If you’re planning to own a chameleon or already have one, you will be probably wondering what do chameleons eat, especially on a daily basis. Like humans, chameleons need to eat every day to survive and stay healthy.
What do chameleons eat daily? Chameleons eat insects, plants, vegetables, and fruits. Their daily diet should consist primarily of insects, especially crickets. Vegetables and fruits should be fed to them every other day to help fulfill their nutrition requirements.
In their natural habitat, chameleons are able to hunt for food themselves. But in captivity, chameleons depends on you for food. For that reason, you should know what chameleons can and can’t eat. There is much different food from insects to small animals that chameleons enjoy eating. Each chameleon has its own different taste and if you own more than one chameleon, it’s best to try different food for each chameleon. While one chameleon might prefer grasshoppers, the other one might only prefer flies.
Also, the wrong type of food given to them can be fatal so it’s best to do your research on each food type first. Your local pet shop can help guide you on the best food to give to them and what food to stay away from.
Types Of Insects Chameleon Eat
When it comes to the chameleon’s favorite food, insects top the list. Chameleons are also known as insectivores, which means their main diet consist of insects. Insects are what is naturally found in their natural habitat so it makes sense this is their favorite food. Depending on the size of the chameleons, their preferred insects will vary. The smaller chameleons will prefer small insects such as silkworms, flies, and cicadas. The larger chameleons will prefer crickets, grasshoppers, roaches, and spiders.
Finding insects to feed your chameleons isn’t hard. They are plentiful in wooded areas of your town or even in your own backyard. If you do decide to catch them yourself, make sure to clean the insects thoroughly with water before feeding them to your pet chameleons. If not, the insects could contain harmful bacteria and even chemicals, which will eventually end up in your chameleons. In addition, you can save a lot of money this way.
If you rather not find insects on your own, your local pet store offers plenty of insects for sale. Depending on your location, they might be limited to some insects during a different season of the year. Before purchasing them, make sure that the insects are healthy and clean.
Another great place to purchase insects is online. Purchasing it online can be cheaper and more convenient as you don’t need to leave the house. Amazon has a lot of insects for sale and they can be shipped directly to your home.
Like any other lizards, chameleons prefer different insects each day. For this reason, you should purchase a variety of insects and rotate their meals with different insects each day.
Feeding Crickets To Chameleon
Crickets naturally contain all the essential amino acids, Omega-3s, Omega-6s, B12. In addition, they are 65% protein by weight which means they are great for baby and juvenile crickets.
Most of the chameleon’s owners use crickets as a gut loader. Gut loading is simply feeding the crickets high nutritional food such as fruits and vegetables, which then get passed down to the chameleons as they eat them.
Beside gut loading them, crickets are also great for giving your chameleon’s vitamin supplements. This can be done by sprinkling some calcium and other supplements on the crickets and have the chameleons eat them.
Live crickets are best fed to the chameleons because it contains the highest amount of nutrition. There are freeze-dried crickets available too, but over time, they’ll start to lose their nutrition from their body. However, freeze-dried crickets can be kept for a longer period of time, with some almost a year long.
Feeding Flies To Chameleon
Flies are another great feeder for chameleons. These insects are loaded with proteins, fats, and calcium. Depending on the fly species, some will have a higher content of proteins and some will have less.
Flies that can be fed to the chameleons include blue bottles, green bottles, curly wing fly, black soldier fly, wax month, and fruit flies. The most nutritional flies for chameleons are Blue Bottle Flies. These flies have the highest amount of nutrition content per weight.
Other flies like the houseflies and fruit flies are great feeders too, but you’ll need to feed them a large amount to match 1 blue bottle flies.
Feeding Locusts To Chameleon
Locusts or grasshoppers are feeders and gut loader for chameleons. These insects contain a high level of proteins, along with fats and calcium.
Locusts are great for feeding chameleons as a gut loader. They can gut loaded with vegetables and fruits before the chameleons feed on them. Some of the food that can be gut loaded to the locusts are spinach, collard greens, wheat, apple, and pears.
These are seasonal insects, which means they are available only during the warmer months. During the colder months, they either migrate south to the warmer area or they hibernate in the ground. For that reason, finding them in the winter season will be harder. However, they are also available as freeze-dried, but it won’t contain the full nutrition content as live one will.
