If you have a veiled chameleon, panther chameleon, graceful chameleon, or senegal chameleon, your chameleon will definitely lay eggs. These types of chameleons will usually lay eggs yearly with or without a male. You should always be prepared and well educated on what to do when your chameleon becomes egg bound. If you wait too long, things can start to become very difficult for your chameleon. There have even been scenarios where gravid female chameleons have died due to being egg bound for so long. So here’s a little guide to help you.
How do you Know if Your Chameleon is Gravid (Has Eggs)?
Your chameleon will be fatter than usual and weigh more than usual. If you have a female chameleon, it might be wise to buy a small scale which you can pick up at your local grocery store. You should weigh your chameleon every two weeks to see if she is losing or gaining weight to maintain proper health. There will come a point in time where your chameleon will keep a stable weight and then all of a sudden weigh a little bit more and more as the days go by. This is when your chameleon is becoming egg bound. Once your realize that your female chameleon has gained weight, you should start preparing your lay box.
Chameleon Laying Box
This is where your chameleon will lay her eggs. The size of your lay box should be nothing smaller than 12x12x12. A good size lay box
is approximately 14x14x14 or 16x16x16. Chameleons will usually dig all the way to the bottom of the lay box to drop their eggs, so if you pick one that is too deep, you will cause your chameleon to exert more energy than she has too.
Now, some people will tell you multiple ways of creating the lay substrate, but what I like to use is play sand and water. It’s cheap and does the job. There’s no real mix ratio that can be said. Just mix the water and sand until it is nice and moist. It should be moist enough for your fingers to dig a hole to the bottom, without the sand collapsing on you.
As soon as you put your lay box into the enclosure, you are going to want to surround the enclosure with something so that your chameleon can have her privacy. Usually poster boards, trash bags, or wrapping paper will do the trick. If you are an owner like me and would like to peak into the enclosure from time to time to see how she is doing, poke a hole in whatever your using so you can spy on her without her seeing you. Some chameleons will abandon their hole if they catch you looking, so make sure to be sneaky about it.
Once she if flipped with her head sticking out of the hole, she will start to lay her eggs as the picture below shows. Notice, her head is full of sand. Do not worry about that right now. After she is done with laying her eggs and buries them, you can mist her heavily to remove all the sand off her face.
Once she is done laying her eggs, she will start to bury them. It’s almost like a reverse dig. She will retrace all her marks, as if nothing ever happened as the below pictures shows. I usually remove my chameleon out of her enclosure at this point to give her a nice mist to shower and hydrate her.
Once she is all done, you are going to want to hydrate your chameleon ASAP! She will be very tired and weak at this point and will need to hydrate and eat. My chameleon drank more than I could ever imagine after she laid her eggs, so don’t be alarmed if your chameleon drinks for a long period of time. Also, you are going to want to feed your chameleon very nutritional feeders (silkworms, phoenix worms, crickets, and etc) dusted with calcium for the next 3 – 4 days. Liquid calcium is also very good to use at this time, if you can get your hands on some. If you have it, one drop a day for 4 days will be enough.
Digging out the Chameleon Eggs
This is the fun part! Just start digging, using your fingers. Do not use anything else except for your fingers and a paintbrush. Don’t be scared digging thinking the eggs are at the top, they are towards the bottom, so dig away!. Once you see little white balls, you hit the jackpot. Now it’s time to remove them so they can go in the incubation container(s). Be careful removing them, you don’t want to toss and turn them. Try to place them in the incubation container the same way you found them.
How to Incubate Chameleon Eggs
If your chameleons eggs are fertile, you are going to want to incubate them. Prepare your chameleon incubation containers before anything, so you can easily transfer the eggs. To setup your incubation containers, you will need some sort of incubation media. Personally, I prefer Repashy SuperHatch, but others may suggest something different like perilite or vermiculite. Use what works for you.
When you decide on which incubation media you want to use, you are going to want to put about two inches of that media into your containers which you will then add water too. I use sandwich containers and Chinese food containers. I find that these work GREAT! In regards to the lids, you are going to want to make about 2 – 3 small holes around the top of the lid to allow for some air flow. Make sure they are tiny holes (not to big). Pick two sides of the container lid and insert 1 to 2 holes. The holes should be the size of the end of pen tip.
The amount of water that you are going to want to add to your media is A LOT! Yup, go ahead and soak it. I like to fill up the containers until the rocks are submerged under water. Then what I do is poor all the water out until no drops fall out. This way, all my media is nice and moist. But make sure to really drain the rocks. If you leave excess water in the containers, your eggs will most likely drown.
Then bring your eggs and containers together so you can start making the transfer.
Once you have the containers and eggs together, start transferring your eggs to the containers. Simply, make a little indent into the media and place each egg in a separate indent. When doing this, make sure to clean most of the sand off the eggs using a paintbrush or something before placing your eggs.
Once you are done, place your lids on the containers and place them somewhere dark with temperatures ranging anywhere from 72 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Chameleon Eggs Hatching
In about 7 – 9 months later, your chameleon eggs will start to hatch. A job well done! Make sure to be prepared! Have separate housings ready, multiple food supplies ready, and lighting prepared. If you wait until the last minute, you will be spending much more money than you have to in carrying for these guys.