Chameleons are only supposed to eat live insects. Firstly, because dead insects are not healthy for them, and secondly, they won’t be attracted to them in the first place.
Can Chameleons Eat Dead Insects?
Have you ever considered feeding your chameleon dead and dried insects because it is less gross and just so much more convenient? Arranging live insect food can be an added effort because you have to look after the insects too and keep them alive and fed well. Looking after one pet is hard enough; having a little insect zoo at home for your chameleon just does not seem appealing.
Handling live insects can give you the creeps and can be one heck of a job for many reasons:
- You can’t just get a whole lot of them at once, pop them in the cabinet or fridge, and forget about them like dead frozen ones. Since they are living, they need to be looked after.
- The feeder insects are small and in large numbers, so it is hard to control and manage them.
- Some of the insects, such as crickets and moths, can fly. And all of them are motile and quite fast-moving nevertheless. They can crawl upsides of containers and get out if you leave them open. You wouldn’t want some escaping while you are feeding your chameleon, or worse, for a box full of them to topple over!
- You have to make sure that they don’t starve or suffocate to death because chameleons cannot eat dead ones.
- You have to arrange proper food for them too, so they are stuffed and healthy before your chameleon can eat them.
- Some of them, like crickets, can be quite noisy.
- If you are faint-hearted, just the look of that creepy crawlies can give you shivers and make you feel sick, let alone touching them.
For all these reasons, handling live food can be painful, and you should consider this before you decide to keep a chameleon for a pet.
Can chameleons eat dead insects?
No, they cannot. And they won’t try – even if you place a feast of dead insects before them – because chameleons are just not attracted to dead insects. They like feeding on things that move, and will not even notice, let alone touch, dead food. The only situation in which they might eat dead food is if they are absolutely starving!
It’s not just a matter of liking either. Dead insects are not healthy for your chameleon; hence it is good that they are naturally repelled by them.
So if dried, dead, and frozen insects are not an option, what can you feed your chameleon?
What do chameleons eat?
To keep your chameleon happy, you must give it its staple diet -the one that it needs the most. A chameleon’s staple food is live insects, and they can eat just about any insect species. The most desirable species, and ones which have more nutritious value for your pet, are crickets, locusts, mantids, moths of all kinds, stick bugs, silkworms, cockroaches, blue bottle flies, Helix Aspersa snails, and phoenix worms.
Waxworms and Morio worms are liked by chameleons but should be fed only occasionally, as a treat. Feeding these too often is not recommended because they are high in fat content.
What not to feed your chameleon
Chameleons should not be fed ladybugs, lightning bugs, and lubbers because they can prove toxic to their health. Other than this little exception, chameleons can eat almost any common insect you can think of (as long as it is breathing).
They should also not be fed dead insects or meat or anything that is not a part of their standard diet.
Can chameleons eat veggies?
You might be a little surprised to know that some chameleons will readily eat fruits and vegetables too. If you want to feed your pet something which is not creepy-crawly for a change, then this is an option for a side snack.
Unlike dead insects, fruits and vegetables are not off-limits and you should feel free to offer your chameleon some. They can provide some extra nutrients for your pet but, keep in mind, they can not replace its staple food i.e. live insects. Also, the inclination towards vegetables varies with each chameleon. Some might enjoy a few types of their choice, while others may decline them completely. If your chameleon is used to eating insects and that too in a great variety, then chances are he won’t take a liking to vegetables.
Taking care of feeder insects for your chameleon
Since dead insects are not an option, you must learn how to take care of live ones.
It is best to buy a box full of them directly from a pet feeder shop. Once you bring them home, do not keep them in the small box you got them in. Transfer them to a bigger feeder box where they have a lot of space and don’t end up attacking each other (yes, that can happen sometimes).
Now the question is: how to make the insects last longer and provide the highest nutritional value for your pet? If a lot of them end up dying, it will be a great waste of time and money.
The answer to that is gut loading. That means stuffing your feeder insects with food right before you feed them to your chameleon. The more full they are, the more nutritious for your hungry friend.
Feed your insects fruits, green vegetables, oatmeal, etc., depending on what type of insects they are. You can also get packaged food pellets especially sold for gut loading feeder insects. Also, provide them with a source of water, but the water should not be in a container that the insects could drown in. A little moisture is enough; you can use a wet sponge. On the other hand, fresh, juicy fruits and vegetables can also provide enough moisture.
Once they are loaded, let your chameleon take a snap at them and watch him enjoy his live meal!