Do Chameleons Lay Eggs or Give Live Birth

Most chameleons lay eggs to reproduce. However, there are a few expectations to this rule. Some species of chameleons lay eggs, and others give live birth.

These two can be categorized as oviparous and ovoviviparous; those species that lay eggs directly to the ground are oviparous. Others lay eggs inside their bodies that later hatch inside them and consequently take live birth.

Oviparous Chameleons: Egg-Laying Species

Oviparity, the most prevalent mode of reproduction among chameleons, involves the female laying fertilized eggs directly into the environment. The time between mating and laying can range from three to six weeks, depending on the species1.

Notably, the Panther Chameleon exhibits a unique behavior post-mating: the female ceases eating for about 10-15 days. This fasting period is an indication that she’s preparing to lay eggs. If in captivity, it’s advisable to offer a laying bin to create a suitable environment for egg deposition.

The medium for egg-laying should be slightly moist, enabling the female to comfortably dig a tunnel for her eggs. A female failing to find a suitable egg-laying site may experience egg retention, a fatal condition.

In a single year, an oviparous female can lay multiple broods and even produce unfertilized eggs if not mated with a male.

Ovoviviparous Chameleons: Live-Birth Species

Chameleons offer a remarkable exception in the reptile world: certain species, like the Jackson’s Chameleon, give live birth. This ovoviviparous reproduction entails the female retaining eggs internally without a shell, enabling embryos to develop within her body.

During this gestation period, which lasts approximately four to six months, the embryos receive nutrients by attaching to the yolk inside the female’s body. At birth, the babies are encased in a thick, sticky membrane, which the mother affixes to a branch. Subsequently, the young emerge from this protective covering.

When Do Chameleons Start Laying Eggs?