How long can chameleons survive in the cold?

#1
I am asking this because my chameleon girl has escaped outside and we could not find her. The temperature is 8°C/ 47°F here in Southern England right now (evening) and will drop to about 0°C/32°F at night in a few days. It usually does not get any colder than that here in winter. I wonder whether my girl - an adult Yemen Veilded chameleon, possibly pregnant - has any chance to survive out there if we don't find her. I often leave her vivarium open and she goes for little walks through our home and then returns to her light bulbs to warm up again. Today, she must have walked out to the balkony when I opened the door for just a few minutes, and walked away, and we have spent half the day searching for her in the bushes, but could not find her. If they are in the cold with no basking lamp to warm up - will they fall into winter sleep and get stiff and turn down their metabolism as snakes do? Snakes can stay in such a sate of hibernation (in snakes it is called "brumation") for up to six months and then they come out when it gets warm and are happy and well again. Can something similar be expected from a chameleon? I assume my Lizzie is hiding somewhere underneath of fallen leaves to stay reasonably warm.
 
#2
I am afraid to tell you that if she did go out then she probably won’t make it for long, and no they do not go into hibernation. I really hope that she is in your house and that you fine her soon. Good luck!
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
#6
I’d bet she is still in your house somewhere. Best way to find a lost Cham is to get a flashlight and search the lower sections of and trees or bushes she may be in. She will have her bright sleeping colors on and will stick out like a sore thumb.

She can tolerate a night or two in the very high 40s but any lower and her chances of survival will drop significantly, especially if gravid.
 
#8
I found her! She was standing in front of the balkony door this morning, ice-cold and wheezy, and is just warming up on my breast underneath my clothes right now. I will take her to the vet later today to exclude pneumonia and get some medication and/or advice.
Lizzie must have either climbed up the wall to our balkony in the first floor (it is a brick wall with gaps and vines, so it is conceivable) or - this thought came to me only now, after I have read in this forum that gravid chameleons dig deep tunnels for egg laying - she might have dug herself into a big flower pot on my balkony, so deep that she could not be seen any more. She has spent 4 nights outside at temperatures down to 2 C = 35.6 F and is still alive, breathing and moving. Hope to get her back to good health soon. Thank you all for your advice and for wishing me good luck!
 
#9
Glad to see that you found her, and yes taking her to the vet ASAP is a very good idea, for now let her warm up under her heat lamps and make sure to mist her plenty of times to let her get hydrated again. Just in case she is still gravid put in a container that is at least 12inces or more deep and wide enough for her to fit in plus a few more inches for her to dig and lay her eggs in, it should be filled with playsand, soil or a mix of sand and soil, it needs to be able to hold a tunnel without collapsing and make sure it stays moist. Lastly keep an eye on her and if you see something not right take her to the vet or ask the fourm for help.
 
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Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
#10
You have a survivor! I’d be very curious to hear if she laid in that pot you mentioned! 4 days Is a long time to lay but being cold and slowed down I can see it taking 4 days to find a spot, lay, cover, and abandon the nest. Does she appear thinner?

I know it’s not funny, but it would have been funny to see her slowly clawing at the back door like a cold wet dog saying “let me in, ive made a terrible mistake! I don’t hate everyone after all!”
 
#13
If you didn't have a lay bin for her, maybe that is why she went missing, she may have been looking for somewhere to lay! I would check those pots if I were you :)
 
#14
Glad to see that you found her, and yes taking her to the vet ASAP is a very good idea, for now let her warm up under her heat lamps and make sure to mist her plenty of times to let her get hydrated again. Just in case she is still gravid put in a container that is at least 12inces or more deep and wide enough for her to fit in plus a few more inches for her to dig and lay her eggs in, it should be filled with playsand, soil or a mix of sand and soil, it needs to be able to hold a tunnel without collapsing and make sure it stays moist. Lastly keep an eye on her and if you see something not right take her to the vet or ask the fourm for help.
Hello Repti, thank you for your advice. I indeed kicked out the 20-litre flower pot and replaced it with a 60x50x50 cm square 100-litre container filled with a moist mix of sand and earth yesterday (about 1.5 foot deep). I also went with my Lizzie to the reptile vet yesterday and we had an x-ray taken (he said that's the best way to see wheather her lungs have been affected by the cold), and we found that her belly is full of eggs ready for laying! The vet said I should bring her back to induce labour if she does not lay within the next four to five days. Otherwise she looks perfectly healthy. Now I have one more question: The sand-oil mix feels quite cold and I have read that the eggs should be kept at a temperature of about 21 degrees C (70 F). Do I need to somehow warm up the soil to make her lay the eggs? Also, shall I dig out the eggs immediately after laying and do they need to be cleaned before going into the incubator, and if yes, how do I clean them? I have an incubator and a mix of vermiculite and perlite prepared and waiting for the eggs.
 
#16
So the egg is fertile? And if so I wouldn't know much about it because I have never had fertile eggs before but I am sure someone on this fourm can help you out.
 

Brodybreaux25

Chameleon Enthusiast
#17
Laying bin at room temp is fine. We usually recommend digging them up within 24hrs of laying. You run no risk of accidentally turning the eggs the wrong way and damaging the embryo at this point. Down the road once the embryo has developed you will kill it if it gets rotated. I just keep a spray bottle on hand when digging them up. Gently spray them off and straight into the incubator, no cleaning required.
 
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