No Dusting? All Gutload?

Tihshho

Established Member
As long as we are providing the correct UVB, is there any reason why we cannot get rid of the dusting regime and focus more on getting feeder prey gutloaded?

I'm currently working on a new colony of Dubia roaches and superworms and am feeding them a mix of foods (wet and dry) in hopes to be able to get them up to par with what's needed for a Cham. Ideally, I'd like to get larger prey items (Dubias, superworms, and crickets) full of nutrients and get away from calcium suppliments. Foods that I'm including are as follows:

Dubias:
- Josh's Frogs Dubia Rations (dry)
- Mandarin Oranges (fresh)
- Grapefruit (fresh)
- Grapes (fresh)
- Kale (fresh)
- Water Crystals saturated with sugar free gatorade (damp)
- Fish Flake Food (dry - I get whatever is on sale and mix the flake fish food with the Dubia rations)

Superworms:
- Dehydrated Mandarin (semi dry)
- Grapes (fresh)
- Kale (fresh)
- Water Crystals saturated with sugar free gatorade (damp)
- Fish Flake Food (dry - I get whatever is on sale and mix the flake fish food with the Dubia rations)

I've even considered looking into a reasonable liquid calcium supplement to dilute and mix into my water crystals to hydrate them as sources for calcium. But since I have yet to stray from dusting, I have not gone this route.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
Idk if you could gutload enough calcium. Youd be better off feeding snails and isopods to supply calc. As for how it would work... nobody knows, would all be guesses based off past experience.
 

Tihshho

Established Member
You have an excellent point @jamest0o0 Besides UVB, from the sun, where are wild cham's getting their higher sources of calcium then? There has to be either a prey item we as hobbyists are overlooking, or in general we are under-doing the UVB needs.

I've read old articles of where some species of Cham's have been fed mammalian prey items (pinky mice for example) as a source of calcium, but I don't see these being 'naturally' available so I'm not inclined to even look into that route.
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
There are several breeders that have tried this. I’m certainly all for making our bugs and their guts work harder for us, but remember that all the common feeders, with the exception of bsfl, have a poor calcium to phosphorus ratio, which, as you know, is why we dust with calcium. My guess is that there are a whole host of insects that do not suffer from this problem, namely the ones chams eat in the wild. Remember that almost all the bugs we feed are nocturnal insects, which means our chams would not actually encounter them as usual prey sources. My guess is that the prey sources they’re tagging in the wild probably do have a better calcium to phosphorus ratio, but unfortunately we don’t typically have access to these as staples. For instance, I understand that many chams have flying insects as a large portion of their food. Butterflies, daytime moths, flies, bees, etc. But non of these are regularly available in the quantities sufficient to qualify as a staple food item. Nor is it easy to contain them. We’re stuck with bugs that are nocturnal, therefore not part of the typical wild diet, and unfortunately in need of something to offset their poor ca : phosphorus ratio.
 

JackRipper

Established Member
You would have to feed gutloaded small birds and lizards along with greens and insects to get complete nutrition. Exoskeletons vs bones-Bones win the calcium content. I wouldn't mind raising feeder finches but I like them too much to feed off lol so I dust very very litely and gut load a good variety of bugs.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
You have an excellent point @jamest0o0 Besides UVB, from the sun, where are wild cham's getting their higher sources of calcium then? There has to be either a prey item we as hobbyists are overlooking, or in general we are under-doing the UVB needs.

I've read old articles of where some species of Cham's have been fed mammalian prey items (pinky mice for example) as a source of calcium, but I don't see these being 'naturally' available so I'm not inclined to even look into that route.
Yup, my guess is probably snails and other calcium rich insects that are found in their natural habitat. I keep a Parsons ATM, so they are definitely eating birds/lizards/rodents in the wild, but I'm sure other chams come across smaller lizards and whatever as well. Another thing to consider, wild chameleons aren't living as long as our captives, not even close.
 

