How to Care for Baby Chameleons

There’s no question that caring for baby chameleons is a fragile process that requires planning and careful attention.

Breeding chameleons is part art, part science. First, you have to find a compatible adult breeding pair and wait for them to hit it off, which is an entire article in and of itself.

Next, feed the female well and wait for her to dig a hole and bury her eggs–this typically happens around 30-40 days after copulation (called the “gestation” period). It can be much longer for certain species, but generally, this is a safe timeframe.

Digging is a very secretive process and the female should not be disturbed or bothered while it’s occurring. It usually takes 3-5 hours, but can easily be longer. The reason is, sometimes females will dig a test hole, then abandon it and start over if it’s too damp, not damp enough, etc.

Baby chameleon care
Here are a few of our Yellow-lipped Parson’s chameleon eggs! Our big female laid 68 in all.

After the eggs have been buried, they need to be very carefully dug up and placed into a container with damp vermiculite or perlite. This is a tedious process because the eggs need to remain in the same orientation in which they were uncovered. Switching them around, flipping them, or turning them could mean the babies won’t be born. Mark the top of each egg with a pencil, so you always know which way is “up.”

And then…you wait. And wait. The incubation period of the eggs depends upon the species, but generally, it takes around six to twelve months. For instance, the Flapneck eggs in this clutch were laid on May 21st, 2014 and began hatching on May 25th, 2015, around one year later. Some species hatch in as little as 90 days, such as the Johnston’s chameleon (Trioceros johnstoni). Parson’s chameleons can take up to two years!

baby chameleons

The babies in this post are Flapneck Chameleons (Chamaeleo dilepis) and Veiled Chameleons (Chamaeleo calyptratus). The clutch size for the Veiled was approximately 60 babies, while 44 Flapnecks were born.

holding baby chameleon

Baby Chameleons – After the hatch

After hatching, the babies need to be transferred to proper enclosures. Multiple babies can be housed in the same cage for a period of time (usually around 1-2 months), but be sure that when they reach a few months old, they get moved into their own homes.

It’s a good idea to size-sort the babies after a few weeks. This means, take all the biggest ones, and put them together, and leave the smaller ones together. This is because there can be dominance issues and the small ones can lose-out during feeding time if they’re getting bullied by the larger ones.

Caring for the babies is similar to caring for the adults, but the babies need to have an abundance of water and should be fed very small prey items at least twice a day, such as hydei fruit flies and pinhead crickets. Make sure you dust the crickets frequently with a quality calcium supplement (RepCal or Repashy is what we use) as the baby chameleons have high growth rates.

As previously mentioned, it is of utmost importance that the baby chameleons remain in a high humidity environment. Automatic misting, or at a very minimum hand-misting, should occur several times per day. We recommend using a smaller cage too, making the insects easier for the chameleons to find. Unlike adult chameleons, we raise our babies in glass-sided enclosures to help maintain adequate humidity.

baby veiled chameleon
Here’s one of our baby Veiled chameleons, captive bred and hatched at Backwater Reptiles.

How to care for baby chameleons – conclusion

Backwater Reptiles’ captive-bred baby Veiled Chameleons and baby Flapneck Chameleons are not yet ready to be shipped to new homes. They need month or two to grow and develop before they are prepared to face the great big world and meet their new owners.

However, Backwater Reptiles does have Veiled Chameleons for sale as well as Flapneck Chameleons for sale that have reached a size and age that is appropriate for shipping. These are wonderful creatures that can make absolutely excellent pet chameleons.

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?