Wondering if chameleons lay eggs or give birth? This guide is for you!
If you plan to keep or breed chameleons, you may be very interested in how they bring their young into this world.
Most chameleons lay eggs and bury them – these are oviparous. However, there are some ovoviviparous chameleons. They carry the eggs with the embryo growing inside their bodies until the babies are ready. A good example of such a chameleon is Jackson’s Chameleon.
When ovoviviparous chameleons are about to give birth, they gently drop the eggs from a height, making it easier for the babies to break free.
As with some lizards, the female chameleon does not need to mate to lay eggs.
How Do Chameleons Bring Forth Their Young?
Egg-Laying Birth: Oviparous
These are the most common chameleon species. A female lays between 2 and 200 eggs after mating with the male.
Typically, females lay eggs between 3 and 6 weeks after mating. However, this period can be shorter or longer in some species.
Generally, lizards stop eating a few days before they start laying eggs. For example, the female Panther Chameleon stops eating about 10 days to 2 weeks after mating.
This indicates she’s ready to lay eggs. You should have prepared a deep substrate in an appropriate box for her to lay the eggs by this time.
Female chameleons are self-reliant in the wild and normally dig tunnels to bury their eggs.
However, the female chameleon in your home is under your care. Place a laying bin in a quiet place for this pet to safely lay her eggs.
Your chameleon has to feel safe and comfortable to lay the eggs. If she feels threatened or insecure, the eggs will be retained in her body.
This is called egg binding, a phenomenon that opens a can of health challenges for this reptile.
To set up a suitable laying bin, use a 5-gallon rubber tub filled with organic soil. Then, the female chameleon digs tunnels in the dirt and deposits the eggs before returning to her cage.
The eggs would be infertile if the female chameleon did not mate with a male.
Live Birth: Ovoviviparous
Some species of chameleons bring forth their young ones in a process that can only be equated to giving birth.
Ovoviviparous reproduction happens when the female chameleon incubates the eggs inside her body.
So, instead of laying the eggs and burying them in a substrate, they remain inside her body, with the embryos growing inside.
Upon maturity, the female chameleon drops the eggs from a decent height for the eggs to crack and the babies to crawl out.
In some species, the eggs don’t have a shell. Instead, they comprise a sticky membrane that covers the baby.
Upon delivery, the mother attaches this membrane to the branch of a tree, and the baby emerges.
Why Do Some Chameleons Lay Unfertilized Eggs?
Fertilization requires the coming together (mating) of male and female adults of a species. Like most other animals, female chameleons have a short period within which this should happen.
If this period passes without mating, the egg will continue to grow inside the female’s body. The female chameleon will have to lay the eggs once they are fully formed.
This gives room for the cycle to begin all over again. But unfortunately, the unfertilized eggs are barren and cannot produce young ones.
How Often Does a Chameleon Lay Eggs?
You need to create certain conditions for your chameleons to lay eggs. Unfortunately, the issue of laying eggs is not as straightforward as someone might imagine.
You should create an atmosphere conducive to egg laying. For example, ensure the temperature and humidity levels are favorable.
Also, provide your female chameleon with the proper diet. You need to heavily supplement her diet with vitamins, minerals, and calcium, which are instrumental to the egg-formation process.
Most importantly, ensure your pet leads a stress-free existence in the enclosure. This calls on you to identify and eliminate all stressors.
A well-taken care of chameleon lays eggs every 3 to 6 months.
The egg-laying experience is a laborious one. It takes its toll on this animal’s body, especially if she has shorter egg-laying periods.
In the wild, female chameleons have to lay as many eggs as often as possible to replace those that have fallen to predators along the way.
This is not the case with chameleons in captivity. Although you can’t control the egg-laying process, you can discourage it through targeted husbandry practices.
For example, lowering the temperature by a couple of degrees and giving your pet less food will discourage egg-laying.
This is likely to elongate her life. First, however, ensure you feed her at least once every three days.
What Age Does a Chameleon Start Laying Eggs?
Different chameleons have different growth trajectories. Like humans, some chameleons are early bloomers, while others are late bloomers.
Chameleons develop in stages like every creature under the sun.
While some chameleons will start their reproductive cycle in 6 months, others have to wait longer and only begin laying eggs at the age of 2 years.
Indeed, some chameleons go through life without having laid a single clutch of life.
The best you can do with your female chameleons is to feed them well, keep them stress-free, and ensure the conditions in the enclosure are proper.
Leave the how soon and how often they lay eggs to nature. This boils down to your chameleon’s genetics and ancestry – things you may not have much control over.
How Do You Know Your Chameleon Is Ready to Lay Eggs?
If your chameleon leads a good, healthy life, it can be ready to lay eggs at any time. But, of course, she has to be of egg-laying age for this to qualify.
This means you should always be on the lookout. But first, you’ll realize she’s gravid and wants to lay eggs when she spends most of her time on the floor.
Also, she may stop eating or start eating less. Finally, some chameleons start displaying dazzling colors as they would to show readiness for mating.
Another dead giveaway is her size. Your leopard gecko will noticeably increase in size, indicating she’s gravid and about to lay eggs.
This is your cue to prepare a quiet area for your pet to lay and bury her eggs.
