Are you interested in increasing your chameleon family?
Do you want to know more about the breeding process for these reptiles?
If you have kept chameleons as pets, but you’re looking for a way to extend this hobby, then breeding chameleons is a fun way to get this done, and it’s not too difficult.
You do need to learn how to breed chameleons first.
To breed chameleons, you need to bring a male and female together during their breeding season, which is usually early spring after the cold period. After they mate, the female will begin pacing 10-15 days after. This is when you should move her to a nesting box for laying eggs, which will hatch 9-12 months later.
Read ahead for detailed instructions and items you may need.
What You’ll Need
In this section, you’ll find a list of suggested items you need to breed your chameleons.
Some are not mandatory, but all of them will make breeding chameleons easier.
Nesting Box – A nesting box is where the female chameleon will go to lay her eggs 10-15 days after mating.
It’s possible to buy nice ones (such as the one linked beforehand).
We recommend this one by Precision Pet because it has three chambers for multiple chameleons to lay their eggs.
Also, the addition of a handle makes it easier to move the box near a heater or where you need to get the eggs at the right temperature and humidity.
Failing this, you may make your own nesting box out of a medium-sized plastic container of your choice.
Soil/Sand – The other item you’ll need in a nesting box is the soil or sand for the female chameleon to create a small burrow into and lay her eggs.
Any soil or sand mixture may be used, but owners commonly use play sand (such as the Quikrete product linked above).
Play sand is designed to be free of all chemicals and any toxicity making it perfect for pets as well as the kids it was designed for.
Any soil or mixture of sand is used as long as it’s non-toxic.
Looser sand and soil is better because it makes it easier for the chameleon to burrow into.
Male and female chameleons at adulthood – This one may seem obvious, but you need a male and female chameleon, which are in adulthood.
Sexually maturity is reached by 12 months of age.
Some chameleons depending on species, and generally, variations will be mature by nine months, but if you wait for the 12-month mark, you’ll be good to go.
Incubator – Chameleon eggs are pretty tough (different than their adult counterparts who are more fragile).
- Digital controller with LCD display and LED heat indicator light
- Pulse proportional thermostat for stable temperature regulation
- Temperature control range from 59°F to 104°F (15°C to 40°C
While you don’t want to handle them if you have to, they will do fine in the soil they’re laid in.
But for the best results, you should result in a good egg incubator.
These (like the one linked beforehand) will help stabilize the temperature and humidity.
This gives a better chance for more eggs to be hatched to life in 9-12 months after they’re laid.
Thermometer – The temperature of the eggs need to be kept as stable as possible.
Part of this is keeping them warm, but you’ll need a good thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
Hygrometer – Hygrometers measure the relative humidity of the air.
This is especially important for eggs as dry air will cause damage to the outer membranes of the eggs.
Many hygrometers come in a thermometer/hygrometer combination, so you’ll be able to save a little money by choosing an option such as the one linked above.
Step By Step Instructions For How To Breed Chameleons
Follow these step by step instructions for how to breed chameleons.
If you skip a step, you may end up with a failure in the breeding process, so be sure to read carefully.
#1 Tell The Gender And Get Male And Female Chameleons
First, you need to make sure you have a male and female chameleon of the same species.
It is hard to tell males and females apart (and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart before they’re adults).
Here are general characteristics of males and females to help tell them apart.
- Look under the base of the tail for a hemipenal bulge in the males
- Notice the colors of the chameleon; males are usually more brightly colored
- When comparing adults of the same species, males tend to be larger than their female counterparts
- Research the specific sizes and features of the exact species
- Look for spurs on the back of the hind legs. These are male (only for certain species such as veiled chameleons).
- Larger horns or bumps on the head appear with males in many species
Note: This does differ slightly depending on exact species, but these guidelines will do well for all chameleons.
#2 Wait For Spring
The typical breeding season for chameleons is in early spring (March and April).
While it’s possible to artificially induce the breeding season, it’s harder on your pet’s physiology and shouldn’t be done lightly.
It’s better just to be patient and wait for springtime when you should do the next step.
#3 Lower Temperatures And Reduce Feeding
Your job in this step is to create an environment to simulate the winter weather of the chameleon’s natural habitat.
Lower the average basking spot and overall temp by 10° – 15° degrees Fahrenheit (-12° to -9° C).
Don’t lower the nighttime temperature.
This will cause the chameleon’s body to slow down.
During this time, you should also decrease the amount and frequency of feeding.
We recommend dropping down to 8-10 minutes of feeding time and dropping the frequency to once every three days instead of every other day.
Unlike some reptiles, the chameleons don’t go into brumation or hibernation.
They still need to be fed, and they’ll still move but just at a much slower pace.
Continue in this manner for 2-3 weeks and then gradually increase the temps and feedings back to normal.
