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Breeding Veiled chameleons care of Veiled chameleons what to do if you have a gravid chameleon

Yes she is gravid ! See the eggs . The lump just above her rear leg is a excellent view of an egg. This girl laid 28 eggs within 24 hours of  taking this photo. The "robins egg" type spots are another sign of being gravid

 
 

Here she is just two days after laying her eggs . You can still see a little dirt on her side and feet . Look at her tail just down past her leg joint and above her leg joint. See the indent showing signs of dehydration .This is normal for just having laid eggs .She is eating and doing well . Some chameleons will not show any signs of dropping eggs at all. If she would have laid 18 eggs rather than 28 you would probably not been able to see any dehydration .

30 days after laying  eggs she is back to normal again . Now she is  going through a routine shed .It takes one or two days for her to  shed completely. 

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A look at eggs relative to the size of a dime
You can see the distance between each egg . No you do not have to wash the eggs . After all, they normally would be buried 12 to 16 inches beneath the ground 
This is a rubbermaid shoe box. Perlite was used as a substrate to incubate the eggs for the 7 months it takes at 68 to 74 degrees
Corner view of one of the two 1/8 inch holes drilled into the lid for a little air exchange 

 
 Walking around on the floor
My gravid chameleon is walking around on the floor of her cage .
 If this is happening you better have the egg laying area ready for her she is looking for a egg deposit site she is going to lay her eggs. In an emergency  or if you are cramped for room you can use the same sized container as the above pictures. If your cage is large enough you will have room for this extra addition to your chameleons living area with out a great degree of trouble  when it comes time to lay eggs ! Chameleons will not hesitate to use the flower pot that a living plant is growing in to deposit the eggs . And most people keep a living plant inside of the cage with their chameleon. A 3 gallon pot is a good egg deposit site also . Or you can use a 33 gallon trash can with 16 to 20 inches of soil for a egg site .Soil needs to be moist. Your chameleon will dig down and deposit her eggs. 
Egg care:
     People ask  if keeping the eggs in a dark room like a closet is better than allowing light to hit the eggs . I can answer that question like this . We have kept veiled eggs in both areas. One year  we had them close to a southern exposed window . Lots of light . The slightest bit of an increase in a minimal amount of mold in the side of the box that had the most light occurred. Nothing to worry about ! But we still keep them out of direct sunlight in a room with normal amounts of light . The lighting is off during the daytime .  Wile using the "mold " word white mold showing on the eggs just after laying is usually a sign the eggs are infertile black or dark mold is usually a sign  to much water used when you mixed your substrate together .
  Good eggs are close to white in color dark eggs usually are also bad . Yellow shinny eggs are usually bad . Don't know or are not sure about the color of a chameleon egg ? Look at a chicken egg like the ones in your refrigerator . The color is very similar. Shrinking eggs are another sign of being infertile . But can also be a sign of low humidity levels in your egg box .
 
View of dented egg with white mold . Not good !
View of dented egg . Probably not fertile 
Remove dented eggs or not to remove dented eggs?
  I will leave a dented egg in the egg box until I see mold and shrinking occur. It actually has to be completely collapsed before I consider it as infertile and remove it . Even if shrunken  I will leave it in the box for the complete incubation cycle . More than once chameleon eggs  thought to be "bad " have  hatched. Much to my surprise out walks a perfectly healthy baby chameleon . Truly a treat !

Mixture of pearlite and water :
  I have 16 oz deli cups I fill two of them (32 oz) adding one quarter  cup water shake well to mix water with perlite .I have always used filtered tap water ! I also mist the lids of these boxes two times per month . You can see a little bit of moisture build up on the side walls of the egg box during the AM because of a temperature difference . I notice it disappears about every 14 days that's why I mist the lid only twice per month and it allows more fresh air inside as well . 

