When an animal is pregnant, their needs tend to change and a chameleon is no different. During a chameleon pregnancy, she will need special attention and care. This means setting up the right environment for birth, feeding them a well-balanced diet, and preventing stress.
Chameleon Pregnancy Length
After mating, the female will carry the eggs around with her for about 20 to 30 days. When she is carrying the eggs, she is also known as a gravid chameleon.
Depending on the species, some will carry eggs longer. The majority of chameleon species will lay eggs 20 to 30 days mating.
One species of chameleons that do not lay eggs is the Jackson’s chameleon. These species of chameleon will give live birth instead. She will carry about 8 to 30 babies with her for about 190 days or a little over 6 months.
Caring For a Gestating Female Chameleon
A gestating female chameleon will need a lot of care. As a pet owner, you need to ensure the best possible conditions for them. Below are a few things you should take into consideration.
Proper Place to Lay Eggs
This will be one of the times that a chameleon will come down from the tree. A chameleon that is pregnant will lay her eggs in the ground. For this reason, a lot of breeders and vets recommend that the chameleon be removed and placed in a bucket that is filled with soil. The soil should be up to 1 foot deep and 9 inches wide.
On the other hand, others prefer to keep the chameleon in their enclosure and put a bucket or a laying box filled with soil in there. Either way is fine, just as long as the chameleon has a place to lay its eggs.
The soil should be moist from top to bottom. This will allow the female chameleon to easily dig a tunnel to its egg-laying site. Some chameleons that are about to lay eggs are shy. They will feel more comfortable when the environment is like their natural habitat. Therefore, you should place plants in the bucket or laying box.
The chameleon will take a couple of days to lay their eggs. During this time, it’s best to stay away from her as to not stress her out. The female chameleon will appear thin and dehydrated, again, do not bother her.
Once she’s done laying eggs, she will cover the eggs with soils and sit on top of them. At this time, you should take her back to her main enclosure.
The bucket or laying box should be covered with a screen mesh and places in a warm and dark corner of the house. Try to keep it out of reach of other pets and children you may have in the house. In a couple of weeks or a year, depending on the species, baby chameleons will start emerging from their shells.
A pregnant chameleon will need a lot of food during her pregnancy. While crickets are the common food that chameleons feed on, they will need a variety of other food as well. Unlike a regular chameleon, a pregnant chameleon needs a lot of food that is nutritious to maintain good health for themselves and their babies.
Some of the varieties that may be added to the chameleon’s diet are cockroaches, hornworms, houseflies, grubs, silkworms, and super worms. Each insect has its nutritional content. Super worms are high in protein, while hornworms are high calcium content. By feeding a variety of insects, your chameleon will get all of their needed nutrition.
However, when choosing these insects, make sure that it has not been contaminated with pesticides and other chemicals. These are harmful to your pet chameleon, especially pregnant ones. If they are feed insects contaminated with pesticides, it could be passed down to chameleon’s babies. This could lead to birth defects and other health problems when the baby chameleon is born.
During the winter months, insects may become scarce and hard to find. If this happens, you’ll need to use vitamin supplements to help the chameleon get the required supplements it needs. For this, you may dust the insects with vitamin supplements before feeding them.
Most breeders recommend these three supplements to use for pregnant chameleons:
Rep-Calcium without vitamin D3 and Rep-Cal Herptivite should be given to them on a daily basis. Rep-Cal Calcium with vitamin D3 should only be given to them once a month. These three supplements will help maintain the health of your pregnant chameleon and for the chameleon’s babies as well.
Illnesses That Affect Pregnant Chameleons
When the female chameleon is pregnant, she is being under a lot of stress. During pregnancy, the stress is usually for the entire pregnancy. When a chameleon is stressed, their immune system is weakened and they are easily prone to diseases.
For that reason, it’s a good reason to monitor the chameleon closely during pregnancy. Below are a few medical conditions that usually affect a pregnant female chameleon.
