If you have a pet chameleon that is ready to breed, you may be super excited about the arrival of a clutch of baby cham eggs.
However, there is a lot of concern with breeders about the mother dying shortly after laying her eggs. This surely can’t be true; can it?
Well, there is some truth to this and there are lots of reports of mother chameleons passing away once they have given birth. But this isn’t always the case and there are things you can do to ensure that your female chameleon remains in excellent health after the arrival of her young.
One of the main causes of death in breeding females is that they become egg bound.
Other problems may be related to a reproductive issue or poor care.
How Do Chameleons Reproduce?
There are two ways that chameleons can give birth; most will lay a clutch of eggs but there are some species that give birth to live young.
The most obvious example of this is the Jackson’s chameleon which also happens to be one of the most popular species to be kept in captivity.
Most chameleons are ready to breed by the age of one although this can vary slightly from species to species.
The number of eggs laid in each clutch will also vary with some larger chameleons laying as many as 200 eggs.
At the other end of the scale, some smaller species may only lay between two and four eggs at a time.
Around 10 to 15 days after mating, the female chameleon will stop eating and begin preparing for the birth.
It is vital that, at this time, her diet is increased to protect her immune system and give her an energy boost.
Reasons That Female Chameleons Die During Or After Birth
Female chameleons, much like other reptiles, are at risk of becoming egg-bound. This is where the mother either refuses to lay her eggs or simply cannot lay them.
The most common reason for this is that the female doesn’t feel as though she has a safe or comfortable enough environment to lay her eggs.
The problem is that, if the eggs remain inside her body, it will likely kill her.
To prevent death and encourage the mother to lay her eggs, you will need to give her enough substrate to bury her eggs.
Chameleons like to dig a tunnel for laying eggs since these animals don’t typically take care of them once they are laid.
For this reason, she will need at least 6 inches of substrate; more if possible.
In addition, you should ensure that the temperature of the enclosure is kept consistent and that the humidity level is stable.
Your female chameleon will also benefit from privacy as these animals tend to become stressed easily and this can affect her ability to lay the eggs.
Aside from not having the correct environment for laying her eggs, the problem could be related to a lack of calcium.
This means that the muscles become weak and the animal is unable to push the eggs out. In this situation, it is vital that you have your chameleon seen by an exotics vet who will be able to offer a calcium shot that should induce laying.
There is also a risk of death if the chameleon has been bred at too young of an age. While some chams will reach sexual maturity a little before one year, it is always best to wait to breed your female until she is at least one year old.
Her body may not be strong or well developed enough prior to this to handle the stress of giving birth and, as a result, she may die.
Another issue that can affect female chameleons during the reproductive cycle is a condition known as coelomitis. This is where the ovary ruptures and the internal yoke spreads around the body.
This condition is almost always fatal and affects a variety of reptiles including chameleons and iguanas.
In the early stages of the condition, it is possible to perform surgery but unfortunately, it often goes unnoticed until it is too late. In which case, the condition is too far gone and even surgery won’t be of much use.
However, by ensuring that your chameleon receives excellent care, a healthy diet and a good environment, you give her a better chance at remaining in greater overall health, including in a reproductive capacity.
Chameleons That Always Die After Laying Eggs
According to one scientist at the University of Oklahoma, there is one species of chameleon that always dies after giving birth; he claims that this is without exception.
After studying more than 400 furcifer labordi, the world’s smallest chameleon, the scientist noticed that the reproduction cycle was a rather astonishing one.
Native to Madagascar, these tiny chameleons that grow no more than between 7 and 9 centimetres spend up to two thirds of their life inside the egg.
When they hatch, they grow very rapidly and are ready to mate at the age of just seven weeks. At this point, they will mate and the females will lay their eggs, usually a clutch of around 12.
The chameleons then begin to lose a lot of their strength and suddenly die; seemingly for no reason. But after detailed observation, this appears to be a recurring pattern and not one that is typically seen in lizards.
Fortunately, this particular species of chameleon isn’t usually kept in captivity so you have no fear that this will happen to your pet.
The most common chameleon species kept as pets are the veiled chameleon, the Jackson chameleon and the panther chameleon.
There is always a risk associated with breeding animals, that’s just nature. However, many people are of the belief that female chameleons die after giving birth.
This isn’t normal, apart from one Madagascan species that always passes away once it has laid its eggs. In most cases, a female dying shortly after or during birth is related to a medical condition.
By providing your chameleon with a healthy lifestyle and the right conditions, you give her the best chance of reproducing safely.