Male vs. Female Chameleons – Which Is Right for You?
If you’re thinking of entering the world of chameleon keeping, you may have heard advice to start out by getting a male. Typically, male chameleons are easier to care for than females because they don’t lay eggs, which eliminates the need to worry about the specific health requirements associated with taking good care of a female chameleon.
However, don’t let the unique needs of a female chameleon intimidate you. If you do your homework and arm yourself with enough knowledge, you can succeed with keeping either gender healthy and happy. Here are some of the key differences to be aware of between male and female chameleons.
Males Are More Colorful
Their vibrant color is one of the factors that probably made you interested in chameleons in the first place. However, chameleons take some time to mature into their coloration. Baby chameleons of both genders look pretty drab for the first several months of their lives. If you don’t know how to sex a chameleon, you may be disappointed when your chameleon never develops those jewel-like colors you were hoping for.
However, just because female chameleons aren’t as brightly colored doesn’t mean they’re boring. Though it’s true their coloration isn’t as showy as males, their more muted colors are still very attractive. In addition, when receptive to mating, their colors will become much more vibrant, and when they are carrying a clutch of eggs, they will display intense coloration as well.
Unique among chameleon species, female carpet chameleons tend to display more elaborate coloration than the males, so if you have your heart set on adopting a female chameleon, but love the bright colors of males, a carpet chameleon may be your best compromise.
Females Are Smaller
Depending on the species, male chameleons may be up to double the size of females. If space issues are a concern for you – such as if you live in an apartment – you may want to opt for a female chameleon, since they will require a slightly smaller cage size.
Males and Females May Have Personality Differences
If you talk to someone who has successfully kept chameleons of both genders, you may have heard female chameleons make better pets because they’re less aggressive than males. However, it’s important to keep in mind personality can vary widely between individual pets. Though it’s true female chameleons are not as territorial as males, there’s no guarantee you’ll end up with a docile, sweet female.
Only Females Lay Eggs
Obviously, if you get a male chameleon, you won’t have to worry about him laying eggs. But what you may not know is that females can lay eggs even if a male isn’t around. Even though the eggs are not fertilized, and therefore will not hatch, female chameleons will still lay clutches of eggs starting as young as six months old, and will continue to do so every few months for the rest of their lives.
Normally, female chameleons can lay eggs without complications, but there are some health risks that accompany the egg-laying process. However, by providing a female with a suitable place to lay her eggs, you’ll be able to avoid many of these issues. For example, a dangerous condition known as egg binding, in which the female retains the eggs inside her body, is easy to avoid if you provide a container of sand or soil to deposit her clutch in.
Additionally, by keeping females slightly cooler (80 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit) than males, and holding them to a strict diet, you will be able to slow their metabolisms to the point where they either won’t lay eggs at all, or lay much fewer eggs in each clutch – either way, you will help your female live longer.
Either a male or female chameleon will make a lovely, fascinating and rewarding pet if you have the dedication required to keep them healthy. Your choice depends on which gender fits your lifestyle better.