Incubation temperatures: 68 ntl (night time lows) 74 dth ( day time highs) Fahrenheit 
 Temperatures relating to faster incubation times for veiled chameleon eggs :
  Over the last few  years I have had several people tell me they had good results using higher temperatures  to incubate Veiled eggs .85 degrees F . I do not advise using higher temps simply because the 68 - 74 degrees F temps work so good for me. I also notice no albumin left in the eggs incubated at the lower temperatures .  It has been my experience babies born with higher temps were smaller chameleons at birth . This is just my experience . Another interesting thing is none of the breeders using higher temperatures  are still breeding veiled chameleons. If your eggs get warmer for a few days it's nothing to worry about anything higher than 85 would be bad for the eggs  . Generally cooler is better than warmer . When saying  warmer !  I am speaking to the extreme high temperatures above 85 F and lows in the mid 60's .

Feeding relative to egg production
How many food items is correct.
What kind of feeder insects to use .
The psychical condition or your chameleon is important to the results of egg laying . Her condition is controlled by her feeding habits that you are in charge of. It's up you you to feed her enough so she can develop all the eggs in her body.  Allowing her to be in good enough health to deliver them . This is not to tuff to do .
   If she is gravid feed her all she wants to eat 8 3/4 to full grown crickets per feeding (daily) is going to do nicely coating them with calcium and including vitamin supplements also . You will notice she will eat as many as you place in her cage . She will over eat if allowed to . It will not hurt her but she will simply pass undigested insect parts in her stool as a result of over feeding . 
   You can use 3 oz of tap water and place a stool sample in the water to look at the size of the particles in the water . All the particulate should be even in size as well as small see any full sized legs of a cricket and you will be looking at a chameleon who is being over feed. Vary her diet wile gravid if you can.
   Superworms (Zophobas morio) and wax worms ( Galleria mellonella    )  are fairly easy to obtain . More exotic food items like silk worms are sometimes available but expensive. Stick bugs   also are sometimes available . 
  A large worm from south America pops up into the reptile trade every so often "butter worm"  is one name that comes to mind . These insect larva do not eat anything found here in the USA and as a result might  be left in a container for a few weeks before we get them as a food item   They have survived on the same protein that your chameleon wants from them . Yes!  This worm is not a very good food source!  Unlike superworms that are! So try not to get the names mixed up. Remember the scientific name of the superworms (Zophobas morio).
 
 

Water:
   Every living animal requires water to survive. Chameleons should be offered water every day ! I use a drip system hooked to a automatic timer it simply drips water inside onto  the plant and the chameleon will see it dripping and drink . 35 minutes of dripping is plenty for a Veiled . They are not water hogs . Because I am located in South Florida I also will include a afternoon drip session on the hot summer days . All my Veilds will drink in the afternoon on these hot days . Hot days here are in the 90's and the evening temperatures on these hot days will sometimes be in the mid to upper  80's . That is HOT ! It's this time of the year when I remove all my animals from this extended heat and keep them inside of a building . At night I will turn on a air conditioner to cool them . The over all health and condition of the animals treated like this is amazing they keep their size they don't not shrink keep weight and seem better adjusted . These same females will dig a hole drop 30 eggs and come back up a plant without to much to do about it . Back before adopting this attitude of cooling them at night  I lost females after egg laying .
 

If you need to use  a temporary water system You can use a deli cup with a hole in it . Very simple and it works jut fine. 
This little stream of water will drip from the deli cup for approximately  40 minutes . The hole size was made using a pin from a sewing box . But don't tell my wife I was in her sewing box again 
Another picture of the water dripping 

Water or hydration 
  Yes hydration or water . My point in using these terms are simply this . You already know Chameleons drink water ! But did you know by caring for the feeder insects allowing them plenty of fruit or vegetables or using wet gut load you can be adding moisture to your chameleons diet. Feeding a cricket stuffed with carrot or other vegetables is a benefit to your chameleon . It's better than feeding a cricket that is starving or under feed. 

