cricket care.... other feeding/behavoir questions


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I've been feeding my chameleon crickets for as long as he has been alive. I tried mealworms once but they weren't appetizing to him at all. (they smell horrendous too) Now my chameleon is large enough to be eating adult crickets, hes about 10-12 inches overall length and is quite healthy. today he has been displaying an extremely light color today, i think its because he's very calm and happy in his current situation. I was wondering first if i should change it up every now and then? and which feeders are the easiest to deal with? also, how many crickets a day do you think i should feed him? i dust w/ repcal calciumw/d3 in it every feeding that i do, (when i work, my mom just throws the crickets in...) so at least 3-4 times a week. i've used the herptivite 2-3 times, like once every 2 weeks or so.

My crickets, i keep them in a sterlite container w/ the top lid cut out to have screen @ the top. It has a little ridge around the perimeter of the box that alot of crickets die in.. its about 8-10inches high but here's my problem. Some of these crickets are turning DARK BLACK when they are dead. also, some are dying with red swollen coloration in certain areas of their bodies. I buy my crickets at about $5 worth at a time so i get about 50-60 for the week, soemtimes i have to get more earlier than expected. I just bought some on tuesday the 4th from petsmart, full grown ones. i have about 10-12 dead ones that are just dark dark black inthere. what causes them to die? say for instance theres one thats dead in there in which the hind leg is quite red and swollen to the point that it is extended... What is that? I'm concerned because i think its infection that has been spreading. I have two theories: one is the dark black ones are dying due to aphixiation (sp?) i only have the top part cut out and that shit stinks, i think there isn't much air flow to supply the crickets. I think the ones that have the red swollen bodyparts are ones that have been bitten by other larger crickets and its an infection from that... I also see that the crickets like to pull legs of each other and stuff so that seems plausible

i have been buying this product called 'cricket yummies' that is a gutload mix for the crickets to eat... its green in color and a box comes with about 9-10 packets. I think its been working well because my chameleon looks very healthy.

I believe my chameleon is 3months old, maybe 4, he doesn't show alot of colors, but they are there and they are faint but not as extreme as other chameleon colors i've seen. sometimes they color out. I noticed that when hes stressed/pissed the white spots he has on him turn brown/black and thats it, the rest stays green, however my friends sub-adult veiled turns dark all over when hes pissed off.... but to the point... i'm wondering about feeding habits, handling and training the chameleon....

My chameleon runs like hell from me when i open the reptarium, he sprints at full speed across to the otherside, so normally to catch him i open both sides and he runs to the other where a pothos is, and i pull the pothos out and kind of make him run to escape one hand and he ends up onto my other hand to get him out of the plant, i never try to pull on him or anything like that... when should i try to start hand feeding him? My chameleon is so skidish i don't understand why, he's out in the back porch/lanai in the sun for about half of the day with all the anemities he needs, hes probably bothered maybe 2-3 times a day, and sometimes more than that when my siblings go into the pool, but a shade is pulled between him and the pool to protect him and so he can't see the kids. he's more concerned with my presence than taking care of his bodily needs. I have yet to see him eat, he never eats when i'm around. One time i fed him and i was lookin around the cage to see where he was at, when i walked around i saw he was stretched out with his mouth open, about to shoot, and his eye caught me and he immediately retracted close to the branch and was watching me not the cricket he was about to eat. he doesn't really drink when i'm around either, he's always 100% focused on me and what I am doing and where i am in relation to the cage, if i'm getting crickets and stuff he goes to the opposite. I used to use a misting hose that was seperate from the pump, but due to time and the pump not working too hot with it (too much pressure) i use the nozzle that is attached to the pump to spray him down, i used to see him drink when i had the hose insid ethe cage spraying on him, but now i rarely see him drink, i wet the plants and everything in the cage pretty well, with alot buildup on the outside and hope that he drinks some... my mom has seen him eat though, i don't know how... she's seen him a few times, its not fair! haha

I wrote alot so here's a recap:

What makes crickets die when they have food/water? particularly turnign dark black/swollen red body parts
Should i switch up the feeders, if so which are good?

My chameleon is skiddish as hell, when should i start trying to hand feed him and how should i go about doing it?

What are things I can do to eliminate stress he's being subject to to cause him to flee?

My setup: 65gallon reptarium w/ ficus tree, schefflera, and pothos with one 6ft strand of biovine throughout. pretty basic but i think he's happy.

i'll follow this up with some pictures i took of him today with my blackjack.
here are the pictures i took of him today..... he was displaying an incredibly light color so i took some pictures

how old do you think he is? its hard to take pictures of him while holding him with the other... I got him at most 2 months ago and he was probably overall length of 4.5-5inches long i think... I postd some pics when i first got him search if you want.

also, how can you tell if your chameleon has MBD? as well as a surplus in D3? i was told that D3 can build up in the system and cause problems.... it seems like when i look at him head on his casque is a little crooked at the top, i tried squeezing his arms/legs to get a feel for it, and tehy are kinda squishy to be honest, but all of his limbs are a straight shot and i have been dusting quite a bit, almost everytime i feed him. i was working 3-4 days a week and when that happened my mom would feed him by jsut throwing the crickets in... she didn't want to deal w/ dusting and handling them, which is reasonable to me.

i also just came up with this thought: me might be starting a shed tomorrow because of this light color, i'll up the water and mistings to encourage the shed, we'll see

edit: thanks for reading everything i have to say and all help/advice you guys offer is appreciated. thanks


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a lil advice....

Aww he is very cute. I think that the cricket problems that you’re having sound really crappy, but I don’t know the answer….. Is it just one pet store that you frequent that this happens at? I would suggest trying a different area store; I know around me the quality of the crickets definitely vary from store to store. A variety of feeders are good. I could recommend ordering feeders through the mail. We just recently received a new worm to try, the hornworm that I would suggest a small/med. Size 4u, and my cham loves them. I use and find that ordering more than 100 crickets at a time is inefficient. You can check out some of the other bugs on the site too. Mealworms are also good, but you have to make sure the jaws are strong enough to kill the worm so it does not tunnel through the stomach. You want to make sure that you DO NOT dust every time, only once or twice a week b/c you can overload the cham.
When I was first trying to get mine used to me feeding, I introduced some crickets in a cup first that I would hold…..and just recently he likes to eat worms right out of my hand, but I think it really does take them a while to adjust. I would recommend a drip system made of a cup/bowl w/a pinhole poked in the bottom releasing about 2 drops per sec if you don’t already have one.
As far as the stress goes, I would read up on husbandry and make sure you have all the bases covered there. Ya know, keep him in the corner, not a high traffic place, and make sure he can stay well hidden in his cage, but it sounds like you are covered their. I know w/MBD a uneven/swollen jaw line is sometimes presented but I am sure there are many other symptoms…….. Sorry I wasn’t more help.

thanks for your input.

just after creating this thread i realized that my chameleon is roughly 3months old... so now my perspective of him has changed, i thought he was 4-5 months(it seems like it!) however it hasn't been that long. I got him at the end of may, and he was probably 4 weeks old there, only about 4-5inchs long, and i've only had him a little more than a month. I would say he looks pretty diesel for a 3month old chameleon, i hope at least :)

my crickets- i get them at petsmart in clearwater and herps hobby shop in oldsmar (i live in florida) and they both seem to be alright. Not the best, but its definately better than nothing. The blackness thing happens when i have either provider, however this last batch i got @petsmart and there is a significant change in the # of dead black ones... theres alot this batch. So I'm not sure if its the crickets i get them at, however i think its more or less my cricket husbandry, and i think it might be apphixiation... I'm gonna get a 10gal aqaurium for them. does anyone have good ideas for cricket husbandry, and what they prefer to keep them @ optimal condition? i'll check another reptile store though, i've heard of a great one on the otherside of town.

mulberry farms seems to be located in Cali, thats a little far from florida, i think i'll have to find a closer mail-order dealer.... why do you think its inefficient to ship more than 100 cricks? I looked into getting some crickets from and it seems that shipping is the killing factor. i wish shipping was included, because then the prices would be legit... $10 for 500, $15 for 1000, but with shipping its $20-25 for either 500 or 1000. Is it because 500 crickets is really more than i can care for and that most will die off before i can feed them? I haven't had 500 at once so i don't think i haev a good perspective on that.... I could split with my friend that is taking after 5 chameleons... but he needs small and large.. i want to move to the mailorder, the local reptile owner is a douche, and i would rather take my business elsewhere, i dont want him profiting off me. lol

about training to handfeed, how old was he when you started this process? I think the cup idea might be a good one, but he's so skiddish i'm unsure.... Like when he was about to nab a crick and when he saw me standing 7ft away watching him he stopped and decided to go incognito and not snatch it. I've always done free roam because i didn't have the patience/time to wait there. I tried putting a dish in my cage but he didn't seem to interested, maybe i'll implement one in a month when i locate him to a larger cage. he's been in a 65gal reptarium since i got him, and when younger it was a little too big for him, now its the right size, but i would have to overload his cage w/ cricks to make sure he would eat. He normally eats all of the ones i introduce nowadays (unless they have been hiding) but today there were 5-6 crickets staying on the ground (i've never seen crickets exhibit that behavoir, normally they crawl all around... they were grouped around the bottom in the open... kind of wierd) my friend's chameleon will eat anything put infront of him, I've tried taking my chameleon when he hangs off my hand and dip his head in the cricket tub so he could nab one, but he never does... he's more concerned about his distance to the edge, and will lunge to grab it if he is close enough...

well looks like mealworms are out of the question... I think he eats the crickets whole (weird?) my mom said she saw him like 2-3 days ago nab like 3 crickets in about 20 seconds, i'm not sure if thats enough time for him to chew them. again i rarely see my chameleon eat, only once or twice when i had the patience to sit out there.

also, i keep my chameleon and crickets outside in the back lanai, he gets direct sunlight about half the day (the second half, due to sun position but has indirect light all day) maybe there's something thats visiting my crickets i don't know about. about how far do you think a chameleon can focus and see? i think i may move him to another part of the lanai, the current one he has a view into three sliding glass windows, but only one of them has the blinds open all the time- the kitchen one, do you think he's skiddish because he can see activity in the kitchen? he's about 10 ft from the glass door and the glass door is about another 10 ft from the highest trafficing areas of the kitchen (the absolute closest) i doubt it though, but a few times when trying to watch him from the door i had the feeling he could see me (reptarium mesh is kinda hard to see through)
He looks decent sized for his age:), they grow so fast in the summer…. I would recommend getting a little cricket keeper at petsmart for like $5, w/the ventilation and door@ the top, that’s what I keep ours in w/egg crate. I tried to keep them in a 10 gallon….many of them and you guessed correctly it is BAD…talk about smell. It just gets so humid and moist and they all die… I don’t know if you keep them outside if that has ne thing to do w/ it, could be bad n get infested.
I live in Tampa, but I don’t know about this cricket stuff you describe. I just got an order in the mail from mulberry farms today all was well all alive and stuff, wow are these hornworms something, but I feel you splitting them w/ someone would be nice. What kind of chameleons are/is your friend caring for? I don’t know if the hand-feeding necessarily has to do w/ age but the variability of the cham and it’s temperament ya know. Well my previous CB veiled, he was young when I got him n was hand feeding prob within a month after we got him. Aww I think the cham can see very well, the other day mine was on the blinds in the bedroom and a plane flew by in the sky and he got all skinny n tried to hide from it behind the bind b/c he thought it was a bird. I don’t think that activity in the kitchen should cause him to be skiddish, but that doesn’t mean he can’t see you……
Mealworms are also good, but you have to make sure the jaws are strong enough to kill the worm so it does not tunnel through the stomach.

Liz.. this is a myth. Chameleon stomach acid is very good at killing mealworms and superworms that might make it down whole.

Hi atog and ibesok-I live in your area and frequent Herp Hobby shop for mice to feed pythons and the ocasional cricket when I run low. I also sell him my surplus silkworms if you are looking for another feeder. I order crickets by the 500 or 1000 from lucky Lure cricket farm in Leesburg(14.00/500 shipped)-always good quality, and if you buy 1/4 or 1/2's they will live a long time without high die offs. Also for $19.99 per 1000 you an get a box from Pet Safari in Dunedin off of 580. I keep crickets in a sterlite plastic container that is about 24" high with the lid cut out and screen. It is getting terribly hot here and the high temps will cause higher die-offs. In the container I keep a cricket water thing (chicken feeder) and I feed crickets food from Coastal Silkworms until I move them to another container for gutloading with veggies, etc. Keeping your cham outside in the high temps and humidity this time of year can subject them to URI's.
Thanks for the info guys. I'm thinking about heading out to Oldsmar today to go to the flea market and to check out this pet store everyone is talking about.
If your humidity in your cricket container is too high, they will smell really bad and turn black and mushy when they die. This can also happen if their egg crates are getting wet from coming in contact with their water source. I screened 2 sides and the top of my cricket container and it allows for enough air flow to help with this. As for switching feeders, I would definitely add some variety but crickets are easy to gutload and dust, and are fairly cheap so eliminating them completely is difficult.

The cricket yummies aren't a complete gutload. They aren't bad to feed as they add some moisture and a (trivial) bit of vitamins, but you also need to feed them grains and fresh greens and other vegetables. I feed mine infant cereal, alfalfa, collard, turnip, mustard and dandelion greens, yellow and green squash, zucchini, sweet potato and an egg yolk here and there for protein. I understand that your chameleon looks healthy now but it takes a long time before a chameleon starts showing signs of illness/poor nutrition and usually by the time that the symptoms are noticeable the chameleon doesn't have much time left. Are you dusting with calcium and vitamin supplements? What kinds and how often?

Does your chameleon have a UVB light? I understand that you keep him outside "half of the day" but does he get direct sunlight (not through glass doors or plastic shades)? Are his ambient temperatures and basking temperatures in the correct ranges?

Some chameleons (especially veileds) will never tolerate being handled and will never take to hand feeding. They usually do get used to your presence and come to understand that you are bringing food. Try placing the feeder between you and the chameleon so that he can look at both of you with both eyes at the same time.. should make him feel more comfortable about eating in front of you if he can keep both eyes on you. Is his cage heavily planted? If not he may not feel secure enough. Chameleons like to be able to get out of your veiw completely. Can you post some cage pictures?
thanks everyone for the replies, its late here so i'll come back and redigest what i read... but from what i remember...

if you search you can see pictures of the set up in another thread that i started when i first got him. it's the same setup but alot more overgrown, the pothos vine is long as hell and the schefflera is alot more bushy. when i first got him he would stay in the ficus, but now he travels throughout the cage frequently. I'm going to add some more biovine, but i'm not sure what else i could add in there, i don't have much more space. any suggestions would be helpful

I don't have a UVB light, i keep him outside in the lanai. the sun rises at the front of my house and sets behind my house, so i guess my house faces east. In the morning hes under shade and its cool, and this is normally when he eats, if i am able to get some cricks in there for him to chow on early enough, and around 1-2 oclock he's getting direct sunlight, but then again its not direct because its filtered through the lanai screen and then further by the reptarium. Every now and then i put him outside the lanai in my yard under the full sun (still in the reptarium though) for at most 2 hours.... almost once a day now... its when my siblings go in the pool i move him so he doesn't get stressed/ splashed on with chlorinated water. URI's i'm assuming it stands for Ultraviolet ray infection i guess? he's not subject to the sun all day, and again hes under my lanai which offers protection. sometimes inthe morning when i feed him around 10 oclock i'll move him to the far corner of the lanai so he's getting direct sunlight, I do it to encourage him to hunt & eat, but im' not sure if it's really effective. I only do it when i'm home, say for instance tomorrow I'm working, so my mom will shake out a few cricks... its random she just grabs the egg crate and shakes some out and puts them back in, she doesnt like handling them. she also mists for me when i'm at work, at least twice before i get home around 330-4pm, then i normally do another if she only did it once at that time. Today I set up a dripper w/ a solo cup... I tried w/ paper cups but the fibers surrounding the hole would eventually clog it up. it seems to work good, i used it today while he aws out there... Lately i've been more attentive to the temperatures and his exposure to the sun, and as such i mist him more and provide some more humidity. Oh yeah, the other day I still can't explain his super light color, he's back to a darker hue (but not much, still quite green) That day it was almost as if he never changed his colors when he woke up. I dunno. it was also after a fresh cage cleaning, that may have made him happy, gonna do it again tomorrow.

when handling my chameleon, he seems pretty chill, but he's definately always looking for a way to get away from me. he doesn't run at all times, and when he does he's not sudden in his movements, he sort of accelerates slow so i know to keep feeding a hand in front of him.. I'm quite impressed by his reach, and his ability to use his tail to support him when hes pulling himself forward with his front arms. It's always a hassle to catch the bugger, he's good at running in the trees, but i'm getting good at cornering him so he crawls on my hand w/o force, maybe just a little encouragement of my other hand trying to grab him lol. I still think he's too young for me to be hand feeding him, i'm gonna wait until he starts to feel comfortable with eating in front of me. My buddies cham would go on sprees in front of us, and after that he tried to start the hand feeding, now the cham will eat any crick presented to him on spot, he also has his jackson doing the same, but through a little hole in the reptarium that he feeds the cricks through and holds them there, then the jackson will nab it. i hope the guy chills out a bit, i think that when he gets older he'll be more relaxed when he finally gets me associated with food and what not. I think he's getting used to me however, He doesn't always hide at first site, and the only time he tries to conceal himself is when my eyes lock onto him, if i'm scanning the cage and see him, but he doesn't recognize that i recognize him, he'll stay in plain site, but as soon as i start to focus and admire, he tries to hide behind the branch or something, and eventually when he gets the chance, to move to the otherside of the cage. Honestly, as much as I like the chameleon and everything, part of the fun is being able to hold him and interact with how he climbs and stuff, and if i'm unable to do that, then what kind of pet is that? So i'll continue to hold him, I've been handling him once a day for about 10 minutes, and hopefully he'll be all good.

damn i might have gone off on a ramble, i'm tired and not thinking clearly

i'll come back to comment on the feeders, sounds like there are some good options here.
seems like the main symptom is if they are chillin with their mouth open for no reason. The only time was today when i was holding him he opened his mouth as i was feeding my free hand in front of him to crawl on, and i didn't see what happened but his mout was open, i'm sure i accidentily startled him and he was getting defensive.

sativa - didn't you get a cham from fl chams? I've been handling my chameleon everyday just about to try to break his fear of me. Today was big improvement, first, he stayed put when i approached the cage and didn't immediately begin to move... well i assume so it took me a minute or two to find him, and then i opened the reptarium infront of him and he still didn't move, and it wasn't until my first attempt to hold him that he tried to high-tail it, i held my hand in front of him and he still wasn't startled, it was only when the second hand came in to encourage him onto the other hand.

I'll keep a look out for symptoms of a URI, he seems to be okay though and knows how to thermoregulate quite well... Today i went out to find him and was staring for a good 5 minutes i couldn't find him... My mom cleaned the cage while at work and iw as concerned she lost him, but just before i went inside, i saw his foot in the schefflera, he was deep undercover. haha
I'm not going to address the cricket problem since others have commented on it.

atog said..."i dust w/ repcal calciumw/d3 in it every feeding that i do, (when i work, my mom just throws the crickets in...) so at least 3-4 times a week. i've used the herptivite 2-3 times, like once every 2 weeks or so" and "he's out in the back porch/lanai in the sun for about half of the day"...exposure to sunlight (that doesn't pass through glass or plastic) allows your chameleon to produce D3 which in turn allows him to use the calcium in his diet. Yours sounds like its getting plenty of exposure to sunlight and he shouldn't need supplements with D3 in them. D3 from SUPPLEMENTS which can build up in the chameleon's system.

Regarding vitamins...I give my veileds vitamins twice a month...the kind that has a beta carotene source of vitamin A. Beta carotene sources of vitamin A don't build up in the system but preformed vitamin A can. However, there is controversy about whether chameleons can convert beta carotene to vitamin A or some people give their chameleons a little preformed once in a while. Excess preformed vitamin A can prevent the D3 from doing its job and lead to MBD.

You said..."how can you tell if your chameleon has MBD? is an article about it that includes a list of symptoms...

You said..."a surplus in D3? i was told that D3 can build up in the system and cause is an article about this...and the UVB article should give you some information too...

lbesok said..."You want to make sure that you DO NOT dust every time, only once or twice a week b/c you can overload the cham." are right about not dusting every time if you are referring to the powder that contains D3....but dusting several times a week with a phosphorous-free calcium powder helps to make up for the poor ratio of calcium to phosphorous in most of the insects that we use for feeders.

atog said..."My chameleon is skiddish as hell" and "part of the fun is being able to hold him and interact with how he climbs and stuff, and if i'm unable to do that, then what kind of pet is that?"...that is the kind of "pet" that a chameleon makes. Chameleons don't like to be handled or enjoy best, they TOLERATE it. I handle my chameleons when necessary and other than that, I let the ones that will TOLERATE handling come to me once in a long while.

You said..."seems like the main symptom is if they are chillin with their mouth open for no reason. The only time was today when i was holding him he opened his mouth as i was feeding my free hand in front of him to crawl on, and i didn't see what happened but his mout was open, i'm sure i accidentily startled him and he was getting defensive"....when you are holding the chameleon and he is opening his mouth, its likely a defensive gesture....he's trying to tell you to back off.

You said..."I still can't explain his super light color"...light coloration can sometimes be due to being hot or at least warm enough.

Here are some sites that you could read...ADCHAM has a good gutload on its site...

Hope this helps!
i need help

my chameleon is not going to his food (crickets) and he just climbs to the top of his cage and watches me, he will not look at his food.I tried putting him in a box with some crickets, but it only had side wholes and he couldn't see... any help would be nice, thanks....
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