Eating dirt!!???!!


Avid Member
So my panther named gizmo, is eating dirt. I cover the pot with good sized rocks. He moves the rocks just to eat dirt! No matter what I do so he doesn't get in he finds a way.
What is his fasination with dirt??????
Has any one else experienced this?
I don't know what to do to keep him out of it?
Any ideas?:confused:


Chameleon Enthusiast
Yes, alot of chameleon seem to want to eat dirt. I don't think anyone knows the real reason. Some speculation is they have some sort of vitamin or mineral deficiency but I don't know if there is any valid proof to this theory. I would cover the top with screen somehow if he is moving the rocks. I am not 100% sure, but I think eating dirt and sand can cause digestion problems.


Chameleon Enthusiast
How big are the rock that you have covering the dirt? Make sure they are large enough that he can't eat those. Eating a little dirt is ok as long as it is organic and free of all fertilizers. You could pile the rocks higher to keep him out.


New Member
With my experience something's missing from their diet vitamin/mineral wise. One of my female panthers was doing this recently and she needed more calcium in her diet. They might instictively go for dirt to balance themselves out.


New Member
i agree with previous posts, he is likely missing something in his diet...
has he been to a vet?
what is your supplement schedule?
you really have to look past the surface...
has he been to a vet?
they are animals and have instincts...
have you found a vet yet?
when you get to the vet have blood drawn to check calcium.
has he been to a vet yet?


Avid Member
I put calcium on his bugs everyday. I give him vitimans twice a month. He has no signs MBD. He gets natural sunlight twice a week and is almost outside all day. He gets a wide variety of food. His UVB bulbs are new.
The rocks are big and can't be eaten. If I put screen he finds a way to move it.

He's very health. A little too big and fat. Lol
Just likes to eat dirt.
It's just basic top soil on the pots. No little balls or fertilizers or anything.
I do have a vet and he's healthy.

That's why I'm puzzled why he likes dirt???????

I was hoping someone had an answer.
I was hoping someone had an answer.

I dont think anyone knows for sure, there are a lot of variables at play.

-The vitamin deficiency thing is a popular one, but I dont think its as big of an issue as people make it out to be. In fact, you can probably do more damage by over supplementing due to paranoia.
-Another thought is that its a natural occurrence, and a cham's attempt to gain more 'roughage' in their diet.
-Yet another is that its a neurotic response to the stresses put on any wild animal when placed in a confined space ("boredom" although Im not sure that chams have the high order processing to actually be "bored")

like a lot of things in a niche hoby, there are no easy, consistent, or absolutely provable answers (not yet at least). A lot of the "well I did this and it stopped" responses are circumstantial evidence, and there seems to be a big mix up between correlation and causation

The concept of covering up all your dirt seems a bit overkill to me, and I think the 'threat of impaction' is an overplayed buzz-word with the cham community. Yes, it happens, but just because your cham eats something other than a bug doesnt mean he's going to get a fecal impaction... In the end, as long as the dirt isnt full of pesticides or harmful chemicals, and as long as there arent any rocks big enough to actually pose an impaction threat, eating dirt isnt a big deal


Avid Member
I agree with the chef, as usual :D

I dont think there IS an answer to your question.

My veiled chams will eat a little dirt if they run accross some, I dont have
live plants in their cages, but when they are out and about, or outside,
and they see some they go; "Ooo, dirt!!" and help themselves to some.

Then they go perfectly well with no dirt until the next chance encounter.

I should add, they will also snap up dust balls, lint, dried up dead bugs, or
nearly any other tiny piece of trash!!!

(I had a cat like that once!!)

Everything seems to come out okay, so I dont worry ;)

PS. Do you have a MistKing (or equivalent) and using distilled water?
Oh, and what about the dripper, what kind of water are you using in that?
Last edited:


Avid Member
Have a Aquazamp. And lots of vegetation. It's a constant 60-70% humidity in the cage. I have other cams. He's the only 1 that will eat dirty.
I use nothing for the best for them.
I'm not worried about him eating dirt, again hes very very healthy.
I just don't like it, and worry about him getting sick cause of it.


Avid Member
Thinking about it. Cant it be trace elements that are missing in the water?
Farmers give theyre animals supplements cause things are missing from the water. Have we as chameleon owners though about that???????


Established Member
possible prolapse

if he's eating these materials, I would keep some ky jelly on hand, and watch for any prolapse. I've seen a lot of cloaca prolapses from chams eating substrate or dirt.
Thinking about it. Cant it be trace elements that are missing in the water?
Farmers give theyre animals supplements cause things are missing from the water. Have we as chameleon owners though about that???????

hard to supplement via water, especially because you cant really control dosing. Aside from that, rainwater isnt heavy in trace elements anyway so I doubt its a deficiency there.
There are a number of animals that consume "dirt" for its clay content, they do this in an attempt to neutralize toxins in their diet. This might be a residual/vestigial instinct for the chameleon, or it might be an attempt to counteract actual unknown toxins in its diet (maybe from the plants it consumes, maybe from the feeder insect's gutload, who knows).
My chameleon always tries to eat dirt. I've covered his main plants with rags but he always seems to manage to find dirt in his hanging pothos. It's so hard to completely cover up all of the dirt in a pothos and I always catch my guy looking in it for dirt. Once I started feeding him silkworms and hornworms I think it stopped, but I'm not 100% sure.But once the worms were gone he started eating dirt again. I just got a new order of worms so I'm waiting to see if he stops looking for dirt now.


Chameleon Enthusiast
African clays, according to one article I read on geophagy (soil eating), contain calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. I don't know about clays in oher countries chameleons come from though.


Avid Member
Doesn't magnisum help retain water in the human body to help stay hydrated? Maybe it's the same for chams???
Maybe as a cut load for the bugs, I should try giving them
Some coconut.
See if he stops eating dirty after that point.
Worth a try?????
Top Bottom