Egg binding is a condition where the female chameleon is carrying eggs with her, but unable to lay them. This can become a serious illness as the eggs that’s not able to be laid will start to absorb all the nutrients that she is supposed to use for her own growth.
Egg binding can be caused by many things, some directly and others indirectly. If the female chameleon is weak or ill can cause egg binding. An anatomical defect or a large malformed egg can also cause egg binding.
Other factors that are indirect, can be from overly high temperature in the enclosure. The female will usually be dehydrated and it will usually lead to egg binding.
Egg binding is something that you need to know because a female chameleon is at risk for health issues from this. Also, this is a major cause of death in female chameleons as well. When she is egg bound, the eggs will press down on her lungs and she will be unable to breathe properly.
To prevent that the female chameleon does not become egg bound, it’s important to provide her with all the necessities during her pregnancy. One of the most important things is to provide her a container of sand in the enclosure for her to lay eggs in.
Another thing you can do is provide her foods that are rich in nutrients. During pregnancy, she will need a lot of energy and the only place she can get them from is food.
When the female chameleon becomes gravid, food intake and water intake will be reduced. When this happens, it will lead to the chameleon becoming hydrated. Dehydration is dangerous for a chameleon, especially for pregnant chameleon.
A pregnant chameleon that is dehydrated will exhibit some signs. Some of these are sunken eyes, the skin looks dull, and there is yellow urate. These signs may tell she is dehydrated.
During pregnancy, dehydration is one of the major causes of egg binding. Therefore, you’ll need to prevent dehydration from happening in the first place. It’s simple to keep the chameleon hydrated. One of them is just to mist the chameleon’s enclosure properly. Misting should be done every few hours to keep the enclosure moist. During misting, monitor her closely to see if she’s drinking water or not.
If you have been misting and the female chameleon is still not drinking water, it’s best to take her to the vet to find out why.
During pregnancy, the female chameleon will be stressed and weak. Objects in the enclosure could easily injure her. Injuries during pregnancy could cause lead to health issues for both her and the chameleon’s babies inside her.
In the enclosure, make sure all the light fixtures, plants, and any other movable objects are firmly in place. Heating lamps should be located at a distance so that she does not sustain lamp burns.
Pregnant Chameleon Signs
When a chameleon is pregnant, there are signs that will tell you that. By knowing what the signs are, you can prepare for her pregnancy.
During pregnancy, one of the signs is digging and scratching the ground. A chameleon will usually do this as she is preparing to lay eggs in the ground.
To help her get ready for egg-laying, you’ll need to use a bin filled with soil or sand in it. The soil or sand should be at least a foot deep. This is so she can dig a tunnel to lay the eggs. The bin can be placed on the floor of the chameleon’s enclosure.
The female chameleon will start digging around for the right spot to lay her eggs. Once she finds the spot, she will dig a tunnel in the ground and start laying eggs in it.
Increased Weight Gain
Another sign that a chameleon is pregnant is a dramatic change in weight. Pregnant chameleon will tend to eat more than usual. Therefore, she’ll gain weight. Be sure to monitor the weight gain carefully. If the female chameleon is gaining weight too quickly, it could lead to health issues for the chameleon itself and also for the babies growing inside her.
If you noticed that the chameleon is always hungry or eating a lot than usual, it’s a sign showing she might be pregnant. During pregnancy, always make sure she is getting plenty of food to eat. In addition, make sure to feed her a variety of food as well. While crickets are the staple food for chameleons, it doesn’t have all the nutrition that a pregnant chameleon require.
Aggression To Male Chameleons
Aggression towards the male chameleons is another sign she may be pregnant. When a female chameleon is pregnant, she will like to be alone. During this time, it’s best to keep her away from other chameleons, especially male chameleons.
A chameleon in the wild and in captivity is different. In their natural habitat, when they are pregnant, there is an abundance of food and other resources around them. A pregnant chameleon in captivity, they will need your help to get food and other resources. For that reason, during a chameleon pregnancy, she will need a lot of attention and care.