Female chameleons need a safe, comfortable place to lay their eggs for every clutch. A lay bin can be an easy way to ensure your chameleon can lay her eggs safely.
You can easily create your own chameleon lay bin. All you need is a clean container large enough for your chameleon to dig around in and some good substrate for digging.
While making a lay bin is simple, there are several factors to take into account when making your chameleon lay bin. Read on to learn more about how to make the best lay bin for your chameleon.
Table of Contents
How To Make A Lay Bin For Your Chameleon
1. Get a container
The container should be twice as deep as the length of your chameleon. It can be clear or solid-colored, although clear containers can help you find eggs laid along the side or bottom more easily.
You can use any of the following containers for your lay bin:
- Reptile feeding boxes (We recommend getting these)
- Tupperware tubs
- sterile storage containers
- plastic pots
- trash bins
If you use a clear container, you can tape trash bags along the side to block out the light. Regardless of the container, though, take care when collecting the eggs to avoid damaging them, even if you think you can see them all.
2. Get the right substrate
Fill that container with a substrate suitable for laying eggs.
- We highly recommend getting this substrate as it was made specifically for lay boxes.
A mix of organic soil and play sand is a good substrate for egg-laying. The layers of soil don’t need to be too deep, only about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) deep.
Unlike what some breeders may say, chameleons do not need to tunnel in order to lay their eggs. In fact, tunnels may create more problems as they are prone to collapse in such small environments as in lay bins.
In the wild, some species of chameleon dig deep burrows to keep their eggs safe, but the structural integrity of natural soil habitats is a bit more sturdy than small container ones.
Keep your substrate at a maximum of 8 inches (20cm) deep to prevent tunneling behavior.
Tip: Sprinkle some sand on top of the substrate. This will render your chameleon’s dig sites more visible to the naked eye, as light-colored sand more easily shows signs of disturbance than dark topsoil.
3. Keep the substrate moist, but ensure good drainage
The substrate should be moist and loose enough for digging. If you’re using only play sand, make sure to wash it so that it’s nice and damp.
You can drill tiny holes in the bottom of the lay bin to allow excess moisture to seep out. Chameleons will often dig to the bottom of the bins to lay their eggs and may choose to avoid laying their eggs in water-logged areas.
4. Vary the underground topography
When filling in the substrate, especially if this is the first time your chameleon is laying eggs, you can give your chameleon a variety of choices in terms of underground topography.
Some chameleons prefer to dig a bit deeper until they find a hard surface like a bigger rock and lay their eggs against that, for example.
Others like to dig under plants and lay their eggs among the roots of that plant.
So it is okay to test various things here, and we recommend putting small rocks or plants into that lay bin so your chameleon can choose what it prefers.
Vary your egg-laying bin topography as you get to know your chameleon and her habits. When raising chameleons, it’s up to you to adapt your methods to your particular chameleon’s needs.
5. Maintain a warm — but not too warm — temperature
Female chameleons can be kept at slightly cooler temperatures than males, as higher temps can overstimulate the egg-production process and create health problems.
Note that these temperatures will vary by species, so check what temperature is recommended for your species, and skew toward the lower end.
For many species, this will be 80-85 °F (26-29 °C) for basking, 72-75 F (22-24 C) for ambient temperature, and 62-65 °F (16-18 C) for night temperatures.
6. Ensure privacy
Chameleons are uniquely vulnerable when in egg-laying mode, and may get nervous if other eyes are watching them while they lay.
Keeping a distance and ensuring there are no distractions around the bin will help guarantee your chameleon gets the privacy she needs.
You can use a camera to monitor your chameleon’s egg-laying to observe where she lays her eggs without disturbing her.
A camera can also double as a way to monitor your chameleon’s behavior and see what could be improved or changed in future egg lays.
Do You Even Need A Lay Bin For Your Chameleon?
If you have soil-based substrate in your chameleon’s vivarium, then no, you don’t need an egg-laying bin. However, this soil must be managed and well-drained so that the soil isn’t molding or just too damp for egg-laying.
Lay bins can make it easier to find the eggs later, especially if they’re fertilized, to remove them and put them into incubation.
A lay bin also helps protect them from any damage when taking the eggs out of the cage and putting them in an incubator.
You can place the lay bin inside your chameleon’s vivarium, provided there’s enough space. The bin will be in her home environment, so the chameleon will probably feel more comfortable laying her eggs in there.
Can You Buy Lay Bins Online?
While you can’t exactly buy a ready-made lay bin on Amazon, you can buy the supplies you need there, or at any hardware store.
While you can get a little fancier with your bin if you like, you don’t need anything more than a container and some dirt.
You might also be able to get a ready-made egg-laying bin from someone in your local chameleon community if any other chameleon owners are within driving distance. Just don’t hesitate to ask!
Making a lay bin doesn’t have to be complicated, and you probably already have the supplies you need to make one.
As always, adapting your methods to your specific chameleon’s personality and needs will help make your chameleon’s egg-laying experience as comfortable as possible.