It can be disconcerting to learn that your chameleon is not eating. Faced with that situation, you will want to know why the chameleon is not eating, and what you can do about it. In this article, we address those concerns.
What are the possible reasons for a chameleon not eating? Sometimes, you find that the chameleon is simply not hungry (or it is bored with the available food). Or perhaps the chameleon is undergoing stress, is unwell, about to shed skin, gravid or in mating mood.
It is important to remember that for chameleons not eating for several days is quite normal. In fact, a chameleon not eating for up to a week is still quite normal.
But once you have a situation where a chameleon is not eating for more than 7-10 days, it should be cause for concern.
Why Is My Chameleon Not Eating?
This, in other words, is a question on what does it mean when your chameleon doesn’t eat?
Sometimes, it may mean that the chameleon is not hungry or it has gotten bored with the food it is getting.
Or it may mean that the chameleon is unwell, in mating mood, about to lay eggs (for females) or about to shed skin.
To identify the specific reason why the chameleon is not eating, you need to consider several factors.
Firstly, consider how long the chameleon is going without eating. In this regard, a chameleon not eating for weeks has vastly different implications from a chameleon not eating for just a couple of days.
Also consider the age of the chameleon. A baby chameleon lizard not eating has very different implications from, say, an old chameleon not eating.
Further, consider the gender of the chameleon. In this regard, a female veiled chameleon not eating may have different implications from a male veiled chameleon not eating.
Whether the chameleon is new or sick are other key considerations.
Ultimately, for instance, if you have a chameleon not eating for weeks, it may be due to illness. Or there may be injuries in its mouth that are keeping it from eating.
Where a female chameleon is not eating, it may be because she is about to lay eggs. Or it could be because she is in mating mood (or due to something else altogether).
Where a baby chameleon is not eating, it may be because it is about to shed skin. (Baby chameleons shed more frequently than older chameleons). But it could also be due to something else.
Where a new chameleon is not eating, it may be due to the stress of being in a new environment. So there are many possibilities.
How Often Do Chameleons Eat?
How often chameleons eat depends on their age. For baby chameleons (in the 0 to 6 months range), three times a day feeding may be necessary. For young/juvenile chameleons (6 to 12 months range), once a day feeding may be necessary. And for older/adult chameleons (more than 12 months old), once every 2-3 days feeding may be adequate.
But it is important to appreciate that in spite of these general guidelines, chameleons can go for much longer without eating. A chameleon can go for 7-10 days without eating, and still be reasonably okay.
How Long Can A Chameleon Go Without Eating?
A chameleon can go for 7-10 days without eating, and still be okay. Actually, chameleons have been known to go even for weeks without eating, although that is not okay.
Therefore, a chameleon not eating for one or two days shouldn’t be cause for concern. It only starts to be cause for concern when, say, a chameleon goes for more than one week without eating.
But while a chameleon can go for such long durations of time without eating, it can’t go so long without drinking. This raises another question: how long can a chameleon go without water? And the answer is that a chameleon can only go for one or two days without water.
Therefore if you have a chameleon not eating or drinking for more than 2-3 days, it can start getting risky. It is the non-drinking bit that would be causing concern.
Whereas the chameleon can go for 7-10 days without eating, 2-3 days without drinking would be exposing it to the risk of dehydration.
These guidelines should apply for all types of chameleons. Thus, if you have been wondering how long can a veiled chameleon go without eating, this is the answer.
And this is still the answer if you have been wondering how long a panther, Jacksons or any other type of chameleon can go without eating.
How Do You Know If Your Chameleon Is Eating?
If you leave food in the chameleon’s cage, and when you come back the food is not there, then you can safely assume that the chameleon is eating.
Further, if you find that the chameleon is pooping normally, it is safe to assume that it is eating.
The latter bit (about the chameleon pooping) is more reliable. And the inference is this: where you have a chameleon not eating or pooping for considerable periods of time, it should be cause for concern.
But where you have the chameleon not appearing to eat, yet it is still pooping, the level of concern would be lower. It would mean that the chameleon may still be eating, only that you are not catching it actually doing so.
And that is likely, given that chameleons are shy creatures that often don’t like eating while being watched.
Other signs that a chameleon is eating normally include maintaining a normal body eating, having bright alert eyes and having energy to move about.
Conversely, if a chameleon is losing body weight fast, is lethargic (lacking in energy) and has dull sunken eyes, this may mean that it is not eating normally.
Chameleon Not Eating – What Are The Possible Reasons?
The first possibility is that the chameleon is not hungry. Once a chameleon is full, it usually won’t eat further.
The second possibility is that the chameleon is undergoing stress. And this causes it not to eat. This stress may be due to changes in its enclosure. Or it may be due to changes in the general environment.
On another note, the stress may be due to being in a new place.
Thus if you have a new chameleon not eating, this may be the reason. And it can be quite worrying, especially when you consider the number of chameleon not eating Reddit threads that are started by folks with newly acquired chameleons.
Therefore if you have been wondering why is my new chameleon not eating, this may be the reason.
The stress that is making the chameleon not eat may also be due to climatic conditions.
Indeed, in many cases of chameleon not eating winter changes turn out to be the reason. This is for people who are unable to maintain proper temperature conditions in their chameleon enclosures.
At yet another level, the stress that is causing the chameleon not to eat may be that which is due to skin shedding, being about to lay eggs or being in the mating mood.
Even after laying the eggs, the chameleon may go for a while without eating. Thus if you have a chameleon not eating after laying eggs, this may be the underlying reason.
The chameleon may also not be eating because it is bored with the food it is getting. Or it may be unwell or having injuries in its mouth (that make eating a pain).
Chameleon Not Eating Or Moving – What Could Be The Cause?
One possibility here is that the chameleon is sick. Therefore it lacks the energy to move, or even to eat. Or the sickness leads to loss of appetite.
But much depends on how long this has been going on. If it is for just a day or two, it may be that the chameleon is just chilling out. But if it is for more than a week, it is cause for concern.
So the chameleon may be seriously ill, or even dying. Indeed, when you research on how do I know if my chameleon is dying, you will see that not eating or moving is one of the signs.
That illness may be the cause (for not eating) will be more likely if, for instance, you also have the chameleon eyes closed not eating. So now you have a chameleon not moving and eyes closed and not eating.
Much of course also depends on whether the chameleon is drinking. It may not be eating or moving, but is it at least drinking? If you have a chameleon not eating or moving or drinking for quite a while, it may be best to consult a vet urgently.
Besides illness, the whole situation may be due to the chameleon being about to lay eggs or being about to shed skin.
Will A Chameleon Starve Itself?
If your chameleon is not eating, you may find yourself wondering whether a chameleon can starve itself to death. So, indeed, will a chameleon starve itself to death? The answer is usually no.
A chameleon won’t normally deny itself food to death. But there are factors that may make a chameleon be unable to eat, to the point of death. For instance, if it has intestinal blockage/impaction, this can cause the chameleon unable to eat, to the point of death.
This sort of blockage/impaction will typically be at play where you have a chameleon not eating or pooping.
It is also common to have a sick chameleon not eating to the point of death. So you find that the chameleon, due to sickness, loses appetite to the point of dying/starvation. This is what may be playing out if you have a chameleon weak and not eating.
Severe mouth injuries (or injuries elsewhere in the digestive tract) may make it impossible for a chameleon to eat, to the point of dying.
But if a chameleon is alright health-wise, it is unlikely to starve itself to death deliberately.
Why Is My New Chameleon Not Eating?
For a chameleon being in a new environment can be overwhelming. And this can cause a new chameleon not to eat. Indeed, it is normal for newly acquired chameleons not to eat for the first two to three days.
Once the new chameleon gets used to the new environment, it is bound to start eating normally. But before then, you may just have to give it time to acclimatize.
Chameleon Not Eating Or Pooping – Why?
The key follow up question to ask here is on how long the chameleon has not been eating or pooping. If it is just for a day or two, there is no reason to worry. But if it is for longer – say, more than a week – then it is reason to worry.
All in all, you may ask, why is my chameleon not eating or moving stools?
One possibility is that the chameleon is dehydrated. Dehydration often makes it impossible for chameleons to eat or poop.
Another possibility is that the chameleon has an intestinal blockage.
Yet another possibility is that the chameleon is unwell – perhaps with an infection.
Internal parasites are also known to make chameleons be unable to eat or poop.
But the chameleon may also simply not be eating because of boredom with the food. So it is a chain. Because of boredom (with the food) the chameleon doesn’t eat. And because it doesn’t eat, then it doesn’t have anything to poop.
Most cases of chameleons not eating crickets tend to be within this context. Some of us give chameleons crickets too often, leading to boredom.
At some point, the chameleons may find the crickets nauseating. So they refuse to eat them – which in turn leads to them not having anything to poop.
Chameleon Not Eating Much – What Could Be The Reason?
So here we have a situation where a chameleon is eating, but not much. This too can be cause for concern.
One possibility may be that the chameleon may be bored with the food it has been getting. It will still eat: but just enough to survive. So you end up with a chameleon not eating much.
This may be the case if, for instance, you have a chameleon not eating crickets (and if crickets are the only food it has been getting for a while). So if you have been wondering why is my chameleon not eating crickets, this may be the reason behind it.
It may also be what is at play if you have a chameleon not eating superworms (and if superworms are the only food it has been getting for a while). Chameleons easily get bored with foods that they get too frequently.
Another possibility is that the chameleon may be having digestive tract issues. These may make it unable to eat much food. Thus if you have a panther chameleon not eating as much as it normally used to do, this may be the cause.
The chameleon may also have grown to a stage where it no longer needs so much food. While baby chameleons have ravenous appetites, older chameleons may not have so much appetite.
Further still, the chameleon may be sick. On account of the illness, it loses appetite. It still eats – but not much. If you have a baby chameleon not eating (yet baby chameleons are supposed to be ravenous eaters), this may be the reason.
And if you have been wondering why is my baby veiled chameleon not eating or why is my juvenile chameleon not eating, this (namely illness) may be the underlying reason.
How Do You Get A Chameleon To Eat?
How to get chameleon to eat depends on what seems to be the reason behind its lack of appetite.
Where it seems to be due to boredom with the food it has been getting, all you may need to do is introduce more variety.
Where it seems to be due to stress, you may need to identify the stressors. Then eliminate them, in order to get the chameleon eating again.
Sometimes, setting up proper temperature and humidity conditions in the chameleon’s enclosure may be all you need to do, to get it eating again.
But a question may arise here: how do I get my chameleon to eat if the loss of appetite seems to be due to skin shedding? And the answer is that there is not much you can do in this situation.
In a situation where you have a chameleon shedding not eating, you may just have to bid your time. Once the shedding is over, the chameleon should resume eating normally.
This is also what applies where you have a chameleon not eating due to mating or egg laying reasons. Just bide your time, for the phase to be over.
Where the chameleon’s lack of appetite seems to be due to illness or mouth injury, it may be best to take it to an exotic pets vet for treatment. Once it undergoes treatment, the appetite should come back.
How Do You Feed A Chameleon That Won’t Eat?
One approach is that of changing what you are feeding the chameleon on. So, for instance, switch from crickets to wax worms.
Another approach is that of placing the chameleon’s food container at an elevated level (definitely above ground level). If you keep it at ground level, the chameleon may not ‘detect’ it or the food in it.
There is also – usually as a last resort – the option of syringe feeding the chameleon. So you (carefully) open the chameleon’s mouth, and squirt food there using a syringe.
Final Verdict – Chameleon Not Eating
If you have a chameleon not eating, it may be because it is simply not hungry. Or it may be because of boredom with the food that the chameleon has been getting.
It could also be because the chameleon is sick, in mating mood, gravid, about to lay eggs, about to shed skin or suffering from mouth injuries.
Often, changing the type of food you give to the chameleon may get it eating again. Also changing how you present the food may help in getting the chameleon eating again.
But where it seems to be due to illness or mouth injuries, it is best to have the chameleon treated by a vet. Once it heals, the normal appetite should come back.