What do Chameleons Eat? Diet & Nutritional Information

Chameleons are primarily insectivorous, which means they eat a wide variety of insects like flies, crickets, and grasshoppers. But they can also occasionally nibble on vegetation too.

In this article, we’ll delve into the nitty-gritty of a chameleon’s diet. We will explain their diet in the wild and what you should feed them in captivity. We’ll also touch on the eating habits across different life stages of a chameleon and how to ensure they have sufficient water intake.

Chameleon Diet in the Wild

In the wild, chameleons are primarily insectivorous – meaning, their diet mainly consists of insects. Their favorite delicacies in the wild include a variety of creepy crawlies like crickets, grasshoppers, and even the occasional spider.

Chameleons use their highly specialized tongue to capture their prey. This tongue can be up to twice the length of their body (excluding the tail), and they can shoot it out with incredible precision and speed to snatch up an unsuspecting insect.

While insects make up a large share of their diet, chameleons aren’t opposed to the occasional vegetarian meal. In the wild, they’ve been known to munch on tender leaves, succulent fruits, and even flowers. This usually happens when insects are scarce, or they need a little variation in their diet.

But here’s something you need to remember, Not all chameleons have the same diet. Depending on their size, species, and the specific environment they live in, their diet can differ. Larger species may even indulge in a little vertebrate snack, such as a small bird or a lizard. But for most of our little color-changing pals, insects are the mainstay of their menu.

What Do Chameleons Eat?


In captivity, we strive to mimic the chameleon’s natural diet as closely as possible. Here’s a breakdown of their core dietary components:

What Insects Can Chameleons Eat?

Insects should make up a large share of a chameleon’s diet. Here are some bugs that your chameleon will enjoy, alongside the nutritional benefits they bring:

  • Crickets: These are a staple in the chameleon diet, packed with essential nutrients.
  • Mealworms: They’re high in protein but should be fed sparingly due to their hard outer shell.
  • Roaches: Nutritious and liked by chameleons, but not everyone’s favourite to handle!
  • Silkworms: High in protein, calcium, and low in fat—a great treat for your chameleon.
  • Waxworms: They’re fatty, so feed sparingly—perfect for an occasional treat.

Each insect offers its unique nutritional profile, so remember—variety is key!

The insects feeding schedule for a pet chameleon is pretty straightforward. Adult chameleons should be fed a handful of insects every other day, while younger ones need daily feeding. Here’s a simple feeding table to help:

BabyDaily10-15 small insects
JuvenileDaily12-20 medium insects
AdultEvery 2 days10-12 large insects

What Veggies Can a Chameleon Eat?

Though chameleons are mostly insectivorous, they sometimes munch on vegetation. You might catch them nibbling on leaves or flowers in their enclosure. Some safe veggies include:

  • Spinach: It’s packed with nutrients but should be offered sparingly due to high oxalate levels.
  • Kale: A nutrient-dense leafy green but similar to spinach, should be fed in moderation.
  • Bell peppers: These are vitamin C powerhouses.

Remember, variety is key when it comes to feeding your chameleon veggies. A mixed bowl of these goodies will ensure they’re getting a balanced spread of nutrients.

As for how much and how often to feed your chameleon these veggies, it depends on their age and overall health. Adult chameleons enjoy a veggie treat a couple of times a week, while younger ones might prefer a few nibbles daily.

Here’s a quick reference table to help you get the hang of it:

Chameleon’s AgeFrequency of Veggie MealsQuantity of Each Serving
BabyDaily1-2 bites
JuvenileEvery other day3-4 bites
AdultTwice a week5-6 bites

What Fruits Can a Chameleon Eat?

Chameleons aren’t huge fruit fans, like some other pets, but they do enjoy a sweet bite now and then. Fruits should make a minor portion of your chameleon’s diet.

Fruits should be treated as an occasional snack, making up no more than 10% of the total diet. You can offer:

  • Apples: Besides being easily available, apples are packed with essential vitamins like Vitamin C. Remember to remove the seeds and peel them to ensure your chameleon doesn’t choke.
  • Pears: Just like apples, pears need to be peeled and de-seeded. They’re a great source of fiber and vitamin C.
  • Berries: Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are a chameleon favorite, not to mention they’re chock full of antioxidants.
  • Mango: It’s high in vitamin C but remember to peel and deseed.
  • Bananas: High in potassium and vitamin C, bananas are a delicious treat. However, due to their high sugar content, they should be given sparingly.

