The Jackson’s chameleon is native to Kenya and Northern Tanzania, but it is also found in parts of Hawaii.
With its unique horns on the snout, the Jackson’s chameleon has become very popular among reptile enthusiasts in recent years.
Before you bring a Jackson’s chameleon into your home, it is important to understand the lizard’s diet in order to keep the animal happy and healthy.
So what does a Jackson’s chameleon eat?
Jackson’s chameleons are insectivores, and a healthy diet includes crickets, dubia roaches, hornworms, black soldier fly larvae, and locusts. Mealworms, superworms, and waxworms may also be given to your Jackson’s chameleon as a treat once per week.
It is essential to offer these treat insects sparingly to avoid any possible health issues with your lizard.
The hard, chitinous shell of a mealworm is difficult to digest, and the high-fat content in superworrms and waxworms may cause your Jackson’s chameleon to become overweight.
Keep reading to learn more about how to feed your Jackson’s chameleon for strong growth and good health.
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Jackson’s Chameleons Diet
Like most of their fellow pet chameleon cousins, Jackson’s chameleons are going to get their nutrients from a diet of insects.
These natives of Africa primarily eat flying insects when they are in the wild.
This includes bees and wasps, and also small beetles, but they will consume what they can find because they never know when the next meal will come along.
In captivity, your chameleon will thrive on a varied diet of insects, including crickets, wax worms, butter worms, cockroaches, house flies, and small snails.
Other species of chameleons will eat vegetables or fruits, but in captivity or the wild, Jackson’s chameleons are not going to even touch those items.
Check out our list of vegetables chameleons can eat safely.
What To Feed Jackson’s Chameleons
In captivity, you will find Jackson’s chameleons, like other chameleons, survive on primarily gut-loaded and supplement dusted crickets.
When you are doing research, you often find the baseline for how much to feed your chameleon is counted in crickets, no matter what the species.
In truth, Jackson’s chameleons, and all other chameleons, should be fed a varied diet of more than just crickets.
This will help them achieve a balanced diet and also give them a variety.
We don’t like to eat the same thing every day, and chameleons, like us, will get bored with the same meal every day.
In addition to the insects listed above, Jackson’s chameleons might also enjoy:
- Mantis hatchlings
There are some other options for insects available, but the ones listed above are the most popular choices for Jackson’s chameleons.
Avoid feeding your Jackson’s chameleon fireflies, wild-caught insects, and pinkies (newborn rodents).
All insects should be no larger than space in between the eyes of your chameleon to avoid choking and possible death.
Check out this table of nutrient info on common insects for chameleons:
|Insect||Moisture||Protein||Calcium per 100g||Fat|
|Dubia Roaches||61%||36%||20 mg||7%|
|Meal Worms||59%||10%||3.3 mg||13%|
|Phoenix Worms||n/a||17%||34 mg||9.5%|
How Much Should I Feed My Jackson’s Chameleon?
The amount of insects you feed your Jackson’s chameleon is based on the age of the animal.
When they are babies, chameleons have a fast metabolism and are constantly hungry, so feed them as much as they can eat.
They should be fed twice a day at this stage of life.
When they are baby chameleons or juveniles, your chameleon’s feeder insect intake should be reduced to 10 to 12 small crickets per day.
As they mature into adult chameleons, they will eat even less.
Between the ages of six months to a year old, reduce feedings to 8 to 10 medium-sized crickets per day.
At a year old, feed your chameleon between 6-8 big crickets every day or even every other day.
Use these numbers as a template because every chameleon is going to be different.
Be aware of your chameleon’s eating habits, as a change in diet could signal a health problem.
Vitamin Supplements And Gut Loading
In captivity, Jackson’s chameleons will require some supplements to help them stay healthy, but you will need to be careful as overdoses can easily happen with these chameleons.
Jackson’s chameleons evolved to make the most out of what was available in the wild, and their native habitat doesn’t always provide the best nutrition.
