What Do Chameleons Eat? 16 Foods in Their Diet

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: November 19, 2021
Image Credit Irina Kozorog/Shutterstock.com
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What Do Chameleons Eat
Chameleons are insectivorous, meaning they predominately eat insects but will also consume vegetation as well


Chameleons are members of the reptile family that are well-known for their remarkable ability to blend into the environment around them, which makes it easier for them to hunt prey and hide from predators. They mainly live in African rainforests and savannas and can sometimes be found in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. In this article, you’ll learn what chameleons eat, how they hunt, and much more!

What Do Chameleons Eat?

What do chameleons eat - eating an insect
A chameleon eating an insect

Irina Kozorog/Shutterstock.com

Chameleons are insectivorous reptiles that commonly eat insects such as flies, crickets, grasshoppers. However, due to their environment, which can be food-scarce, they will also opportunistically consume vegetation from time to time too.

Chameleons’ diet is mainly made up of small insects, which are the primary source of protein. Greens like dandelions and escarole are also a part of their diet and provide a good source of hydration, vitamins, and essential minerals.

A Complete List of What Chameleons Eat

What do chameleons eat - dinner time
A chameleon gets ready to eat a grasshopper

Eric Isselee/Shutterstock.com

Chameleons usually eat a healthy mix of insects and plants. Larger chameleons can even eat other animals like small birds and other small reptiles.

Chameleons primarily eat foods like:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Crickets
  • Silkworms
  • Flies
  • Cicadas
  • Grasshoppers
  • Snails
  • Leaves and other plants
  • Locusts
  • Worms
  • Caterpillars
  • Berries
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Persimmons
  • Dandelions

What Do Different Types of Chameleons Eat?

Chameleons’ diet relies on their size. Smaller species like the veiled chameleon consume primarily small insects and vegetation. Larger chameleons such as the Malagasy giant chameleon can eat larger insects, small birds, and other reptiles.

How Much Do Chameleons Eat?

What do chameleons eat - dragonfly
A chameleon eating a dragonfly at sunset


The amount of food that chameleons consume depends on their age.

Until their first birthday, chameleons require more food than adults. In the wild, their food variety can be scarce, so they will eat as much as they can when they can find it. While in captivity, baby chameleons eat anywhere from 12-18 small insects a day, usually spread out into two feedings.

Adult chameleons are opportunistic eaters in the wild, which means they eat as often as they can find prey. If they can’t find food, they can survive for many weeks without eating as long as they have access to water. In captivity, they eat around 3-4 insects a day.

Chameleons do not drink water from pools in the forest floor in the wild or dishes of water in captivity. Instead, they prefer to drink water droplets from leaves or water that drips from leaves after a rainstorm.

How Do Chameleons Hunt?

Chameleons have excellent eyesight that allows them to see their prey from up to 10 yards away. Their eyes also move independently of one another and can see a full 360 view of the world around them, which allows them to search for and locate prey quickly.

Chameleons move very slowly to approach their prey. Once they are within a close distance, they quickly shoot out their sticky tongues to capture their meal in a snap.  Some chameleon’s tongues go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in a hundredth of a second!

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AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

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