Ensure fruits and veggies are chopped into bite-sized pieces to prevent choking.

The following table provides a general guideline for how often these fruits should be included in your chameleon’s diet:

ApplesOnce a week
PearsOnce a week
BerriesTwice a week
BananasOnce a month

Foods to Avoid

Just as important as knowing what to feed your chameleon is knowing what to avoid. Some foods can be harmful or even fatal to chameleons:

  • Avocado: This fruit is toxic to most pets, chameleons included.
  • Rhubarb: This is poisonous to chameleons.
  • Insects caught from your backyard: These might have pesticides or parasites.


You might ask, why supplementation? Well, chameleons, just like us humans, need a balanced diet to stay healthy. While their primary food sources, insects and occasional plant matter, provide them with a lot of essential nutrients, they still need a little extra boost from dietary supplements. This is especially crucial if they’re living in captivity, as their diet can be less varied compared to their counterparts in the wild.

There are several types of supplements your chameleon might need, and each plays a significant role in their well-being:

1. Calcium: This is vital for healthy bone development and nerve function. Lack of calcium can lead to Metabolic Bone Disease, a common issue among captive reptiles.

2. Multivitamins: These are used to fill any nutritional gaps in your chameleon’s diet. Remember, moderation is key, as over-supplementation can also be harmful.

3. D3 Supplement: This helps chameleons absorb calcium effectively. Chameleons can produce D3 naturally when exposed to sunlight or UVB light, but additional supplementation might be necessary based on your specific setup and the amount of natural light your chameleon gets.

Gut Loading

Gut loading is a fancy term for feeding nutritious food to your chameleon’s food. In essence, you’re ensuring that the insects you feed your chameleon are nutrient-rich themselves. This is an effective way to pass along valuable nutrients to your chameleon.

For example, you could feed your crickets fresh fruits and veggies before giving them to your chameleon. Remember, healthy insects equal a healthy chameleon!

How Much Should a Chameleon Eat a Day?

As with many things in life, when it comes to chameleon feeding, one size doesn’t fit all. The amount a chameleon eats varies with their age and, sometimes, species. Let’s break it down:

BabyMultiple times/dayRarelyRarely
JuvenileOnce/day2-3 times/week1-2 times/week
AdultEvery other day3-4 times/week2-3 times/week

Baby Chameleons (0-3 months): These little ones are growing rapidly, so their appetites are substantial. You should feed them small, gut-loaded insects (like pinhead crickets) about twice a day. Aim for about 10-15 insects per meal, but don’t worry if they don’t eat them all. Remember, every chameleon is unique!

Juvenile Chameleons (3-12 months): By this stage, they’re still growing, but not as rapidly. Feed them 12-15 appropriately sized insects daily. You might notice some days they eat less – that’s okay! Keep an eye on their overall health and growth.

Adult Chameleons (12 months and older): Adult chameleons typically eat less frequently. You can now feed them around 5-7 insects every other day. Also, introduce a bit more variety, including occasional leafy greens or safe fruits. Keep meals diverse to ensure a balanced diet.

This is a general guide, and individual chameleons may have slightly different dietary needs. For example, some larger species might need a bit more food, while smaller ones may need less. Monitoring your chameleon and adjusting their diet based on their response is key.

Chameleon Water Requirement


In the wild, chameleons primarily hydrate themselves by drinking droplets of water from leaves, usually collected from morning dew or rainfall. Unlike some pets, chameleons don’t drink from standing water sources like a dish or bowl. Instead, they are naturally inclined to lap up droplets from leaves and surfaces, mimicking rainfall.

Understanding how much water your chameleon needs depends on several factors. These include their species, age, size, and the conditions of their environment.

On average, adult chameleons should be hydrated every day with about one to two misting sessions, while younger chameleons, due to their smaller size and higher metabolic rate, may require more frequent hydration.

When it comes to ensuring our chameleon buddies get enough water in a domestic environment, we need to be a bit creative and patient. Here are some methods that have proven effective for fellow keepers:

  1. Misting: Mimicking their natural environment, misting the plants in your chameleon’s enclosure allows them to drink the water droplets off the leaves, just as they would in the wild. You can use a hand sprayer to mist the enclosure several times a day.
  2. Dripping system: A dripper or a drip system can also simulate natural rainfall. This method involves water slowly dripping onto the leaves of the plants in the enclosure, allowing your chameleon to hydrate as needed.
  3. Fogging: A fogger or humidifier creates a misty environment, which can help replicate the high-humidity habitats where many chameleon species thrive.

