The diet of a wild chameleon is made up of countless species of insects and other small invertebrates as well as vertebrates. Many chameleons are also reported to eat some wild berries and other vegetable matter. Some of the larger chameleon species will eat small birds, reptiles, and mammals. It is therefore logical to assume that chameleons have evolved to consume a diet that is highly diverse and complex.

Recreating the variety available to a wild chameleon in captivity is not possible. Keepers must, therefore, be diligent in providing the greatest variation possible to their pets. Although accomplishing this goal can be time consuming and expensive, providing multiple food sources is essential for the long-term health of these animals. A general rule of thumb to follow is this: a chameleon's diet should be based on a composition of a minimum of five different insect species. Additional food sources should also be provided (such as access to wild insects when available in the summer season) on a rotating basis. Mineral and vitamin supplements should also be provided periodically. Following this dietary guideline will help ensure the health of your pets.

In addition to variety of diet, all captive chameleons require calcium and vitamin supplementation. Chameleons need a variety of vitamins and minerals to grow strong, healthy bones, skin and maintain their internal organs. For example, chameleons need vitamin D3 in order to metabolize calcium for growth. Calcium is used to produce and maintain healthy bones, skin and is also used in regulating neurological functions. Many 'basking' reptiles naturally produce vitamin D3 in their skin when they bask in the sun and are exposed to UV-B radiation. Since the UV output of most human-made full-spectrum lights do not provide the same UV exposure as the sun, additional supplementation is ESSENTIAL. Other vitamins and minerals are essential for other reasons. Over supplementation can also be a dangerous thing. So use the vitamin and mineral supplements sparingly.

Feed your chameleon(s) daily by placing live insects and fresh vegetables into a glass jar which is large enough to prevent the insects from escaping. Vitamin & mineral supplementation can then be sprinkled on the insects and vegetables. Shake the jar to evenly coat the vegetables and insects with the supplement. On a favorite perch, but below the chameleon suspend the jar. Do this in such a way that it is easy for the lizard to reach the food in the bottom of the jar. The insects will eat some of the vegetables. So the chameleons will benefit even if they do not directly eat much of the vegetable matter themselves. Click HERE to see one eat.

For very young hatchlings, a baby food jar makes a nice food dish. Insert a small stick into the jar for small youngsters. The stick should extend far enough into the food container to give the hatchling the ability to reach the food, but the stick should not reach the bottom of the jar. If the stick reaches the bottom of the jar, insects will easily climb the stick and escape.

The same vegetable mixture that is fed to your chameleons should also be fed to the insects you will feed to your chameleons. This will ensure the insects are healthy and full of nutrition by the time your chameleons eat them.

Following is a list of the different insects you can use to feed your chameleon:
Note: insect care instructions are available by contacting CIN (The Chameleon Information Network).

Silkworms are nutritious, soft-bodies caterpillars, which are readily available from some commercial suppliers (generally via mail order). These insects are relatively easy to maintain and breed. They are an ideal food source for chameleons of all sizes. Small chameleons may eat very young silkworms. Large silkworms are sufficient for feeding the largest chameleons.

Fruit Flies
Neonate (baby) chameleons require very small food items. Flightless fruit fly cultures are available from many commercial suppliers. It is also easy to start your own colony of fruit flies. Many baby chameleons show a preference for flying food, and fruit flies are an ideal food source for very young animals

Houseflies can be captured, bred or purchased from commercial suppliers. They are nutritious, easy to care for and offer a very appealing food source for many chameleons.

Crickets are readily available at most pet shops. When fed a proper, vegetable-based diet, they are nutritious and can comprise a significant portion of your chameleon's total diet. Crickets, however have a poor Calcium/phosphorus ratio. So additional calcium supplementation should be included when feeding crickets.

Mealworms are inexpensive and, like crickets, easy to load with valuable nutrition by feeding them a quality diet of fruits and vegetables.

Zoophobus are sometimes called "Superworms". They look very much like mealworms, but much bigger and are a slightly different color. These should only be fed to chameleons when the chameleons are large enough to eat them. Like crickets and mealworms they should be fed a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables prior to feeding them to your lizards. Some suppliers sell giant mealworms (species tenebrio) under similar names like "King Worms" and "Giant Mealworms", etc. These are often common mealworms, which have been fed large quantities of growth hormone, which could have a negative effect on your chameleons. I recommend avoiding these as a food source.

Waxworms are sometime called grubs. They are nutritious, full of moisture, and easy to store. Chameleons LOVE them. Unfortunately, there are some negatives. They are high in fat, so some people speculate they should only be a small part of your chameleon's diet. Without knowing the breakdown of the 'ideal' chameleon diet, however, this is largely based on conjecture.

Wax Moths
Waxworms turn into moths, which your chameleons will love to eat. And you will enjoy watching your pets 'zap' them out of the air with their tongue.

Tropical Roaches
Non-infesting forms of tropical roaches can be ordered from some suppliers. They are VERY good for your chameleons. And the chameleons love them. Most roach species are easily cultured, making them an ideal and inexpensive food source for your chameleons.

Wild-caught Insects
Many chameleon owners set up insect traps during the summer to catch their own insects. Grasshoppers, flies, crickets, centipedes, and spiders will all be devoured by your chameleons. This also helps offer a diverse diet necessary for the health of your lizard. It is important, however, that the insects be collected from areas where insecticides are not used.

Pinky Mice
Some people also supplement their adult chameleons diets with newborn mice. These are also available at many pet stores.

Small Lizards
Small lizards are a natural part of a chameleon's diet. Brown and green anoles are some of the small reptiles available as supplemental food for your chameleon. Since these animals are usually wild-caught and carrying parasites, these animals should be quarantined and deparasitized prior to using them as a food source for your chameleons.