You will need to supplement their diet with calcium, by dusting the feeder insects with calcium powder.
You should also look into vitamin D3 supplements and even multivitamin powder.
Another great way to provide your Jackson’s chameleon diet with proper nutrition is to gut load the insects you feed them.
Gut loading is simply letting your chameleon’s prey eat fruits and greens to put good nutrition into their bodies.
Speaking of gut loading, check out our guide on what to feed crickets to make them better for all lizards, including chameleons.
Once the insects have eaten, you feed them to your chameleon, allowing your chameleon to get all the benefits without having to eat the fruit and veggies.
Let your feeder insects gorge on items like:
- Sweet Potatoes
Fresh fruits and vegetables will give the feeder insects plenty of good vitamins and minerals to be passed onto your chameleon in digestion.
For more details, head over to our article on fruits and chameleons.
Where Do I Get Feeder Insects?
Feeder insects are easily available through multiple sources.
Order a variety of feeder insects online and have them shipped directly to your door.
Doing so will give you access to certain insects you might not be able to find in your local pet stores.
You will be able to find staple feeder insects at a pet shop specializing in reptiles, or at the larger chain pet stores.
You might not find the same variety at these locations, but if you are in a pinch and need more insects this moment, having a store near you to pick some up is a lifesaver.
Another option would be to become your own feeder insect farm.
Doing so will allow you to keep live insects on hand and readily available for your Jackson’s chameleon to eat every day.
If you want the details on how often chameleons eat, click the link.
As a downside, you would have to house and care for these feeders, but you would be able to keep a healthy supply on hand at all times.
You might also not be able to house the same level of variety at one time.
Adding Bee Pollen to Your Chameleon’s Diet
In the wild, Jackson’s chameleons ingest a lot of pollen from the flying insects they eat.
Bee pollen contains a variety of vital nutrients, including:
- Amino acids
- Fatty acids
- Natural antioxidants and antibiotics
The bee pollen not only provides your Jackson’s chameleon with essential nutrients but boosts the lizard’s immune system as well.
Bee pollen supplement powder has a long shelf life, and it is easy to use.
Use the bee pollen powder to gut load or dust your chameleon’s feeder insects.
If you have issues with the bee pollen sticking to the insects, you may mix the powder with some calcium supplement powder for better adhesion.
It is recommended to add a bee pollen supplement to every meal for your Jackson’s chameleon.
Jackson’s chameleons enjoy a diet of insects, including crickets, wax worms, butter worms, cockroaches, house flies, and small snails.
There are other options for feedings, and you might find your chameleon favors certain insects over others.
Always be sure to dust them with supplements and gut load your insects, to ensure your chameleon is getting proper nutrition.
After reading this article, we hope you have a better understanding of what Jackson’s chameleons will eat.
Commonly Asked Questions
Can you overfeed a Jackson’s chameleon?
It is possible to overfeed a Jackson’s chameleon.
Unlike other animals, it takes several days for a Jackson’s chameleon to digest its food.
Feeding every other day is recommended for an adult Jackson’s chameleon, as overfeeding will lead to kidney and liver problems as well as a shortened lifespan.
Can Jackson’s chameleons drink water from a bowl?
Jackson’s chameleons will not drink water from a bowl because these reptiles are unable to recognize standing water as a source of hydration.
In captivity, it is best to establish a drip system in your Jackson’s chameleon enclosure.
Regularly misting the enclosure also provides the chameleon with a water source as the droplets fall from plant leaves.
How long can Jackson’s chameleons go without eating?
A Jackson’s chameleon is able to survive for 7-10 days without eating.
Jackson’s chameleons may stop eating for a variety of reasons, including illness, shedding, boredom with their meals, mating, or stress.
Improper temperature and humidity levels in the enclosure will also cause a Jackson’s chameleon to have a loss of appetite.
If your Jackson’s chameleon is not eating or you notice any signs of illness such as sunken eyes, lethargy, or difficulty breathing, seek veterinary care as soon as possible.