Baby care for Veiled Chameleons

Babies 0 to 4 weeks :
Caging or container. The first days up to  two  weeks are  the most critical for babies . Although  food and water  is the most important part of a baby chameleon living . A proper environment is also needed  .The amount of babies per container . Small branches for little feet to grip are important. The size of the branch should allow the little feet to grip the branch securely. The height  of these branches is also important some breeders like to keep the branches close enough to the floor of the container to allow for hunting  feeder insects from the floor as well as the branches . But caution needs to be taken when using this method of floor feeding so assure a clean floor at all times if you decide to use this type of approach cleaning nightly is necessary  . Cup feeding is better you can replace the cup daily . Fresh stool deposits can fool the babies into thinking there is a drop of water ready to be consumed.  Misting  three time per day is recommended . You will notice most babies will drink readily from these branches . Using a wet cricket food/gut load  is also an advantage for the chameleon  babies to get a little more water from a properly hydrated feeder insect . Vegetables can be used or a wet gut load  to feed to  crickets. 

Water Misting  spray bottle 
Water is the key to all living things  ! And a small chameleon who's weight is less than ďone gramĒ is in need of water  three times per day . Knowing how very little babies weigh  is important allowing you to realize the importance of misting for water consumption . Tap water left standing over night in a open container is just fine to use . (Do not add bleach to the water thinking you are helping your chameleon .) 
 Misting one side of the container if using a solid walled container is advisable also if using a screen cage   you should see the chameleon advance to drink . This can be one reason why you should not mist directly on the chameleon  It can cause them to retreat form drinking . Your are no doubt going to get water on the baby . Itís OK and for many itís is helpful to do so . But also itís a from of harassing them so do so with caution . Room temperature water is best . It is true in the wild the water temp is a bit cooler than the air temperature. But nowhere close to an ice cubes  temperature.  Ice cubes allowed to melt providing water is  not a good means of watering a baby chameleon . 
 We can debate over the type of spray to be used . But as long as water is supplied and the animal is drinking you have it correct . Atomizer type spray bottles are fairly common all over the world.  Ideally a small green house mister could be used  on a automatic  timer as long as you allow for the water to drain from the container. 

Feeder insects 0 to 4 week chameleon babies 
 3 to 4  weeks before you expect to hatch babies you should set up your drosophilia  cultures .  If you have to toss some away then you are doing it correctly ! Donít worry , when 20 babies are eating your drosophilia will disappear  How many cultures per baby ! Depends on the culture size . And how long do you keep feeding them these small flies ? Depending on the species 3 to 5 weeks. If you have a smaller species of chameleon you will continue to use them as needed. You will know just buy looking at the growth of the baby .Babies   double in size rapidly . Usually within 30 days baby chameleonís  will out grow the need for drosophilia .Then you will not need to use flies crickets will fill in the gap nicely.. 
As these animals grow try to remember that a varied diet is a good thing for the health of your animal  at 5 weeks small wax worms or if you are lucky enough to have available to you baby  super worms that have shed their exoskeleton you can feed these sparingly. 

D. melanogaster. life cycle is 3-5 days in optimum conditions, 80-85 degrees F. 
D. hydei. life cycle takes almost 30 days in optimum conditions, 80-85 degrees F. 