What this does is convince the chameleon’s body winter has just happened, and now it’s time to breed.
#4 Watch For Breeding Colors
Not all chameleons will be ready for breeding, even with the previous steps done.
You need to watch for signs your pets are ready to mate.
This is easiest to see in male chameleons.
When they’re ready, their colors turn quite vivid and bright compared to their norm.
The exact colors will depend on the specific species of chameleon, but generally, the colors move towards the red-orange end of the color spectrum.
With females, it’s harder to tell.
They will similarly change their colors, but the degree to which they change is much less noticeable.
If you see any consistent color change in females, this may be their sign.
Otherwise, you may still try the next step even if a female hasn’t changed colors.
As long as the male is ready, it’s worth it to try the next step.
#5 Put Them Together
When you see the bright colors, it’s time to try mating them.
Place the male in the female cage and watch how they interact.
If the female is ready to mate, the male will show interest in her.
If she’s not, then the male will show no interest.
When there’s no interest on the part of the male, the female isn’t ready, so you may want to try with a different female or wait for a few days before trying again.
Even if the male is showing interest, in most chameleon species, it’s up to the female to decide if she wants to mate with him.
If she does, the male will mount her and insert one of two hemipenes to fertilize the eggs inside.
They mate multiple times.
Watch for when the female changes color abruptly to a darker shade of brown. This is the sign she is done with mating.
At this point, you remove the male chameleon and move on to the next step.
#6 Give 10-15 Days/Watch For Pacing
Wait for 10-15 days (depending on the species) while the eggs gestate inside the female.
Keep an eye on her behavior and watch for a specific type of behavior.
Chameleons are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time up in trees and foliage.
But when the female is ready to lay eggs, she will move to the ground and start pacing.
This is far outside her normal behavior, so you should notice this almost right away.
This is your cue to move to the next step.
If you allow this behavior to go on, the female chameleon may become egg bound.
Being egg bound means the eggs have grown too much inside the female.
It becomes harder for her to lay the eggs, and the eggs begin drawing too much nutrition from the female.
This may result in the death of your chameleon.
When you see pacing, move to the next step right away.
#7 Put Female In Nesting Box
Move the female into the nesting box (with moistened sand/soil) when she’s pacing.
She’ll then dig her way a little into the dirt and lay her eggs.
Learn more about how many babies chameleons have.
She’ll then provide a light covering of sand over the top of the eggs.
In the wild, this provides a decent layer of insulation and protection.
Once the eggs are buried, remove the female back to her cage.
Remember, chameleons don’t care for their young, so don’t worry about the female chameleon wanting to be near the eggs.
#8 Move Eggs To Incubator Or Watch Temperature And Humidity
If moving the eggs out of the incubator, take care to handle them gently and briefly.
Don’t turn the eggs over from how they’re facing as you put them in the incubator.
For those not using an incubator, you still want to use your hygrometer and thermometer to keep the heater and humidity in the right range.
The temperature should be kept at a stable 84° degrees Fahrenheit (30° C) and relative humidity of 50%.
This is easy with incubators; just follow the directions included for how to do this.
Without an incubator, you need to watch the heater and put a water dish near the eggs to keep the air in the right place.
#9 Wait A Year And Congrats!
Depending on the species, you may need to wait anywhere from 6 months to a whole year for the eggs to hatch.
Look for the chameleons to start breaking the shells and get your baby chameleon care staff ready.
Check out this video for a little more information about the breeding process.
Commonly Asked Questions
In this section, we answer questions we’re often asked when discussing breeding chameleons not answered above.
Can you make money breeding chameleons? – It’s possible to make money breeding chameleons.
How much money you make largely depends on how many you’re able to breed and your reputation as a breeder.
However, for someone just breeding a couple of chameleons once per year, you’re unlikely to make any money.
As with all jobs, it takes work and focus.
How do chameleons mate? – When male and female chameleons are ready to mate after the cooling period, they show off more vivid colors.
Then, when a female agrees to be mated with, the male mounts her and inserts one of his two hemipenes and fertilizes the eggs inside.
When can you breed veiled chameleons? – Breeding is done when both chameleons have reached adulthood (usually at 12 months).
After a cooling period in early spring, the chameleons will show they’re ready to mate.
How long does it take for chameleon eggs to hatch? – It can take up to a year for chameleon eggs to hatch.
Generally, they hatch around nine months, depending on the exact species.
Do chameleons die after laying eggs? – No, female chameleons need to lay eggs even if the eggs aren’t fertilized.
Egg bound chameleons (females who haven’t laid eggs) are at serious risk of dying due to the egg’s drawing nutrients from the female.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little about how to breed chameleons.
This is a fun addition to your pet ownership.
Make sure you have the items and know what you’re getting into before trying to breed chameleons.
But it’s a fun hobby to follow.
You may enjoy learning more about how chameleons give birth.