Wondering how often and how much chameleons eat? This guide is for you!
To make your chameleons happy and healthy, you should understand their needs and promptly take care of them.
The primary need for this animal is feeding. What kind of diet does your chameleon need? It’s imperative that you acquaint yourself with how often and how much this lizard eats.
This will put you in a good position to respond effectively to his dietary needs.
Adult chameleons should be fed every other day (once every two days). They should be given about 5 to 7 large insects per feeding session. Of course, your chameleon’s feeding needs vary depending on gender, age, and health status.
Equally importantly, you should feed your pet proper food. It should not come as a surprise if your chameleon refuses to eat frozen crickets or cricket pellets.
This is because this lizard’s favorite diet is live insects. This diet lets your pet’s hunting instincts kick in, and he gets lots of fun while feeding.
How Much Should You Feed Your Baby Chameleon?
Likely, your pet chameleon will enter your home as a baby. This is the way it should be, considering it is easier to train young pets than older ones.
You should be prepared to handle your baby chameleon’s voracious appetite. Since it’s fast-growing, a baby chameleon has a high metabolic rate.
All the same, you should be careful not to overfeed this little lizard. Baby chameleons should be fed between 12 and i8 insects daily.
The best approach to giving your baby these insects is to spread them over two meals. About 8 of them should be given to your pet in the morning feeding session.
The remaining 7 should be offered as part of the evening meal. However, if you’re not around to give the two meals, it would be okay to provide just one.
The bulk of the money you spend on baby chameleons goes towards food. Of the chameleon age groups, babies eat the most – and this is understandable considering their high growth rate.
How Often Should You Feed Your Baby Chameleon?
Baby chameleons have a constant need for food. This is because they grow very fast, and their metabolism responds by being super-fast.
If possible, feed your baby chameleon twice daily – once in the morning and once in the evening. This little reptile should consume about 12 to 18 medium-sized insects between the two feedings.
However, if you can’t be available to feed your baby chameleons twice a day, one heavy meal should suffice.
How Much Should You Feed Your Juvenile Chameleon?
A juvenile chameleon is one between the ages of 6 months and 1 year. By the time the chameleon is 1 year old; it is on the threshold of adulthood and has completed most of its growth.
A juvenile chameleon grows more slowly than a baby. As such, the juvenile’s feeding needs are less. Gradually reduce your chameleon’s food intake after the 6th month.
By the time he gets to 1 year, he should eat 2/3 of what he ate as a baby.
So, if he was eating 18 insects as a baby, this should be gradually reduced to 12 insects by 10 months, and 8 by 1 year.
As you reduce the number of this lizard’s meals, increase the size of insects you give him. He can now eat bigger insects – but not too big as to choke him.
The rule of thumb is that you should not give your chameleon an insect bigger than the space between his eyes.
How Often Should You Feed Your Juvenile Chameleon?
While babies should be fed twice a day, juveniles are best fed once a day. Again, we scale down as the reptile becomes bigger.
A baby chameleon has a high metabolic rate and should be fed frequently. As his growing pace slows, you can cut down the frequency of his meals.
A male a day by the age of 7 months is okay. By the age of 10 months, you can skip a day between meals without adversely affecting your pet’s life.
How Much Should You Feed Your Adult Chameleon?
Feeding becomes easier as your chameleon grows from a youngster to an adult. Adults need less food than juveniles.
Your adult chameleon will be okay with about six large insects every two days. At this stage, some chameleons are skilled enough at feeding that they can eat insects bigger than their heads.
How Often Should You Feed Your Adult Chameleon?
If your chameleon is healthy and well-adjusted, you should feed it once every two days. Don’t feel guilty even if your chameleon goes for three days without eating.
Adult chameleons don’t have a big need for a lot of food. As such, it is almost impossible to overfeed it.
The only time you should be concerned is when your pet goes for a week without a proper meal. This amounts to negligence and should be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
As a chameleon enthusiast, you should be at the forefront setting a good example of how a pet chameleon should be treated.
All the same, there’s the real danger of overfeeding your chameleon. This is what you should primarily be concerned about.
Can You Overfeed Your Chameleon?
The danger of overfeeding your chameleon is real. To understand this, you have to look at chameleons in their natural setting.
Chameleons in the wild are heavy eaters. They eat like they’ll never get another meal whenever they come across insects they can hunt.
To some extent, their fear is real. Chameleons can go for days – and possibly weeks – without finding enough food to cater to their nutritional needs.
This means that whenever they get insects, they eat as many as their stomachs can accommodate. This instinctive feeding behavior is wired in your chameleon’s DNA.
Unlike cats and dogs that eat just enough when offered food, your chameleon will keep eating as long as the food is available.
Now, when you consider that adult chameleons don’t engage in a lot of activity, you can see where the danger of overfeeding comes in.
Unlike most animals that digest food in a matter of hours, food takes days to pass through the chameleon’s digestive tract.
Overfeeding opens a can of worms regarding this reptile. Frequently overfed chameleons are likely to suffer from kidney problems, liver complications, and gout.
These problems compromise your pet’s long-term health standing and shorten his lifespan. Following a proper feeding schedule will improve your pet’s health and enable him to live longer.
What’s the Impact of Brumation on Feeding?
Your Chameleon will not eat at all when just before and during brumation. Brumation is more or less like hibernation.
However, hibernation calls for a total shutdown of the internal systems while the animal goes into a deep sleep.
