Question and Answers

By Don Wells


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

Q. Crickets Everywhere!

My name is Marcin and I bought a bearded dragon a few months ago, he is very healthy, growing rapidly and costing me a lot of money lately. He goes through about 10-15 1.5cm crickets /day. Now I want to breed my crickets for feeding purposes, but I don't want to breed large amounts yet because I only own one lizard so far, and I find it that if I breed too much most of them will most likely die before I get to feed the dragon. My question is: if I use your technique, but start off with a low amount of crickets, lets say 10 females to 3-4 males or such, would that still work? And assuming that all the females will lay eggs how much crickets would I get out of that? I haven't done any such thing before, only plants and mushrooms, so I don't really have much idea about breeding insects.

A. Well, I have never raised mushrooms yet so you’re ahead of me! The nice thing about this system of rearing crickets is that it’s very versatile and yes you can reduce the breeder population to where it supplies you with enough insects to cover your needs. Because your talking about a Bearded Dragon and not a chameleon I can also say if you do breed too many you can always freeze them in water and thaw them out on days you don’t have living crickets. This doesn’t work for Chameleons because of their need for moving food.

I can’t predict how many crickets you’ll produce from your few breeders because that depends on how they are kept as well as fed and how old they etc. Generally count on a good hundred crickets from one female as a rough guide.


I have a 3 1/2 year old male veiled chameleon. His diet has been crickets until a month ago when we tried superworms and waxworms. He LOVES the superworms as well as the wax worms. I have tried not to feed him for 3 days and then give him crickets, but he doesn't even look at the crickets. So I have continued to feed him superworms and waxworms (3-4 superworms and 2-3 waxworms) a day. I powder the insects with reptical multivitamin, and reptical vitamins with D3. I know that waxworms are very fattening that is why I only give him 2-3 a day. I have heard that waxworms and superworms should not be his everyday diet. Can you please help me figure this out?

Thank you so much

Please e-mail me back with your suggestions

A. One of the main reasons for keeping your animals always on a varied diet and not feeding them just single type insects is to keep this very thing from happening. My guess is a few days worth of nothing but water will change your animals feeding to just about any insect you put in front of him. I have known Veileds to go three weeks at a time on a hunger strike so don’t become too worried that first week. Most Veileds are overfed anyway so your likely can go quite awhile without food if hydrated properly. Waxworms are great food when fed as part of the diet but not all of it! It’s the same with Zoophobas and others. My only complaint on Waxworms is they are hard to really add much to by way of gutloading and any nutrients must be dusted on them and stick to make them more valuable. Zoophobas will eat lots of good things so they are easier to load up.

Many letters come my way every week and usually the writers ask for an immediate reply by email. Unfortunately I can’t do this except very rarely when there is an emergency situation. Generally I save the more general interest questions for this section and have to not use the others for which I apologize.


I know you can give tortoises Dandelion leaves can I feed them to my veiled chams?

A. You bet you can and they are a great source of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients. As veiled get older they like to enjoy vegetation in their diets more and more. Dandelions can also be fed to the feeder insects your animals eat and will also help to get good things inside them.


I have a one month old Panther chameleon and he seems to be doing fine except for one thing... Recently I bought him some wax worms as a treat and as expected he loved it but he didn’t use his tongue to eat it. He sorta just walked up to it and snatched it. Now I am noticing that he tries to eat his crickets this way too. He gets really really close and tries to grab it with his mouth and of course the cricket hops away. He is eating (when he can catch it) and drinking and other that that he seems very healthy. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.

A. Because I can’t see your animal I can only guess about what is going on here. First thing that comes to mind is you do have a definite health problem brewing. I have seen this phenomenon happen many times where an animal all of a sudden looses its ability to shoot out its tongue and am convinced that the causes are many and not from one thing. Sometimes the simple addition of a nutrient such as vitamin A to the diet in the form of natural plant life will fix it and other times too much preformed artificial vitamin A will cause the problem! Other things can be bacterial infections, injury to the tongue etc. I would like to say take your animal to a vet but I have yet to know even one case where a vet helped the situation and many where they complicated things! I have even known of very prominent reptile vets that advised amputation of the tongue! Unfortunately I am also at a loss to tell you what to do about this? Because your animal is young and growing I would look at a nutrition problem very strongly. Review the articles found elsewhere in this E-Zine for the best ways to feed your animal.

Allow your animal the food items and be glad he continues to catch them this way. This might pass? The other option is that he can use his tongue and he just prefers to catch in the normal Iguanid manner?


I purchased a female Veiled Chameleon about a month ago. She eats great, nicely colored, and is very active....but she keeps on getting these salty looking build up around one of her nostrils. Is this bad, if so how can I prevent it? They are small and brush right off with a q-tip but keep developing.

A. The encrustation you’re seeing is merely the salt from your lizard’s body and nothing to worry about. Chameleons cannot sweat or eliminate salt as mammals do so they have developed this way as a means to do so.


I have a 4 year old male veil chameleon. He's in great health and I've never had any problems with him.

What is the normal lifespan for a healthy, captive, male, veil chameleon?

I was interested if he'd out live me. For all I can see he may live to be 50!!

A. You probably can expect at least a couple more years from your animal and he already has lived well past the natural expectation of a wild animal. There are known records of male Veileds living to 9 years that I am aware of. Females fare far less fortunate and live relatively shorter lives due to reproduction and egg laying draining them of resources. The upside in all this is you will most likely be able to outlive your animal and know that you treated him to far more years that he would normally have had in nature.

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.


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