Rethinking veiled chameleon incubation?

javadi

Member
Just a thought I had so wanted to bring it up in case others had any ideas.

As we've learned more recently, the veiled chameleon seems to live in a more temperate, cooler environment than we once thought, folks like @PetNcs have made that pretty clear (at least in its homeland of Yemen, not Florida etc.). Temps at night in the Yemen wadis seem to get pretty chilly, and even during the day (depending on the season), the temps don't get super high. However, egg incubation practices for the species don't seem to reflect that. It seems the standard is incubation in the high 70s with good success. I wonder if keeping the eggs cooler or doing some form of diapause in this species would impact offspring outcome. A few studies in this species show differences in offspring "success" and development due to different incubation parameters.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18512704/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15286942/
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17890118/

Since the current approach works and produces healthy babies, there seems to not be much rationale to change it. But maybe things could be even better in ways we don't know about if we switch things up. Just some thoughts.

The point here is, why is incubation of this species seemingly incongruent with the conditions they experience in the wild?
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
I've always incubated my veiled eggs at 74F....with slight fluctuations due to the fact that my "incubator" is not a closed space it somewhat open to the room temperature although the eggs themselves were in a closed container.
I've had 100% hatch rate on fertile eggs and a high rate of survival of hatchlings. The babies I kept grew well and lived long healthy lives....so I've never considered changing it.
 

8675309

Member
I've always incubated my veiled eggs at 74F....with slight fluctuations due to the fact that my "incubator" is not a closed space it somewhat open to the room temperature although the eggs themselves were in a closed container.
I've had 100% hatch rate on fertile eggs and a high rate of survival of hatchlings. The babies I kept grew well and lived long healthy lives....so I've never considered changing it.
What is your “incubator”? Assuming that it isn’t an actual incubator or a store bought one bc you put incubator in quotations. I’ve been researching on effective incubators here recently and since your method seems quite effective, was curious.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
What is your “incubator”? Assuming that it isn’t an actual incubator or a store bought one bc you put incubator in quotations. I’ve been researching on effective incubators here recently and since your method seems quite effective, was curious.
My incubator is a people's heating pad...the old fashioned type that doesn't automatically shut off. Over that I have a wooden frame made of 1"x2's that is screened on the top side. I put the eggs in shoebox sized rubber made type containers on top of that. The frame is shimmed up so that the temperature inside is what I want it to be, measured by the probe of a thermometer. I put cardboard walls around the whole thing and it's all on the counter in my basement so it has no light hitting it. Because it's not sealed into an incubator or container of some type the temperature can go up a bit or down a bit with the temperature of the room. Hope you can understand that all...it's hard to explain clearly.
 

8675309

Member
My incubator is a people's heating pad...the old fashioned type that doesn't automatically shut off. Over that I have a wooden frame made of 1"x2's that is screened on the top side. I put the eggs in shoebox sized rubber made type containers on top of that. The frame is shimmed up so that the temperature inside is what I want it to be, measured by the probe of a thermometer. I put cardboard walls around the whole thing and it's all on the counter in my basement so it has no light hitting it. Because it's not sealed into an incubator or container of some type the temperature can go up a bit or down a bit with the temperature of the room. Hope you can understand that all...it's hard to explain clearly.
I think I do, do you have a picture?
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Sorry I don't. One thing I never thought about taking a photo of.
I hatched lots of other lizards and turtles/tortoises on it too.
 

8675309

Member
Sorry I don't. One thing I never thought about taking a photo of.
I hatched lots of other lizards and turtles/tortoises on it too.
It’s alright lmao, it is a little reassuring that you used it for other reptiles too bc I was thinking of using it for geckos, still thinking, but maybe
 

javadi

Member
I've always incubated my veiled eggs at 74F....with slight fluctuations due to the fact that my "incubator" is not a closed space it somewhat open to the room temperature although the eggs themselves were in a closed container.
I've had 100% hatch rate on fertile eggs and a high rate of survival of hatchlings. The babies I kept grew well and lived long healthy lives....so I've never considered changing it.
Well see, that's the thing, it clearly works well and I've done it at the same temp and it works great. I'm not so much advocating for changing what we do already, but more bringing up that it would seem the way incubation is successful with this species is incongruent with what we believe the temperatures in the wild would be (consistently in the 50s at night). I just wonder if we're missing something or there's something interesting to uncover here. Lateralis and other species seem to need a diapause to hatch on time, but for whatever reason, veileds don't even though there seems to be a warmer and cooler period during the time the eggs would be incubating and a nighttime drop in temperature doesn't seem to matter for the eggs.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
I know this was posted quite a while ago...but I just came across it.

Although there is a night time drop in temperature, what is the drop at the depth the eggs are laid? Does it get that cold where the eggs are sitting? Is t soil kind of insulating?
 

javadi

Member
I'm not sure how deep they're laid in the wild, but mounting evidence seems to suggest that many of the Madagascar species lay in very shallow holes, and veiled seem to lay pretty shallow too in captivity if given shallow laybins. So I don't know, but seems as if the whole ground insulation idea might not make as much of a difference as we think with some of this, if the shallow laying idea holds true. Maybe someone else has some real data on how deep veiled chameleons lay in the wild though. Also, I'm sure there's some insulation, but I can't imagine it would truly insulate well enough to maintain a mid-70s temp underground when it's regularly getting into the 50s, wouldn't you think? That's some hefty insulation if so!
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
If you give a veiled chameleon a deep lay bin they will dig a pretty deep hole. In the wild they are t limited by the size of a comtainer. I don't see how you can compare a chameleon laying eggs in a shallow hole because th,e container is shallow to what would happen in the wild. Just my opinion.

Have you looked at soil studies to see what the temperature is at different depths during the various seasons/temperatures? You might be surprised how warm it stays.
 

javadi

Member
Totally valid points, and thanks for your insight!

Here's what I'd ask in response.

The thing is that we tend to give a pure sand/soil mix for chams to lay in, so no real underground architecture for them to explore like root balls or buried wood, rocks etc. I've found that when you mix in dead wood, small rocks etc. into the lay bin soil, they tend to just dig until they find something hard and lay eggs much shallower as a result usually. I should have mentioned this instead of just using the shallow laybin example. This is just my experience, I don't know that something like this has been published.

I don't know if we can compare the actual soil of the laybin to what they encounter in the wild, since it likely has much more "stuff" in it in the wild, that does seem to impact how deep they lay, at least from what I've seen.

There's also videos online of wild panther chameleons, which seem to dig pretty deep if given ample dirt (like veileds), but laying eggs very shallow in the wild.

I was trying to find some soil temps from madcham, but couldn't find any. Do you have any studies of soil temp you'd be able to post here? I'd love to read them and indeed I might be surprised! It's true I'm not really sure what the exact insulating potential is of soil. Also, I'm aware I'm referencing Madagascar species and just trying to extrapolate to veileds as well, but I'm not sure the data exists for veileds so this is just a general point about philosophy of incubation at this point.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
This is an interesting topic and I'd like to learn more. I did talk to a guy in Madagascar who was measuring soil temperatures but I don't remember what they were and I can't find my notes.

you can find soil temperatures for growning crops but they would be seasonal of course.
 
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