Is my cham gravid?

Discussion in 'Chameleon Breeding' started by Julia777, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    Age: My cham, Vertigo, was purchased in April of this year, but they were not sure of her age. She was only about 5 inches long at the time.

    Personality: She will climb onto my hand, eat worms from my hand, and accept me dropping water on her head so that it rolls down to her mouth (through the screen, using dripper) sometimes. She also drinks from dripper without my aligning it directly over her. When she had eye problem, she tolerated me and my niece giving her eye medication daily for 3-4 weeks. When I spray her directly with water or near her, she turns colors to show that she is perturbed. She hisses on occasion, but has never bitten anyone and has been held by at least 10 different people (not to mention, several doctors). She can be taken out of the cage, but when I do so she is restless, walks faster, and is eager to get back in. We try to take her out at least once per day as it seems important that she continue to trust us and to be tame in the event future medical care and handling is needed.

    Cage: 18x18x24 glass cage, Exo Terra. I have read up on glass cages and am careful in monitoring temperature (as it can get hotter in there), humidity, etc. It seems to be working well so far. She has fake plants, fake branches to climb on, two hammocks (which she loves), and a few places to hide well behind plants. I've also hung hammocks vertically on portions of the glass so that she can climb up parts of the wall, as she likes to do this. I like the cage setup a lot and it's crowded enough that she can hide from me a bit if she would like to (which she She also has an egg laying bin.

    Lighting: Reptisun 5.0 UVB bulb and basking light and Exo Terra Sun Glo 120v 60hz basking light.

    Diet: Crickets, mealworms, silkworms, superworms

    Hydration: Use dripper 2x/day and mist at least once per day.

    Gutload: Fruits and veggies (commonly apple, orange, or strawberry, along with romaine lettuce, dandelion greens, carrot, and sometimes sweet potato or red pepper)

    Reptivite/Herptivite - biweekly give one or the other, I rotate them.
    Calcium without D3 - every other day

    Question for the Group:
    I am wondering Vertigo is now gravid. She has mustard colors now and hasn't been eating anything when I feed her (at least, not in front of me) at all yesterday or today. She usually goes to the food immediately. She wouldn't even eat a worm from my hand yesterday or today, and this has never happened.

    She otherwise seems healthy, but appears a little restless. She is also scratching at the screen on the top of the cage with some frequency and this is a new behavior and I'm wondering if this could be nesting instinct. Her egg laying bin was under her large hammock so I moved it over to the other side of the cage where it is more visible. She has been in it in the past, so is familiar with it, but I haven’t seen her in there when I am in the room. She has been more interested in scratching things around the top of the cage – the glass, the screen on the top of the cage, and plants.

    She is also hissing at me more than normal, and with more intensity. I have been afraid to try to pick her up.

    She was laying on a branch that is partly on the floor yesterday morning, but then began climbing and was up high all day and has been up high today also. But I have never seen her resting on a branch near the floor as if she is laying on it as she did yesterday. And her feet were on the floor of the cage when she did this.

    Do you think she may be gravid now and, if so, is there anything I should be doing differently? She is in the cage alone all day and so I am not sure whether I need to cover it in this circumstance.

    Attached Files:

  2. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    If she is likely gravid, I want to give her the best possible care to promote egg laying. Here is what I am wondering:
    1. Should I try to set her in the laying bin, or just hope she goes there herself? She has walked in it before, but I’ve not seen her in it the few times I have checked on her yesterday and today (but I am gone a lot).
    2. Do I need to cover her cage to encourage egg laying if she is alone most of the day?
    3. If I cover it, do I still leave the basking light and UVB lights on and, if so, how do I keep the sheet held up around the sides of the cage?
    4. Should I also leave it covered at night?
    5. Is there a different optimal ambient temperature for when a cham is about to lay eggs?
    6. Will she still want to use the basking light during this time?
    7. How often should I peak in to see if she is okay, and how do I do so without disturbing her and possibly compromising her egg laying?
    8. How often should I attempt to give her food or water?
    9. How much time does it typically take them to finish laying eggs after they have started laying some?
    10. How will I know if she has laid eggs? Will she look different?
    11. If she laid them in the sand in the pot and then covered up the hole, will there be any recognizable signs in the pot that she laid some?
  3. Matt Vanilla Gorilla

    Matt Vanilla Gorilla Chameleon Enthusiast

    I am no veiled pro but she does look gravid to me. There are some amazing people here who will jump in and give you all the guidance you need! @jannb @Nursemaia @Kristen Wilkins
  4. Acham

    Acham Established Member

    We have been breeding Veileds since the mid 90s and have experienced a variety of habits. The females will sometimes stop eating, become grouchy, appear restless [wander around the bottom of enclosure, climb relentlessly, scratch at corners] and dig a few practice holes. Then others will just simply go straight to the laying bin, dig the tunnel, lay and firmly pack the eggs in.

    When they seem to be taking too long I will place a cover around the sides of enclosure to give them privacy. Basking and UVB is turned on the same as always, water and feeding also takes place each day. I do discard any uneaten insects each day, if none were eaten then I cut back on how many are left for the day. If she digs practice holes then I know eggs will most likely be layed soon.

    If she continues to ignore the laying bin and egg lumps are seen I conisder placing her in the laying bin with a lid over the top. She must have air so be certain to ventilate the lid. At this point I'm hopeful that she will begin to dig within 24 hours. If no digging takes place after about 36 hours I consider removing the lid, hydrating her and offering foo.

    A few other tips: Consider moving her enclosure to a quiet zone, I do peeking throughout the day but you need to be quiet and not hang around very long.

