I believe alternative food items should be used as a last resort only, or as a supplement. No matter how hard we try to replicate the natural diet of a chameleon, we are certain to fall short. Alternative foods are not nutritionally balanced and have an improper calcium/phosphorous ratio. So be cautious, and ALWAYS consult with your veterinarian before trying any of these recipes.
First off, let me clarify between "force feeding" and what I define as "manually feeding". Force-feeding is rather invasive, characterized by "tube feeding", where liquid nutrition is channeled directly into the stomach through a tube. It can also be defined as forcing your chameleon's mouth open and squirting one of the liquid meals listed below into his mouth. If your chameleon is very ill or quite simply does not want to swallow the food, he will usually let you know! If your vet has opted to tub-feed your chameleon (this can only be done by a veterinarian) your chameleon may vomit afterwards. If you force your chameleon to eat a bug or baby food for example, if he does not want it, he will spit it out. Realistically, we cannot FORCE feed a chameleon unless it wants the food on some level, and we are gentle enough in our methodology for him to accept it.
Manually feeding is what
I would define as "offering" your chameleon an alternative
food due to some inability on its apart to obtain it himself. For example,
many chameleons suffer from tongue dysfunctions" (see medical red
flags), which can be caused by straining or tearing the muscles in the
tongue or an inappropriate level of calcium and UVA/UVB lighting. In
cases such as these, the chameleon has little control over its tongue
and cannot "shoot" or extend sufficiently to acquire a prey
item on its own. Other examples would be when dealing sick chameleons
or a chameleon who is on a hunger strike, and who is not responding
to different varieties of insects.
You can use a combination of the below ingredients to create a nutritional slurry for your chameleon that can be administered through an eyedropper!
Place a drop of food on your chameleon's mouth and gently tug on your chameleon's gullar crest. It may take a moment, but he will open his mouth and get a taste of the food. It takes coordination, but with practice, you will be able to drop food in his mouth between chews!
NEVER drop food down your chameleon's throat. You want to place it in his mouth or tongue. Doing anything else can cause your chameleon great stress or to choak!