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My Chameleon Is Going to Lay Eggs: What Do I Do?

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It's important to know what to do if you chameleon is going to lay eggs, as females of this species are capable of doing so without a male.
My Chameleon Is Going to Lay Eggs: What Do I Do?
Last update: 10 August, 2023

The conditions for keeping chameleons in captivity aren’t difficult to achieve. The problem lies in maintaining constant parameters, as any variation could seriously affect the reptile’s health. This is a key factor during egg laying and could cost the pet its life if it’s not paid attention to. Keep reading to find out what to do if your chameleon is going to lay eggs.

Chameleons are oviparous and lay eggs to reproduce. Their nature doesn’t change despite being in captivity and, although they know about their care, some keepers don’t know how to react to this unexpected event. In fact, reproductive problems in this type of exotic pet are very frequent. Therefore, it’s best to be prepared with first-hand information.

How do I know if my chameleon is going to lay eggs?

One of the main characteristics of chameleons is their ability to change color. This trait is used to communicate with each other, so it can be used to interpret the reproductive condition of the females (receptive or pregnant). For example, the veiled chameleon may exhibit beautiful polka-dot coloration to indicate that it’s “pregnant”.

In addition, the pet undergoes a number of changes in its physique and behavior. The most obvious sign is the growth of her belly, almost as if she were overweight, while in some cases, certain lumps (the eggs) can be felt. Behaviorally, she’ll start looking for a place to lay and you may see her digging a small nest for herself.

Female chameleons dig their substrate obsessively until they find the ideal place to lay their eggs.

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What does my chameleon need for laying her eggs?

If you have a female chameleon that’s about to lay eggs, you must be very careful about the characteristics of the habitat. When conditions aren’t conducive for her to lay her eggs or any essential element is missing, she’s likely to withhold her young. Therefore, she’s at risk of dying if not attended to soon.

To ensure that the female doesn’t have any such complications, be sure to keep her habitat in good condition. Don’t stress her more than necessary and don’t handle her unless it’s to check on her, feed her or clean her home. Minimally, you should pay attention to the following points:

  1. The habitat should have at least 15 centimeters inches of substrate for her to be able to dig her nest.
  2. Change the type of substrate to one that stores heat well (only if necessary). Some owners use coconut fiber, but it’s not mandatory that you choose this element in all cases.
  3. The lizard’s diet should contain calcium supplements. Remember that this element is crucial for the health of the chameleon, even more so when the conformation of the eggs consumes the calcium reserves inside the female.
  4. The humidity of the habitat shouldn’t be reduced at any time.
  5. There should be no lack of drinking water.

Laying occurs 30 to 45 days after copulation. At the end of this period, the female will stop eating, which is a sign of impending parturition. If all goes well and there are no complications, she’ll lay between 30 and 40 eggs on average. This may take several hours or even days.

How are the eggs incubated?

The eggs must be retrieved before 24 hours have passed, as during this time, the embryo is anchored and any slight movement may damage it. Incubation should only be carried out by someone experienced, as special incubators are required to maintain ideal conditions in the environment.

The process requires total darkness and a temperature of 88 degrees Fahrenheit for half of the day, while for the other 12 hours, the environment should be between 70 and 73.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Humidity shouldn’t fall below 90 %, although most professional incubators allow this parameter to be easily controlled. In this way, after 190 days (approximately), the new chameleon hatchlings will hatch.

Not all eggs produce a brood

It’s normal to think that the female only lays eggs once she has successfully copulated. However, these animals are capable of producing infertile eggs without contact with a male. The latter have no embryos inside, so no offspring will hatch despite being incubated.

Common egg-laying problems

Any change in the habitat when your chameleon is going to lay eggs may cause dystocia, which means that the female is unwilling or unable to lay her eggs. This problem can be caused by stress, lack of light, lack of calcium, reduced humidity, inadequate substrate, parasitosis, infections, or anatomical alterations. In case of this problem, it’s crucial to go to the veterinarian immediately.

The way in which dystocia can be identified is through the coloration and behavior of the female. Before parturition, she’s active because of her need to dig her nest, but when she’s unable to lay her eggs, she loses this great energy, finds it hard to breathe, and appears lethargic. In addition, the peculiar shade of the lizard’s skin begins to lose its sheen as the clinical picture worsens.

Why is it not a good idea to encourage egg-laying?

The process involved in laying eggs is very demanding and exhausting for the female. She consumes much of her calcium stores and may die before, during, or after parturition. In addition, dystocia is an all too common problem in reptiles, so it’s not a good idea to expose her to danger on a constant basis.

The presence of infertile eggs is also a major challenge for their breeding, as it could put the female’s life at risk at any time without any intention of breeding. There’s no way to avoid this, so guardians will have to be aware of their pet’s condition at all times.

It’s always exciting to have a little “copy” of your beloved pet by your side, as the birth of a new creature is thrilling. However, some animals such as chameleons aren’t yet well adapted to captive breeding. This makes it dangerous and irresponsible to try to breed the species, as their lives are in great danger.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Hedley, J. (2009). Reproductive Diseases in Reptiles. Veterinary Times, 39(38), 20-22.
  • Diaz, R. E., Anderson, C. V., Baumann, D. P., Kupronis, R., Jewell, D., Piraquive, C., … & Trainor, P. A. (2015). Captive care, raising, and breeding of the veiled chameleon (Chamaeleo calyptratus). Cold Spring Harbor Protocols, 2015(10), pdb-prot087718.
  • Tolón, A. V. S., Rubiano, M. V., Martín, C. O., & Álvarez-Carrión, B. (2009). ESTUDIO DE PROBLEMAS DE GESTACIÓN EN CHAMAELEO CALYPTRATUS/STUDY OF GESTATION PROBLEMS ON CHAMAELEO CALYPTRATUS. Revista Complutense de Ciencias Veterinarias, 3(2), 351.
  • Kummrow, M. S. (2009). Characterization and manipulation of the reproductive cycle of the female veiled chameleon, Chamaeleo calyptratus (Doctoral dissertation).

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.