Feeding Roaches To Chameleon
Roaches are another great feeder for chameleons. They have a high amount of proteins, fat, fiber, and calcium. This means they are
What makes roaches ideal as a food for chameleons is the size they can grow too. There are over 3,000 species of roaches in the world! Roaches vary from less than a half-inch long to about 3 inches. The largest which can grow over 3 inches are the Madagascar hissing cockroaches and Australian rhinoceros cockroach. The larger they are, the more nutrition content they have.
Roaches can be found throughout the year. They live in almost all parts of the world and easy to find. However, if you are looking for the bigger roaches, only pet shops and online stores will have them.
Types Of Worms Chameleon Eat
Another great diet for chameleons to eat daily is worms. Worms are very nutritional for the chameleons as it contains protein, fat, carbohydrates, and minerals and a range of vitamins, including niacin. Mealworms, wax worms, earthworms, and silkworms are the common food given to chameleons. You can find these worms at your local pet shop. Besides the pet shop, you can find them in your backyard and in the wooded area.
Feeding Earthworms To Chameleon
Earthworms are filled with a high content of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and 2-3% minerals and a range of vitamins, including niacin. In addition, they contain essential amino acids such as lysine and methionine. For this reason, earthworms are great for chameleons, especially baby and juvenile chameleons.
Earthworms are probably the easiest feeders to care for. They can be stored in a box full of soils, leaves, and other organic matters. Also, earthworms, can be placed in a container and stored in the refrigerator. When the chameleons are ready to be fed, you can pull each one at a time to feed them.
Feeding Mealworms To Chameleon
Mealworms are high in protein and fat. They can be fed to the chameleons as dry feeders or live. However, live mealworms tend to be the better choice as it will contain more protein and fat content.
Mealworms are the larvae of beetles. They take up to three months to develop into a beetle. To keep them in the larvae stage as long as possible, you should store them in a cool, dark area of the house. Also, make sure to keep the area moist and with some food for them to eat.
Feeding Silkworms To Chameleon
Silkworms are naturally high in calcium, iron, magnesium, protein, sodium, and vitamins B1, B2, and B3, low in fat and phosphorus. For this reason, silkworms more nutritious than any other feeder. Also, they are the healthiest and natural feeder for the chameleons.
The silkworm is the larva or caterpillar of a silkmoth. They are simple to care for and can live in the larvae stage for a long time. Without food, silkworms can last for over a week. On the other hand, with feed, they can last over a month! The best thing about silkworms is that you can grow them to your desired size (up to three inches before cocooning. The bigger they are, the more nutritious they are.
Another great thing about silkworms is that they are great for female chameleons. When the female chameleons lay her eggs, the eggs will be strong and healthy due to the high calcium content.
Feeding Waxworms To Chameleon
Waxworms are the caterpillar larvae of wax moths. They are very highly nutritious because of their high fat and protein content. At their larvae stage, they need these for their full development to adults.
When choosing waxworms, make sure they are healthy and free of diseases. Sick waxworms can cause your chameleons to be sick and even death can occur. In addition, live waxworms are preferred as they contain the most nutrition.
To keep waxworms in their larvae stage, you can put them in the refrigerator. Doing so will prevent them from becoming a pupa. Once they do, you can no longer feed waxworms to your chameleons.
Types Of Plants Chameleon Eat
Although insects are their favorite food on the menu, they will occasionally chomp down on plants. Veiled Chameleons are one type of chameleon that loves to eat plants such as mustard greens, collard greens, and dandelion greens.
Plants are nutritional for your chameleons. If your chameleons are not eating any plants, you can try gut loading. Gut loading is the process in which you feed the insects with a lot of collards, rolled oats, sweet potatoes, melons, crushed bean, spinach, or watermelons before feeding them to your pet chameleons.
Since there are many chameleon species and each is different from one another, the best way to find out what plants they like to eat is to try a different one out each time. You can introduce mustard greens today and spinach the next day. This is going to take some time. It might take a couple of days or even a couple of months before your chameleons start eating the plants.
Ficus plants are not only great plants for growing in the cage, but make great food the chameleons as well. These are hardy plants and grow well indoors.
Ficus isn’t for all chameleons, some chameleons will eat it and some won’t. Veiled chameleons will occasionally eat the ficus plants, especially the leaves of the ficus plants. Some species like the panther chameleons won’t even touch it, but there are some who occasionally will take a bite out of it.
One thing to watch out for is the toxin levels in them. There are many varieties of ficus that can be grown with the chameleons. One particular ficus plant to pay attention to is the Ficus Benjamina. It has mild toxic and you should take action when your chameleon starts munching the plant too much.
Kale or leaf cabbage is another great plant for chameleons. This plant is considered a superfood because it contains a high amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, calcium, copper, magnesium, and potassium. With so much nutritional value, kale is one of the best plants to feed your chameleons.
If your chameleons are not eating kale at all, another option would be to gut load insects with them. Some of the insects like grasshoppers and crickets enjoy eating kale and can eat a large amount too.
Pothos is another great plant for chameleons to eat. There many varieties of pothos available. The best variety to give to your chameleons is the golden pothos or the devil’s ivy. These are great plants to grow inside the cage as well because they don’t require much maintenance.
With the golden pothos, if you’re planning to grow them in the cage, make sure your chameleons aren’t eating too much of it. A large number of golden pothos leaves can be fatal. Large quantity means almost an entire plant in one feeding, which is almost impossible for a chameleon to do.
This is a great plant to grow inside the chameleon cage. Not only does it make great plants to grow but great food for chameleons to eat. Lettuce is nutritious and has a high amount of minerals and vitamins. As for minerals, lettuce has calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. For vitamins, it’s packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, and folate.
Lettuce is one of those plants that grow quickly and so you’ll always have green leafy food for your chameleons to eat.
For more in-depth on feeding chameleon lettuce: Can chameleons eat lettuce
Type Of Fruits & Vegetables Chameleon Eat
Not all species of chameleons eat fruits and veggies, but when they do, you can feed them all sorts of delicious and highly nutritious fruits and vegetables. Some of the vegetables that can be fed to the chameleons are carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, sweet red peppers, and zucchini. As for fruits, they can be fed pears, apple, melon, berries, kiwi, and banana.
Make sure all fruits and vegetables that are given to your chameleons are fresh. Leftover and old vegetables and fruits can contain mold and rancid, which could cause your chameleons to become ill. The food should also be free from pesticides and fertilizers, which can be hazardous to them. Before feeding them, wash the fruits and vegetables thoroughly to remove bugs and other pests.
While most fruits and vegetables are great for chameleons, there are some that can be dangerous to them. The following should be avoided: cabbage, figs, apricots, iceberg lettuce, and spinach. These items should be avoided as well as when gut loading your insects.
Feeding Mice To Chameleons
Mice is another favorite food for chameleons. While the smaller chameleons might not prey on mice, the larger chameleons will. It’s not unusual for large chameleons to catch and eat mice on a daily basis. If your chameleons are big enough, you can try to feed them mice and see if they will eat it. If they enjoy eating mice, you can give it to them once or twice a week. Mice can be bought at your local pet store or even online. Where ever you buy them, make sure the mice are healthy and disease-free.
Dietary supplements are one thing that is most forgotten when caring for your pet chameleons. Like any living thing, it needs to eat to meet their dietary requirements. However, not all food given to them will have all the required dietary supplement, which is why you need to give them additional supplements in the form of tablets. The easiest way to give them the supplements is to melt the tablets in the water and give it to them in the form of droplets. Make sure to read the label on the package to determine how much and how often to feed them the supplements.
Chameleons need calcium to phosphorus ratio of 2:1. This is very important to maintain optimal health, especially for cold-blooded animals. If you install UVB lighting, you can reduce the calcium intake for the chameleons.
The last on the list is water. All living things on this planet need water to survive. Water keeps the body of the chameleons hydrated and helps move nutrients throughout the body.
In their natural habitat, chameleons drink water as a droplet. Drops of water come via plants, branches, other overhanging objects in the trees. This means you will need to mimic the way they drink water. You can accomplish that by using a container that has a tube and valve to spray the water onto the leaves which will form into drops. The tube and valve can be purchased at your local pet shop or you can purchase it here at Amazon.
As you can see from above, caring for your pet chameleon isn’t an easy task. Knowing what to feed them is one of the important daily tasks of keeping your chameleon happy and healthy. Besides the food diets above, there is plenty of other food that your chameleon might like. Before introducing them, ask your local pet shop for advice first to see if the food is acceptable for your pet chameleon.
Dan got started with his first reptile, which was a green iguana, at the age of 10. From there, he has raised many different species of reptiles. Besides caring for reptiles, he enjoys woodworking, playing basketball, and spending free time with my 4 wonderful kids.