Chameleons display some interesting behaviors during mating season, which takes place in the early spring, after their brumation period. Males might brighten their colors and bob their heads to attract a female. However, how the female reacts will determine whether he can successfully mate with her.
Introduction to Chameleon Mating Behaviour
Chameleons are incredible animals that are notorious for their color-changing abilities. But there is so much more to them than this. One of the most interesting things about these fascinating lizards is how they mate and the behaviors that you might notice.
Whether you are observing them in captivity or are fortunate enough to encounter a mating pair in the wild which would be an incredibly rare treat, you can be sure that this ritual stays with you forever. Furthermore, if you are planning to breed your pet chameleons, it can be useful to understand what behaviors to look out for.
In this article, we are going to explore the chameleon mating behaviors in a little more depth.
When Do Chameleons Become Sexually Mature?
Sexual maturity occurs at around the age of 12 months in chameleons. However, in much the same way the puberty can happen at different times in humans, each chameleon is unique. Some chameleons have been known to reach sexual maturity by nine months whereas others may not become sexually mature until 15 months.
If you are planning to breed your pets, you must not force this and even if your chameleon matures early, breeding may not be a wise idea. This is particularly true of the females since being gravid or laying eggs at an early age could cause her harm. This is because her body will not be fully grown and the stress of this process could be too much.
Mating In The Spring
Through the cold winter months, chameleons in the wild go through a process known as brumation. This is a state of lowered movement, eating and you will notice that the chameleon appears to be dormant. While they can do this in captivity, it is not as common as it is in the wild.
However, when the chameleon comes out of this brumation period as the weather begins to warm up, they are ready to mate. This normally occurs in March or April in the wild.
When you are breeding chameleons in captivity, it is important to try to replicate the wild as closely as possible and this includes mating. If you attempt to breed your chameleons when they are not ready, this can cause them intense levels of stress and of course, this is not good for their health. It can be tempting to rush into mating if you obtain a pair in late summer, but for the best results, you will need to be patient.
What Signs Do Chameleons Give When Ready To Mate?
One of the most obvious signs that your male chameleon is ready to mate is that his colors will become much brighter. A lot of pet owners are concerned that this will be too subtle a change and that they will not notice it. However, rest assured that the colors will intensity a lot and this will be unmistakable.
Keeping two chameleons in the same enclosure is not a good idea; they are extremely territorial animals and fights could easily break out. This is even true with mating pairs. In the wild, chameleons are solitary animals, and even after mating prefers to be on their own.
Male chameleons certainly know how to attract a mate and will perform some of their best tricks to catch the attention of a female. In the main, the males will bob their heads and puff up their throats as a display for their potential partner.
However, in the wild, there may be problems with competing males and the females certainly will be spoiled for choice. In the event that two males try to mate with one female, they will, much like many other animals, fight it out. Some species of chameleons have horns and the males will use these in their battle to outdo the other potential suitor. Males don’t tend to fight to the death as one will normally submit to defeat, however, with these horned species, there certainly is the potential for injuries to occur.
But even after the fight is over, this does not mean that the winner will be successful in getting the female to mate with him. The male will rapidly approach the female, she normally reacts in one of two ways.
Females are typically much less bright than males at the best of times so while she will display brighter colors, this can be a little more subtle than the males. But if you get to know your pet well enough, you will soon learn how her colors change when she is ready for mating.
Whether the animals are in the wild, or you have placed a female into the male’s enclosure for breeding, the behaviors will be similar.
As we have mentioned, the male will approach the female, and she will either accept or reject his advances. If she is willing to mate she will submit to him although the mating may not take place immediately. The pair may move slowly around one another for a while beforehand.
Alternatively, it is possible that the female is not ready to mate and she will either try to run away from the male or she will stand her ground. In this case, she might open her mouth and hiss at the male as a warning to stop approaching her. However, if he is particularly insistent or she is feeling aggressive, she may lash out at him and bite.
If you are breeding chameleons in captivity, it is vital that you do not allow this behavior to occur. The moment that you notice the female refusing to engage with the male’s advances, you should remove her from the situation. If you do not and she bites, it is not uncommon for bites like this to become life-threatening.
The Mating Process
If the courting period has been successful, the pair will begin to mate. This process can take anywhere between a few minutes and half an hour.
The male will mount the female and insert one of his two hemipenes into her. Once the female is finished with the mating, her colors will return to a brown and in some cases, she may push the male away. It is wise to remove her at this point.
Once the pair has finished mating, provided the eggs have been fertilized successfully, the female will go through a gestation period that lasts roughly 15 days. However, in some cases, this can last for a slightly shorter time, with ten days being perfectly normal.
When she is ready to lay her eggs, she will descend from the trees, or in captivity, down to the floor of her enclosure. It is important that when breeding chameleons, you provide your female with somewhere safe to lay her eggs. Since chameleons bury their eggs at a depth of between three and eight inches, the nesting container must have a good level of the soft substrate.
Once the female lays her eggs, that is her role complete; she will cover them over and not return to check on them. This behavior is common in a lot of reptiles.
The eggs usually take between six and nine months to hatch. If you are breeding chameleons in captivity, it is important to make sure that they are well incubated during this period. Leaving them in the substrate is a viable option.
There is no denying that the chameleon is an amazing creature and their behaviors are truly fascinating to watch. One of the most natural and widely observed behaviors in these animals is their mating ritual.
These lizards will turn a bright color, especially the males and they are willing to fight for the right to breed, but ultimately, it is the female who has the final say.
Knowing these behaviors is not only interesting but also imperative if you are planning to breed chameleons in captivity.
To have a look at our Chameleon Care Guide Click on the image below,