Weak/underdeveloped babies, and babies dying inside the egg?

Han0915

Member
Hello all,

I have a rather sad question that I'm looking for any type of advice for. I just got into breeding panther chameleons and my first clutch of 24 healthy eggs began hatching October 22nd (5.7 months old). The first 15 eggs hatched perfectly, all the babies looked wonderful, except one however. This baby is very frail, weak, and wobbly and needed assistance out of the egg (his umbilical cord had wrapped around his legs, trapping him). He needed help eating during the first 1-2 weeks, but could eat on his own at least. Now, he has stopped and I am essentially force feeding him.

So I thought that was the only hiccup I'd had. But it took 2-3 more weeks for the remaining 9 eggs to hatch. I thought this was strange, but I left them alone. To summarize how horrible these 9 eggs went... only 2 made it and are doing alright. One of the first babies hatched perfectly but was born with a prolapse (tried treating, but he passed 3 days later). Then next, 3 eggs had shrunk but never hatched. I ended up noticing the shell had hardened and the babies basically couldn't pip, possibly my humidity levels were to blame for those 3. I ended up cutting the eggs as a last hope, and saw 2 perfectly formed babies yet again, one had a prolapse, and the 3rd baby seemed underdeveloped with a swollen head. So I bumped up the humidity levels and gently dropped water onto the remaining 4 eggs, and only one pipped but never came out. I assisted that baby and he is currently on the brink of death (was born very small and weak). The other eggs had the same issue- shrunk but never hatched, and when I decided to cut the eggs, I found a fully formed baby and another one with a swollen head.

I'm at only 18 babies from this first clutch, however risk losing two of them, AKA the ones I've been trying to save. They would have otherwise died. I knew what I was getting myself into when it came to breeding, but to lose THAT many eggs and babies seems wrong. And I want to know what could have possibly gone wrong, did I do something incorrect? I mean, they were incubated at average of 74-76F in my closet (I have since done my best to lower the temps for the remaining clutches to 72-73F). I monitored the humidity and weight of the container weekly (container was just a tubaware with only a couple holes at the top, and vermiculite as media). What makes me question things is how the first 15 eggs hatched perfectly healthy babies, besides 1 runt, but the remaining 9 eggs had numerous problems. This was my females and males first clutch ever, so I wasn't sure if maybe the first clutches tend to have issues perhaps? I made sure she had calcium + bee pollen daily with her meals along w/ the other supplements, but perhaps it wasn't enough? Maybe that's why I ended up with so many bad eggs? I currently have around 100 eggs more incubating from these two, so I truly hope this experience was a fluke of nature. But is there any advice one can give me on how to prevent these types of things? Or could I have done something better/different?

As a rookie breeder, I do take this seriously and I WANT to learn and better this hobby. These animals are my babies, and I just want to make sure I do right by them so any information is helpful.
 

JacksJill

Moderator
Staff member
When you say prolapse do you mean abdominal or cloacal (rectal)? Sometimes their is an egg sack that they can absorb. Usually it is absorbed before hatching.
Your later hatching babies may have been released from the ovaries later and needed more time to develop. I think you are on to something with the humidity issue.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
How often were you opening the container?
Did you add water at any time?

Was there vitamin A in the vitamins you gave the adults? Please post some recent photos of the parents.
 

Han0915

Member
When you say prolapse do you mean abdominal or cloacal (rectal)? Sometimes their is an egg sack that they can absorb. Usually it is absorbed before hatching.
Your later hatching babies may have been released from the ovaries later and needed more time to develop. I think you are on to something with the humidity issue.

Sadly, they were actual rectal prolapse. I did my best to treat the one that survived hatching but he was just too tiny to treat. I was speaking to a vet tech about it and sadly despite our best efforts, he did not make it. Very odd thing to see for sure
I had similar failure on my first. I believe it was because when they were hatching I checked them too much and messed up consistent temp and humidity.

You know, I think this was my issue as well. I was very excited and always checking on them to make sure they were okay, so I definitely wonder if I messed up the humidity and temps. That would make a lot of sense looking back on it now.
How often were you opening the container?
Did you add water at any time?

Was there vitamin A in the vitamins you gave the adults? Please post some recent photos of the parents.

I will say, I was opening the container multiple times through the day especially when there were babies hatching. So I reckon that's where I really failed, my excitement got the best of me and must have lowered the humidity + messed with the temps that went on to affect those last 9 eggs. I did add water though a couple times since I was always checking the substrate to make sure it didn't dry out after the opening, but I reckon the damage may have already been done?

And yes, my adults are supplemented with Calcium (no d3)+ bee pollen 6 times weekly, and Miner-all Calcium/Mineral Supplement, Reptivite w/ D3, and Repashy Supervite every 2 weeks (twice monthy). The feeders are all gutloaded pretty much all the time when feeding off and eat only carrots, collard/mustard/dandelion greens, lettuce, some fruits, etc. They do not get any cricket or roach chow anymore.

Here's a recent pic of my male, and I will post more pictures of the female tonight once I can get some good pics.
 

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kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
Beautiful male!
Is his wrist swollen?

Sounds like you're right...lid off too often. Sad ...but we all have to learn.

I'd still like to see the female.
 

Han0915

Member
Beautiful male!
Is his wrist swollen?

