Crickets are the most common food for pet chameleons. You can also give them worms, but crickets should be maintained as the main course for your pet. The amount of crickets that you should feed your chameleons depends on the chameleon’s age.
How many crickets does a baby chameleon need?
On average a baby chameleon will eat at least 18 small crickets per day. Since baby chameleons are growing, you have to feed them twice per day and as much as you can. Baby chameleons can eat as much as they want and it is not overeating.
You have to make sure that the size of the cricket does not exceed the width of the baby chameleon’s mouth. You have to be more careful in selecting the crickets because if the size is larger than the baby chameleon’s head, they won’t be able to swallow and may start to choke.
Try not to feed the baby chameleons completely in one sitting. If you want to feed them 18 crickets per day, feed them 9 little crickets in the morning and 9 in the evening. Don’t limit the number of crickets you feed your pet. They require lots of food and energy for their growth.
How many crickets does a juvenile chameleon require?
A chameleon is considered juvenile when they are between 6 weeks to 8 months. Juvenile chameleons won’t require as many crickets as you feed a baby chameleon, but they still require many crickets because they are still growing.
You can feed the juvenile chameleon with 10 to 15 medium-sized crickets; however, the size of the cricket should not exceed the mouth of the chameleon.
For the juvenile chameleons, try to split the food between morning and evening, then feed them accordingly. At this stage, don’t worry about overfeeding since juvenile chameleons haven’t achieved their complete growth.
Until the chameleons achieve their complete growth you can feed them as much as they want. However, they will stop eating when they are full.
How many crickets does an adult chameleon need?
After 8 months, chameleons are considered adult. They may be adult chameleons, but they have not achieved their completed growth. The chameleons achieve their complete growth at 2 years. After 2 years the chameleons won’t grow any bigger.
You can now increase the size of the crickets. However, the size of the cricket should not exceed the space between your chameleon’s eyes. When your chameleon is 8 months, you can feed it 10 crickets per day, but gradually every month, you have to reduce the number of crickets you feed your chameleon.
You shouldn’t feed your chameleon a lot one day and very little the next day. You have to maintain the number of crickets that you feed so that they will adapt to the feeding plan that you have made for them.
As a maximum number, you can feed 8 adult crickets to your fully grown adult chameleon. Don’t overfeed them because they will become obese and there is a lot of chance for hunger-strike by adult chameleons.
How to gut-load crickets
It is very important to gut-load the crickets that you feed to your chameleon. Pet chameleons often suffer from vitamin deficiency and calcium deficiency, so you have to gut-load the crickets or whatever insects you feed them with.
Through crickets, your chameleons gain nutrition from what the cricket ate. You can provide vegetables, fruits, and green leaves for the crickets. It is not suggested to buy a commercial gut-load as you will not be certain of what it contains and it won’t be enough to provide nutrition to your chameleon.
Gut-loading is like preparing a salad that mostly contains carrots, greens, bee pollen, dried kelp, or melon for the crickets. You have to make sure the crickets eat them. If not, the salad will be spoiled and you have to replace it with something that they will eat. Don’t gut-load with spoiled fruits and vegetables.
When to gut-load crickets
When you make it a habit to feed your chameleon every morning, you have to gut-load the crickets the night before. If you feed your chameleon in the evening, you have to gut-load them 4 hours before.
Chameleons won’t digest the food faster. They at least take a day to digest, so it is not recommended to feed them at nighttime.
Can you provide dead crickets?
No, you shouldn’t provide dead crickets. You always have to make sure that the crickets are healthy because they provide nutrition to your chameleon. Dead crickets or ill crickets won’t provide any nutrition to your chameleon. Instead, they will cause disease to your pet.
Since chameleons can’t gain nutrition by themselves—as they do in the wild—we have to ensure that they get enough vitamins and calcium. By gut-loading, you can provide 50% of their nutritional needs. Then, we need to provide supplemental vitamins and calcium powder.
You have to dust the crickets with vitamin and calcium supplements. Dusting should be done once every two weeks. Make sure whatever vitamin product you get has Vitamin A in the ingredients list.
Calcium is essential for bone development and to maintain healthy body parts in the chameleon. Calcium deficiency in chameleons leads to a major disease called Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). The best way to enrich your chameleons’ vitamin and calcium content is by gut-loading and dusting live insects.
Schedule for supplements
For veiled and panther chameleons
- Calcium without D3—Should be provided at every feed
- Calcium with D3—Every other week
- Multivitamins—Every other week
For Jackson chameleons
- Calcium without D3—Should be provided twice a week
- Calcium with D3—Once a month
- Multivitamins—Once a month
For Male Chameleons
Calcium without D3—3 to 4 days a week
For Female Chameleons
Calcium without D3—4 to 5 days a week
You may wonder whether a particular dose or amount in grams should be used for supplements. Well, this is a universal question, and there is no proper answer for that. Just put the crickets in plastic and sprinkle some amount of the supplement and shake the bag well so that the crickets will be coated with the supplements.
How to preserve the crickets
You have to keep the live crickets in a large plastic box with small holes that allow air circulation. Make sure the tank is as big as possible according to the number of crickets you are placing in the container.
How to feed crickets to a chameleon
There are four ways to feed your chameleon:
- Hand feeding: by keeping the crickets on your hand and nearer to your chameleon so that it can get the cricket easily. It is not suggested to feed them this way since your chameleon won’t learn to hunt. For baby chameleons or newly bought chameleons, you can try this method.
- Cup feeding: by placing the crickets in the cup and place them in a corner of the cage or nearer to your chameleon. Don’t place more than 5 crickets at a time. Once your chameleon completely finishes the 5 crickets, add a few more crickets and do the same.
- Free-range: you can scatter the crickets in the cage so that your chameleon will hunt them and eat.