On the other hand, brumation means that the animal’s internal processes slow down, so that the animal can survive the intensely cold months of winter.
There’s really no need for your chameleon to go through brumation in captivity because it has everything it needs.
Nonetheless, some scientists argue that brumation extends an animal’s life, and that it should be encouraged even with animals in captivity.
Offer your animals a little food every 4 days for 6 weeks when it’s in brumation. However, when brumation ends, gradually increase the frequency of feeding back to normal.
Your chameleon needs to stay well-hydrated during brumation. You should mist the enclosure to maintain the right humidity and provide your pet with drinking water.
The good thing about this animal is that even if it doesn’t drink a lot of water, it still absorbs some through the skin.
Is My Chameleon Too Skinny?
One would have to be super-neglectful for their chameleons to look skinny. This is because an adult chameleon can go for a number of days without food and still be okay.
However, if your chameleon goes without food for 1 week several times, it may affect its health. As such, try your best not to skip your pet’s feeding schedule; he should be fed once every two days.
However, should it happen that this animal goes without food for three days; he’ll still be in good cheer and health.
Younger chameleons look skinny no matter how much they eat. The food they consume goes into boosting their growth.
They will grow taller and higher but will not add much bulk. You’ll start seeing an increase in their bulk as they move from being babies to juveniles.
What Supplements Does My Chameleon Need?
It’s important that you supplement your chameleon’s food with minerals and vitamins to cover for any shortfalls in the normal diet.
Female chameleons need heavier and more frequent supplementation than males. This is because females spend more energy and resources on producing and laying eggs.
Take care not to give your chameleon too little or too much supplementation.
Dusting insects is the best way to supplement your pet’s diet. Dust feeder insects with calcium every feeding time, and with multivitamins at least once weekly.
Also, you can provide your chameleon with the proper supplements by gut-loading the insects a few days before feeding them to your pet.
Gut-loading involves feeding the insects a careful selection of vegetables to make the insects nutrient-rich.
Calcium is an important dietary supplement, strengthening your pet’s bones and body structures.
A deficiency of calcium leads to the development of one of the most dreaded reptile diseases – metabolic bone disease.
Metabolic bone disease is characterized by weak, spongy bones, movement problems, lethargy, and inability to use the jaws.
To avert this kind of outcome, sprinkle calcium powder over your pet’s food at every meal. This supplement fortifies the food and gives your pet the extra ingredients he needs to stay healthy.
Conduct due diligence before buying any food supplements for your pet. Some commercial products are not fit for consumption.
To be on the safe side, check for customer reviews and only purchase from reputable dealers.
What’s a Healthy Chameleon Diet?
Provide Live Insects
Your pet chameleon thrives on live insects. To make this animal happy and healthy, ensure there’s a constant supply of live insects.
The easiest live insects to find are crickets. These insects are readily available, and your chameleon finds them tasty.
Crickets have a wide range of nutrients beneficial for your pet’s growth and development. Look for this diet in a store that specializes in reptile care.
Do not purchase wild-caught crickets, as they are likely to be laden with pesticides, herbicides, and parasites.
Gut-load the insects about 3 days before feeding them to the chameleons. Also, dust them with calcium and vitamin supplements just a few minutes before feeding time.
Follow a Proper Feeding Schedule
Your chameleon should be fed specific amounts of food at certain intervals. For example, a baby chameleon should be fed about 12 small to medium insects every day.
Juveniles should be fed about 8 insects every day or every other day. Adults require 6 six insects every other day.
Sticking to such a schedule ensures your chameleon’s health is well taken care of.
Vary Your Pet’s Diet
Crickets are good as your chameleon’s staple. However, you need to vary your pet’s diet to make his life more interesting.
These insects should be treated in the same way as crickets. They should be:
- Sourced from a reputable breeder. Avoid wild insects.
- Gut-loaded 2 or 3 days before feeding time.
- Dusted with calcium, minerals, and vitamins to fortify them.
Your chameleon will find the following insects particularly tasty and nutritious: roaches, moths, silkworms, mealworms, locusts, flies, and wax worms.
Others include butterworms and hornworms.
Gut-Load the Insects
Gut-loading is all about feeding the insects certain foods to increase their nutritional content. To benefit your chameleon, feed the insects foods rich in calcium and vitamins.
Here’s a look at some foods you can use to gut-load insects: collard greens, watercress, alfalfa, mustard greens, and dandelion.
Others include apples, broccoli, mango, oranges, sweet potato, and carrots.
Dust the Insects with Supplements
Dusting insects with supplements involves coating them with vitamins and calcium. This should happen about 5 or so minutes before feeding time.
If you do it too early, the dust will fall off as the insect moves around.
The special supplement powder you can use for dusting insects is readily available in online and live stores.
Remember to specify that you want a formulation suitable for lizards.
To effectively coat the insects, mist them with water before sprinkling the powder supplement on their bodies.
Dust insects with calcium supplements at least three times a week. Once fortnightly, you can dust the insects with a general multivitamin.
In the wild, chameleons take care of their dietary needs by feeding on a variety of insects. In captivity, it falls on the pet parent to provide this variety.
To keep your chameleon healthy, provide him with a varied diet of crickets and store-bought insects.
These insects should be dusted with vitamins and calcium before feeding commences. The insects should be gut-loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables and fruits a few days before they are used.
Once you have the proper diet ready, you now have to settle on the correct feeding schedule. As seen in this post, how much and how often you feed your chameleon largely depends on its age.