Feeding Questions for upcoming chameleon


Established Member
Hi there,

I have been reading a lot about what to feed and gutloading and variety and whatnot, but there's still a couple questions I had that I hadn't seen directly answered anywhere yet. I apologize if these have already been addressed, I did try searching first.

#1) I know it's recommended to feed adults every other day. Is there a specific like, digestion-time related-reason for this? I'm just wondering if it's supposed to be like say 6 feeders every other day, why it wouldn't be okay to do 3 feeders every day instead? They'd get the same amount of food in the end.

#2) Does it matter when you feed them? I know they need heat to digest properly right? Do they have to be pre-heated before they eat? lol that sounds funny. Or have to eat a certain amount of time before lights-out? As far as drippers/misting goes in relation to feeding times, how about that? Is there a general preferred order there? Mist first then eat? Eat first then start up dripper to wash it down?

#3) Do you normally feed them all at once? or throw them in all at once and let him hunt? Or would it be okay to feed a couple, wait a couple hours, feed another, etc. to spread it out a little through the day?

I understand that frequent contact is stressful. But at the same time I'm also thinking that for the most part food is going to be the only positive association he'll have with me, and that he will have to get accustomed to me barging into his cage every day for misting and cleaning. So the sooner he gets used to the "she's not so bad" concept, the less he'll stress right? So I'm just thinking that if I can associate more of the cage intrusions with food, the quicker he'll associate the intrusions as not all bad and relax more?

I'm not talking handling, btw, I'm just talking feeding. Maybe some hand-feeding :) But even just yes I"m in here, sorry, but look what you get when I come and then place a worm on his vine or a nearby plant. As he got more used to it, I wouldn't make it so easy for him, so he'd know I was bringing bugs, but I'd put them in different spots so that he'd have to go track them down, more challenging and enriching.

I was just also thinking that wouldn't it would be more natural that way too, because if they usually hunt for bugs in the wild, their feedings would be more spread out, but yet still more frequent, I would imagine. Like less bugs at a time, but more often. Yes I'm sure if they came upon a pile of bugs they'd probably slurp em all down at once, and then wouldn't need to eat any more for a while. but the majority is probably here and there style, wouldn't you think? So having 6 bugs in the morning all at once and then none for two days, that feast then famine thing is probably more of an occasional occurance, not their "usual" wild meal plan - I would picture it being mostly find a bug, then chill for a bit, then find another bug, etc. sometimes you dont' find any. Sometimes you find several at once, but usually you find single bugs reasonably regularly.

I don't have any scientific research to support this, it's just my assumption of what it might likely be like if you lived in trees and ate bugs.
So please, if there are those of you out there with more specific feeding habit research, chime in and link for me.

Am I totally off-base with this? for acclimation or natural patterns reasons? Do you think it would be a terrible approach?

Keep in mind, I'm not talking every hour on the hour, just so we'd be having these positive reinforcement moments more than the otherwise 3 times a week .

Obviously I'd be watching for reactions, and if it was backfiring and causing more stress rather than easing it like I hope, I would revert back to the usual less, bigger feedings.

I'm not trying to go against tried and true methods, on the contrary I'm incredibly grateful having access to all this previous experience and success and trial and error! I don't plan on messing around with recommended amounts or supplements or gutloading, I'll be doing all that by "the book", I'm just interested in the possibility of tweaking the distribution patterns of these recommended amounts.

Feel free to tell me if I'm stupid, lol, if there are real reasons against it. But if it's just not the way it's usually done, but wouldn't necessarily be bad to try, let me know that too.

I do really value and respect your opinions, and would appreciate this discussion. I kind of respect my own opinion and ideas too, that's why I'm bringing this up as an option rather than just automatically following what I read, but I'm not unwilling to admit that my first thoughts may be wrong. I'm wanting what will work out to be the best for my chameleon in our situation.

I'm just saying all this stuff as a pre-precaution to try and diffuse any arguments in advance as I've seen in my forum scoping so far several discouraging mini blow ups happen from a comment like "you can do it different if you want to kill him." sort of thing and I don't want you assuming that I'm proposing these changes simply in an effort to get to watch him eat more often cause it's fun, or something frivolous like that, or that I don't think your experience and recommendations are important. If that was the case I'd just do what I wanted and not ask you anything in the first place. I AM after your actual opinions or scientific/biological facts.
Anyways, In Conclusion, lol, I'd like to also apologize for the insanely long length of this and probably all of my future posts. I tend to babble, so yeah. Sorry. I'll try to keep an eye on that in the future. :eek:
Wow, that was quite the discertation! ;)

Anyway, I think you're way overthinking it! Feeding is not quite the exact science you're thinking it is. Basic tips:
1. Don't preheat the food! The heat needed is from an external light source to warm the whole body of your cham so it will digest its food. Warm food in a cold cham will just sit there and rot, the basking is what stimulates digestion.
2. Because your cham needs to be warm try to feed early in the day, definitely not within an hour or so of lights out. They need to bask after they eat to stimulate digestion.
3. Mist/start the dripper whenever during the first half of the day, regardless of feeding time. I tend to turn on my dripper in the morning because that's when my guys like to drink. Mine won't drink after 4pm or so. But again, just sometime early in the day is fine. They'll drink when they want and eat when they want.
4. I cup feed my veiled because his tongue was injured so he eats everything at once. I free range feed the others and they shoot them throughout the day as they hunt them. Which is another good reason to feed in the morning - it gives them time to find any feeders hiding.
5. Someone else may chime in about the every day versus every other day but I do every other day because it makes me feel like they have time to digest and move it out before they start digesting something else too. That might just be my speculation though, I don't have any true basis for it.

They were good questions though, made me think about a few things I just do as routine and not worry about. It's always better to ask when you're unsure! :)
Okay no no I didn't mean heat the food i meant heat the chameleon before they ate!!! lol. No I hate cooking for myself, I'm not cooking for him! hahaha.
Kay, I'll keep reading. :)
yes, that's what I was after, I knew that they needed heat to digest, I just wasn't sure how long after they ate they still needed the heat. And I didn't know if it would help to be heated already before they ate.
I have a morning routine where I turn on his lights, start his dripper, spray his cage and then stick in his feeders. I sometimes give him the odd meal worm or wax worm later in the day as a treat if he has eaten everything already or some of his feeders have died but I never really give him anything to eat after 5pm (lights out at 8) and if there are any in his cup after 6 i take them out.
yes, that's what I was after, I knew that they needed heat to digest, I just wasn't sure how long after they ate they still needed the heat. And I didn't know if it would help to be heated already before they ate.

They will pretty much regulate this on their own so you shouldn't have to worry about it too much. Colder chams eat less, it's an instinctual thing so they don't have problems with digestion. So as long as your ambient and basking temps are within normal ranges he'll go warm up when he needs to and move out the heat when he's toasty.
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