Some Thoughts On Breeding

Brad Ramsey

Retired Moderator
Even for those of us who own only one chameleon and have no initial intention of aquiring more or starting a "breeding project", the idea cannot help but sneak into your head.
It is the ultimate achievement in the hobby, a mark of success that has the characteristic of personal triumph and it's very exciting to consider.
I think about it every day and at 20 years old I would have already leapt, but being 40 I have learned to consider these ventures more thoroughly before proceeding. Make no mistake, the level of my enthusiasm remains constant and is actually at some points difficult to control.
You are all familiar with my recent experience concerning a gravid female Jackson's chameleon. What will happen there remains still to be determined, but it has inspired me to document my thoughts and present them for your consideration.
So here are my thoughts concerning breeding:
I have friends who breed Persian Cats, I have friends who breed Wheaten Terriers and I myself once had a rather large breeding project of cockatiels and English Budgies. I have some knowledge and experience with what a project like this requires and my number one piece of advice is: dispel all delusions of fortune! If done properly, you will probably not make any money. This is an expensive hobby at best when practiced on the level that most of us are able to achieve, and you can hope to possibly recoup some of your costs but chances are that money will go right back to the chams.
Do you have the space required? It is the responsibility of a hobbyist who breeds to get their babies to a decent size and level of health and hardiness before considering sending them to new homes and some of these clutches can be quite large.
Do you have time? Consider the time you spend now and multiply it by ????
Who will take these babies? What if you can't find homes for all of them? Are you prepared to properly ship them? And most of all, how will you screen perspective buyers?
After you have invested money, time, space.....your heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears....who can possibly be worthy to assume care for your babies?
At the very least you will have to compose a care sheet and some documentation on each one.
You need to be prepared to answer questions later too, and provide new owners with your contact information.
Most of us already know all of this but I have found it therapeutic to compile these thoughts and questions and would love other keepers and breeders to share their thoughts and experiences as I continue to struggle with my over-zealous tendencies to dive in!


A few of my thoughts on hatchlings:

About 2 years ago, I was helping a friend with her Veiled eggs when she had to go out of town. Sure enough, I found myself hatching 55 little critters. For the next 10 days I got to see how much these little ones eat. If you aren't raising your own pinheads and fruit flies, you'll go broke. In 3 months you'll spend $100's on food.

Do you have enough enclosures to keep the head-count per enclosure at a low stress loading? My current batch of 9 panther hatchlings hatched from day 270 to day 376. That variation in size means more separate enclosures.

Be sure to have a confirmed plan as to what you are going to do with all of them.

Will you still have the same level of interest in raising chameleons a year after starting your breeding program? This isn't a hobby that you can just put on the shelf and start-up again later. Once those eggs are laid, you have your work cut out for you. The larger portion of work won't start for 6-12 months and won't end for months after that.

Planning on going out of town? It's hard enough making sure that your adult critters are taken care of while you're out of town but babies add another dimension to the level of responsibility... more feeder issues, more misting issues, more lighting issues... the list goes on.

I've not bred any myself. I've been "lucky" enough to hatch veileds and panthers for others, including having their female panther lay her eggs at my house.

Be careful what you wish for :D.
Breeding chameleons...

For your average home breeder, it's not a profit making venture, especially when you are breeding species that are sold inexpensively like veileds or jacksons. The money and time spent raising the hatchlings to a sellable size are definitely not worth the income in the end. There is the satisfaction of seeing your female sucessfully lay, then watching the eggs hatch, and finally seeing the babies grow into stable juveniles. For some, educating prospective buyers of the offspring is rewarding as well. And finally, there is the satisfaction of providing captive bred babies to the market, which leads to less animals imported from thier native ranges.
oh ya they eat alot! i hatched some veild eggs almost 3 months ago on novemeber 15 2006 and the first month they ate 5000 pinheads , i couldnt beleive it they just ate like machines lol , but next time im gona have my own colony of silkworms and fruit flies cause i have spent over $1000 in the last 3 months feeding them , iv broke even with buying crickets and selling the babies , but they come first i always feed them like they eat better then i do lol ahah
Hey everybody .... great words of inspiration and warning. I myself have been thinking that I would love to be able to go to my little warehouse of creatures everyday and look after and try to breed them. Not to make a fortune but just enough to survive.

Quite often the thoughts of expenses, raising my own feeders, ensuring the proper conditions and medical issues can become overwhelming. Compound that with the insane Hydro bills along with trying to find responsible buyers for the animals that you breed and it all seems impossible. However I currently keep freshwater aquariums and have been breeding a few fish and growing aquarium plants and selling them.

I've decided that I would need to win a fairly large sum of money in the lottery to get started and then have many different types of animals/plants for sale to even come close to what I would be spending. There would also be a need for many low maintenance items ... such as aquarium plants .... to offset the time taken on the high maintenance ones ... like chams! :)

So I keep buying lottery tickets hoping for my little aqua-reptile room dream to come true. Until that time I'll keep as many amazing creatures as I can afford to and learn as much as I can about the ones that I can't ... waiting for the day that I can.

P.S. I've got 26 veiled eggs due in March sometime so I'm sure that the impact of reality might put a small dent in this little dream!! Or maybe it will just fuel it more?? :rolleyes:

Dyesub Dave. :D
I've got a few stories to illustrate my position.

I've been attending a few of the reptile breeder shows for a few years now
and have chatted with a few people over that time.
Many have brought up the topic of breeding these animals for profit
and I've met others that have experienced the unforeseen difficulties inherent
starting a breeding colony and either bailed out or given up on the idea.

• "Dave" (not his real name)
Was a jovial person that was spending thousands of dollars on creating a
panther breeding colony that would take at least 2 years to start bringing in any cash.
The last time I saw him he wasn't as upbeat and outgoing as he first was.
Avoiding the topic of his breeding project, He only mentioned that he wished that
he would have saved *some* of his first clutches to cycle back into the colony vs selling them all.
I later found out from his main supply of breeders that he was having significant problems.
"His animals weren't producing viable eggs".
Or at least, he was experiencing problems incubating them after his initial success.

He's was now dealing with total losses.
Back to square one, coupled with a larger starting overhead,
and an aging colony to deal with or dump.
I have since learned that he's moved on to trying to breed snakes.
• Manuel (again not a real name)
Was a young guy, just graduated from school, who with his mother spent the day roaming
around visiting different breeders stalls. He eventually selected an animal and later on,
happened to run into me exiting the show. Both his mother and he started quizzing me
on the basics of panther care with an eye towards breeding.
They had plans to buy a female at another show a few months later
(when he had again saved enough money).
Their plan was to breed these animals to fund his college education!

While I didn't want to dissuade him outright... I also felt that I had to let them both know
that I has lost my first four clutches before I had a single successful hatching.
Adding that "it would be wise to have a good backup plan".

Basically, when I first had the idea to have by small collection of pets start
paying their fair share of the rent. (replacing my ex-girlfriend's share).
I realized that it was going to present challenges and be accordingly difficult
in relation to the price of the animals.

There's always more to learn than what people first assume.

Without any foolproof information or any really helpful people
to guide me along the way I was left for a great deal
to learn, think about and footwork to do.

On one hand I'm happy that there's a forum to help people with their pets care.
However, I also see some dangers that may have repercussions for everyone
and disappointment for many that only see the front end of a business market.

Personally, the possibility of widespread breeding by random hobby keepers "-ain't cool"
It'll will only complicate breeding domestic stocks.
Even perhaps, resulting in the destruction of the emerging market by flooding it with
randomly mixed animals to a still largely uninformed public that STILL needs to be developed.

The creation of any new market is a "delicate time" when viewed beyond the scope of an individual.
There's much that needs to happen and "tended" before things can really get established.
Random people have the ability to destroy all the potential by jumping in and mucking things up.
but that's really something that should have it's own thread. (sorry)

I hope that this contributes to the thread.~
Last edited:
Me and my girlfriend are planning on selling chameleons in the near future. We love chameleons and we are constantly learning and asking questions to the people who are already very successful in this industry. Me and my gf have invested so much money and time to chameleons that no matter what happens we are going to have no regrets. We hope to share our knowledge and love of chameleons to everyone that is willing to listen and learn. Its not about money to us, We both grew up loving reptiles at a very young age. I would save up money at the age of 7 to buy turtles, lizards, snakes, frogs, as well as catching them in my backyard. Chameleons I would have to say is my most favorite pet that I have ever owned. WE LOVE THEM !!!!!!:D
I will add some of my experience in this thread too.

I started with my first Male Veiled Chameleon around December 2004. Now I ended up with 9 adults and 6 subadults (Panther and Veiled). It is a very addicting hobby. At first I was thinking of making money out of them. However, it is almost impossible to make any profit. I realize it when I hatched out my first clutch of veiled chameleon; 30 total. I was still naive, so I buy fruit flies and pinheads online. within a month, I spend about $300 just for food. They are eating like pigs. Towards the end, i start calculating, the electric bill, water and food i spends on the adults and hatching the babies; by selling all 30 of them wouldn't even cover back the amount I spend. Then, the female died from eggs bound.

I acquired a pair of Jackson not too long later and success breeding them; however, the babies never survive pass 2 month old (i lost 2 clutch; 22 babies in total). I was so dissappointed and sad. I change my mind is just a hobby and not a career. You can't count how many chick you will have by looking at the amount of eggs you have. Some will not hatch, some will die after hatching from disease etc.....

Yet, I already sunk waist deep.... I bought a pair of Panther without thinking (at that time Ambilobe panther is still rare; I pair a pair of 2 months old for $900 - the female died after laying 2nd clutch). Now, to me breeding chameleon is a challange in life not just for profit but for fun and experience. I have a job that would be able to pay for my espensive hobby. Breeding and selling chameleon is never a good idea unless you are able to acquire a lot of breeding pair and have time and effort for caring all of them. Also, you must have tons of space to house them too.

Everyone is thinking...Oh... FLChams, ChamCo, Kammer are earning huge amount of money breeding chameleon, to a certain degree....they are. However, one have to consider that they have a lot of breeding pair to begin with, also they have time and spance for them. They are very experience in Chameleons.

(p/s: Also........after hatching so many babies.....i was reluctant to sell them...they are so so so so so cute!!!!:D)
My thoughts

I just wanted to put my 2 cents in on breeding. While I totally agree with breeding being rather difficult and in no way think it will make me any money at all, I am doing it for 2 reasons. Number one, I have an 8 year old son, who loves animals and totally addicted to chameleons, and this hobby. He is the number one reason I am going to try to breed. I would love to have him see the cycle of life for this wonderful creature. Number two, is because I also am addicted to the chameleons and would also love to see the cycle. I am in no way trying to get rich or make a living off of breeding. I would not say that I am a novice at chameleons, but I think just like many of you would consider yourselves, fairly knowledgeable with these amazing creatures. I do have alot to learn about them and probably will always have alot to learn about them, but isn't that what makes this hobby so exciting and interesting. Even the most intelligent on these creatures will still tell you that they don't know enough about these creatures and probably never will. But I think that to do breed for the pure enjoyment and curiosity, and even education of the chameleon, then there is nothing to lose here. Even if the eggs don't hatch or even take 4-5 clutches of eggs before I have a success, then in the long run it is worth it and by then will have learned a great deal. But this all is just in my humble opinion!!!!
Thanks to everyone for their inputs into this thread. Sort of thinking of starting to breed at some point in the future, so it's good to hear people's experience. Wasn't really expecting to make money as I'm already breeding my pygmies (more a by-product of the way I keep them than a pure intent!) and I know that it's not really possible to make money, but my word don't these little things eat!

Highlights my need to get the feeder colonies up and running before anything else!.
this thread made me realize its probably time to do what we can to get an FAQ compiled so new users can get the thoughts of senior members on issues like this in one place right when they walk in the door

there should be a bulletin thread with suggestions of questions up for consideration to be put in the faq, and another for people to write articals for the mods to consider on making care easier for the average person. the faq is something that has been talked about for a long time, and i think that its time, and the resources are here to collectively start knocking out question after question until we have a really nice list broken down into categories like pre-purchase thoughts, set up/enclosure, hydration/nutrition, breeding, DIY threads, general dos/don'ts, health and reading your chameleon, advanced , misc. etc etc i can't name everything but with everyones help i'm sure we could get that done really quickly and i'm sure some of you have AWESOME ideas because there are some eternally awesome people on this site

the knowledge level of the new owners would be outrageously high than of that previously just from us accomplishing this one common goal, imagine new users actually knowing important things right away, wow! how many times have we seen the same question asked over and over and how much trouble would it have save the person if he or she saw it coming? I feel its kinda our duty to help those who cannot help themselves at least for the sake of the chams. it would clear the forum out for threads that actually rock. and you could actually find the kickass threads, because there wouldn't be 9 million wtf calcium d3? posts I've been around and i still don't know n e thing it seems, point being there needs to be a common ground; one click that gives you access to all things u need to know like a cheat sheet, and if our organizational skills serve us correctly which they will cuz me and justin carl and the rest of us are freaking awesome, it will read like a short story from start to finish, telling new members the thoughts, mistakes, and ingenuity of people, and will literally make all new members much less frustrated prone to the same damn mistakes, and do amazing thing for all these poor chameleons being cared for by humans with more important priorities and lack of knowledge because the info is all over the place and clouded up by people asking the same questions over and over again.

i approach everything like i am a student of the game. and if there is an faq i have a place to easily go to continue to further what I know, and refer back to until i can experience first hand, at which time I may make my own suggestions, so it seems people should also have the chance to make extra notes to someones faq artical such as "yeah, he or she was right about this but in my experiences there is a little better way to do this part blah blah blooo bbleeee blah, and thats how knowledge is spread.(and babies are made) chameleons babies that is

anyways that is all for now thanks
Last edited:
The costs...

