Chameleons enter into their breeding season in the early spring and when breeding in captivity, this is the ideal time to begin the process. However, there are other things that you will need to think about when breeding these incredible lizards. Timing is key and it is important to keep an eye on the female since when she starts pacing, you will need to move her to a nesting box.
Introduction to How To Breed Chameleons In Captivity
If you have been taking care of chameleons, you will appreciate how amazing these animals are. Many pet owners become so enamored with their pets that they simply cannot live without experiencing every part of the chameleon‘s life. For this reason, a lot of owners turn to breed.
But there is much more to breeding these beautiful reptiles than just putting a male and female into an enclosure and hoping for the best. It is important to learn about the breeding process so that you can make sure that both of your chameleons are happy and that the babies are happy and healthy.
In this article, we will be looking at everything you need to know to successfully breed chameleons, even if it is your first time.
Preparing To Breed
Before any mating can actually take place, you need to make sure that everything is set up and ready. As we mentioned, there is much more to this process than simply housing the chameleons together. In fact, it is vital not to house the pair with one another until they are ready to mate. If you do, there is a risk of fighting and one of the animals could become injured.
It is a good idea to purchase your chameleons as a pair, although if the idea of breeding has dawned on you after owning a single chameleon, this obviously won’t be possible.
One of the most important things to consider is the age and size of the chameleons. Whilst it can be tempting to try and mate them from the off, if the female is not fully grown, it could be potentially dangerous for her to lay eggs. For this reason, it is best to be patient and wait to breed your chameleons.
On top of having your animals ready to breed, you will need to make sure that you have all of the correct equipment. It is important to remember that none of these things are vital to the breeding process but you will find that they make your life and those of the chameleons that much easier.
With that in mind, you might think about gathering the following things before breeding begins:
- A nesting box for the female to lay her eggs. You can make one of these yourself but there are also plenty of excellent products that come prepared and ready for you to use.
- In the nesting box, you will need a soft substrate such as soil or sand. This is important because chameleons will lay their eggs in this substrate. You must make sure that the substrate is non-toxic and choosing something softer will make it easier for mum to lay in.
- An incubator can be used to keep the eggs safe and warm once they have been laid. Chameleon eggs can take up to nine months to hatch so you will need to make sure they are well taken care of during this time. An incubator is the best way to do this, although, if you prefer, you can leave them in the soil provided that the humidity and temperature are controlled.
Introducing The Pair
It is important to try to mate your chameleons when they would naturally do so in the wild as forcing this at other times of the year can cause them to become stressed. These animals will typically mate in early spring, around March or April so at this time, you can lookout for signs that they are ready to mate. The most obvious sign is that the chameleon’s colors will become much brighter, particularly in males.
You can begin by introducing the female into the male’s enclosure, although you can do this the other way round if you prefer. However, many breeders prefer putting the female into the male’s cage as this will cause him to become territorial and more likely to breed with her.
At this point, you must observe your chameleons closely. It won’t take long before you can tell if the pair are ready and happy to breed. Initially, the male will likely approach the female who will respond accordingly in one of two ways:
- If she is happy to breed, she will pay very little attention to the male and move slowly around the enclosure. When the male advances, she won’t put up a fight and will allow him to mate with her.
- Alternatively, if the female is not ready, she will hiss at the male with her mouth open or will try to escape him as he moves towards her. In this case, it is vital that you take her back out of the enclosure and try another time.
Mating usually takes no longer than 30 minutes, so if the female has been receptive, you can remove her after this time. However, it is possible to leave the pair for up to 24 hours to make sure that they have bred.
Gestation refers to the period of time that the female has her fertilized eggs in her body. In chameleons, this tends to last for around 30 days, but this can vary from animal to animal. There have been reports of females going double this amount of time before laying their clutch.
While you may restrict and control your pet’s diet in the day to day, when she is gravid, it is imperative that you allow her to eat when she wants. This is important for keeping up her energy levels which can easily deplete during this time. It can be useful to increase the number of times you feed her as well as the amount at each feed. If she doesn’t eat it, you can remove it.
It is also a good idea to give her food an extra dusting of calcium powder as this is something she will be using a lot of when making the shells.
Despite gestation lasting roughly thirty days, it can feel overwhelming trying to determine when your chameleon is ready to lay her eggs. The good news is that this isn’t difficult to tell. Your chameleon will come down to the floor of her enclosure rather than remaining in the branches and this is a surefire sign that she is ready to lay and be moved into the nesting box.
Laying And Incubation
Once your chameleon is in the nesting box, you will need to allow her the time to lay all of her eggs. Females like a lot of privacy when laying their eggs so it is important not to keep bothering them. Some owners will install a small camera so that they can keep an eye on her and know when she has finished laying. You might find that even if you put her into the nesting box during the day, she doesn’t lay her eggs until the evening.
When you are sure that she has laid all of her eggs, you can return her to her normal enclosure and begin searching for the eggs to place them in the incubator. But of course, if you are planning to allow the eggs to remain in the nesting box, you won’t need to do this.
One of the most vital things about this part is to be gentle; you do not want to damage the eggs. it is most common for the female to bury her eggs between 3 and 8 inches so be prepared to dig deeply. It is also crucial that you do not tip the eggs upside down; place them into the incubator the same way up that you found them.
Whilst the eggs are in the incubator, you will need to make sure of a few things:
- That there is enough moisture; chameleon eggs absorb water over the course of time and this causes them to grow.
- Keep the temperature stable. In the main anywhere between 25-26ºc will be sufficient.
- The humidity level also needs to be stable at around 75%
Now you must wait for the eggs to hatch. It is important to check on the eggs every day to make sure that none have gone bad and when it gets closer to the time, to check on their hatching progress. Just before the eggs begin to hatch, small droplets of water will form on the outside and this will indicate that you will be the proud parent of baby chameleons in around 24 hours.
Anyone with a passion for chameleons might be drawn to the idea of breeding their pets and this is a perfectly viable idea but should be done with care.
You must ensure that you breed the pair at the correct time of year as well as making sure that the female has a good environment to lay her eggs.