What are hornworms and are they a good feeder for your Chameleon??
Hornworms are an excellent feeder for your chameleon
Goliath hornworms, or tobacco hornworms are soft bodied caterpillars that are a beautiful bright green and blue color with a spiked tail towards the rear which is how they get their common name. Hornworm caterpillars may grow to weigh 10,000 times its original weight in less than two weeks. When it's time to transform they bury themselves under leaf litter and transform into the Carolina sphinx moth.
These caterpillars feed on both tobacco and tomato plants, which means they are widely considered to be pests by gardeners but excellent for our chameleons. Hornworms make feeding time easy. Their natural teal and green color makes them great for stimulating feeding in picky eaters and chameleons on hunger strike. They are a great way to hydrate and give your chameleon the nutrition and variety they need. When you receive them, most of the time your hornworms won't be adults. At this smaller size, they can be fed to smaller chameleons. Once they have plumped up a little bit more, your hornworms will be very hydrating.
Chameleons are also big fans of hornworms. We can’t stress enough that hornworms contain lots of water, so they are great to help your chameleon stay hydrated.
Hornworm eggs can be found on the underside of leaves. They are tiny clear green spheres. Hatching occurs about 5 days after eggs are laid. When the eggs hatch into larvae they will begin to feed on the leaf that they were laid on. Remember though, if you are trying to breed hornworms for your reptiles, I recommend hatching them in a 12-24oz. cup containing an artificial diet for them. I only say this from my research that once a hornworm starts to eat plants, they will hardly ever switch back to artificial food.
The larvae will keep eating and growing over the next 2-4 weeks. They go through a few stages of shedding there skin. They can reach up to 4 inches or more in size.
Once the larvae has secured it's position, it will begin to pupation. It will take around 1-2 weeks for them to complete the external anatomy. I suggest removing them and place them in a a different cage or container. I set them up in a small vivarium with sticks and leaf litter.
After about an additional 2-3 weeks the adult months begin to emerge. I give them water in a dish because usually after they hatch they're dehydrated. I suppose this may be cruel to some eyes but hey, it's nature... My now Carolina Moths are getting stronger and stronger everyday.
Unfortunately for these little guys, they are food. Food for my hungry, hungry chameleons.
Blue the Ambilobe Panther Chameleon LOVES his hornworms!