    How long does it take - Some have laid within 6 hours, others have taken 2 days.
    How will she look after laying - VERY skinny, it will frighten you when you see her.
    Laying bin appearance after she has finished laying - When she excavates the tunnel the substrate will be moved to the top. After she has finished she will pack the substate around the eggs and firmly fill the tunnel. Most of the time they will then scratch around the top and smooth the substate so as to hide any evidence of what has taken place.

    I will be very curious to see advice from others. My practices are not perfect and this group has so many people with more experience.
    kinyonga and GreenChameleons like this.
  5. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    Thank you so much for the valuable information. I checked her this morning and she looked fine, but she now is holding her mouth open. Does this mean she is egg bound or not necessarily? The closest Cham vet is five hours away and I'm not sure if she could endure a car ride that long in her condition. Any advice you have would be much appreciated.
  6. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    She just closed her mouth again so it's not continuous, in case that's helpful to know.
  7. jannb

    jannb Chameleon Enthusiast

    Opening the mouth could mean they are hot and it’s also a sign of an RI. Do you have a vet?
    GreenChameleons likes this.
  8. Acham

    Acham Established Member

    Check her basking temperature, check her body temperature. They will gap their mouth, as if panting, when overheated. Coughing would be a sign of possible RI. Without observing her behavior it is almost impossible to guess what is happening with only this information.
  9. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    Hi, thanks for the replies. I checked her basking and cage temperatures and both were within normal range. How do you check her body temp? There was no coughing, just breathing with open mouth. Tonight her mouth was not open. Does gravid chams ever having intermittent gaping mouth? She is looking large in stomach area and my sister says she can see outline of eggs. I can't tell, but she looks big and is climbing around a little slower. She has been in the egg laying bin, but hasn't laid eggs. I dug a few holes, straight from top to bottom, in 4 areas in case she needed help with digging or her maternal instincts aren't so sharp. Closest cham vet is 5 hours away, but I may drive her there if her condition worsens.
  10. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    Oh, and her cage has been covered on all four sides the past 2 days, for privacy.
  11. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    Hi Julia you have @jannb on here and she is one of my go to’s with Miss Frances . The open mouth also can be a big load of eggs up near her longs , RI , to hot there’s many reasons . Her not eating is normal at this point . @jannb is much more experienced then I , she has has many little girls . If you can get @kinyonga to chime in too or @Nursemaia . @Nursemaia is been MIA for a bit .
    Acham likes this.
  12. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    Oh, I had no idea it could be due to eggs presssing against her lungs. Her cage temp is normal so it can't be that.Good to know that not eating is normal. How soon do they usually lay eggs after stopping eating? It's been 3 days now.
    Acham likes this.
  13. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    I can’t really say how long . Some go right down and lay and some are really picky and take months . If she has any issues that could be another story . Just keep an eye on her . Make sure she has everything she needs . Keep an eye for breathing heavy , closing eyes , sitting low . Not eating is normal right now being antsy is as well . What’s not normal is if she’s sleeping , gasping , digging coving holes with nothing in them ext . This could take a bit because she’s not laid . Kinda like first child . Thay come when they want to :love:.
    Acham likes this.
  14. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    I have been keeping the cage covered except when feeding her and giving her water. I have not seen her eat or drink, but she must be drinking at some point or she would be looking worse. She was holding her mouth open for a bit last night, and has been doing so today for about 20 minutes. The cage temperature is normal. Kristen, I know you said it could be eggs pressing up against her lungs and I suspect that is what it is. If it is that, should I be worried if she is holding it open beyond a certain length of time? I want to give her as much time as possible to lay the eggs in her bin, but want to take her in if she needs to be seen. Also, it's a 5-hour drive to the vet which could be stressful for her. I purchased a lightweight screen cage for transport that I will use if I drive her to the vet (12x12x18), but now I am wondering if I should get a smaller one for transport since it might be hard to buckle her in with cage that size. Does anyone have recommendations for best cage size for car travel (or how to secure a larger cage in the car)?
  15. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    Correction: Screen cage size is 18x18x24
  16. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    Yes if it’s a big load of eggs and there not formed or calcified correctly she can’t lay them , she would be in trouble . Let’s see if @jannb @Andee or @kinyonga is around see what they think ? I’m his also could be a URI either way she would need to be seen .
  17. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    I will assemble the screen cage today. I am not going to drive her tonight, or we would have to stay overnight at a hotel and I think this would be stressful for her, especially not being in her regular cage. So I will likely take her tomorrow morning. Ugh, 5 hours is such a long drive. But, I did it once and so I can do it again.
  18. Kristen Wilkins

    Kristen Wilkins Chameleon Enthusiast

    I know it’s stress on her but she can’t tell you if she needs help . You have to do your best to know what she needs . It’s not uncommon for a female to open her mouth when getting ready to lay there can be many reasons . With out an X-ray you don’t know what the eggs look like or how big her clutch is , if there’s any infection how her lunges look ext . She could be just hot even though her temps are normal she has lots going on with her body . It’s a tremendous stress on her to produce the eggs correctly . You know her best go with your gut . If your gut says she needs help don’t Ignore that :love: .
  19. jannb

    jannb Chameleon Enthusiast

    She definally looks like she has eggs. An X-ray from the vet would Tell how far along she is.
    Kristen Wilkins likes this.
  20. Julia777

    Julia777 Established Member

    I think she has eggs. I actually had a dream that she was pregnant before it ever occurred to me consciously that she might be. So I think that I somehow knew, as bizarre as that sounds. However, if I am wrong and something else is wrong with her that the vet can resolve, that would be great!

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