The cost of setting up a breeding operation, for any animal, can be enormous. My brother wanted to breed leopard geckos, I rolled my eyes and went along with it. Cost breakdown went something like this:
Starter Kit - $200
3 geckos - $200
Found a cheap gecko and tank online - $50
Incubator and supplies - $150
Tubs for hatchlings - $30
cost of food and supplies per week - $20
Found another gecko online - $35
Found one at an expo to breed with the above one - $80
Total - $745 plus $20 a week for food/lights etc times 7 months

He produced 7 hatclings this year. 4 are being held back as breeders next year, 3 are up for sale
value of geckos produced this year- $200
Total profit - $-1300
Total potential profit - $-1100

He's lucky he got so many things for free, else the costs would have been much higher.

He's got some nice morphs, but that means nothing if your potential customers don't know the difference. They can't justify spending 4x as much on one because it's a different colour. Getting into this business takes some serious thought. Don't just jump in expecting to make ends meet.

(anyone in the Toronto/GTA area looking for a leopard gecko, send me a message :D, i'm getting desperate)
Dankmeleon, MY hero, you sure know what the rest of us need. Many thanks in advance, now get to work, the world is waiting for you. lol
The cost of setting up a breeding operation, for any animal, can be enormous. My brother wanted to breed leopard geckos, I rolled my eyes and went along with it. Cost breakdown went something like this:
Starter Kit - $200
3 geckos - $200
Found a cheap gecko and tank online - $50
Incubator and supplies - $150
Tubs for hatchlings - $30
cost of food and supplies per week - $20
Found another gecko online - $35
Found one at an expo to breed with the above one - $80
Total - $745 plus $20 a week for food/lights etc times 7 months

He produced 7 hatclings this year. 4 are being held back as breeders next year, 3 are up for sale
value of geckos produced this year- $200
Total profit - $-1300
Total potential profit - $-1100

He's lucky he got so many things for free, else the costs would have been much higher.

He's got some nice morphs, but that means nothing if your potential customers don't know the difference. They can't justify spending 4x as much on one because it's a different colour. Getting into this business takes some serious thought. Don't just jump in expecting to make ends meet.

(anyone in the Toronto/GTA area looking for a leopard gecko, send me a message :D, i'm getting desperate)

To be fair tho, most people breeding chams would be owning a cham and trying to breed them rather than owning a cham purely to breed them so the exspece you have put in your list for Starter Kit, tank and geckos can be discounted as people would already have that, if that makes sence. Saving $565 in total!
Also, most people would have used a home made incubater instead of spending $150 aswell......still ends up in a loss like you said mind, just no where near as much.
Can someone give me some idea of the value of veiled cham's in the usa/canada?

Im in the uk and there worth around £50 ($90 approx) in shops at about 2 months old so im wondering if breeding them in the uk is less costly after they have been sold?
Value here in the US really depends on where you buy and the quality you want. We have breeders on this forum who sell baby veileds for $35 US. The pet stores in Montana where I live sell the same type of cham of lesser quality and not proberly cared for at $100. People who don't know better still buy from those pet stores.

I can tell you I am raising my first clutch of baby veileds, 25 of them. Because I live in a remote area, my crickets have to be overnighted to me. With shipping included I average about $185. a month for food, & I grow part of it here! If I sold each of these babies for $35 I would still be WAY in the red. But I won't sell them all for $35, some cheaper to friends, a couple free to my sister, free one to a neighbor, maybe one for me, and so on. I bred these babies because I wanted to raise babies, period. Would I do it again, yes in a heartbeat, but only that first clutch. They are really fun to watch, but they are very expensive, & I had all the equipment already, and time comsuming like you can't believe. Everyone can tell you but that first time is a real eye opener.
great topic, and I wish more people realised this when getting started.

if your not doing this for fun and enjoyment, then expect the worst to happen.
I've breed countless fish and small mamals...almost always with a loss.
the best you can hope for is to get some money for food you'll need for your pets.

I don't care how much you have (or have not) invested in money and time.
you'll never make up for the costs and your time is worthless if you don't make anything back above your costs...and you wont.

You can make money with a breeding project. But when dealing with exotic animals such as reptiles, or fish even, you have to do it on a level that few are willing to invest the initial costs and time to get setup.

To give you an idea I ran over 40 fish tanks out of my house breeding various fish and rare plecos. My monthly profits barely broke even with my operating expenses of food, electricity, and water. Initial cost and set up wasn't figured in but was at a loss. I didn't mind. I was doing it for fun.
Top Bottom