How Do Chameleons Reproduce

Do you want to breed chameleons?

Are you just curious about how these animals reproduce?

If you are interested in chameleon reproduction or are new to chameleons as pets, you might ask?

How do chameleons reproduce?

Chameleons have two types of reproduction, depending on the species. Most commonly, chameleons are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs, but there are some ovoviviparous in which the embryos develop inside eggs, which remain inside the mother until hatching occurs.

For more information on chameleon reproduction, continue reading this article.

how do chameleons reproduce

Chameleon Reproduction

Chameleons reproduce differently than many other reptiles, as some species will have live births.

Most species of chameleons after mating do lay eggs.

Here we will break down the differences between oviparous (egg-laying) and ovoviviparous (live-birth) reproduction.


Oviparous Reproduction

The first type of reproduction we discuss is the most common in chameleons.

Oviparous species you might come across include veiled chameleons and panther chameleons.

Female oviparous species of chameleons will lay eggs a short time after mating.

The gestation period for chameleons will vary by species. Still, with panther chameleons, the female will stop eating 10 to 15 days after mating, which indicates she is nearly ready to lay her eggs.

Chameleons can lay any number of eggs depending on the species.

The smallest chameleons have been known to lay one or two eggs at a time, but veiled chameleons can lay clutches of 20 to 200 eggs.

Various species will hatch at different lengths of time, but the average time for the eggs to hatch is between four and 12 months.

There are some species like the Parson’s chameleon said to have eggs taking up to 24 months or more to hatch.


Setting Up A Laying Bin

A laying bin is crucial for your female chameleon, as she naturally wants to dig a tunnel and lay her eggs.

If she cannot lay the eggs, you could risk losing your pet due to her retaining the eggs.

Ten to 15 days after your chameleons have mated, the female will stop eating.

Once she starts roaming her enclosure, you will need to place her in a laying bin because she is looking for a place to dig.

Use a five-gallon bucket or a rubber tub measuring at least 10″ inches deep for your chameleon’s laying bin.

This must be filled with soil moist enough to maintain a tunnel.

Your female chameleon will begin to dig a tunnel, then lay her eggs and bury them, filling the hole.

Once this happens, return her to the cage and carefully dig up the eggs and store them in a cool dark location such as a closet for several months.

The lid of the container should have some air holes for some circulation, and vermiculite or perlite should be used as incubation media.


Do Female Chameleons Lay Eggs Without Mating?

Female chameleons, who are of the egg-laying variety, will still lay eggs even if a male is not present in their environment.

They will even lay eggs without mating, producing unfertilized eggs.

Think of it like a chicken who lays unfertilized eggs.

Once your female chameleon reaches sexual maturity, it could start to produce eggs with or without a male present.

You won’t have any baby chameleons running around from these eggs, but it is still important to give your female chameleon space where she can dig and deposit her eggs.


Ovoviviparous Reproduction

This second type of reproduction, called ovoviviparous reproduction, is much less common in reptiles and chameleons.

Jackson’s chameleon, a species found in the wild or captivity, reproduces in this way.

With ovoviviparous reproduction, the animal will have a live birth after a gestational period of several months.

Jackson’s chameleons have a gestational period of approximately five to six months.

With ovoviviparous reproduction, embryos develop in an egg inside the mother, but without the hard shell.

The embryos will get their nutrition and everything they need from an attached yolk sac, rather than having a placental connection to get their nourishment like humans.

With Jackson’s chameleons, the babies will be born covered in a sticky membrane of its yolk sac.

A female can have up to 30 live babies born in one gestation period. 

The hatchlings will begin eating very soon after birth but will require regular misting to keep them from dehydrating and also to promote their eating.


Mating Ritual

Before eggs or live births, the male and female chameleons have to mate, and it all starts with a ritual.

When you first put the male and female in the same enclosure, the male is likely to get a bit aggressive because he doesn’t know a female from a male.

Chameleons are territorial, and the male chameleon will attempt to display his dominance over another with color changes and other signifiers.

Once he realizes there’s a female in his tank, the male chameleons will rock its head back and forth in bursts to show the female he is ready to mate.

In addition to the head rocking, his coloration will change, becoming very bright.

If the female is interested in mating with the male, she will turn a pink color and allow his advances.

There are instances where she will not be willing to proceed with the mating ritual.

The female chameleon will turn black, making hissing noises, gape, and even make attempts to bite the advancing male.

Breeding can take several hours, and owners need to check in as sometimes the male can become aggressive and hurt the female.

After the mating has occurred, remove the female from the enclosure as being around the male can cause stress.


Breeding Age For Male And Female Chameleons

Like so many other things, the breeding age of chameleons is dependent on the species of the animal.

In veiled chameleons, females reach sexual maturity as early as four months old, but for the safety of the animal, it is best to wait to breed her until she is about a year old.

With panther chameleons, females reach sexual maturity at around eight months old, but again, waiting until she reaches a year old is better for her health.

Early breeding for females can result in difficulty laying her eggs and early death.

Male panther chameleons can begin breeding at approximately eight months old.

Again, the age you begin breeding your chameleon will vary based on the species, and it is important to research information specific to your animal.


Hatchling Care

Once you have hatchlings, it is important to know how to care for them properly.

While it is similar to caring for adult chameleons, there are some subtle differences.

To start, put up to 15 panther chameleon hatchlings together in one enclosure measuring 15″ inches long by 15″ inches wide and 20″ inches tall until they are about three to four months old.

Veiled chameleon hatchlings are housed together in groups of up to 35.

Smaller numbers of hatchlings per cage will give them better access to food and other resources, ensuring they are not constantly fighting or bullying each other for those things.

Once the hatchlings get older, you will need to separate them into larger individual enclosures.

Move them again, to a full-size adult tank, as they become older and reach maturity.


Should I Be Breeding My Chameleons?

If you are thinking of breeding your chameleons, there are some pros and cons to consider before starting the process.

Breeding your reptiles will involve extra work and responsibility for you, as your female chameleon will require extra care and proper nutrition before and after mating to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Are you wanting to make selling chameleons a side hustle, or do you just love chameleons and want more of this increasingly popular pet in your home?

If you just want to add more chameleons into your home, you might be better off buying one at a time to make sure you’re able to handle the added responsibility.

Also, the equipment needed for additional animals is costly, and by slowly adding more chameleons means the money spent on proper housing and care is a gradual increase.

If breeding for money is your motivation, yes, it’s possible to make money this way, but this doesn’t always go according to plan.

As a breeder, you will have a wealth of knowledge to give, but sometimes the market is not as large for chameleons.

Be sure this is something you’re able to put time and care into before jumping in all the way.


Conclusion

Chameleon reproduction is important to understand for owners and especially for anyone looking to breed these animals.

Depending on the species, your chameleon will either produce eggs or have a gestational period where the embryos are developing inside the mother.

After reading this article, we hope you have a better understanding of how chameleons reproduce and why it is important to know about their reproduction.