What Do Chameleons Eat? (The Balanced Diet)

Are you considering adding a Chameleon to your home but are unsure about what their diet consists of?

In this article, I’m going to explain everything you need to know when it comes to feeding your pet, including;

  • The Diet
  • How Much To Feed Chameleons
  • Gutloading & Dusting
  • How Chameleons Hunt

What To Feed Your Chameleon?

Chameleons (Chamaeleonidae) are omnivores, however, they tend to focus on the meats in their diet, consisting of various insects.

9 Insects To Feed Your Chameleon

Here is a list of safe insects you can feed your Chameleon;

  1. Crickets
  2. Locusts
  3. Silkworms
  4. Hornworms
  5. Mealworms
  6. Waxworms
  7. Dubia Roaches
  8. Grasshoppers
  9. Caterpillars

Pro Tip: After they’ve finished eating, remove all excess insects from the enclosure to prevent them from biting and irritating your Chameleon.

Read our Veiled Chameleon Care Guide here.

Vegetation

In the wild, Chameleons would only eat vegetation if there is a lack of insects. They’ll take what they can get because they’re opportunistic hunters for their prey.

You don’t need to provide vegetation in your Chameleon’s diet as they’ll eat the foliage you’ve provided within their enclosure as and when they like.

They’ll also be provided plenty of nutrition through the gutloading and dusting process I go into more detail below.

How Much To Feed Your Chameleon?

AgeQuantityRoutine
Under 12 Months10 – 20 Small InsectsDaily
12 Months +8 – 10 InsectsEvery Other Day

When it comes to the quantity of food you give your pet Chameleon, it’s really down to the individual as like every other animal, we all have different metabolisms and preferences.

The feeding schedule I have provided is a guide you can use to help gauge the best routine for your pet.

Gutloading & Dusting Chameleon Food

Instead of providing fruits, vegetables, and greens on a dish, I recommend to gutload their meals prior to feeding them.

Gutloading is where you feed the insects nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables. This is so that when you feed your pet, all the nutrients the insects have eaten will be ingested by your Chameleon when you’re feeding them.

Here is a table showing what you can gutload the insects with;

FruitsVegetablesGreens
MelonSweet PotatoKale
StrawberriesCarrotsLettuce
BananasButternut SquashDandelion Leaves
GrapesZucchiniCollards
ApplesSweet PeppersEndive
Pears

You’ll need to dust your Chameleon’s meals before feeding them with phosphorus-free calcium supplements.

How Do Chameleons Catch Their Prey?

Due to Chameleons being opportunistic eaters, they’re very patient. They’ll sit still blending into the environment, sometimes for hours waiting for an insect to cross their path.

Once the prey has walked into their path, they’ll fire their tongue which has a ball of muscle at the tip, covered by sticky saliva. As it strikes the prey the tip of the tongue will form a suction cup surrounding the prey, to which the Chameleon quickly withdraws their tongue with the prey inside into their mouths.

They use this method because they’re not fast movers and can strike unexpectedly with ease due to their ability to change colors to their surroundings.

Fun Fact: A Chameleon’s tongue can go from 0 – 60 MPH in a hundredth of a second.

Summary

Understanding what and how to feed your Chameleon is paramount to their health.

Following the information I have provided in this article will greatly improve your pet’s quality of life.

Read more about Chameleon care here.