Is it true that the right substrate can help your chameleon lay eggs? Given this notion, could the wrong choice of substrate lead to unfavourable consequences for your pet? In this article, I will explore all the options so you can make an informed decision on the next step to take.
Chameleons needs a substrate they can navigate easily in order to lay their eggs discretely, so most owners use sand or dirt (top soil) as their preferred substrate. Both are malleable enough for the chameleon to nestle in and lay their eggs.
What substrate is best for a chameleon to lay eggs on?
The most important aspects of the substrate you provide are that the area is moist, malleable, and deep enough for your chameleon to deposit her eggs discretely as she demands privacy.
Coco fiber is a lesser used substance to achieve this goal, however the general consensus points towards sand or dirt (top soil) as the substrate of choice due to the respective benefits and potential pitfalls.
Dirt vs sand substrate for egg laying
Lots of people find the benefits and detriments balance each alternative out, so some opt for a mixture of both, but by exploring the advantages of dirt and sand, you will be able to decide for yourself what is best for your pet.
An obvious attraction of dirt is how easy it is to source in comparison with sand, as geographical location may restrict your procurement options.
If you opt for dirt, ensure there are no fertilisers, sticks or stones as this could be hazardous to your pet, who requires plain top soil without any extra surprises. In fact, some owners protect their pets by inspecting the bacteria of their soil with a microscope before allowing their chameleon to roam free.
Since you will be adding water to aid the creation of holes for egg-laying, you might decide that sand circumnavigates the messiness of dirt. It is natural for dirt to get wet but when it does moisten, the likelihood of it leaving stains on your chameleon’s face is remarkably high and removing these stains will create an extra housekeeping task for you to carry out.
On the other hand, the appearance of stains on your chameleon can notify you that her eggs have been deposited, which may be helpful if your chameleon has opted to speed up the egg-laying process by skipping straight to depositing, without digging test holes or roaming restlessly prior to the event.
Chameleons are unlikely to remove any dirt from their skin themselves, so she will remain stained until the next time she sheds her skin.
The texture of top soil is less abrasive than sand, and your chameleon might feel more inspired to start digging tunnels if the substrate is kinder to skin. Sand is made up of several small grains that engender an easier separation process when it comes time for your chameleon to start burrowing to find the perfect spot to lay their eggs, however those small particles do pose the slight risk of being ingested by your chameleon accidentally as they eat.
Ultimately, you could trial sand before switching to dirt, or vice versa, depending upon individual results and your circumstances.
- Sand could be easier to dig through
- Dirt can leave stains on your chameleon
- Sand might be accidentally ingested
- Dirt is less abrasive than sand
- Dirt is easier to source
The imperative part lies in ensuring your chosen substrate is moist enough to make egg laying easier for your chameleon.
Can you use lay bin substrate?
Anybody can use a lay bin substrate and most people do because it gives your chameleon room to burrow away from your gaze. Decorative touches in the way of plants (if using soil) serve to help the chameleon feel as though she is in her natural habitat, as chameleons are arboreal, meaning their natural preference is to dwell in trees.
Every owner has their own chameleon parenting style so personal preference will always dictate the layout of the environment for your pet. Nevertheless, it pays to be mindful of the best ways to care for your chameleon, as tried and tested by those before you.
A lay bin substrate is preferable because the chameleon needs a place to lay her eggs in private and if she cannot find a suitable area to do so, she will become egg-bound and die.
She is also then able to make test holes to alleviate her restlessness prior to the day she lays her eggs. Naturally, she is only predisposed to be on the ground when looking for a spot to lay her eggs, so having a lay bin substrate recreates her home environment by lifting her above ground level.
How much lay bin substrate should you use? While it depends on the size of your egg laying bin, general advice recommends 8-12 inches of a substrate so your chameleon can build a decent size tunnel.
Also keep in mind the size of your chameleon for practical reasons as gestation periods vary, and given her need for absolute privacy, you want to enable your chameleon to lay her eggs at the most convenient time.
The substrate should be deep enough to give her space to dig more than one tunnel in case she catches you spying on her pre-gestation burrowing and abandons the spot.
Benefits of using an egg laying bin
- Makeshift options are suitable (plant pot, bucket, clean bin, a large plastic box etc.)
- The substrate is contained in an area
- It provides a place of respite for her potential restlessness
- A large container will alleviate any timidity she has about laying her eggs
- The chameleon has a home of its own, like most pets
- It protects the eggs from interference as the area is contained
- Any cleaning up tasks are made easier with an egg laying bin