How to Incubate Chameleon Eggs

Are you wondering how to incubate chameleon eggs? One of the most rewarding experiences you can have as a reptile hobbyist is the successful hatching of an egg clutch. If you need help or suggestions as far as breeding goes, we have a very in depth blog article all about breeding Panther chameleons. But, for the purposes of this article, we’ll assume you’ve already got a clutch or two of your own incubating and we’ll focus specifically on what to do once your eggs are starting to hatch.

panther chameleon breeding pair
It all starts with this, right?! Here’s a pair of our Panther chameleons mating. The female will lay eggs about a month later.

At Backwater Reptiles, we incubate our eggs in shoebox sized plastic boxes. We don’t drill any holes or provide any special means of ventilation (they don’t get much air circulation in nature being buried 6-12 inches underground).

You can purchase these types of plastic boxes at any large department store. We fill the boxes with Perlite that is damp but certainly not dripping wet, label the boxes with the clutch date, close the lid, and store on a shelf at room temperature.

chameleon egg incubation
We make various notes on the incubation box, including date eggs were laid, species, quantity, and any miscellaneous notes. In this instance, we crossed a female Oustalet’s chameleon with a male Panther chameleon.

We’ve learned that the natural rise-and-fall of indoor temperatures provides the perfect environment for 90% of chameleons. We’ve hatched-out over 18 different species, and the only one that we don’t get strong hatch percentages with is the Carpet chameleon (Furcifer lateralis). We generally experience 100% hatch rates for Panther, Veiled, Sailfin, Flapneck, Oustelet’s, Pygmy, Verrucosus, Johnston’s, Two-horned, et al.

Many hobbyists purchase small pre-made incubators for their chameleon eggs, but we’ve found they are unstable and can experience sudden wide temperature fluctuations. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember this: quick temperature fluctuations are dangerous–very slow, gradual changes are far less so.

incubating chameleon eggs
This is one of our chameleon egg incubation stations. As you can see, we stack them so that they won’t be disturbed.

Chameleon Eggs: Part Deux

The amount of time it takes for the eggs to hatch varies based on the chameleon species, but for the purposes of this article, we’re using a clutch of Sailfin (Trioceros cristatus) babies that we had hatch this week (our fourth clutch). This particular clutch was laid on March 3rd, and took a little over six months to hatch.

Once you notice a single baby in the Perlite, it’s best to keep it in the box for a while as the eggs seem to “communicate” and incite the rest of the eggs to hatch. Some scientists believe there is some type of chemical communication involved.

You’ll notice that your hatchlings are very timid, weak, and clumsy. This is all normal! Just like human babies, hatchling chameleons of any species, not just the Sailfins pictured, need to learn how to use their limbs.

chameleon eggs hatching
Here’s the beginnings of a clutch of Sailfin chameleon (Trioceros cristatus) hatchlings. There are still a few eggs that will hatch, so the babies have not yet been moved to their new enclosure. We’ve learned that babies walking around inside the incubation chamber often somehow “trigger” or “message” the other eggs to know it’s time to hatch.

The babies will climb all over each other, use each other as stepping stools, and be generally awkward and bumbling for a few days. They might even curl up in little balls and appear for all intents and purposes to be dead, but it’s just the shock of the new world. Eventually they will snap out of it.

sailfin chameleon hatching
This sail fin hatchling doesn’t seem to realize its been born yet.

Once all of your eggs have hatched, it’s safe to move the babies to a separate home. We house our babies of a single species all together in small versions of adult cages. Keep the plant life and climbing materials in their cages minimal so that you don’t lose the little guys as they are very small! It’s also wise that your cage not be too tall as they stumble and fall often when they’re babies. Just like toddlers learning to walk, they have accidents and can fall off the plants/climbing materials and if you don’t want them to injure themselves, it’s best if they don’t have too far to fall.

 

They also need to be able to spot prey insects, and the more clutter you have in the enclosure, the more difficult it is for them. We usually affix a plastic plant to the top of the screen cage (near the UVB lighting–we use ReptiSun 5.0 bulbs), because the baby chameleons like soaking up the rays, and if you don’t provide a way for them to get off the top of the cage (by way of easily accessible leaves), sometimes they seem to be confused as to how to maneuver elsewhere.

baby chameleon hatching
This little guy is wary of the camera. 😛

We feed our hatchlings hydei fruit flies and pinhead crickets at birth once or twice a day. As they grow just a bit, you can increase the size of the prey items accordingly.

Baby chameleons need humidity, and plenty of it. Dessication (dehydrating) is their biggest enemy, and it’s an ever present threat. Mist, mist, and mist again. We have our’s set up with an automatic misting system, so that we don’t even have to think about it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article on how to incubate chameleon eggs! The Sailfin chameleon hatchlings from this post should be large enough to be shipped to new homes within about three months. They’re a wonderful species with a unique appearance, and they generally thrive in captivity, especially when you start with captive bred babies.

Baby Reptiles and Amphibians

This week it’s been all about the little things…or rather, the little critters! Right now we’ve got an abundance of baby and juvenile reptiles for sale at Backwater Reptiles. Check some of them out below!

We’ve currently got baby Sulcata tortoises for sale. These gentle tortoises are very hardy and make great outdoor reptiles if you live in the proper climate-zone. Check out our Sulcata Tortoise species profile published earlier this week for more information on how to care for Sulcatas and what to expect if you adopt one.

Backwater also had a baby Panther chameleon born this week. The little guy is currently smaller than a penny, although we’re sure he or she will grow quickly.

baby reptile (lizard)
Here’s a baby Panther chameleon we hatched at our facility.
baby chameleon lizard
This shows just how small baby Panther chameleons are upon hatching. We held up a penny for scale.

We’re currently running a special sale on Eastern Box Turtle hatchlings. These captive bred turtles are also currently small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but they grow quickly when fed properly and will reach up to five or six inches in length. They can grow to recognize their owners’ voices, so get yours when it’s young and teach it good habits from the get-go.

baby turtle
Here’s one of our captive hatched baby Box turtles.

Baby Newts

Get your final dose of teeny tiny cuteness from our baby Fire Bellied Newts for sale. These tiny amphibians are currently about the size of a quarter but will grow to  be four to six inches in length. They are popular because they are nearly black on top, but their under carriages are a brilliant reddish-orange color, making for a surprisingly colorful critter.

baby newts (amphibians)
Who doesn’t love a baby Fire-bellied newt?