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Do Chameleons Lay Eggs? How Many?

chameleon hiding behind the leaves

Most chameleons lay eggs to reproduce. However, there are a few expectations to this rule. For instance, a female Jackson’s chameleon carries her young inside her body. However, she still has eggs — they’re not live babies. Once the eggs hatch, she gives birth to them. It’s not exactly how mammals do it, but it isn’t like most reptiles either.

Most chameleons do lay eggs. The number of eggs that they lay varies considerably by species. Some lay only two, while others lay as many as 200.

Typically, eggs are laid every 3–6 months, depending on the species. Chameleons vary quite a bit. Different species will reproduce slightly differently. Some produce rapidly and easily, while others take a bit longer.

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Do Chameleons Lay Unfertilized Eggs?

Yes, chameleons can lay eggs whether they are fertilized or not. Each species does this according to its own schedule. Whether mating has occurred or not, eggs will be laid.

Chameleons have a cycle of egg development. If the chameleon finds a suitable male during this time, the eggs will be fertilized. If not, then the eggs are laid, anyway — they just won’t develop into baby chameleons.

There is only a short period for fertilization to take place. Otherwise, the eggs can’t be fertilized at all.

Most chameleons kept alone in captivity will lay unfertilized eggs unless you intentionally breed them. For this reason, you should expect your female chameleon to lay eggs, even if there is not a male with them.

When Do Chameleons Start Laying Eggs?

Each species has a slightly different way that they reproduce. Even within a species, some chameleons will reach sexual maturity faster than others, therefore, you should expect normal variance.

Some chameleons are ready to lay eggs at as young as 6 months whereas others may not lay eggs until they’re closer to 2 years.

Some breeders claim that you can adjust the feeding schedule and enclosure to discourage egg-laying. However, the success of this largely varies from chameleon to chameleon. It works for certain species and not for others.

close up of a chameleon
Image Credit: Schwoaze, Pixabay

How Often Do Chameleons Lay Eggs?

A chameleon’s reproduction cycle isn’t as straightforward as you might imagine. Many factors go into how often eggs are laid. For instance, chameleons need to be well-hydrated and well-fed to lay eggs. The temperature and other environmental factors are also crucial.

Generally, the average chameleon will lay eggs about every 3–6 months.

Egg laying is quite taxing on a female chameleon. In the wild, it is in the animal’s best interest to have as many offspring as possible. However, in captivity, laying eggs is often useless and unnecessary at best. Unless you’re breeding chameleons, it is a good idea to try to space out the female’s egg-laying periods as much as possible.

You can’t control this completely, but you can do things like lower the temperature and feed them a little less, as this may discourage egg-laying. Of course, you don’t want to completely neglect your chameleon. It may prevent her from laying eggs, but she also isn’t likely to live long if you feed her less than every 3 days.

How To Tell That a Chameleon Is About to Lay Eggs

If you own a female chameleon, you should assume that they will lay eggs eventually. Exactly when this happens is hard to say. Some chameleons reach sexual maturity sooner than others. Your best bet is to simply watch your chameleon, though even then, it can be difficult to determine when the chameleon is going to lay a clutch of eggs.

When a female chameleon is about to lay eggs, she may spend more time on the floor. A loss of appetite is common. However, the lizard should continue to drink as normal. You may notice the female scratching at the ground, especially at the sides of the enclosure.

Some species change colors right before they lay eggs. For instance, veiled chameleons usually show vibrant coloration when they are carrying eggs.

Many chameleons get visibly fatter right before they lay eggs. Of course, your feeding schedule can also play a role in this. Chameleons need to remain a healthy weight, but weight gained due to eggs isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

You should start to recognize your female’s specific signs after a few clutches.

Whenever you notice any of these signs, it is time to help your chameleon lay her eggs. Caring for males and females is quite similar, except for these small differences. In captivity, the female must be provided with the right conditions, or she may not be able to lay her eggs properly.

How Can I Help My Chameleon Lay Eggs?

You should prepare the chameleon’s enclosure for egg laying as soon as you notice any signs that she might lay eggs.

In the wild, chameleons take care of this themselves. The female will often find a secluded spot of damp soil and dig a hole. The eggs will be laid in this hole and then reburied. Eventually, the hatchlings will crawl out of the moist soil.

However, in captivity, these conditions aren’t always available. You’ll need to recreate them to encourage your female to lay her eggs. Otherwise, she may become egg-bound, which requires veterinary attention.

Luckily, setting up the right conditions isn’t difficult to do. All you need is a decently large flower pot and safe soil for your chameleon. Fill the pot about three-quarters full. Next, moisten the soil enough for your chameleon to tunnel through it

You can test this by trying to dig a tunnel in it yourself using a spoon. If it collapses, then the soil is either too dry or too moist. Most chameleons are picky about the moisture level of the soil, so you must spend time on this step.

Once you’ve got it ready, place the pot in the cage and leave it alone. The chameleon will use it when she is ready. If she feels disturbed, she may abandon the pot and may become egg-bound. Therefore, consider giving her extra privacy over the next few days.new chameleon divider

Conclusion

Chameleons usually do lay eggs, though there are a few species that give birth to “live young.” The number of eggs varies considerably from species to species. Some only lay two eggs, while others lay as many as 200.

Generally, female chameleons in captivity will lay eggs as they would in the wild, whether the eggs are fertilized or not. For this reason, you’ll need to take a few extra steps in caring for your female chameleon. They must be provided with the correct laying area. Otherwise, they can become egg-bound, which is a serious problem.


Featured Image Credit: katja, Pixabay

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