Crickets are probably the most common staple feeder insects favoured by chameleon keepers all over the world. They’re cheap to buy, nutritious, easy for your chameleon to catch, easy to digest and easy to keep between feedings.
So, how many crickets to feed a chameleon? Chameleons will live well on a diet of between five and eighteen crickets a day. This entirely depends on the age of the chameleon though and any other insects you feed it alongside crickets.
How many crickets to feed a baby chameleon?
Baby chameleons are growing rapidly, have fierce appetites and will eat whatever you give them.
It will be difficult to overfeed them due to their appetites but I recommend offering between twelve and eighteen micro crickets a day, these are the smallest crickets available and are just the right size for babies.
Any more than this would be overdoing it but a few more every now and then won’t hurt. Try and divide this amount between two feedings if possible.
How many crickets to feed an adult chameleon?
I recommend keeping the amount of crickets more or less the same as your chameleon gets older but reduce the amount by one or two each day for every month it ages until it reaches around nine months old. You also need to increase the size of the cricket offered in accordance with the growth of your chameleon.
Around ten months old is when chameleons have pretty much reached the full size they’re going to be for the rest of their lives.
At this age they should be eating around five or six crickets every other day.
Personally I kept this up for around a year and then I reduced my chameleons feeding further still to around six every three days and sometimes the gap was a bit longer than that but not often.
There’s differing opinions on this but my chameleon never went on the so called hunger strike many keepers often report which, in my opinion, is a result of offering too much food too often.
Gut loading Crickets for chameleon
Gut loading means feeding your crickets a healthy nutritious diet before feeding them to your chameleon. This is essential because what you feed your crickets is what ends up being fed to your chameleon and this is crucial for your chameleon’s health.
There are two ways you can gut load your crickets. You can either buy a commercial gut load or make your own.
Commercial gut loads make things easier but they are not very consistent across different brands in terms of the nutrition they provide. Not only do some of them lack the nutrients altogether but many lack the amount of nutrients to be sufficiently provided.
Do it yourself gut loads are more efficient in providing these nutrients as you know what nutrients are contained and can easily tell if the crickets have eaten the food.
A downside to self prepared gut loads are they can, depending on how elaborate you make it, take time to put together and can spoil quickly if the crickets don’t eat it and this in turn can cause problems in the crickets enclosure.
Self prepared gut loads are a bit like making a salad. The main ingredients are usually carrots and leafy greens. You can add other items for extra nutrition like bee pollen, dried kelp or melon.
I was kinda lazy with my gut loads for my chameleon’s crickets. I simply bought a bag of pre prepared mixed salad from the grocery store which I ate myself and kept some left over to feed my crickets with. As there was a variety of leaves the crickets would get a good dose of nutrition, would keep well and my chameleon lived a long and healthy life as a result.
When and how to gut load crickets for chameleon
This all depends on when you intend to feed your chameleon.
If you feed first thing in the morning you should offer the crickets the gut load the night before.
In the afternoon you should gut load them a few hours before
I don’t recommend you feed you chameleon at night time as it’s more difficult for them to digest the food when they’re asleep.
Supplementing Crickets for chameleon
I’ll be writing a more detailed article about supplementation in general but for now you need to know that before you feed your chameleon crickets you need to supplement them with commercially available powders.
Supplementing is essential for providing back up nutrition to your gut load because you can never know for sure how many nutrients have been consumed by the crickets beforehand and whether they still remain in their gut when your chameleon eats them.
You need to dust your crickets with calcium powder every time you feed your chameleon. It’s not the end of the world if you forget to do it for one feed but it does need to be done regularly.
Once or twice a month a multi vitamin supplement should be provided but don’t do this at the same time as dusting with calcium as both together would be too much.
To provide supplements simply place your crickets in a plastic food bag, sprinkle a pinch of supplement powder into the bag, give the bag a shake so the crickets are lightly coated and then offer the crickets to your chameleon in a manner if your choosing.
How to feed crickets to your chameleon
I’ve written a more in depth article about how to feed chameleons here but to summarise you can either:
- Cup Feed – Where you place the crickets in a plastic cup and secure it to the side of the enclosure.
- Free Range – Where you place the crickets in the cage with your chameleon so they can hunt them at their leisure.
- Hand Feed – Great for getting your chameleon more used to you. This is where you yourself offer your chameleon crickets so they can eat right out of your hand.
- Modified Cup Feed – This is just a really cool and efficient way to feed your chameleon crickets that’s mentioned in the article linked to above.
How to keep crickets to feed your chameleon
In between feedings you have to ensure your crickets are well looked after otherwise your chameleon will have poor quality food. Poor quality food means poor quality nutrition and poor quality nutrition means health problems for your pet.
You can just keep your crickets in the tub you bought them in from the store but I found this meant the crickets didn’t last as long as they would if housed elsewhere and no, the quality wasn’t quite as good either.
Instead I recommend housing them in a large plastic tank with a breathable lit or better still this cricket keeper on amazon as it comes with tubes that the crickets hide in making them much easier to catch.
Tear up pieces of cardboard and place them on the bottom of the tank. Offer them a slice of orange as a source of moisture, giving the added bonus of providing nutrients and also provide some dry food like oatmeal or cornmeal for them to nibble on.
You need to keep their temperature at around 70 degrees as they don’t do well in cooler temperatures.
Don’t worry if despite your best efforts a good amount of them die before you get to feed them to your chameleon as crickets are quite difficult to keep alive.
Thanks for reading this post. I hope it’s given you enough information about how to feed crickets to your chameleon. Any comments or questions you have please leave them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.