What Can My Veiled Chameleon Eat?
Veiled chameleons are a favorite amongst reptile lovers; they have a particularly interesting character and unusual appearance; however, they can be difficult for beginners because of their advanced care level. Usually, when one thinks of a classic chameleon, the veiled cham is the kind that springs to mind.
Veiled chameleons are insectivores in the wild, so they need a diverse range of bugs in their diet; it is essential to select the right insects that will provide the correct nutrients which are necessary to your Chameleon's well-being. When choosing the feeders, you wish to give your cham, and you need to consider the protein and calcium as well as other nutrients and vitamins that go to make up each insect. In captivity, it has been found that for a healthy diet, some veiled chameleons can have some vegetables and fruit in their diet. This can help them to be healthier than they can be in the wild, so we will also cover what vegetables and fruits can be safely offered to your Chameleon.
How Often Should Veiled Chameleons Be Fed?
Baby (0-3 months) veiled chameleons need to eat as often as twice per day to support their growth. While juveniles (3-8 months) only need to be fed once per day, as the amount of protein they need slows down along with their growth. As they grow into the adult (8+ months) stage, they only need to be fed once every other day as the focus has shifted from needing protein to grow to need nutrients to support their health and vitality. Staple insects can be supplied for every feeding, but treat bugs should only be fed twice per week at most. If using vegetables and fruit only offered to your Chameleon as you would feed them treat insects, they do not need to be fed salad items for every feeding.
What Insects Can Veiled Chameleons Eat
The majority of your veiled chameleons diet will always be live feeders. The movements of live bugs piques the interest of your Chameleon and causes them to want to hunt. Being opportunistic hunters, they will pretty much eat anything that comes along, so it is essential for you only to offer them insects that will be safe for them to eat and will maintain their health. Here are some of the insects that will make up your Chameleon's everyday and occasional diet.
Dubia Roaches are the best staple feeder for a lot of reptiles, well-balanced in nutrients, protein, calcium, and vitamins and come in all sizes. Easy to digest and next to no chance of parasite infection when purchased from a reputable supplier.
(Moisture 71.5%, Protein 21.4%, Fat 3.1%, Ash 1.3%, Fiber 2.6%, Calcium 700mg/kg)
Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Nutrigrubs)
Black soldier fly larvae, aka Nutrigrubs, are a great staple, know n to be very high in calcium, they can even take the place of a calcium supplement that does not contain D3. The only real issue stems from the fact that they are tiny, making them difficult to maintain as the main staple for adult reptiles.
(Moisture 61.2%, Protein 17.5%, Fat 14%, Ash 3.5%, Fiber 3%, Calcium 9340 mg/kg)
Superworms are similar to mealworms except that they are higher in nutrients and also lower in chitin. Being easier to digest and better for your reptile makes them a staple rather than an occasional feeder like mealworms.
(Moisture 57.9%, Protein 19.7%, Fat 17.7%, Ash 1%, Fiber 2.7%, Calcium 177mg/kg)
Crickets are well-rounded nutrient wise; they are readily available and cheap. However, they are not the easiest bug to keep, having an unpleasant smell and dying easily as well as being loud. They can also carry parasites, so always watch your reptile for signs of parasite infection and get regular a fecal for your pet when feeding them.
(Moisture 77.1%, Protein 15.4%, Fat 3.3%, Ash 1.1%, Fiber 2.2%, Calcium 275mg//kg)
Silkworms are high in calcium, protein, and minerals and also low in fat. They also contain a mild analgesic making them great for sick reptiles. They can be challenging to find regularly and too expensive, which makes them difficult to maintain as a regular staple.
(Moisture 82.7%, Protein 9.3%, Fat 1.1%, Fiber 1.1%, Calcium 177mg/kg)
Hornworms are one of the most efficient insects in delivering nutrients to your reptile; with no chitin, they are easy to digest; they are low in fat and high in vitamins, protein, and calcium. Just be aware they are high in water content, so they are best fed when small and alongside a staple bug that contains less water.
(Moisture 85%, Protein 9%, Fat 3.07%, Ash n/a, Fiber n/a, 464mg/kg)
Butterworms are easy to digest and contain a decent amount of nutrients; however, like waxworms, they are high in fat. They don't contain as much as waxworms, but you still have to be careful when feeding them not to feed too many.
(Moisture 60.2%, Protein 15.5%, Fat 29.4%, Ash 0.8%, Fiber 1.4%, Calcium 125mg/kg)
Waxworms are soft insects that are easy to digest and well-balanced nutrient wise; the only issue with them is that they are very high in fat, which makes them more of a treat.
(Moisture 58.5%, Protein 14.1%, Fat 24.9%, Ash 0.6%, Fiber 3.4%, Calcium 243mg/kg)
Mealworms contain an okay amount of nutrients but not as much as supers. They are high in chitin, which can make them difficult to digest, so you have to be careful when feeding them to avoid impaction in your Chameleon.
(Moisture 61.9%, Protein 18.7%, Fat 13.4%, Ash 0.9%, Fiber 2.5%, Caclium 169 mg/kg, Calcium 2950 mg/kg)
NEVER feed wild-caught insects to your veiled Chameleon, any bugs found outside can be contaminated with pesticides, or carry diseases and parasites that will be harmful to your pet. Always source your feeders from a reputable supplier.
Here is a list of insects that you should never feed your Chameleon. Accidents do happen, and although the best efforts can be made to prevent your reptile from consuming these bugs, it can happen. If it does, then you must get your Chameleon to a vet as soon as possible, you can use activated charcoal, but this can be hard to administer when it comes to chameleons, so veterinary attention is your best course of action.
- Fireflies (lightning bugs)
- Monarch butterflies and caterpillars
- Ants (not all but the bites of some can cause severe allergic reactions)
Gut loading is an essential aspect of any insectivorous reptile's diet; it is the process of nourishing your feeder insects with foods that will then pass on the nutrients to your pet. Not doing this is missing a valuable opportunity to supplement your pet's diet. Gut-loading is essential for Veiled Chameleons but particularly those that don't eat vegetables and fruit.
One way to gut-load your feeders is to give them the same vegetables that you would offer to your pet and pass the nutrients from the vegetables in that way. Still, a better approach is to give them a commercial product developed for this purpose as it provides a more balanced range of nutrition. See below for some great products you can use for this purpose.
Supplementing your feeding insects is necessary to maintain your pet's health, you will need to supplement their diet with calcium, calcium plus D3, and multivitamin powder. Never give more than one supplement per day; they must be provided on different days.
- Calcium no D3 one of their daily feedings, three times per week.
- Calcium plus D3 - one of their daily feedings, two times per week.
- Multivitamin - one of their daily feedings, once per week.
- Calcium no D3 - one of their daily feedings, twice per week.
- Calcium plus D3 - One of their daily feedings once per week.
- Multivitamin - One of their daily feedings, once per week.
- Calcium no D3 - One of their daily feedings, once per week.
- Calcium plus D3 - One of their daily feedings, once per week.
- Multivitamin - One of their daily feedings, once per week.
Each supplement should be given on a separate day and rotated on a schedule. If your reptile shows signs of excessive calcium consumption, then cut back by taking out one of their calcium feedings, only use a pinch of supplements, too much can lead to over-supplementation. See below for high-quality products you can use for supplementing your veiled Chameleon.
- Repti-Calcium without vitamin D3
- Exo-Terra Calcium Powder without D3
- Exo-Terra Calcium Powder Plus D3
- Zoo Med Calcium Powder Plus D3
- Exo-Terra Multivitamin Powder
- Rep-Cal Multivitamin Powder
Safe Fruits and Vegetables For your Veiled Chameleon
As mentioned, you don't need to offer your pet chameleon plants for them to live, but it can help them to maintain better health to provide them with vegetables and fruits. See below for a list of safe options for your pet.
- Bok choy
- Collard greens
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
- Turnip greens
- Squash (Butternut, Spaghetti, Acorn, Winter)
- Sweet potato
- Sweet red peppers
Vegetables To Avoid
- Avocado - Toxic
- Chives - Toxic
- Corn - Extremely high in phosphorus
- Eggplants - Toxic
- Garlic - Toxic
- Leeks - In larger quantities can cause anemia and organ failure.
- Mushrooms - Potentially toxic
- Onions - Toxic
- Rhubarb - Toxic
- Spinach - High in oxalates
- Soybeans - Causes hormonal imbalance.
- Tomatoes - Very acidic
Fruits To Avoid
- Bananas - Very high in phosphorous
- Dried fruits - High sugar, low water content
- Fruit seeds - Toxic
- Green or purple grapes, raisins - Liver and kidney issues
- Kiwis - Very high in oxalates
- Star fruit - Very high in oxalates
- Pineapple - Very acidic
- Oranges, lemons, tangerines, clementine, grapefruits, kumquats, navel, anything citrus
Veiled chameleons that have grown up eating live insects for most of their life may have a difficult time recognizing still veggies as food. If they are exposed to them from a younger age, they are more likely to see them as food and want to eat them. Chameleons do best with a variety of foods as do most reptiles, so if you're going to get them used to eating plant-based foods, offer them from a young age, so they get used to it.
It is essential for you always to have a source of water available for your veiled Chameleon. They can go for a little while without water, but since this would be hard for you to gauge, ensuring there is always water on offer to your pet is your best bet. Chameleons like to hydrate by licking the water droplets from the sides of the glass of their enclosure and also any items that you have inside their habitat. So misting their enclosure a couple of times per day will help to keep a source of water available for them. If misting by hand proves to be too much of an inconvenience, you can purchase a mister for them to do this automatically. Most tap water is safe for them. However, certain areas have better water than others, and it is perfectly safe for you to treat the water before letting your Chameleon drink it. See below for