Eating soil?

Ethen44

New Member
So my male Ambilobe has been eating the soil that I have one of my plants in. I've witnessed him take a few pretty big mouth fulls of the stuff. I have heard that they do this from time to time, but I haven't heard any reasons as to why? He is well fed, well hydrated, and well lit. The only issue I am currently having is maintaining a humidity of 75% (right now it's about 55).

Anyways, my question is, why do they do this? Does it help with digestion process? Or do they actually gain nutrients from the soil? If that is the case, should I perhaps use a soil with plenty of nutrients? The soil I have currently is standard potting soil with minimal fertilizer...also, should I be concerned about fertilizer poisoning?

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you guys:)
 

ferretinmyshoes

Veterinarian
Staff member
You should absolutely be worried about fertilizer poisoning! Also about soil impaction, which can lead to death by blocking up the intestines. Some chams do eat soil, maybe they just like the taste of it, but there are more risks than potential benefits to this habit so it should be discouraged! Chams don't use soil to help with digestion like some birds do. You need to either remove the source of the soil or cover any soil with river rocks larger than your cham's head or screen - something so your cham can't actually eat the soil. You may want to reevaluate your gutloading to see if there are any major nutrients missing but either way you need to stop your cham from eating soil asap. If there's any way for your cham to still reach the soil (although there shouldn't be), or if crickets can nibble on it you should replace all the soil (at least the top layers) with totally organic soil because fertilizers and those little pearl things are toxic to chameleons.
 

jojackson

New Member
Ethan its not yet known for sure why they do it, but given that folk raise them to a nice old age without ever having eaten soil, it seems at this point, not essential.
Mineral or nutrient need would seem to me to be on the right track, though there may be other reasons.
Given your lizard can lead a healthy life without eating soil, and that impaction is an inherent risk associated with it, Id take Ferret's advice and prevent your lizard eating it by whatever safe means.
I would look into gutloading with a wider variety of foods, and offer as great variety of feeders as is avail to you, in this way you offer the lizard a wider variety of nutrients etc too.
Without scientifically analysing soil its hard to know whats truely 'organic' or not and packaging is not always accurate or reliable, sometimes quite vague.
 

jojackson

New Member
Ethan its not yet known for sure why they do it, but given that folk raise them to a nice old age without ever having eaten soil, it seems at this point, not essential.
Mineral or nutrient need would seem to me to be on the right track, though there may be other reasons.
Given your lizard can lead a healthy life without eating soil, and that impaction is an inherent risk associated with it, Id take Ferret's advice and prevent your lizard eating it by whatever safe means.
I would look into gutloading with a wider variety of foods, and offer as great variety of feeders as is avail to you, in this way you offer the lizard a wider variety of nutrients etc too.
Without scientifically analysing soil its hard to know whats truely 'organic' or not and packaging is not always accurate or reliable, sometimes quite vague.
 
Last edited:

Ethen44

New Member
You should absolutely be worried about fertilizer poisoning! Also about soil impaction, which can lead to death by blocking up the intestines. Some chams do eat soil, maybe they just like the taste of it, but there are more risks than potential benefits to this habit so it should be discouraged! Chams don't use soil to help with digestion like some birds do. You need to either remove the source of the soil or cover any soil with river rocks larger than your cham's head or screen - something so your cham can't actually eat the soil. You may want to reevaluate your gutloading to see if there are any major nutrients missing but either way you need to stop your cham from eating soil asap. If there's any way for your cham to still reach the soil (although there shouldn't be), or if crickets can nibble on it you should replace all the soil (at least the top layers) with totally organic soil because fertilizers and those little pearl things are toxic to chameleons.

Okay, thank you. I will put a top soil over the soil that I currently have that is 100% natural. I will also put some small river stones over that to discourage large quantities to be ingested, if any at all. Concerning the gutloading, I currently have crickets as a temporary staple (silkies/horns/and roaches on the way) with superworms as a treat (2x a week). I gutload my crickets with carrots, lettuce, oats, cricket crack, and orange peels. My superworms are being gutloaded with the same, minus the cricket crack. I dust the food 2x a month with a formula specifically for chameleons; Forgive me, I am too lazy to go check the label, if it is that crucial, I will supply it later.

Am I missing any vitamins or feeders that are imperative? Let me also add that I currently have them on a 5.0 UVB florescent with a 75 watt basking bulb, and that the vitamin powder that I use has calcium, no vitamin A, and small amounts of d3. I appreciate your honesty and assistance :)
 

brandychams

New Member
hey ethen supplements for a panther are about the same as a vieled youll need three supplememnts calcium phosphorous free without d3 at most feedings calcium ph. free with d3 twice a month and a multivite 1-2 times a month
 

Echoezra

Established Member
Probably talking about miner-all, but should know whether it's the I or the O. I'm not sure about dosing recommendations with that, but I am curious.
When you say "small river rocks" , don't mean small enough for him to swallow those too, that would be worse for impaction risk. Make them BIG river rocks, kay.
 

Ethen44

New Member
Probably talking about miner-all, but should know whether it's the I or the O. I'm not sure about dosing recommendations with that, but I am curious.
When you say "small river rocks" , don't mean small enough for him to swallow those too, that would be worse for impaction risk. Make them BIG river rocks, kay.

They are about the size of a 50 cent piece, far bigger than my little ones head. The multi-vit that I use is called Chameleon Dust, by T-Rex. I only use it 2x a month. I originally purchased them a calcium dust as well, but later found out that it had 10,000 IU of d3, and 50,000 IU of vitamin A. So I never got to using it. What are your dusting schedules and what do you use? I hope you don't mind sharing, I am just curious because I don't want my lil guys to get any vitamin deficiency problems or over supplementation.
 

Echoezra

Established Member
Never heard of that one, but I'm new to this, just never saw that mentioned on here so far.
The usual recommendation is repcal no d for an everyday dust, then with d twice a month, and herptivite once or twice a month.
Since minerall I has a lower level of d3, I don't know if people use it more often. I think some will substitute the minerall O for the rep cal no D.
Then there's some that use a multivitamin with A rather than beta carotene, (reptivite? Etc) I'm not sure of the recommended dosing in that case.
Someone with more experience will chime in soon I'm sure.
 

Jakama

Member
I have had the same problem- even when I put rocks in, she just shot her tongue in between the rocks. If eating soil is still a problem, a better solution may be to cut out a circle of mesh and lay it over the plant pot. I have also heard that feeding your chameleon fresh vegetables will stop this, but I have only heard this from one person. Supposedly this is done by cup-feeding the chameleon crickets, and by putting a layer of chopped-up veggies on the bottom of the cup.
 
Top Bottom