Picky Chameleon? Here’s What Might Be Going On
Chameleons are insectivores, which means that they evolved to get their nutrition from a variety of different insects in order to get the nutrients that they need. This also means that if your chameleon only seems willing to eat the same bugs time and time again, this can potentially harm their health by creating nutritional deficiencies.
To encourage your chameleon to broaden their dietary horizon, first you need to figure out what may be the cause.
You’re feeding your chameleon too much
Chameleons’ dietary needs change based on their stage of life. Although different chameleons should have slightly different schedules at different points in their lifespan, they generally need to be fed frequently when they’re growing, then much less once they’ve hit maturity.
If you’re feeding your chameleon too much or too often, they become less motivated to eat or try new things. The best way to correct this problem is by fixing your feeding schedule and double-checking how many bugs you offer at each feeding. While juveniles should generally eat as much as they want, adults should only have a few bugs per feeding, equivalent to slightly smaller than their head.
You’re offering too many treats
Do you like to give treats to your chameleon? It’s common for keepers to try to express their love for their pets by giving them treats. A small treat once a week or so is unlikely to cause problems, but if you offer treats that are too big or too frequent, you might be ruining your chameleon’s appetite.
Aside from encouraging your chameleon to try new things, reducing the number of treats in their diet is likely to help prevent obesity, keep their organs working well, and maximize your pet’s lifespan. If you miss the thrill of interacting with your pet, try hand-feeding them at mealtime with a pair of soft-tipped feeding tongs!
You’re not providing enough variety
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, although chameleons are insectivores, they’re still built to eat a variety of different foods. If you’ve been feeding your chameleon the same one or two types of feeder insects for a while, it’s possible that they’ve simply become tired of getting the same-old-same-old. Alternatively, it’s possible that they’ve become so accustomed to their regular foods that they don’t recognize anything new as being edible.
Either way, it’s important to make sure that your chameleon is eating a varied diet — as varied as possible. If your pet has lost their appetite because they’re stuck in the same routine, offering new foods for them to try should perk them up.
If your chameleon is turning up their nose at new foods, the only way to get them to consider alternatives is to stop offering familiar foods for them to lean on. Of course, each chameleon has different preferences, so if they consistently reject a particular food, it may simply be that they’d rather try something else.
Your chameleon isn’t feeling well
Appetite loss is one of the most common early symptoms of a lizard that isn’t feeling well. Reptiles are very good at hiding when they’re sick, because in the wild, that helps them avoid predators. This means that it’s your job as the owner to keep a close watch for symptoms of potential trouble.
If your chameleon has gotten pickier about the things they’ll eat, and none of the above explains the change, check your pet’s setup. Are the basking and air temperatures within range? Is your UVB more than 12 months old and due for replacement? Check our chameleon care sheets.
However, if the care sheet doesn’t help and everything more or less still looks good, take your pet to an experienced reptile veterinarian to get checked out.
Under normal circumstances, chameleons shouldn’t be picky — after all, in the wild, they have to eat whatever they can get in order to survive. A picky chameleon means that something is wrong. Check your feeding schedule, meal size, and husbandry to see what might need to be fixed!