Sounds like you're right...lid off too often. Sad ...but we all have to learn.

I'd still like to see the female.


Thank you! I think it may just be a funky angle of his wrist, that's why it may appear swollen? I'll post some other pics of him from that day photo session!

And here's my little female! She is leaner than she usually is. I've been trying to slow down how often she lays, so been doing less frequent meals and such. She's laid 4 clutches since May from one breeding, so I'm trying to just slow things down a bit for her sake lol.

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Han0915

Member
Better for me to ask than ignore a possible issue!
Female looks good too.
Oh trust me I'm happy to answer any questions! I'm here to learn and improve at this hobby so I absolutely do appreciate it!! And thanks! She's a sweetheart, I'm just trying to delay her next clutch as naturally as I can. These eggs take such a toll on their health so I'm wanting to just try and give her a break lol. She's not too keen on the "less feeding" part of this all though LOL.
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
What's her basking temperature at now? Did you lower it along with the diet? Panthers are harder to slow down than veileds are.
 

salty dog

Chameleon Enthusiast
all females look the same, but are so sweet... impossible not to love them..........your male is exceptionally colorful!!!! underdeloped eggs or infertile... sometimes it happens.... but messing with too much and candling eggs kills them
 

Han0915

Member
What's her basking temperature at now? Did you lower it along with the diet? Panthers are harder to slow down than veileds are.
Her basking average 85-87F, which I've been experimenting with recently to try and get lower. The bulb I had switched to recently was for plants, but emitted more heat than I'd like so I will be changing that. I definitely have been wanting to get her temps to something more like 82-83F, if that's a good basking temp that may slow things down?

all females look the same, but are so sweet... impossible not to love them..........your male is exceptionally colorful!!!! underdeloped eggs or infertile... sometimes it happens.... but messing with too much and candling eggs kills them

Yeah, I adore the females sweet little smiling faces and just cute personalities! They are hard not to love! And I definitely think my eagerness/excitement plus paranoia played a role with the eggs problems. I did gently candle them with a pen light (doesn't get hot) to check for infertile eggs/ abnormal ones, but for movement, they were probably moving around just too much whenever I opened the lid. Going forward, I will only open the lid when it's to add water and take the fully hatched babies out or assist if needed, so I don't run that risk again. I know I was most likely responsible for those 9 eggs not fairing well, and I definitely agree that I was checking on them far too often. Now that I've gone through this and know what to expect when they begin hatching, I think my next clutch of 33 eggs will fair much better. I'm just grateful the current babies are as healthy as they are!! Some of them are nearly 1 month old and averaging at 1g, which is so amazing to see just how much growth has occurred already!! I'm so in love haha!

As for the runt, I don't have the most hope for him... because I'm essentially the only thing keeping him alive. He's made it for nearly a month as well, but has not grown besides 0.1g, weighing only 0.6g when his siblings are nearing 1g+. I don't have the heart to cull him, though I understand why many breeders do. If he makes it, he has a home with me for the rest of his life or my best friend, who absolutely adores his little specialness lol. I just don't know how a chameleon who can't feed or drink for themselves anymore will survive. He was eating and drink normally for 2 weeks all by himself with me just barely assisting, but now fully depends on me. It's obvious that he is very dehydrated as well, which has been a nightmare to try and fix. He gets fed mashed up fruit flies or pinheads that are mushed and dipped in some water and I can generally get almost 10 a day fed to him. He was one of the typical, weaker babies that many breeders have told me happens naturally in any clutch, and most either die or are culled. The 9 eggs that had the issues I think were a mixture of things along with my own doing sadly.
 

Han0915

Member
Not sure...likely some of each.
It says ingredients
Gotcha, I will see how the little guy is in the morning and grab those for him. He is getting severely dehydrated and his activity level today was worse than before. Tonight he was especially lethargic despite my best efforts to get some water into him. Crossing my fingers I was able to get SOME amount of water in and he bounces back tomorrow.

I'm just so in love with these little creatures. I truly wish I had unlimited space to just keep them all LOL but alas that's not possible haha. They definitely know how to pull on the heartstrings though.
 

Han0915

Member
Be careful giving it food or water that isn't aspirate it.

Unfortunately, I think that's what happened. He was declining so I tried once more to get him water, and I think he just may have aspirated. I did my best to help him, but he would no longer even swallow food or water. I'm heart broken, I feel terrible right now knowing I did that by mistake. I don't think he would've survived much longer, as he was losing weight, but ugh. This is the worst part of this hobby, is when you can't save them all.

I truly hope my 2nd clutch goes differently, with almost all babies hatching normally and healthy. I'll continue focusing on the perfect little 16 babies I have now, who are doing just wonderful, and try to keep looking forward. It really is hard though, losing this many in the beginning. : (
 

kinyonga

Chameleon Enthusiast
We still don't have a good handle on all the aspects of keeping chameleons...ll we can do is try and learn s we go along. Sorry you lost it.
 

Han0915

Member
We still don't have a good handle on all the aspects of keeping chameleons...ll we can do is try and learn s we go along. Sorry you lost it.

Yeah, I just still have a lot to learn going forward, and I still feel just terrible that it happened to him. But I can hopefully help many more just like him, now that I have an idea of what needs to be done. Trying to just think positive thoughts for the next clutch, and just going to enjoy the beautiful 16 babies I have now.
 
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