Development of chameleons

A healthy 3-month old veiled chameleon.

A chameleon is born out of an egg, like all reptiles. The eggs are not like eggs of birds: reptile eggs are leather-like and not rigid, and do not break as easily as chicken eggs.

The egg of a chameleon hatches in 120 to 280 days when you keep it at 30 degrees Celsius. The eggs do not need to be turned around or moved like bird eggs do. The time until the eggs hatch takes longer when the temperature is lower. The sexe of a veiled chameleon is not determined by the temperature on which the eggs are incubated.

Newborn veiled chameleons
Newborn veiled chameleons

Hatchling veiled chameleons

When a baby veiled chameleon is born, it weights around 1 gram. It is very small and pretty fragile. Right after birth it will already walk and climb and is able to eat by itself. It does not need any care by any parent. A hatchling veiled chameleon will eat fruit flies and small crickets. When they are this young and small it is no problem to keep many together in the same terrarium.

Veiled chameleons grow very fast, one week after birth they can weight as much as 1,5 grams. After 3 to 4 weeks they will weight 2 tot 2,5 grams each. They do not have the characteristic crest (casque / helmet) on top of their head, but that will start to grow pretty quickly.

Around 3 month old veiled chameleon
Around 3 month old veiled chameleon

Shedding skin

A veiled chameleon will shed its skin many times when it is growing and when adult. This is a reptiles way to renew their skin and make sure it stays healthy. Shedding skin looks pretty weird. Suddenly the skin becomes whitish, as the old skin becomes loose from the new skin underneath it. The air that will get under the new skin and the dryness of the old skin will make the old skin look very white. By scratching and just by natural peeling off the skin will fall off the chameleon. Under the old skin you can find the new skin already.

Text continues below

Shedding skin in reptiles is very different from shedding skin in insects. Insects need to shed their skin in order to grow. Their skin is very rigid and limits their growth. Reptiles just shed their skin to renew it.

A veiled chameleon will shed its skin every 2 to 6 weeks. When young it will shed often and usually pretty quickly. As it grows older it will shed less often. To read more about shedding skin and what to do if your chameleon has problems with it, read Shedding Skin.

molting-chameleon-shedding-skin
A veiled chameleon shedding its skin

Growth and maturity

Veiled chameleons grow amazingly fast. In just under a year they are fully grown and sexually mature. In this time they will increase in weight from 1 gram to 200 – 220 grams. When born they do not have the characteristic crest on top of their head, but this will develop gradually over time. The males will develop a much larger crest than the females.

A veiled chameleon will have a lifespan of around 5 to 7 years.

yemen-chameleon
Healthy adult female veiled chameleon