Q: I've heard that all BSF products are alike, just different brand names for the same thing. Is this true?

A: NO, it is not true. This information is so important we are reproducing our detailed response here, in full. The following was recently provided to the author of a soon-to-be-published book about bearded dragons:

"Thank you for asking about the differences. From the time the first competing product appeared in the market, their claim has been that all BSF are the same. This statement serves them well as our standards for Phoenix Worms are quite high, but it's not a true statement. We thought it was best to "take the high road" and allow customers to discover the differences for themselves. The only time we have responded publicly is when a specific question has been asked on a forum. Customers who buy Phoenix Worms have a strong preference for our product and our customer base continues to grow. However, there are some people who purchase a BSF product from a competitor, or from Craig's List or eBay, who believe that "all BSF are the same." Then if they have a bad experience, they never even try genuine Phoenix Worms (because all BSF are the same so ours must be terrible, too).

The differences range from nutritional variances which affect animals to aesthetic differences that make genuine Phoenix Worms a more desirable feeder for the pet owner. The list follows:

1. Phoenix Worms have the ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio for herps (1.52 to 1). Competitors (including sellers on eBay and Craig's List) claim our published nutritional values as their own. They assume their BSF values are the same but this is virtually impossible because no one can feed the same identical diet as ours. All of our data is obtained from the analyses conducted by independent labs and we guarantee our product. Phoenix Worms are a very nutritious, low fat, feeder that is safe and can be fed as a staple food every day.

2. Timberline states that their Calciworm product is "not intended to feed as a sole ration." The reason for this is their Ca to P ratio is not in balance (3.28 to 1); too much calcium is not desirable as this can result in hypercalcemia.

3. We harvest Phoenix Worms at select stages which enables us to provide 4 discrete worm sizes. Other producers either sell a mix of sizes in a cup, or sell worm sizes which are inconsistent.

4. The shelf life of Phoenix Worms is longer than other BSF products which provides better value for our customers. We believe that this is due partly because we limit the number of worms in a cup which provides the best environment for worm longevity; we do not sell "buckets" of worms as do many of our competitors. Even zoos, who purchase every week in large quantities, are provided Phoenix Worms in 500-ct. cups which ensures the highest worm quality and longest life.

5. Our packing media is unique in that it can be easily separated from the worms. Customers can remove worms to be fed and place them in a bowl of water; the worms will float while the media will sink. If worms are left to soak in the water for a few minutes, they will plump up and can provide additional hydration when fed-off to animals. This isn't possible with other BSF products as their "potting soil" type media floats in the water along with worms.

6. Phoenix Worms were tested by various breeders for almost 5 years before we took this feeder to market in 2005--Sun Pet in Atlanta fed many different species of animals (including bearded dragons, dart frogs, geckos, and fish) over a 4-year period; dart frog breeders in Washington State and Arizona tested with their animals throughout 2003; Allen Repashy conducted feeding trials with thousands of geckos over a 2-year period; and breeders of bearded dragons in Virginia and Florida participated in comparison diet studies over a 6-month trial period in 2004 and submitted their measured results. To our knowledge, no competitor has sought or obtained this kind of professional breeder review of their BSF product." 

Q: How many Phoenix Worms should I feed at a time?
A: The rule for babies is to feed as many worms as your baby wants to eat within 10-15 minutes, 2X or 3X per day. Active growth occurs during the first year of life and protein (live feeders) must not be restricted during this time as the diet should be 80% protein and 20% greens. Adult animals require much less protein (the diet should slowly become 20% protein and 80% greens) so the number of worms you feed will decrease. The total number of worms to feed will vary depending upon whether you serve crickets or other feeders along with Phoenix Worms as well as your pet's appetite. Customers tell us they feed their adult dragons anywhere from 20 to 60 worms (or more) per feeding.

Q: Should I refrigerate Phoenix Worms?
A: NO. Phoenix Worms can tolerate high temperatures and will survive short exposure to freezing temperatures but will have the best shelf life when stored at 50 to 60 degrees F. A wine cooler or basement are great storage places but setting the cups near an A/C vent will work just fine in the summer. Although it's possible to "hold" worms for months when stored at 50 degrees, you should only order the number of worms that will be fed off within 3 weeks so your animal will have fresh food.

Q: Do I have to buy a wine cooler to store my cups of Phoenix Worms?
A: NO. If you don't have a cool place in your home, an inexpensive way to store the cups is to get a small Styrofoam cooler and two bottled waters. Freeze the bottled waters. Put one frozen bottle inside the cooler against one side and store your closed cups of Phoenix Worms on the other side. This lowers the ambient temperature and keeps the worms fresh and in their larval state. Warmth is what pushes the worms toward pupation. Every morning simply swap the thawed bottle with the frozen one kept in your freezer.

Q: Should I leave the top off of my cup of Phoenix Worms to give them air?
A: NO. The special cup must be kept closed to ensure a long shelf life. Your Phoenix Worms will be able to breathe in their cup (we promise). Do not transfer the worms into another container for storage!

Q: What is the sawdust-like stuff in the cups? Is this food for the worms? Do I need to feed them anything?
A: The packing material is an organic medium but it is not food or sawdust. Do NOT feed Phoenix Worms anything. Phoenix Worms are shipped purged (gut is empty). If you feed them, it will restart the worms' digestive system, the worms will defecate and foul the media, and this can allow the growth of bacteria, fungus, and other problems. Just add a few drops of water if the media/worms begin to appear too dry.

Q: How do I get the packing media off the worms? Is it harmful if my pet eats it?
A: Pour out the worms you plan to feed onto a paper towel. Let them dry for a few minutes and the dry media will fall off the dry worms. You can easily blow away any residue that remains. Another way to clean worms quickly is to pour the amount you want to feed into a bowl of water. The worms will float and the media will sink to the bottom (this will not work with the XSmall size worms). Lift off the floating worms from the water surface with a hand strainer, pour onto a paper towel, and pat dry. Note: If your pet should accidentally ingest any particles, they will not harm him/her.

Q: How do you keep Phoenix Worms from climbing out of their dish?
A: Just make sure you serve dry worms in a dry dish. Any moisture will enable Phoenix Worms to climb!

Q: Some of my Phoenix Worms are turning dark. Are they dead or dying?
A: Usually the answer is no. Turning dark is part of the life cycle and is natural as the worm matures. This is seen more often in the large size. Dark worms actually have the highest levels of calcium. We suggest that you feed any dark worms first while they are still wiggly. Note: Dark, still, worms are trying to pupate but can still be fed. You can set aside still worms and if conditions are just right, you may have black soldier fly emerge in 10-14 days. Animals LOVE to catch the fly and eat it, too!

Q. There is an ammonia smell. Is this normal?
An ammonia smell means that there is a dead worm or worms in your cup. Please remove/discard any obviously dead worms, then replace the worms and media back into the cup and leave the lid off for a couple of hours. This will allow the odor to dissipate and the packing media will dry out a bit. Then replace the lid. Live worms are fine to feed.

Q. I've seen undigested Phoenix Worms in my pet's feces. What's happening?
Sometimes when an animal is excited over a new food, he/she will gulp down a mouthful of worms without chewing. To help ensure good digestion, it's important to show down the feeding response so that teeth pierce the worms. Try serving only a few worms at a time or hand-feeding so that your pet will chew each bite. Another method used by frog hobbyists is to pierce the prey with a needle before serving. This enables stomach juices to do their job. Most people report that the incidence of undigested worms goes away after the "newness" wears off.

Q. Do you pack an overcount? Why are there smaller worms in my cup?
A. We routinely pack 20% to 30% more worms in each cup than is stated on the cup. We do this because we know that things can occur during shipping that can cause losses and we want our customers to receive at least the number of live worms they purchased. Often, customers receive bonus worms. Also, sometimes when we're cupping a specific size we find that some of the worms didn't grow as fast as their cousins. When this happens, instead of discarding them, we enclose the smaller worms as free extras. These freebies are NOT included in the worm count and are a true bonus.

Q. Can I return my cups of Phoenix Worms?
We're sorry but we cannot accept returns because we only ship fresh worms to each customer.

Q. If my Phoenix Worms are DOA, how do I get them replaced?
Please read the "Live Delivery Guarantee" section on the website and follow the instructions. At our option, we may request photos of the dead worms to evaluate your claim.

Q: Are all BSF larvae the same?
A: NO. To ensure safety, genuine Phoenix Worms is the only brand that was subjected to breeder testing for more than 5 years before being sold to the public. Reared in a completely closed environment, our worms are fed a proprietary diet which guarantees their nutritional values and provides balanced calcium:phosphorus for your pets. Other brands pack their worms in dirt, wood shavings, and other materials. We use a unique medium that is cleaner, 100% organic, and harmless. Customers tell us that other brands turn into flies quickly, smell bad, and do not have the long shelf life of Phoenix Worms.

Q: Can I buy Phoenix Worms at my local pet store?
A: Some pet stores carry our worms but lots of people still don't know about this feeder. Help us spread the word! Email us the name and contact info for your local store and we'll contact them directly.

Q: Why are Phoenix Worms not sold in Petco and Petsmart?
A: The "big box" pet stores can only stock products that are chosen by their corporate marketing department. Although we have presented Phoenix Worms to both chains, neither has chosen to add our worms to their product line. Independent pet stores can make their own decision about adding products and will respond to customer demand so be sure to ask for Phoenix Worms by name!

Q: Do you ship to Canada, the UK, European countries?
A: We currently ship to distributors in Canada who have obtained clearances to import these live insects. We are not able to ship directly to customers outside the United States due to customs restrictions. Email us to get specific information for your area.