Wild Bugs

nekrosoft13

New Member
I have my Veiled Chameleon for about 3 months now, he is doing great. so far i been feeding him with gut loaded crickets, i was just wondering which wild caught bugs can i also feed him, little variety.

Moths?
Butterflies?
Wild Crickets? (black ones)
Grasshoppers?
Caterpillars? i found few caterpillars close to my house. They are black/white/yellow striped, with no hair or spikes.

instead of making a new thread i have two more questions.

1) how long do veilves live? Do other chameleons live longer?
2) can they be kept in pairs?
3) what live plants are recommended?
 
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Heika

New Member
When you feed wild bugs, you have to be cautious. I do a lot of research on any bugs that I catch that I am not familiar with. There are a lot of things to consider in your decision to feed them, also. If you live in an area where pesticides are used, you may want to avoid it all together. Also, you never know what your wild bugs have been eating. Grasshoppers, etc. eat plants that are fine for them, but may be toxic for your chameleon. Where I live, you see wild hornworms on occasion, but they like to eat tomato plants which have a high toxicity. In addition, a lot of wild bugs are just poisonous. Basically, when I gather wild bugs, if the bug has bright warning colors like yellow or red, I don't feed it until I have done the research to find out if it is toxic or not. The catepillars you are referring to.. I would do some research online first, because 1) you don't know what they have been eating, and 2) they have bright yellow on them. If it turns out that they aren't poisonous, then you can always gutload them for 24 hours or so with known foods before you feed them to your chameleon.

I know that black crickets are available in Europe as a live food item, but I have read that wild ones can take pretty high doses of pesticides and still live. That would worry me. Plus, they are supposed to be a lot more aggressive than brown crickets. As I am sure you are aware, brown crickets have been known to chew on chameleons. If you do decide to feed them, you may want to just put in one at a time, make sure it is eaten, and then put in another. I wouldn't leave them loose in the cage with your chameleon.

My chameleon LOVES grasshoppers. I really, really wish locusts were available for sale in the US, or that I could find someone willing to break international laws and mail me a breeding colony! Since that hasn't happened, I do feed wild grasshoppers, but once again, only if they don't display warning colors. There are a few grasshoppers out there that are poisonous, so caution is always advised.

Another thing to consider when feeding wild bugs is parasites. It is more than possible that one of the bugs you feed to your chameleon will harbor a parasite that will infect your cham. At the end of the bug season, which for us here is the late fall, I will take my panther in for a fecal to make sure he is still clean of parasites.

With all of this in mind, you might be asking why anyone would take the risk. Well, I believe that the benefits of feeding wild bugs greatly outweigh the risks. They contain trace minerals and vitamins that simply aren't available in store bought feeders. They are sun soaked and natural, and provide nutrients that are much more similar to what the chameleon would be eating in the wild. With the addition of the bug napper, I am feeding my panther almost exclusively wild caught bugs. I know that it could be a variety of things that have contributed, but his overall health has improved drastically. He has never looked better. In addition, he has an appetite that has no end. He is turning into quite the piggy chameleon, which is a major change from an animal that has had to be force fed every so often in the past few months.

To answer your other questions:

1) Veileds can live for a long time, and some people have kept them for 10 years or more. However, longevity is heavily based upon husbandry practices in captivity. In the wild, chameleons have much shorter life spans because they are subjected to lots of dangers that shorten their life. I don't believe that there is a chart, so to speak, of longevity for captive chameleons. Veileds seem to be able to live for about the same length of time as a panther chameleon.

2) Veiled chameleons and most other species of chameleons are aggressive and solitary animals, and are easily stressed by cage mates. It is best to maintain seperate cages for each of your chameleons and only allow them to interact for mating.

3) I use a lot of ficus and pothos, but also have a bunch of other plants too. Here is a great safe plant list from BlueBeast: http://www.bluebeastreptile.com/plantlist.htm

Heika
 

lele

Avid Member
Heika covered most...

the rule of thumb in nature is that black/orange/yellow/red combos mean toxic. There are mimics (Viceroy butterfly - safe - mimics the monarch - unsafe) so you really need to know. But combinations of those colors (almost always including black). Fireflies, milkweed bugs, many caterpillars.

The small moths you find at your light at night are generally safe. Most moth either do not feed as adults or they feed on nectar, which is not poisonous, but I will repeat what Heika already said: BE SURE YOU KNOW THE EXTENT OF BIOCIDE SPRAYING IN THE COLLECTING AREA. Even if you do not spray some of these could have flown in from sprayed fields. That said, the toxicity level of something sprayed and the insect coming in minimal contact with it will likely not hurt your cham (like feeding one). Just be thoughtful and curious - post here if you cannot find out what it is, or on bugguide.net.

I am a bit of a bug nut :p and know many, many insects and could at the very least give you some guidance if I don't know exactly what it is.

hope this helps!
lele
 

psyensics

New Member
They covered most of it but hieka I have only heard of veil chams living to be 7 years. I rather like the 10 years better though because I also have veil. Oh and the animals you listed like the moths and stuff can be eaten.
 

lele

Avid Member
Not quite...

psyensics said:
Oh and the animals you listed like the moths and stuff can be eaten.
If you read my post I commented on some things to watch out for when it comes to "wild bugs," as did Heika. A blanket statement of Oh and the animals you listed like the moths and stuff can be eaten. is not a prudent statement. There are many that can be eaten and many that cannot.
 

lele

Avid Member
not much to them...

their bodies hold really minimal nutritional value, the wings can be hard to digest. Also keep in mind that dragonflies are predacious and EAT mosquitoes, blackflies, etc. - they are really good to keep around - and alive ;)
 
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