Do hornworms bite?

Discussion in 'Chameleon Food' started by Kat77, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    I just started feeding out hornworms since all the silk worms seem to have temporarily disappeared. I was wondering whether those big guys bite? I noticed when I gave one to Steve today that the thing whipped around and it looked like it tried to bite him right in the eye turret. I don't think it did, but I'm feeling a little more wary of them now. Anyone had a bad experience?
    ChromaChameleons likes this.
  2. beeze

    beeze Avid Member

    I don't think the horn worms bite. I have been using them for a while and always hand feed. Super worms do bite.
  3. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    Yeah, I hand feed them too. I'm not worried about the things biting ME, I'm worried about them biting my chameleons...
    I just wanted to be sure...anyone else?

    THECHAMMAN Established Member

    i heard they did bite. dont quote me, but while i was reading on the internet i heard they had quite large mandibles
  5. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    Their mandibles are actually pretty small. If they had big huge mandibles there wouldn't be much doubt for me whether they bite or not, hah.
  6. beeze

    beeze Avid Member

    I just checked on and Hornworms don't bite or sting

    THECHAMMAN Established Member

    well i said dont quote me on that one. the internet lies sometimes.
  8. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    I should have thought of that myself! Thanks!
  9. Cainschams

    Cainschams New Member

    Hornworms bite. Take one out of the pod and hold it by its back. It will turn and bite you. Its not painful but it feels wierd and it is definatly trying to harm you.
  10. studiocham

    studiocham New Member

    yes, they bite

    This is an old post of mine from mellerichams:

    This morning, I fed out 1 appropriately-sized (not full-grown)
    hornworm to each of my largest melleri. I started working in the
    next room, and a while later, I heard a hiss/cough noise coming from
    the cham room. My largest cham was repeatedly swallowing and then
    dry heaving. She had not moved to bask after her meal, she was just
    sitting where she'd been fed, and occasionally wiping her mouth on a
    branch. Her hyoid was visible in her profile, which is unusual-
    something had to be pressing it down. Her color was normal. I moved
    her out of the cage for a closer look. Luckily, this particular cham
    is a snot, and promptly gaped at me when I looked in her eyes.
    There, laying in her throat, hanging onto the back of her tongue by
    its mandibles, was her meal! She had not killed it before
    swallowing, and it was hanging on for dear life, causing the cham

    This is a 17" subadult melleri with a very strong bite and an
    attitude. My first thought was to "get the worm off her tongue", but
    the second thought was, "without losing a finger!" I grabbed a
    sterile tweezers and a wooden spoon. The spoon was needed to prevent
    her from biting down on the tweezers and damaging her teeth. I
    looked at her, so she gaped, then I lightly laid the spoon handle
    across her lower jaw, and tried to remove the worm with tweezers.
    The worm was not letting go. Trying to get the worm's head made it
    pinch the cham's tongue harder, making the whole scene a moving
    target. I managed to irritate the worm into flinging its body
    forward, pulled all my tools and fingers away, and the cham bit it.
    The chomping made it release its own bite, and the cham swallowed it
    without further trouble. I have never been so deep in a cham's
    throat before and hope to never have to be again. Thank goodness, it
    was a large space to work in, and for all the cham's personality
    problems, I did not have her restrained in any way. She LET me fish
    in her throat. More reasons to love the giants. LOL I took another
    look down her throat, and the worm was way down in the stomach, at

    From now on, I will stun or kill the hornworms when feeding them
    out, and advise others to do the same. This is the third dangerous
    feeding issue I have witnessed with hornworms, and each time, I have
    been home to notice and correct the situation before the cham choked
    to death or stressed out. I don't even want to think about what
    would have happened if I had not been around to hear and see the
    problems. First, when feeding a juvenile last year, the worm's last
    foot clamped down on its inner lip and similarly caused
    choking/gagging until I broke its suction; second, a hornworm (being
    chewed) bit a subadult on its eye turret, causing a wound that took
    weeks to heal up; this tongue episode is the last straw. I love
    hornworms as WC boosting feeders or as treats for growing chams, and
    I'll still buy them, but they are too risky as live prey IMO, and
    I'm feeding BIG chams, at that. I can't feed them live and then walk
    away without a worry in the back of my head. Freshly killed, no

    Disable the hornworms by cutting them into halves and feeding the halves out fresh OR using fine wire nippers to cut off the mandibles before feeding out a live hornworm (or even a superworm, if you use those feeders). Sloppy, yes, but no one gets hurt except the worms.
    ChromaChameleons likes this.
  11. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    YIKES! I figured Melleri could kill just about anything, so that makes me nervous with my panther! One of my two isn't large enough to eat the big ones, but now i'm even concerned about the smaller ones.
    Kristina, could I slam one against a table or something to stun it?

    Just another reason for me to be a paranoied chameleon parent!
  12. studiocham

    studiocham New Member

    Don't be paranoid, be information-empowered.;)

    Melleri can kill even the biggest ones, but in their greedy haste, they don't always kill-bite everything they take in.

    If you don't have nippers for the mandibles, you could crush the heads with needle-nose pliers. The goal is to disable the mouth end, but (this is sounding awful) leave the back part of the head whole, so that the worm twitches attractively for the chameleon.

    If you kill them by slamming them, you may end up with a motionless, mushy sock of worm which the cham will not want.
    Kat77 likes this.
  13. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    I'm going to have to check my tool box. I'll have to just grit my teeth and do it, I still have about six to feed off from what I bought.
    Thanks Kristina! At least now I know!
  14. dodolah

    dodolah Retired Moderator

    Depending on your cham really...
    You should know your chameleon's habit.
    For example, I know that my veiled chew excessively (one of the reason why he never have any intact phoenix worms in his poop).
    He always always kill the hornworms before swallowing it.

    My panther loves to suck the feeders and let them wiggle in his mouth.
    For this guy, I would probably be a bit worry feeding him hornworms.

    They do bite. Whip their tail. and the best of all: Spit.
    Your cham probably be a bit shocked at first. But, after he taste them...
    I am quite certain that he will be enticed.

    Hornworms are excellent feeder for sick chameleons.
    They hydrate, provide protein, and fat for chameleons that are recuperating.
    I stand by them as excellent feeder (probably not as staple though as they're quite expensive and can make your chameleon chubby).

    To be honest, I have never cut the mandibles or crush their head be4 feeding them to my cham.
  15. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    Thanks Dodolah! My guy does seem to be able to kill them before swallowing, but that doesn't stop them from flipping around and taking a chunk out of his eye turret. As Kristina said, she had a cham that had a wound on the eye turret from a hornworm that took weeks to heal. I think I'd rather be safe than sorry....
  16. ciafardo 4

    ciafardo 4 New Member

    great advice i will definitly do it
  17. AndrewH

    AndrewH New Member

    i dont even try to mess with the full grown ones.

    None of my herps are even big enough to tackle them.

    I do throw them to my smaller bearded dragon. he likes to just play with them and kill them, then stands over them with his chest out like hes in a scene from gladiator. :rolleyes:

    You could wait till they start to cacoon. half way through they shrink up and their upper body is covered in the shell leaving them pretty defenseless and immobile. I have had my cham and beardies eat them then.
    vermeleon likes this.
  18. Kat77

    Kat77 New Member

    Yeah, they grew so darn fast. I just took a look at them and I don't think I can feed them even to Steve anymore. Ewww...explain how to time this cacoon thing, I don't know how long they stay in there.
  19. AndrewH

    AndrewH New Member

    oh, so after they get to the size of your head and they drop to the bottom of the cup, just place them in some damp dirt and they will do the rest, it doesnt even have to be deep, just shallow. if you let them metamorph though be prepared for moths the size of bats fluttering around your place

    check out the vids :D
  20. jannb

    jannb Chameleon Enthusiast

    I have found that keeping them cool keeps them from growing quite so fast.

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