison: Like bloodworms, they’re smaller than hornworms and can be used for juvenile axolotls. They’re less fatty than hornworms but can sometimes come from polluted waters, so ensure they’re sourced from reputable suppliers.

Dendrobaena Worms

  • Benefits: Dendrobaena worms, often used by fishkeepers and gardeners, are full of nutrients. They provide a good amount of protein, along with essential minerals.
  • Comparison: Their nutritional profile is more balanced than that of hornworms, making them a safer option for more regular feeding. They’re soft, making them relatively easy for axolotls to consume.

White Worms

  • Benefits: These small worms are protein-packed and can be a treat for axolotls. They’re particularly beneficial for stimulating appetite in picky eaters.
  • Comparison: Due to their high fat content, similar to hornworms, they should be given in moderation. They’re best used as an occasional treat rather than a staple.


Feeding hornworms to axolotls is generally safe and can be nutritious when offered judiciously.

However, best practices should be adhered to and what goes for one axolotl (and owner) may not go for another.

For instance, some axolotls may be able to consume them more frequently, or in larger portion sizes.

And as with all foods, individual axolotls may have varied preferences, and not all may take to hornworms.

While these caterpillars provide benefits, they also come with potential risks.

Ultimately, the decision to incorporate hornworms into your axolotl’s diet rests with the informed discretion of you, the owner.

You know your axie.

Is it right for them?

Related Axolotl feeding guides you may want to read: