Chameleons are one of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. With their changing colors, big, mesmerizing eyes, and mellow disposition, they make the perfect plant for anyone interested in reptiles or even just owning a pet. It’s important to know the proper diet to feed your little friend, and if you’ve ever wondered “can chameleons eat dried mealworms?”, you’ve come to the right place.
Chameleons can eat dried mealworms, but only as emergency or last-resort food. While they are safe for chameleons to eat, there are a couple of reasons why shouldn’t eat freeze-dried mealworms on a regular basis and should instead be eating a diverse diet of living insects and dark, leafy greens.
If you’re interested in finding out why dried mealworms are a last-resort meal for your chameleon friend, keep reading to find out why they shouldn’t have them regularly and what your chameleon’s diet should look like so you can make sure you’re keeping your friend as happy and healthy as it can possibly be.
Why Can Chameleons Only Eat Dried Mealworms as a Last Resort?
There are a couple of reasons why chameleons shouldn’t eat dried mealworms as a part of their regular diet plan, including the fact that chameleons should only regularly eat living insects and the fact that freeze-dried mealworms can contain harmful parasites that can harm your pet. Let’s dive into each one so you can get the most comprehensive explanation that will allow you to make the right choice for your pet.
1. Chameleons Eat Live Food
Chameleons are omnivores, just like humans. A part of their natural diet includes living insects in the wild. This includes grasshoppers, mantids, crickets, locusts- you name it. They also eat smaller birds and lizards if they have no other options. They also eat dark, leafy green vegetables, too.
Chameleons don’t eat freeze-dried food in the wild. Live insects are often full of nutrients that you can’t find in their freeze-dried counterparts. It’s also important that the live insects you feed your chameleon are “gut-loaded,” meaning they’ve just been fed as well. This ensures your chameleon is getting the nutrients from both the bug and what the bug ate.
Finding and catching live food is also cognitively stimulating for your chameleon. The hunt is part of what keeps your chameleon’s mind sharp and his mood good. Without proper stimulation, he can become restrictive in his diet and even become depressed. This means if he’s only fed non-moving food, he may be disinterested in it and may not even eat, even if he’s hungry.
It can be hard to tell what is going on inside the mind of a chameleon, but what we do know is that eating living insects are what’s best for his nutritive and cognitive health.
2. Freeze-dried Mealworms May Contain Harmful Pathogens
Believe it or not, the condition of freeze-dried mealworms can differ greatly depending on the quality of the dried mealworms you’ve purchased. If you purchased cheap dried mealworms, you may have also purchased some other harmful organisms you didn’t know were hitching a ride.
Low-quality dried mealworms could have been mistreated or mishandled and can become contaminated with harmful parasites and other dangerous microorganisms that your chameleon’s digestive system is not prepared to encounter.
What’s even worse is that chameleons don’t always show obvious signs of disease as much as other animals due to reasons like their natural disposition, so if you feed him too many of these low-quality mealworms, your chameleon might get sick without you even knowing. This can result in your chameleon becoming very ill, or worse- he could die.
Therefore, if mealworms are your only option, make sure you’re using only the highest quality mealworms you can afford to prevent any harmful contamination.
Now that we know why dried mealworms aren’t good for your chameleon to eat on a regular basis, let’s take a quick look at what your chameleon should be eating as a part of his diet to support his health.
What Should I Feed my Chameleon?
Chameleons, when cared for properly, can grow anywhere from 18-24 inches long, and live over five years- so you’ll want to make sure you’re taking care of them well so they can be by your side for a long time.
Adult chameleons require a very nutrient-diverse diet. They are omnivores, so they need to be getting nutrients from both meat and plants in order to supplement their health.
You should be feeding your adult chameleon a diet of a variety of living insects that have been gut-loaded by your local pet store. Living insects you should feed to your chameleon regularly are crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, or roaches. You should also buy supplement dust to dust over the insects that contain calcium and other necessary nutrients. Chameleons should be fed insects like these every single day.
As for his vegetables, you’ll want to make sure you’re also feeding your chameleon enough nutrient-rich leafy greens, like collard greens, pothos, or ficus leaves every single day. If your chameleon has veggies leftover after 24 hours, discard the vegetables.
Your chameleon also requires a humid enclosure, so mist it’s tank anywhere from 4-5 times a day to recreate the tropical climates it is used to. You can also leave a water source for him to drink from, but he’ll get most of his hydration from the sprayer.
Now you have everything you need to know about how to take care of your chameleon. You can’t feed him freeze-dried mealworms on a regular basis because they lack nutrient density, don’t sharpen your chameleon’s cognition, and can contain disease-causing pathogens, but you should feed him high-quality dried mealworms as a last resort if you need to, and make sure to feed him a diverse diet of living insects and leafy greens fit for an omnivore every other time.
Use this article as a guide for how to feed your chameleon properly in the future. Good luck!