Where Does a Chameleon Lay Her Eggs?
A female chameleon in the wild looks for secluded damp spots to dig a hole for her eggs. She carefully buries them and leaves them to incubate as she continues with her life.
The spot must remain damp to prevent hatchlings from breaking out of the shell and crawling away when they’re born.
You need to recreate these conditions in your chameleon’s enclosure at home.
A wide-topped container or large flower pot will do fine for this purpose. Fill it ¾ way with soft organic soil – this soil is friendly to chameleons because it is chemical-free.
Moisten the soil a bit to make it easier for your pet to make tunnels. She’ll deposit her precious cargo of eggs in these tunnels.
Put this container in the enclosure. Ensure your pet does not see you prepare the bin or put it in the enclosure. Otherwise, she’ll want nothing to do with it.
If all is well, your chameleon will move into this container when she’s ready to lay her eggs and deposit them there.
How Long Does It Take for a Chameleon to Lay Her Eggs?
Two factors influence how long it would take your chameleon to lay eggs: genetics and the enclosure condition.
Some female chameleons are predisposed to lay their eggs fast because they are made that one; it is in their blood, so to speak.
Others can stay in the bin for hours because of their ancestry. They start by digging several tunnels in the substrate before they settle on the one they’ll deposit their eggs.
It is normal behavior for a chameleon to dig several holes while she intends to use only one.
Once she identifies a hole that’s both comfortable and acceptable, she’ll proceed to lay the eggs and cover them.
This could take about 1 or 2 hours. However, don’t be surprised if your pet takes a day or two – it all depends on its genes and ancestry.
Also, how long your pet takes to lay her eggs depends on the bin condition. For some chameleons, you have to shield the birthing area from prying eyes.
These chameleons are shy and feel particularly vulnerable during this process. They may be unable to release the eggs if they don’t have enough privacy.
How Many Eggs Does a Chameleon Lay?
Egg-laying chameleons can lay anywhere between 20 and 200 eggs per clutch. This discrepancy is because every chameleon is affected differently by the factors influencing egg-laying.
For example, the number of eggs a chameleon can lay depends on its genetic makeup. While some chameleons lay small but numerous eggs, others lay bigger but fewer ones.
Some lay few eggs at the start of their reproductive cycle, but the number keeps increasing with each brood.
Generally, large chameleons lay larger but fewer eggs. For example, some large chameleons lay about 4 eggs, while others can manage a high of 80 or 100.
Birth—giving chameleons bring out about 10 to 30 young ones simultaneously. This number varies greatly depending on the species.
Helping Your Chameleon After Laying Eggs
If the eggs are infertile, you don’t have to think much about them. Instead, treat them like organic matter that should be recycled in your garden or compost bin.
However, suppose the eggs were produced due to mating between a male and female chameleon. In that case, you need to think about incubating them.
That aside, the most critical task is caring for the female chameleon after her delivery.
Egg laying puts a massive toll on females; you need to ensure that your pet regains her health as soon as possible.
All the digging and the actual act of laying the eggs is not a mean achievement. It calls for hard work, which usurps a lot of her energy,
Allow her to rest for some time, then gently place her in her favorite spot in the terrarium. But, of course, you must be sure that she wants to be picked before proceeding.
At the same time, you must provide her with nutritious diets and water to help her regain lost energy.
Clean her body with a fine mist of lukewarm water to remove the dirt she picked as she laid the eggs. Then, after she’s quenched her thirst, give her a couple of calcium-dusted insects to replenish her calcium levels.
Give you extra food for the next couple of days. Then, once she regains her strength, you can scale the feeding back to her regular schedule.
What is Chameleon Egg Binding?
When a female reptile retains her eggs inside her, she’s egg-bound. Usually, chameleons do this in response to stressful situations.
Egg binding is more common in females that live in poor conditions. If your chameleon becomes eggs bound, find out if she’s sick.
If the problem has nothing to do with her health, it has everything to do with the enclosure. For example, it could be that the place you have prepared for her to lay eggs is unsuitable.
It could also be that the living conditions in the enclosure need to be revised. Check the temperature and humidity to verify they are at the correct levels.
If they aren’t, you need to quickly adjust them to convince the chameleon to release the eggs.
Although egg-binding is rare, it has serious ramifications whenever it occurs. You can tell your chameleon is egg-bound if it displays these signs:
- It’s not eaten for an extended period.
- She has sunken eyes.
- She seems to have a bloated stomach.
- You can feel hard lumps through her skin.
- She seems irritable and agitated.
Egg-binding is a serious condition that requires the immediate intervention of a vet. So don’t take chances if you suspect your female chameleon to be egg-bound.
Make an appointment with the vet as soon as possible. The vet will give her some medication to induce egg-laying.
In extreme cases, your chameleon will have to be operated on to remove the bound eggs.
Female chameleons have the responsibility of reproducing. Depending on the species, they will either lay eggs or give live births.
A significant percentage of chameleons bring forth their young by laying eggs, from which the young hatch. Others incubate the eggs inside them until the hatchlings are mature enough to come out.
If you own a female chameleon, we hope you’re better prepared to take care of it during the egg-laying cycle.