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Feeding insects as

food for Veiled


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What does a Veiled Chameleon eat?

Veiled Chameleons, aka Yemen Chameleons (Chamaeleo
calyptratus), are insect eaters. They are usually very
active eaters, and will eat just about any insect they can
find. Most chameleon keepers feed primarily grey crickets
because crickets are readily available, (You can grow your
own or buy from your pet store.) and are fine for the bulk
of a chameleon's diet. But you also should offer your pet a
variety of other insects such as flies, roaches, hornworms,
silkworms, waxworms, butterworms, mealworms,
and the like. Feeding a variety of insects is important
because different insects provide varying amounts of
essential nutrients and minerals, giving your pet better

You should "gut load" most of the insects you feed to your
chameleon. Gut loading is normally done when insects or
other small animal foods are fed to pets, to provide
additional needed nutritional elements. The gut loading
process basically consists of keeping the insects for a few
days and feeding them very nutritious food such as fresh
greens, tropical fish flakes, fresh vegetables and grains,
dry cat food, or commercial gut loading foods during that
time, before feeding them to your pet, thus getting the
nutritious food that the insects have eaten into the pet
along with its chosen insect prey.

Crickets and other insects are also often dusted with a
reptile calcium/Vitamin D3 powered just before giving them
to the animal as well. Your chameleon should have a good UVB
light to help its body make Vitamin D3, but juveniles should
also get a Calcium/Vitamin D3 supplement every day to make
sure that their bones grow properly, and the diet of adult
lizards should be supplemented every week.

One other diet consideration is that since Veiled Chameleons
are such good eaters, they are prone to overeating. Chronic
overeating and obesity shorten the lifespan of all animals,
including chameleons. Obese females overproduce eggs, which
stress their bodies, and they often don't live longer than
two years rather than the four to six they should live.
Obese males will have fat collecting on their heads and
internal organs, and many die from fatty liver disease. Male
Veiled Chameleons have lived up to ten years in captivity,
but obese males seldom live longer than three. Consequently,
you will need to carefully monitor your pet's diet and
appearance to keep it healthy. Don't believe it every time
it says it is hungry.

Adult Yemen Chameleons also eat vegetation, and it is an
important part of their diet. In the wild they eat plants
when insects are less plentiful. Provide your chameleon not
only with edible live plants in its cage but will a variety
of vegetables and fruits. Most Veiled Chameleons love
grapes, strawberries, dandelion flowers, hibiscus blossoms,
roses, and the like. Just make sure that nothing you feed
them has been sprayed with insecticides, and wash all
fruits, vegetables, and flowers well before feeding them to
your pet.

Drinking Water and Humidity Requirements

Veiled Chameleons come from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, which
are though of as desert countries, but the chameleons live
in the oases and other places with plentiful vegetation and
fairly high humidity. If there is poor ventilation in their
cage along with too high humidity they will develop skin and
respiratory problems, but they do need proper levels of
humidity to keep their skin and eyes healthy. The best way
to keep the humidity high enough is to keep well-watered
live plants in the cage and mist the plants daily and the
chameleon itself every few days.

Wild chameleons drink the dewdrops that form on the
vegetation of their tree or bush homes as the cool nights
change to the hot days that are typical of their habitat.
They don't naturally drink from standing water, so a water
dish is not a good idea.

Here is one chameleon owner's low-cost and ingenious
suggestion for solving the water problem for both the
chameleon and the plants: Make a drip system that waters

Buy a small plastic cup for each plant, and poke a small
hole (Use a thumbtack or the equivalent.) into the bottom of
the cup. Mount the cup over the plant and keep the cup
filled with chlorine-free water so that water is constantly
slowly dripping onto the plant from the hole in the bottom
of the cup. This will keep the plant watered and humidified
and the chameleon will drink from the water that collects on
the leaves. Drip-watering plus regular misting should keep
both plants and chameleon healthy and happy.

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