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Females can make the best pet chameleons, but they do have specific health needs that differentiate them from males. They typically require a more complex diet, and have particular concerns around egg laying. This blog post provides some tips to keep your little lady happy and healthy.
You may be surprised to learn that female chameleons can and will lay eggs even without the presence of a male. Like chickens and many other birds, female chameleons of egg-laying species will start producing clutches of infertile eggs regularly throughout their lives, even without having a mate. Female chameleons become sexually mature around six months old.
In some cases, a female chameleon might be unable to lay the eggs by herself, retaining them inside her body. This is known as egg binding, and it’s a serious medical condition requiring veterinary intervention. That’s why it’s so important to know what to look for so you’ll be able to tell when your baby girl is ready to lay eggs.
Signs a Chameleon Might Be Ready to Lay Eggs
When getting ready to lay a clutch of eggs, a female will gain weight, even if you haven’t changed her food intake. She will also start to look rounded, and she’ll usually begin to get restless as she looks for a place to lay her eggs.
In addition, female chameleons change their colors to show they are receptive to mating, and will also display a different coloration when carrying a clutch of eggs.
Visual stimulation may be all it takes to begin the ovulation process in a female chameleon. If you have both a male and a female chameleon and you don’t intend to breed them, make sure you keep them separated and set up visual barriers so they can’t see each other.
A Healthy Female Has Fewer Risks When Laying Eggs
An unhealthy or malnourished female will have much more difficulty laying eggs because she’ll lack the ability to contract her uterus appropriately. Providing your female chameleon with a balanced diet that includes plenty of calcium and other vitamins and minerals is the key to helping her produce eggs safely and with less risk to her own health. It’s also important to include a UVB bulb in her habitat to help her absorb the calcium.
Provide your chameleon with adequate opportunities to exercise, as well. One way to do this is by forcing her to hunt for her food. A fit female with strong bones and well-developed muscles will be better equipped to lay eggs without problems.
Creating a Nesting Environment
When a female is ready to lay eggs and there is nothing to lay them in, she might retain them. As mentioned above, this is a serious and potentially life-threatening medical condition. The best practice is to provide your little girl with a nest at all times.
To create a laying bin, fill an opaque container at least 12″ deep with moistened sand or soil. In the wild, female chameleons dig tunnels to lay their eggs, so make sure the sand or soil is moist enough to retain the shape of a tunnel without collapsing, but not soaking wet. Some females will not feel comfortable with a laying bin containing only soil. Use a small (6” to 8”) potted pothos so your chameleon can lay her eggs around and under the roots of the plant.