JackRipper

Established Member
You would have to feed gutloaded small birds and lizards along with greens and insects to get complete nutrition. Exoskeletons vs bones-Bones win the calcium content. I wouldn't mind raising feeder finches but I like them too much to feed off lol so I dust very very litely and gut load a good variety of bugs.
And most anoles/small lizards have a parasite load so they are a no go in my book. Besides I like them even more then I do zebra finches.
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
You would have to feed gutloaded small birds and lizards along with greens and insects to get complete nutrition. Exoskeletons vs bones-Bones win the calcium content. I wouldn't mind raising feeder finches but I like them too much to feed off lol so I dust very very litely and gut load a good variety of bugs.
I’m not sure that this is the case, what about tiny Brookesia, they can’t possible be tagging vertebrates.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
There are several breeders that have tried this. I’m certainly all for making our bugs and their guts work harder for us, but remember that all the common feeders, with the exception of bsfl, have a poor calcium to phosphorus ratio, which, as you know, is why we dust with calcium. My guess is that there are a whole host of insects that do not suffer from this problem, namely the ones chams eat in the wild. Remember that almost all the bugs we feed are nocturnal insects, which means our chams would not actually encounter them as usual prey sources. My guess is that the prey sources they’re tagging in the wild probably do have a better calcium to phosphorus ratio, but unfortunately we don’t typically have access to these as staples. For instance, I understand that many chams have flying insects as a large portion of their food. Butterflies, daytime moths, flies, bees, etc. But non of these are regularly available in the quantities sufficient to qualify as a staple food item. Nor is it easy to contain them. We’re stuck with bugs that are nocturnal, therefore not part of the typical wild diet, and unfortunately in need of something to offset their poor ca : phosphorus ratio.
Isopods and snails are so heavy in calc that it would probably be too much if fed all the time.

There was an article someone posted, probably @kinyonga that examined stomach contents of chameleons. It was mostly locust/grasshopper/katydids types followed by beetles. I bet bees/wasps, butterflies, other fliers, and maybe some caterpillars are pretty far up there too.
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
Isopods and snails are so heavy in calc that it would probably be too much if fed all the time.

There was an article someone posted, probably @kinyonga that examined stomach contents of chameleons. It was mostly locust/grasshopper/katydids types followed by beetles. I bet bees/wasps, butterflies, other fliers, and maybe some caterpillars are pretty far up there too.
Yup, if it was an esoteric, but highly topical article, chances are that it was @kinyonga who posted it!
 

Tihshho

Established Member
Ok, so that's on the adult level. But what are we missing for newborns and the young of our canopy species? I doubt you're going to be finding Veiled's, Panther, and Jackson's raiding finch nests for eggs. Plus, even then, most vertebrates are too large for the young chams to ingest.
 

Kaizen

Chameleon Enthusiast
Fair enough, I don’t know what the specific calcium requirements are for each species, but i still find it hard to believe that wild chams have their calcium requirements met by vertebrates. I have no data to support this intuition, but there it is. Moreover, I have a suspicion that some larger canopy chams go through their entire lives without consuming a vertebrate. Again, no evidence, just intuition. I stand ready to revise my position in the face of evidence to the contrary—evidence, that is, that chameleons are obliged to occasionally eat vertebrates as a dietary requirement.
 

JackRipper

Established Member
Isopods and snails are so heavy in calc that it would probably be too much if fed all the time.

There was an article someone posted, probably @kinyonga that examined stomach contents of chameleons. It was mostly locust/grasshopper/katydids types followed by beetles. I bet bees/wasps, butterflies, other fliers, and maybe some caterpillars are pretty far up there too.
Snails would be awesome but I over worry about parasites every since I watched one with pulsating eyes on national geographic lol. Isopods are said to be rich in magnesium or some other nutrient that is found in sea critters that could have an adverse effect on chams. Mine have always eaten my rollypollies and seem to love them with no visible side effects. But as a staple they may cause some ailment.
 

jamest0o0

Chameleon Enthusiast
I'll say it again here, the obvious answer could be that maybe, just maybe, they are born with the vitamin A to get through their short lifespans. And that maybe ours are living so long in captivity because of our unnatural, but beneficial diets. I have nothing to support this, but IMO it would make sense. Being an all natural/organic/bio crazy kind of guy, I know it can draw us in to think whatever they do in nature must be the best! Truth is, that's not the case many times.
 

Tihshho

Established Member
Yeah agree no way my willsii could take a vertebrate down.
I have to beg to differ on the adults of any canopy species. Small lizards can easily be taken down by most adult cham's. Being that gecko's are prolific where most cham's are I could see them being a source of food for an adult canopy species.
 
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