 Culture size can be tricky . How large a culture should you have to feed 10 baby chameleons daily 2 to 3 times per day? How many of them ? The larger the culture is in diameter the more insects will be produced. As long as you supply a larger number of adult FF to deposit eggs in the medium .  10 babies you need 3 to 5 cultures (3inch base size) weekly up and producing FF before your babies  hatch!  If it sounds a little tricky it really is not to hard to do .If you are not certain about raising from scratch  you can always purchase FF from insect suppliers . 
D. melangaster are very easy to culture D hydei are a little harder  for a beginner . So start with the easy one first . 
The melanogaster are tiny but make up for their  small size by prolific breeding .Hydei are a little larger take longer to produce . Depending on the amount of time you have to commit to raising flies one or the other will work. 
Pinhead crickets explained  as they relate to baby chameleons .. Pinheads are one week old crickets  commercial cricket breeders will supply you with these small ones as long as you ask them to . But make no mistake about ! You must explain to the cricket supplier what you need . Some will refer to these as dust sized, one day old, just hatch, ant sized . You need to get your point across to them by explaining exactly what you need ! Your needs for these very small crickets will only be 10 to 20 days . These baby crickets will grow quickly ! 
  You want to raise or purchase ant sized crickets for your baby chameleons  directly out of the egg. For the first two weeks meals . Try not to dump to many into the container this can cause a baby to become confused  unable to decide  which one to eat ! It happens Ö Some will go directly to flies because of the movement of the flies is different than the crickets . Some will go to crickets . 
FF and crickets mixed together  Yes you can mix them . FF will travel all over you cage  and be eaten . Crickets will be eaten from a cup if you provide or  broadcast them into you cage . 
Broadcasting crickets this simply means allowing them to free roam in the cage . It allows the babies to hunt the insects a perfectly natural instinct. Supplying a small amount of cricket food inside the chameleon cage can be a good thing also allowing those uneaten crickets to a food source other than the baby chameleon . Yes ! Baby crickets will bite baby chameleons if left in large numbers inside of your chameleons container . 
Basking  The amount of time allowed for basking can vary greatly. But all babies need to bask  allowing them to digest properly . You will recognize basking  when your babies turn their bodies  leaning  toward the sun or artificial lighting and changes color to darken themselves thus regulating body temperature . If you have a group of babies in a screen cage or a solid wall container . You  will see the babies begin to move and taking cover under leaves retreating to cooler places. That is the time to remove them from the high temperatures. Allowing  them to become cooled to room temperatures below basking spot temperature Usually this happens within 10 minutes . Basking  can occur three time daily during the babies first few weeks . Water can be supplied after basking . 
Artificial lighting 
 Real sunlight  is what all the bulb mfg.'s are trying to simulate . And some of these bulbs work just fine . When in doubt use real sunlight for brief periods of time 10 to 15 minutes at a time . Big hint here . Set a timer of some type to measure the amount of time your babies in  sunlight , 20 minutes could be too long ! 
If keeping babies outside .Wild fruit flies are very easy to culture and readily available throughout the day time. Chameleons are opportunistic feeders and will eat all through the day time hours  given the constant availability of these small flies . Other larger flies will also be attracted  and consumed. 

 Supplements are  as important as a good food supply . Supplements can only become effective as the animals begin to eat larger meals . And in tiny hatchlings can cause blockage if used improperly . This does not mean you donít use them . There are ways of providing supplements to a one week old baby without any extra effort  by simply using a high quality cricket gut load ! Remember we are talking about babies 0 to 5 weeks old not 4 week old animals . At 4 weeks you can begin to apply  supplements if you desire. 

Humidity  How can you keep the humidity high in a babies cage . A better question is. What is a humidity . Itís not soaking everything to allow mold and bacteria to develop . It is allowing the air to carry moisture. The amount of moisture in the air is what most people who need to add humidity will be trying  to accomplish . Ultra sonic humidifiers are a good means of adding humidity to the air in a room . A basic quick fix also is to dampen a towel or other clean cloth . Drape it over the  cage and it will add humidity to the air . This is a quick fix ! Adding a 16 oz deli cup on the top of this cloth with a pin hole in the bottom allowing water to drain onto the cloth adds humidity for longer amounts of time . Using real plants and spraying them daily will increase humidity levels . Having more them one plants in the room you keep animals in need of higher humidity levels can also be of help . Closing the door to this room allows the humidity to be trapped inside the room . A water dish with river rocks filled with water will disperse some humidity . You should not be able to see the water in the bowl just the rocks ..


