What to Feed Panther Chameleons

male furcifer pardalis panther chameleon blue yellow head

Panther Chameleons are carnivorous reptiles and feed on a wide variety of insects in the wild. In captivity Panther Chameleons will feed on a relatively diverse range of commercially available insect prey. It is important that captive (pet) Panther Chameleons are given a well balanced diet that includes a variety of insects. Ideally a captive Panther Chameleons diet would include 5 or more species of feeder insects. At a minimum Panther Chameleon keepers should ensure that no one prey insect species makes up 50% or more of the day-to-day diet.

Many Panther Chameleon keepers supplement their Chameleons diet by capturing periodically available insects from the wild. Wild prey insects should only be collected from pesticide free sites. It is also important to remember that some suitable pesticide free areas are protected by law (e.g. National Parks etc) so chameleon keepers collecting prey insects from the wild should check that there are no restrictions in place forbidding the collection of insects where they intend to collect.

Feeder insects should be suitably housed and provided with a range of their natural food sources. Most Panther Chameleon keepers “gutload” their feeder insects prior to being offered to a Panther Chameleon. Gutloading involves feeding the insects foods fortified with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. Another commonly adopted method of supplementing feeder insects is to dust insect prey with commercially available nutrient rich powders specially designed for Chameleons. Supplemental calcium and vitamin D3 are also given by dusting feeder insects prior to them being offered to Panther Chameleons. The commonly available brands of powder supplements differ from one another in terms of what they contain, so it is important to read the label before deciding how often to administer them.

Insect prey species commonly given to chameleons include (in alphabetical order):

Butterworms

Butterworms (Chilecomadia moorei) can constitute up to 20% of a Panther Chameleons diet.

Crickets

House crickets (Acheta domestica) are widely available, inexpensive, and are easy to gutload. They can constitute up to 40% of a Panther Chameleons diet.

Dubia Roaches

Dubia roaches (Blaptica dubia) can constitute up to 40% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Relatively easy to gutload.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies (Drosophila sp.) are a good option for baby Panther Chameleons due to their very small size.

Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers can constitute up to 40% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Relatively easy to gutload.

Hissing Cockroaches

Hissing Cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa)can constitute up to 40% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Relatively easy to gutload. Adult Hissing cockroaches may be too large.

Hornworms

Hornworms can constitute up to 20% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Relatively easy to gutload.

Houseflies

Houseflies (Musca domestica) can constitute up to 30% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Many Chameleons seem to enjoy the process of capturing flying prey, making House flies a good option.

Locusts

Locusts (e.g. Locusta migratoria; Schistocerca gregaria) can constitute up to 40% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Relatively easy to gutload.

Mealworms

Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) can constitute up to 10-20% of a Panther Chameleons diet. They are relatively easy to gutload but are difficult for Panther Chameleons to digest, so should only be offered occasionally.

Silkworms

Silkworms (Bombyx mori) can constitute up to 40% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Relatively easy to gutload.

Stick Insects

Stick insects can constitute up to 30% of a Panther Chameleons diet. Relatively easy to gutload.

Superworms

Superworms (Zophobas morio) can constitute up to 20% of a Panther Chameleons diet. They are relatively easy to gutload but contain high levels of fat.

Waxworms

Waxworms (Galleria mellonela) are not considered to be a particularly good feeder insect for Panther Chameleons. Most experienced herpetoculturalists (reptile keepers) only offer Waxworms as an infrequent treat.

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