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I have been reading about horn worms, wild caught you cannot feed to chams for possibility of poison correct? If I were to try and raise some then you can, my question is can someone point me to the correct way to start this adventure up? Can you start raising them with wild caught or will the inevitably pass the poison on to offspring or is this so? Any help would be appreciated.
Thanx guys.Thia is informative and seams doable. The site doesn't show how to make the cups. Is there a site with easier to follow directions that you know of? I don't have a ,lot of space to do this and my wife will have a cow anyways....haha
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The difficulty in rearing them is getting them to mate. The moths feed as adults and their tongues are up to 3x the length of their body so they hover over flowers to feed and they typically feed at night. I don't recall if I got into mating cages in the article (guess I should look, I wrote it a couple years ago). Be sure to look at some of the links at the end of it for more info. The Manduca Project is great.

Where do you live? They pupate for 9-11 months in the north, but you can break diapause (the quiescent time before emerging as adult moth) which I think I discussed. If you live in the southern regions they will eclose within weeks.

Haven't bothered with them for awhile, but ran the whole gamut doing all myself and ultimately decided it wasn't worth it, as too many other food sources were less hassle. However, to help you over a couple of humps. I grew tomato and green pepper plants in 5' tall screen cages in a greenhouse. Worms pupated in about a month (it was warm) in the dirt pots. Breeding was no problem at all, zip nada squat, so I never needed to hang the pics of moths in lingerie :D. Got thousands of eggs out of a dozen moths. Tore through my tomato plants in two days, then looked at me like I was a big tomato plant. As for making the cups, order a couple dozen worms from the on-line sources, and then mimic their cups. You can easily fabricate more using 32 oz deli cups (check your local deli if you don't order some online) and plastic mesh available from Home Depot, etc. Be prepared to deliver that cow.
Hmmm, makes it seem a bit easier yet... still don't think the wife will dig it though, sprung the idea of breeding cockroaches today, almost got my walking papers...... we'll see how it goes Ill keep you all informed, any other easily breed-able feeders? How are the mantids... and also I'm in Ohio so this should make things a bit more tricky.

I am the cockroach advocate!
Have the wife talk to me....they are easy and super clean!
Small space requirement...no smell and great meat to shell ratio.
A bit of time involved in establishing the culture.....but so much nicer
than crickets!

I just started a breeding colony of cockroach. They are way juicier than cricket and bigger. Adult don't make any sound (cricket drives me crazy sometimes when 1 -2 adult male escape into the room). Cockroaches are very easy to take care of, same as cricket, a glass tank, some food, some water, some egg carton and thats it. Plus, cockroach, don't stink like cricket. Female give birth to live young, apporximate 30 at a time and they can live up to 4- 5 months in some species once turn adulthood. Easy to establish a breeding colony. Go to this link for some info about them:

I grew tomato and green pepper plants in 5' tall screen cages in a greenhouse.
Hi Jim,

So you fed your chams larvae that had been reared on tomato and pepper plants? The Solanaceae family of plants are toxic, some more than others, but I would guess you know this. (?)

Worms pupated in about a month (it was warm) in the dirt pots. Breeding was no problem at all, zip nada squat,

The difficulty in mating is space. Considering the size of your operation this was probably not much of an issue for you, but most people don't have extra 5' cages and a greenhouse laying around ;). And as for pupating and eclosing as adults you probably get them every few weeks, but in the north if you break their lengthy diapause in the middle of winter they have no food source (the moths) or you wait out he 9-11 months.

Just my 2 cents


I agree on the roaches. Some people like to breed the lobster roaches b/c they are so prolific and chams seem to like them. I gave all of mine away as the climbing and their speed was more trouble than not. I now have dubia (love them), discoids and pet cave roaches. I do sometimes feed the freshly molted nymphs of the cave if I happen to see one - like I did a couple days ago:




OK, not a cham, but Darwin has not been doing great lately so he got the treat!

Some species give off a defensive chemical odor. I stopped keeping the orange heads for this reason as I had a bad reaction (I have a partial seizure disorder and some odors and fumes are a trigger). The caves don't smell great, but my interaction with them is minimal and they also do not seem to be a trigger for me. Btw, these are all non climbers

As Brad said they take up very little space and are easy and clean. If you get non-climbers you have minimal chance of escape. Just have to be sure that you know how many roaches you are taking out as they tend to be very clingy - a HIGHLY social insect.

Another EASY food to breed are superworms! If you have different size animals you have some for everyone! I have side-blotched lizards (about the size of house gecko) so the smaller ones are great for them. The beetles have a rather unpleasant defensive smell as well and some herps will eat them and some won't. Darwin will but Cyrus spits them out! lol! Here is a good superworm site. http://www.iaherp.org/superworms/ I do mine a bit differently (bait boxes in the dark rather than film vials which have a lot of residual chemical in them), but the results are the same.

have fun!
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No doubt folks don't have the same access to space and environments for possible hornworm raising as do I, likewise for their chameleons. I would hope that readers would realize that when I list the parameters under which I obtained results, they are in no way implied to mean that the same results will be achieved elsewhere with different parameters. What I wanted to point out was that some of the earlier opinions were made as blanket statements and were not such, but rather conditional to parameters. Would they perform as well in a 3' tall cage ? Up north ? Indoors ? I do not know. What I do know is that we had no trouble as we stated our experience.

With regard to this:
So you fed your chams larvae that had been reared on tomato and pepper plants? The Solanaceae family of plants are toxic, some more than others, but I would guess you know this.

What I said was that the hatchling hornworms decimated all my tomato plants in two days. I did not want to type a long response then, but our plan was to explore first the easiest way to get hatchling hornworms, then explore the most economical yet prudent way to raise them as effective nutrition for chameleons. We did a lot of things I have not the time or desire to explain.

Secondly, I do not want to endorse either side of the solanaceous/toxicity issue if used as a food source for hornworms when fed to chameleons. Our experience is that most of the toxic lists out there are adapting results from other animals to what can be expected when working with chameleons. That doesn't make them safe for chameleons, but only points out that in many cases we lack direct evidence. While we didn't pursue hornworms for a variety of reasons, we did feed quite a few chameleons hornworms that had been raised on green pepper leaves, and a few with tomato leaves. We also fed off hornworms that had been fed our own concoction based on available formulas. We were more cautious of tomato, and would have been most cautious of tobacco had we gone that far. It was not a scientific test, just more of an initial testing of the water. We observed no adverse reactions by any of the chameleons fed hornworms reared on the solanaceous leaves, but we also didn't push it. We got far enough to realize it was not economical or practical for us.
HAHA , After reading this I went into the kitchen and looked at the new batch of superworms I ordered. I have about 2 dozen of which are starting to turn to beetles already, so the breeding of superworms has begun, I am also going to order some dubia roaches and get this underway as well... I have space under my enclosure to keep both of these which will be out of the way for the wife to see and we all know out of site out of mind... She really freaks out when she sees a stray cricket roaming the house... she and I are so different it isn't funny, over the last year though she is really coming to love the chameleons and everything it takes to keep them well and fed... thanks for all your help you guys/gals.. its really cool to have folks like you around for help tips tricks and general knowledge... you guys are great..
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