 
Babies 5 weeks to 4 months old
 OK assuming you have just purchased a baby chameleon and your supplier / breeder has taken the time to raise it to 5 weeks of age. You have a well started chameleon growing rapidly in need of some special care and  feeding requirements  for all intents and purposes you have a baby to care for feeding on pin head or fly sized crickets or crickets that do not exceed the width of its head . small wax worms  or termite larva..
 Remember that chameleons chew the insects they eat and a little larger sized cricket can be consumed without trouble . Watching your baby chameleon struggle to swallow a larger insect can look gruesome  this is because it is.  After saying that we should caution you from using larger sized feeder insects as a staple in the diet . Definitely it is better for a chameleon to eat small meals throughout the day on different occasions than one larger meal before you go to work . All of us needing  to be away during working hours  can only feed one time in the morning before we depart to our jobs . This is one good reason to use as large a cage as possible heavily planted with plants for the baby to roam on . A  days supply of feeder insects loose inside of this container . This also is another good reason for using the smaller feeder insects. . Realizing you are making attempts to feed throughout the day you should see the  importance of wet gut loaded crickets and a small amount of dry gut load inside the cage will be a helpful addition to the crickets diet and your babies diet. A gut loaded cricket is going to serve somewhat as a water supply as well as supply protein for the days meals.
 A small amount of citrus placed in the cage to allow the crickets to get moisture. If no citrus is available then supply carrot, yellow squash, collard greens.  This will also be a advantage to the chameleon as it will usually become quite aware that itís food source is lurking next to these vegetables.
 Feed daily ! If you miss a day donít be to concerned. Look to see that you are not allowing a build up of feeder crickets in the cage .
  Rapid growth is normal in baby chameleons. After your animal has reached a sub adult size you can usually cut back on the constant supply of feeder insects in itís cage. Most often the chameleon will by itself slow eating because of seasonal changes and light cycle . What happens if you continue to feed your animal as if it were a baby is simple. It will grow to adult size faster than it normally would have.. Reptiles use all the food you feed them to grow. They are quite efficient at this. But because we are keeping these animals is captivity and feeding certainly daily almost hourly we are all probably over feeding or supplying just one feeder insect in to large a volume. This is where all the additional supplements are so important. Vitamins supply vigor and stimulate activity in reptiles. Minerals are the building blocks for bone and muscle. A balance is required for healthy growth. Minerals are best supplied through diversity in food groups . But lets face it who really can supply all the different types of insect that can be found naturally in a chameleon natural  environment Coating feeder insects with supplements can be a value during the life of your pet. If left in the cage a coated insect eaten 4 hours after you have coated it, most of the coating has been rubbed of or fallen off. But the gut loaded cricket still has a supply of both vitamins and mineral inside itís gut. Combining this with the protein that the feeder insect provides you are supplying a well balanced meal.
  Chameleons only have enough digestive fluids to digest the ideal sized meal . Feeding a larger meal than they are capable of digesting is only going to cause them to pass  the unused portion of the meal as waste to   the bottom of your cage .
 It  is important to keep the temps in the lower range wile at work a short bask during mid day will benefit the growth of the baby . Timers for this are available at most every large hardware store for aprox $8.00
Placing the animal in a room where it can see natural sunlight will be a benefit also to regulate your chameleon to a day and night cycle. Remember your chameleon needs itís rest at night leaving a light on is not  good for your animal . If at all possible place the cage next to a window in a room with a southern exposure this is of course if you are in the northern hemisphere

 Potato as cricket food : potatoe that has been held in a refrigeration  for storage  will loose quite a bit of the nutritional  value as this cooling process turns the starch in to sugar . In a round about way you are feeding  you crickets a ďvegetable TwinkieĒ. Commercial cricket growers will use potatoes as a means of supplying water and food to these insects wile shipping them to your home . This works well and keeps the crickets hydrated and in good shape until. you receive them .Itís simple economics to chose potato as a  food when shipping crickets. Itís what works best for the short ride from supplier to your home.
 

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