Chameleons are known for their impressive color-changing abilities and their quick tongues. Their tongues, in particular, allow them to snag fast food on the run. Perhaps this has led you to wonder, what do chameleons eat? How long can a chameleon go without eating? And do they need to eat every day? Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more!
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What Do Chameleons Eat?
Chameleons are primarily insectivores. They will grab fast moving insects with their sticky, lightning-quick tongue, allowing them to eat many types of bugs that they would never be quick enough to catch otherwise.
Chameleons enjoy eating a wide variety of insects and invertebrates, including:
- Crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts: These insects appear to make up the largest part of their diet in the wild. Chameleons’ tongues are quick enough to snatch them before they are able to spring or fly away.
- Flies: Chameleons will eat many different kinds of flies. Their tongues can lash out to snatch a fly resting nearby as well as one flying through the air.
- Worms: Chameleons sometimes eat much slower-moving insects as well. They will eat all kinds of worms, from mealworms to earthworms to caterpillars–whatever happens to be available.
- Slugs and snails: Chameleons also enjoy eating slugs and snails from time to time. These slow-moving invertebrates are easy to catch, and the chameleon’s strong jaws are able to easily crush snail shells.
Some species of chameleon may also eat other things as well, including:
- Plant matter: Many chameleons supplement their insect diet with fruits, vegetables, leaves, and other types of plant matter. They don’t eat plants as often as they eat insects, but they need both in their diet to stay healthy.
- Small birds and rodents: Some of the largest chameleon species will eat other small animals. Small birds, mice, and other small rodents are often the victims of these large chameleon species.
- Other lizards: Some chameleons will eat other, smaller types of lizards as well. This is mostly true of the larger chameleon species.
Do Chameleons Eat Every Day?
How often a chameleon needs to eat depends primarily on its age and health.
Baby chameleons need to eat every day and will eat up to 15 insects a day. For anyone keeping them as pets or raising babies to sell, you should feed young chameleons under 6 months old about 3 times per day.
Chameleons between 6 and 12 months tend to eat a little less–up to 10 insects a day. If kept in captivity, chameleons at this age should be fed about once a day.
Adult chameleons do not need to eat every day–they may eat up to 6 insects in one setting, but they will not need to eat again for some time afterward. If you keep adult chameleons in captivity, you will only need to feed them once every other day.
In the wild, adult chameleons may go for even longer periods without eating based on what’s available and their own physical state.
Chameleons infected with parasites may not eat as much as healthy chameleons. Parasites are fairly common in chameleons, so if you have a pet chameleon that seems to be eating less than usual, you may want to talk to your vet about it.
Female chameleons tend to stop eating for about a week before laying eggs. Still other chameleons may stop eating for a period of time simply because they get bored with eating the same foods again and again.
How Long Can Chameleons Survive Without Food?
Chameleons can go up to two weeks without eating any food, but they usually eat much more often than that. Though they don’t need to eat every day, they will begin to lose weight and waste away if they aren’t receiving food on a regular basis.
Adult chameleons, as noted, don’t need a lot of food, and they will typically go two to three days between meals in the wild, but in many cases they do seem to need the consistency of these regular meals.
If you have a pet chameleon that isn’t eating, check out this video to try and troubleshoot the problem.
How Long Can Chameleons Survive Without Water?
Chameleons, like humans, need water more frequently than they need food. That said, they are able to survive a little longer than humans without water.
Generally speaking, chameleons will die after about a week without water. Some may die sooner than that, while others may hang on for a little bit longer.
Chameleons take in water in a couple of different ways. They will sometimes slurp water with their long tongues; other times, they will simply inhale moisture from the air.
Chameleons need this moisture consistently or they will begin to dehydrate. After several days of dehydration, they will die.
If you have a pet chameleon, provide a constant supply of clean water and use a spray bottle to mist the tank regularly.
Chameleons can go for about two weeks without eating and about one week without water. They don’t eat all the time and will often go two to three days without food, but the longer they go without food, the more they will waste away until they are no longer able to survive.
If you have a pet chameleon, feed it insects and plant matter every other day, and make sure it always has clean water in its tank.