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Your Cham's Diet

Obtaining, Feeding, and Supplementing

It is not unusual for a chameleon in a new environment to go on a hunger strike. They CAN survive without eating for several days, so do not panic. Give them time to settle in and get acclimated to their new home. Avoid contact  both  physical and visual except to attempt to feed and water them if you see this. Offer them many different insects...VARIETY is the spice of life. A chameleon may eat one food every day for a couple of weeks, then turn his snout up at it. Try throwing in some variety. ACHETUS DOMESTICUS, or the house cricket is one of the best food items. They are readily available and easily gut loaded (see breeding the house cricket page). meal worms, waxworms, king meal worms, and silkworms are also used frequently and available thru the internet.

Methods of Obtaining Feeder Insects

  • Ordering either over the internet or mail order or purchasing from a bait shop or pet store are all good sources.

  • Another method of gathering food is a FIELD SWEEP (see Grasshopper Sunday video). This is done by going out into a field with a net and brushing it close to the ground. Close it up or empty it into a collection container and sweep again. BE CERTAIN WHERE YOU ARE SWEEPING IS FREE OF PESTICIDES Virtually any bug is FAIR GAME to a chameleon. Most chams will not eat the BLACK BEETLE that the meal worms turn into, nor will they eat ladybugs. Experiment with your cham and see what they like. 

  • Breeding your own insects can be fun and interesting, and most insects are fairly easy to breed. Visit the Feeder Insect Main Page for instructions on breeding many different species. One obvious advantage to this is you can bring them up on a healthy diet. (see GUTLOAD) For more on obtaining visit Obtaining

see Notes on Feeder Insects

Methods of Feeding

  • One fun and interesting method of feeding is hand feeding (see Chameleon Videos). This is done by holding the bug either in forceps or your fingers, where the cham can see it. Give them time to find it and watch for the 5 phases of feeding (see MYTHS, MISCONCEPTIONS, AND FOLKLORE PAGE for explanation and pictures).

  • Another method is to free range the prey insects or let them loose in the cage. this method allows the chameleon to get exercise and to HUNT (they are natural hunters) for prey. Be sure not to leave loose prey insects in with a sick or injured chameleon. Some insects are very aggressive and a sick chameleon often is not willing or capable of self defense. This method can allow escapees if your enclosure is not tight walled. It also makes it difficult to monitor the animal's intake, but the hunting and exercise are both very beneficial to your animal.

  • Finally the last method I will cover, bowl feeding, involves using a dish to place the prey insects in. You can use many different dishes, but make sure the feeder insects cannot easily escape. The obvious drawbacks to this method are that it does not allow the animal to hunt, nor create exercise for them. It does make it easy to monitor how much is eaten. This method is probably best used for emergency feeding of a sick animal, or with new hatchlings.

 

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Supplementation

DIETARY SUPPLEMENTS AVAILABLE

Rep-Cal Calcium Herptivite 

Miner-All Indoor / Outdoor - Developed for Chameleons

T-REX Calcium Plus Cricket Food,  Bone-Aid Liquid Calcium, Bone-Aid Calcium Powder  

Bone-Aid Calcium Tablet, Solar Drops (Pure Vitamin D) Hydro-Life (Electrolytes)

Vitamin supplementation can easily be overdone, and should be used in a very limited and tightly monitored regimen.

The best technique is to "gut load" your feeder insects with a healthy diet. 

Miner-all is considered the best supplement by more chamowners. It was developed by a chameleon breeder, especially for chameleons, with an indoor version (with D3) and an outdoor version (without D3).

A good lighting system and frequent exposure to natural unfiltered sunlight is safer than adding powdered or liquid synthetic D3 supplements,  the UVB wavelength allows all reptiles the ability to regulate their own Vitamin D levels by endogenous synthesis as they would in nature, and  eliminates risk of vitamin D3 overdose (highly toxic) from synthetic sources. 

literature cited (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)Link will open in a new window.