Question and Answers

By Don Wells


Wells, D. (2004). Questions and Answers. Chameleons! Online E-Zine, January 2004. (

Introduction by the CHAMELEONS! staff:

This Question and Answer column is a regular feature. CHAMELEONS! welcomes questions from the readership. Don will gather the submissions and pick representative questions to answer in forthcoming issues. As is typical with Q&A columns, Don cannot respond personally or answer all questions that are submitted. He will select the questions that he feels offer the most benefit to the general readership. As the questions are answered bi-monthly, only time insensitive questions should be submitted. Questions may be anything regarding chameleons from husbandry to politics. Submit questions to and include "Q&A" in the subject box. Questions may be edited for length and clarity.

Bugs eating bugs!

Q. I am trying to assist my uncle in finding relevant information on the how to's for breeding and farming of the particular type of cricket gryllotalpa major,here is a picture so we arent confused what kind of cricket i am talking about. This cricket is apparently a prairie mole cricket. To raise and breed this type of cricket ,is it the same as with the common cricket?

Regards Denis

A. Ah Denis,how many times I have dreamed of a new feeder insect just as you and your uncle are doing! Unfortunately for you, ( I hate to break this to you like this) Mole Crickets are horrible, savage, cannabals that love nothing more than another bug to eat!

Where I live here in Bali, I have a lot of wild species of crickets in the surrounding fields and jungle areas and one is this giant from the netherworld beneath the earth! Zounds, this beast is nearly two inches long and is a Parson's Chameleons dream come true but alas, it loves other crickets as well as other bugs every bit as much as all the other things that eat insects do so I am afraid its not a candidate. Good luck if you persue this and find a way around the problem of feeding your Mole Crickets to each other!

Cricket Hatching

Q. Hi, I have been trying to breed crickets and I havn't been able to until I found your site. I now have cricket eggs that I am incubating and I was wondering will crickets even hatch at room temperature(73 f day 70 f night).And if the do how long would it take for them o hatch?

A. You bet they will hatch. You probably wont realize as many and the hatchlings will vary a great deal in size between each other but they will hatch if everything else has been done properly. My guess is the normal higher temp hatches around ten days to two weeks so add another week or ten days to that number.

A Non Bug question

Q. I am planning on getting a Veiled Chameleon in a few weeks and have been researching all the precautions I need to take before I bring one home for almost a month now. What I couldn't find out fully are the precautions I need to take with plants before I put them in the enclosure. Do you recommend any particular brand of Pesticide and Fertilizer free soil? I plan on getting a Pothos, Boston Fern, and Sheflerra plants. Should I wash the plant off before re-potting it? With what solution?

Last Question. Night Time Lighting. I live in a part of California, near the bay area, where it gets super cold at night. And I was thinking of adding a sort of "night light". I have two options. One is the "Exo Terra Night-Glo Moonlight Bulb" which supposedly mimics natural moonlight, but the image of a glowing chameleon on the box makes it appear to be an average black light. Another one is a normal light that gives off a pale blue/purplish glow without the effects of a normal Black Light (causing light colors to glow in the dark). Would any of these methods work w/o disturbing the chameleon at night. What other night-time heating elements would you suggest.

Thanks so Much,


A. Its always a very good idea to thoroughly clean commercialy grown plants before allowing your chameleons to climb on them. Many mysterious deaths can be directly followed back to pesticide poisoning on the plants a swell as fungus spores from the potting soils the plants come with. I remember a few years ago an Adcham member had some mysterious sickness and deaths and these were finally trailed back to fungal growth from the soil of a purchased plant. My recomendation is to try to find a grower if possible or another hobbyist that has extra plants to share and doesn't use pesticides or inorganic fertilizers. Especially avoid those little round looking balls growers add to the soil which are time released fertilizer perles in greenhouse grown plants. These things have been consumed by lizards more times than I care to think about and with deadly results! Either repot the new plants in new potting mix that you know is clean and clear of these things or even think about high quality plastic plants if you have to go that way? I dont like them at all but more and more I hear of problems with greenhouse grown plants that are covered in pesticides and things that chameleons just dont handle well.

I like the organic wetting agent cleaners such as Shaklee or Amway manufacture to clean the plants leaves off with. These do a very good job of removing the pesticide residues on the leaves without damaging the plants themselves.

I do not recommend any night lights as a heat source for chameleons.If your worried about night time heat get one of the infrared bulbs or coils to accomplish this with. Make very sure whatever you do settle on cannot be reached by the animal in any way possible. Also make sure a grid or wire basket that you might use to keep the animal out of direct contact with the heating device does not get hot from radiant heat also.I have seen several animals with burned tails and feet from climbing on wire basket devices surrounding heat elements.My suggestion to you is to think hard about your choice of species. If your in the coastal California area and worried about low temps that are also wet, especially at night, I would be looking at a Jackson's Chameleon rather than a Veiled.

OH NO, Not This!

Q.Hi Don,

I'm starting to Raise crickets & mealmorms,Already have new born crickets! But the mealworms just starting to pupae and had one beetle walking around . I went to take the beetle out and bedding, every square inch was moving. I got my magnifier and found little white(clear) what looked like mites all over the container and in the bedding (they were about the size of a grain of salt). I Had to wash about 900 mealworms. The bedding was about one month in use.
I was wondering if you came across somthing like this?

Thanks Don

A. Indeed I have. Until I read the complete message I was at a loss to tell you what was wrong because the times I have seen mite explosions are always when ambient humidity is unusually high such as in a greenhouse or tropical setting outside. Once I saw where you were from I knew the answer! I once seriously wanted to move next door to you, thats a heck of a nice place you live in,it's just not a good place to raise mealworms at!:-)~

The reason the mites are "blooming" is simple. The humidity that they need to stay alive and reproduce in large numbers is high enough and the dry grain your keeping them on doesn't sap them of the moisture they need to survive as far as body fluids go. In dry environments the mites can't survive except in very small numbers (they are naturally found in grain products, we eat a zillion everytime we eat bread for instance). I dont know where you are keeping your worm cultures but I would guess in the garage or someplace like that outside of an air conditioned area. If you can put them under a tin roof in the tropics I have found that this works reasonably well since the tin roof gets hot during the day and burns off a lot of ambient humidity in the immediate area. If the culture is new and the meal was first heated high enough as in an oven to destroy the eggs first, the new culture most likely will not be effected anymore. Once infected its best to burn the lot and start over again with a new non-infected batch.

I live in a tropical country myself and keep a lot of mealworms and have had to deal with this issue so I am an old hand at it. The key here is to dry them out more and the mites will dissapear!Hope this helps!

Don Wells

Don Wells has worked with animals much of his life. His present interests include disseminating proper husbandry techniques for animals kept in captivity. He has kept multitudes of insects and continues to experiment with new species.


Join Our Facebook Page for Updates on New Issues: