17 April 2023

What do chameleons eat?

By Killian

What do chameleons eat?

Chameleons are a type of lizard native to Africa, Europe and Asia, although they have also been introduced to other regions. They are easily recognizable animals due to their laterally flattened bodies, protruding eyes that move independently, legs with zygodactyl limbs, that is, with an arrangement of two fingers forward and two backwards, a useful feature for climbing easily. Most species have horns or crests, the tails of many are prehensile, and some change the colors and patterns of their skin, while others only change shades or brightness. There are a little more than 200 species of these reptiles and in this AnimalWised article we want to talk about what do chameleons eat. We invite you to continue reading so don’t miss it!

Chameleon diet

Chameleon feeding is undoubtedly an impressive process, due to its ability to ballistically project its tongue, which is considerably long. The kind of chameleons diet mostly insectivorouswhich they carry out through this peculiar hunting technique.

It is usually thought that larger chameleons can extend their tongues to greater distances than smaller ones, however, it is known that smaller individuals manage to project their tongues over greater distances.

The oral anatomy of chameleons is shaped in such a way that these animals have this particularity to feed. It consists of a highly modified hyoid bone, which has a longer projection on the sides and is on a strong muscle, known as the accelerator muscle, which allows optimizing the projection of the tongue. It also consists of another muscle that is responsible for retracting the tongue.

The chameleon’s tongue is highly elastic and fast, it is capable of taking it to a prey in just 0.07 seconds, making it very effective when hunting. In addition, it also has great power. As we have mentioned, chameleons feed mainly on insects, however, small invertebrates have been found in some individuals, in addition to also consuming leavesmainly in dry seasons, from where they obtain water, so the chameleon’s type of diet is omnivorous, although they are generally considered insectivorous.

Chameleons have slow movements, so the described adaptation of their tongue is undoubtedly an advantage for their food.

If you are wondering what do mountain or ground chameleons eat, the answer is the same. In addition, we will tell you about the Types of chameleons that exist in the following post.

What do baby chameleons eat?

Chameleons are animals that they do not take care of their youngMost of them are oviparous, therefore, days after fertilization, the female will look for a place to bury the eggs and will no longer care for them. In this way, the baby chameleons at birth are fully ready and are independent to fend for themselves, so that They are able to hunt insects of which they feed and eat leaves of plants.

In a few species, such as Jackson’s chameleon (Trioceros jacksonii), the pups are kept inside the mother until the moment of birth, but in the same way they are born independent and with the capacity to feed themselves.

now that you know what do baby chameleons eatLet’s see what happens with the adult chameleons.

What do chameleons eat?  - What do baby chameleons eat?

What do adult chameleons eat?

As we have mentioned, chameleons are commonly referred to as insectivores, but it is known that they also consume leaves, so they really are omnivoresIn addition, they also hunt small vertebrate and invertebrate animals that are not insects.

Chameleons’ diet is limited by the size of their jaws. which is in correspondence with the size of the animal. Thus, the smaller chameleons consume small prey, while the larger ones catch larger animals. To give us an idea, the smallest chameleons measure a little more than one centimeter, as in the case of the leaf chameleon (Brookesia micron), and among the largest we have the Malagasy giant chameleon or Oustalet’s chameleon (furcifer oustaleti).

Now, let’s get to know some specific foods what do chameleons eat:

How to feed a domestic chameleon?

Chameleons are wild animalsThey are not really pets. However, some species have become popular in the pet market and are usually bought to keep at home. From ExpertoAnimal we suggest you not buy chameleons or any type of wild animal, since they must be free for better well-being.

But if you happen to have a chameleon or find it injured, the ideal is to take it to a wild animal vet, who will guide you on food and care. Now, we can suggest giving him certain animals such as grasshoppers, cockroaches, worms, flies or crickets.

In many pet stores you can buy these animals that are used to feed a chameleon. You can also include certain supplements, with which you can spray the animals that will serve as food, and thus guarantee a more adequate nutrition for this reptile.

The animals you toast to the chameleon they can be alive or dead, everything will depend on the space where you have them. If they are alive, you can numb them a bit by placing them in the fridge, so they don’t run away while you place them near the chameleon. You can use a deep plastic or glass container, but make it colored, because if it is transparent the chameleon can get confused. It does not matter if it is quite deep, remember that this animal hunts with its long sticky tongue, so it introduces it without problem into the container.

With respect to water, a drinking fountain should not be placed as in other animals, there must be plants that are moistened by a drip system, from which the chameleon can drink water.

What do chameleons eat?  - How to feed a domestic chameleon?

How much does a chameleon eat?

The amounts of food offered to a chameleon, depend on your size. So:

  • to a chameleon small or newborn: you can be offered a significant amount of insects.
  • When they are medium: offer him about 10 insects daily.
  • while when they are bigger: the ideal is between 15 to 20 insects per day.

Eventually when they are adults, you can give once a week tenebrios or zophobasthe former are also known as mealworms, and are the larvae of the yellow beetle (Tenebrio molitor) and the latter are larvae of a type of insect called blind beetles.

Finally, we mention that it is important to document the temperature and humidity conditions that the chameleon must have, since this can vary depending on the species, and they are vital to keep the animal healthy and as calm and comfortable as possible away from its natural habitat. We talk about “The chameleon as a pet” below.

Discover some Curiosities about the chameleon in the following AnimalWised post. Do not miss it!

If you want to read more articles similar to What do chameleons eat?we recommend that you enter our section on balanced diets.


  • Anderson, CV, Sheridan, T. and Deban, SM (2012). Scaling of the ballistic tongue apparatus in chameleons. J. Morphol., 273: 1214-1226. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.20053
  • Herrel, A., Meyers, JJ, Nishikawa, KC and De Vree, F. (2001). Morphology and histochemistry of the hyolingual apparatus in chameleons. J. Morphol., 249: 154-170. https://doi.org/10.1002/jmor.1047
  • Heying, H. (2003). “Chamaeleonidae” Animal Diversity Web. Available in: