No matter what age your Panther may be, it is best for them if you are able to vary their diet of insects
as much as possible. Although rare, I have observed some Panther Chameleons eating vegitation (ie. Benjamin ficus leaves).
In the wild, they will consume many different kinds of insects but in captivity, most animals are usually kept on a staple
of crickets...far from an ideal situation. We try to feed our animals a variation of crickets, superworms, stick bugs,
and their favorite, silkworms. I believe silkworms to be one of the most nutritious food source you can supply to your
Panther. They are full of protein, betacarotine, trace minerals and vitamins as well as moisture for hydration.
Some have advocated going out and catching "free range" insects to add variety to their diet, including snails and slugs
but I do not recommend this. There is too much pesticide used in our environment and the risk of contaminating
your Chameleon in my opinion is too great. There is also the increased risk of infecting the Chameleons with parasites that
the insects may be harboring.
Regardless of the kind of insect you are feeding your animal, you need to "gut load" your feeder insect. Gut loading
is the practice of feeding your insects a nutritious meal right before they are fed to your Panthers. For instance,
you can feed carrots, kale,fruits, comercially available cricket gut load formulas, powdered milk, etc. to your crickets so
that when the Chameleon eats the crickets, it is in essence, eating what the crickets just ate. The longer your feeder
insects remains in the cage uneaten, the less nutritionally valuable they become so do not waste your insects by offering
too much more than the Chameleons can eat in one sitting.
Babies are fed daily on a diet of insects small enough for them to eat, which mainly consists of one tp two week old
crickets, fruit flies (hydei), cultured house flies, etc. My adults are fed 4 to 5 times per week and given
an amount they can finish off in one day, which typically might be 5-10 one inch crickets or 2-3 large silkworms or 5-10 superlworms
or any combination of the above. You may notice fluctuations in the amount they are eating from day to day and this
is normal. It is good for your animals to rest 1-2 days per week and when you resume feeding, they will usually eat
with "gusto". Larger Panther Chameleons will eat pinky mice if offered but some have questioned whether Panthers lack
the enzymes to properly digest meat althoughin the wild, they probably will eat any insect or animal that they encounter as
long as they are small enough to fit in their mouths. I have given pinky mice to my adult Panther male without any apparent
ill health but I do not make a practice of it.
There are 2 basic methods of presenting the insects to the chameleons. One is to let the insects loose in the cage
and let them "hunt" for the bugs. The other alternative is to hang a semi opaque plastic container near the animals
favorite perch and place the feeder insects into the plastic container, thus containing the bugs and making it easier to see
exactly how much the chameleon is consuming. Do not use clear plastic containers because the Chameleon may attempt shoot
their tongue at the bugs through the clear plastic. We beleive it is better for them to "hunt" for the insects rather
than cup feeding as their tongues are muscles that need exercising and when cup fed, their tongues can become weak and "lazy."
Some of your Chameleons will be tamer and more outgoing than the others and you can train them to feed right off of your
fingers which is always very impressive to the uninitiated.