Friday, October 16, 2009

Breeding Veiled chameleons

I hatched out a clutch of Veiled chameleons a little over a month ago. They are so cute and tiny and they are growing like weeds!

The whole experience has been truly rewarding. This clutch of eggs, half of them ended up being laid in my hand. This is the story of the first time I bred my Veiled chameleons and how this ended up happening.

When I decided to breed my pair of chameleons I put them together and was totally unprepared for the rough mating I witnessed! I didn't know how forceful it was going to be and was amazed. The male (Wolverine) practically jumped on my female (Mystique) and they fell through the branches and foliage in the cage. Mystique was trying to hold on to the branches as Wolverine was holding on to her doing his "thing". She managed to get away from his grip and he just grabbed her by the tail and pulled her back to him! When they were done she had little claw marks on her body from the male grabbing her. I kept them together for about 24 hours until she turned her gravid/unreceptive coloration.

This is my Mystique displaying gravid/unreceptive colors.

After she was bred I started supplementing her with liquid calcium instead of powdered calcium to insure she was getting enough for egg production. About a month later she was very full of eggs and had started looking around for a nest site.

This is her right before laying eggs and looking VERY gravid:)

I put a large container filled with dirt in with her and she started to dig. She dug for 3 days but did not lay eggs. I was getting worried so I bought a huge trashcan and filled it over half way with dirt, a big branch with vines wrapped around it and fitted screen over the top. I placed her inside and placed her UV and basking lamp over the top. She went to digging right away and after 4 more days and 3 tunnels later she finally laid her eggs.

This is her trashcan set up.

The 7 days she was digging she did not eat or drink and seemed to be obsessed with digging. At night before lights out she would climb out of whatever tunnel she was in and come to the top branches to sleep. In the morning she would resume digging. After 4 days she started to show signs of dehydration as her eyes were always looking sunken in and she looked worn out. I started to hand feed and water her so that I knew she was getting something because I was worried she might die of exhaustion. On the 7th evening I went down to feed and water her but she was busy digging in a tunnel. So I waited another hour but she was still in the tunnel. I decided I'd give her more time as she usually comes to the top at night and I went to do my night time water and feedings of my other reptiles. I came back after I was done and she was sitting in the opening of a tunnel and looked like she was sleeping. I was upset because I thought this meant she was too tired to come up to the top. I knew I had to feed and water her so I decided I was going to wake her up, feed, water and then put her in the branches where she usually sleeps. I took her out and only carried her a few feet when she looked like she was going to poop. I stuck out my hand to catch it before it went on my carpet and out popped an egg! I was freaking out! I was so nervous because the egg was slimy and I didn't want it to slip off my hand. She then laid 30 eggs in my hand before stopping. Only one egg fell off my hand during the whole time. I was shaking I was so nervous! I didn't know how I was going to get her off my hand and put the eggs in the incubation medium by myself while still holding 30 slimy, slippery eggs in my other hand. I slowly climbed 2 flights of stairs in my house, went to my bedroom where my husband was sleeping and asked him to help me with Mystique in one hand and the eggs in the other! He woke up very surprised! He took Mystique and followed me back down and held her until I put all the eggs in deli cups and dug up the rest she had laid in the tunnel before I picked her up. All together there was 59 eggs. The whole time my husband is telling me to hurry up because Mystique needed me. It was taking a long time because I was so nervous I was shaking and afraid the eggs would slip from my hand or that the eggs I was digging up might get broken. After I was done I fed and watered Mystique and put her back in her normal screen cage. The next day she still looked tired/worn out and I ended up hand feeding and watering her again. The day after that she ate a few insects on her own and started drinking water without me taking her out and offering it to her. After a week she was back to her normal self. Since this clutch she has laid 2 other clutches with no problems. I put her in her trashcan and she digs and lays eggs within 24 hours. She goes back to eating and drinking on her own and bounces back to her normal self very quickly. I often speculate that she had such a hard time the first time because it was her first clutch and because she had been digging for so long without eating or drinking. Now it seems she knows what she is doing, does not waste time and goes right to it.

Here is Mystique the last time she laid a clutch of eggs.

The eggs incubated for 190 days till they started hatching out. I candled them once a week and checked the dampness of the incubation medium to make sure it wasn't drying out.

Here is a picture of me candling the eggs a week before they hatched.

Here is when the eggs started to hatch. Look close and see the green noses of the babies as they are starting to come out:)

It took about a week for all the eggs to hatch out. Each one took about 24 hours after pipping to come fully out of the egg. There were a few babies that died before hatching, about 5 pipped but then died in the egg never hatching out all the way. The babies that did hatch started eating fruit flies after a couple days and drank water every time I misted them. I mist the babies about 5 times a day to make sure they are staying hydrated. I also use a dripper. They are set up just like the adults except they do not have branches. They just have a whole bunch of vines everywhere to walk around on hanging from the top of the cage. I also supplement them with calcium more often than the adults since they are growing babies. They all seem to be active and healthy eating and drinking everyday. So far I have found homes for all the babies except for 4 that I am keeping until they are older. I want to watch them grow up into adults and I will probably end up keeping a pair for myself. Well, not really for me but for my husband:) He told me before Mystique even laid eggs that I HAD to keep a pair for him:)

I hope you enjoyed this story and I will post updates on the babies as they grow.

Here is a random picture of Wolverine I took the other day. It was first thing in the morning when I was turning on all the lights. I thought he looked like a sleeping beauty and felt compelled to take a picture of him:)