are, in my opinion, easily the best staple food for chameleons. The captive diet of all
my chameleons is comprised of approximately 90% crickets, and I’ve been very blessed with a tremendous amount of success keeping, breeding, and raising chameleons for years on this cricket-based diet.
Variety in one’s diet is a great thing, and I’ll cover a few other excellent feeder insects as we progress, but there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel here. Most chameleon breeders, if not all, feed their chameleons a cricket-based diet. They’re nutritious, low in fat, high in protein and calcium, easy to keep, inexpensive, and very active.
When you put crickets into your chameleon’s cage, it’s almost like they know what to do—they usually immediately start climbing up the screen sides of the enclosure, at which time the lizards start picking them off one by one.
You’ll recall that I mentioned my chameleons eat crickets 90% of the time—but what about the other 10%? Well, that’s composed of roaches and hornworms.Roaches
are a great additive for chameleon diets as well. I’ve always stuck with the Dubia and Madagascar hissing species, but there are quite a few other varieties to choose from as well. Each species of roach has its advantages and disadvantages, although I actually can’t think of a single disadvantage with Dubias.
Roaches are super high in protein, low in fat, simple to maintain, and inexpensive.
Dubai roaches don’t climb smooth surfaces, they don’t make noise, they don’t bite, they don’t fly, and they don’t jump. Many chameleons are ravenous for these, so I highly recommend giving them a try. I have some chameleons that grab them as soon as I place them into the cage, and others that grab them right from my fingers.
Madagascar hissers are considerably larger, and they can climb smooth surfaces, as well as make a “hissing” noise be forcing air out of their bodies—although they’re harmless. Madagascan chameleons seem to relish them more than other species, but they’re another feeder that’s worth trying. They make a hearty meal for your chameleon.Hornworms
are a succulent feeder insect that my chameleons eat with gusto. These are those bright green caterpillar-looking worms that are also known as “Tobacco” worms because they frequent Tobacco fields in the South.
The sharp-looking “horn” on them is just a soft, harmless, fleshy decoration. They are usually purchased as 1-inch juveniles, but they grow to become 3-4 inch beasts.
These worms are low in fat, high in calcium, and extremely high in moisture (80%-85%). The main reason I feed these to my chameleons is because of the moisture and hydration they provide, especially for newly imported chameleons which are usually somewhat dehydrated from the trip.
They provide a nice hydration boost for your established pet chameleon as well, which is why I include them as a regular fixture in my feeding regimen. You certainly don’t need to feed them to your chameleon(s), it’s just something I choose to do.
They usually arrive in cups with pre-mixed “hornworm chow” affixed to the bottom, but just be aware that they’ll eat tomatoes as well (just don’t feed them tomato leaves).Waxworms
aren’t an ideal staple food for chameleons because of their relatively high fat content, which is higher than that of crickets, mealworms, giant mealworms, superworms, hornworms, and roaches. They’re ok to offer once in a while, especially for any chameleon that needs to put on a little extra weight.
I offer waxworms to some juvenile chameleons that are growing quickly, and sometimes to females that have recently laid eggs.
They’re high in protein and calcium, and like hornworms, they’re full of moisture and are soft-bodied which makes them easy to digest. They don’t eat anything, either. Keep them at room temperature, and don’t put them in the refridgerator.
Most chameleons eat waxworms with delight. When I do offer them, I usually place them one-by-one onto the artificial vines inside the chameleon’s cage. The waxworms generally just crawl up and down and around until they get hammered by a speeding tongue.Mealworms, giant mealworms,
are also eaten by chameleons, but not to the extent of other feeder insect options. I rarely if ever offer them to my chameleons, mainly because the other options are so much better in my opinion. Again, why reinvent the wheel?
I have noticed that superworms and giant mealworms will usually climb the screen cage walls, which is nice because it allows the chameleons to eat them easily. If you do choose these as chameleon food, you may want to use a dish instead.
Check out my feeder insect page to purchase the feeders
your pet reptile needs today.