One common mistake we pet owners often make is forgetting that chameleons are not like most pets who drink from a bowl. Leaving a dish of water in their enclosure is often ineffective, as chameleons may not recognize standing water as a source of hydration.

Another pitfall is neglecting to maintain the appropriate humidity levels in the enclosure, which can lead to your pet becoming dehydrated.

Why Is My Chameleon Not Eating?

There are several reasons why a chameleon might lose their appetite. Let’s break it down together:

Stress: Chameleons are sensitive creatures. Stress can be a significant factor in their appetite. Changes in their environment, such as moving to a new enclosure or being handled too often, can stress them out and cause them to eat less. Try keeping their surroundings as stable as possible and limit handling to essential times only.

Illness: Like us, chameleons can lose their appetite when they’re not feeling well. If your pet chameleon is refusing to eat and showing other signs of illness, such as lethargy, change in color, or loss of balance, it’s best to consult a vet.

Environmental Conditions: These creatures are incredibly sensitive to their environment. Too hot, too cold, or too dry – any of these can lead to a reduced appetite. Check your enclosure’s temperature and humidity levels to ensure they are within the recommended range for your specific species of chameleon.

Diet-Related Issues: Are you offering your chameleon a diverse diet? Chameleons can become bored with their food if they’re given the same type of insects day after day. Try introducing different varieties of insects to spark their interest.

Here are a few friendly tips to encourage your chameleon to start eating again:

  1. Stress Management: As I mentioned earlier, try to keep their surroundings stable and comfortable. Limit handling your chameleon to avoid adding extra stress.
  2. Vet Check-Up: If you suspect your chameleon might be ill, don’t hesitate to reach out to a vet. Early diagnosis can make a big difference in their recovery.
  3. Regulate the Environment: Make sure the temperature and humidity in their enclosure are within the right range.
  4. Diversify their Diet: Experiment with different types of insects to keep their meals exciting!

However, if your chameleon’s eating habits do not improve despite your best efforts, it’s important to consult with a vet. It could be a sign of a more serious issue that requires professional intervention.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my chameleon eating sand?

Chameleons occasionally ingest non-food substances such as sand, this is called ‘pica’. It’s a way for them to supplement their diet with nutrients they may not be getting enough of, particularly minerals like calcium. That said, regularly seeing your chameleon eating sand could indicate a dietary deficiency. Try providing a diet with more variety or consider including supplements. Always remember, too much sand ingestion can cause impaction, which is a serious health concern. When in doubt, always check with a vet!

How can I tell if my chameleon is getting enough nutrients?

Just like us humans, chameleons show signs when they’re not getting enough nutrients. Lethargy, loss of appetite, color changes, and difficulty climbing are some red flags. On the flip side, if your chameleon is lively, has bright eyes, and a good grip strength, it’s a good indication they’re well-nourished. Regular vet check-ups can help ensure your chameleon stays in tip-top shape!

What can I do if my chameleon refuses to eat a certain type of insect?

Just like kids, chameleons sometimes need a little encouragement. Try introducing the new insect slowly, maybe even mixing it in with their favorite food. If your chameleon still refuses, it’s okay. There are plenty of insect options available! Remember, variety is the spice of life (and a healthy chameleon diet!)

How important is water for my chameleon’s diet?

Water is super important for your little friend. Chameleons, unlike most pets, don’t drink from a water bowl. They prefer droplets from leaves, mimicking dew or raindrops. A dripper system, mister, or even a careful spray from a clean spray bottle can work wonders. Proper hydration aids digestion and nutrient absorption, making it a crucial part of their diet!


First and foremost, it’s clear that the majority of a chameleon’s diet consists of a wide variety of insects, each bringing its own nutritional benefits. From crickets to grasshoppers and flies, these small creatures provide the bulk of our chameleons’ meals. Yet, in addition to insects, our colorful friends appreciate a bit of diversity in their diet, and that’s where the occasional bite of veggies and fruits come in. Variety is, after all, the spice of life!

Filled under: Lizards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *