Iguana Egg Incubation
How To Incubate Iguana Eggs - Rear Hatchlings
Incubating Iguana Eggs
Every year iguanas are placed in rescues, abandoned and even released into the wild (Invasive Florida Iguanas) because the owners were not prepared for the size or temperament of the iguana they bought. With the growing amount of iguanas in rescues not being adopted out, why would anyone wish to contribute to those numbers? It is understandable if you are breeding your iguana to hatch out a baby that you intend on keeping for its 20+ year lifespan. Its another thing entirely when you intend on incubating an entire clutch with the intent of selling the offspring or adopting them out. not only are you being irresponsible by introducing more iguanas into an already flooded market, but you are also ensuring that more than 3/4 of them are going to die a slow and painful death from poor husbandry. There are far too many iguanas brought into the pet trade every year and as responsible owners we shouldn't be contributing to those numbers.
Did You Know...
Did you know that 9 out of 10 iguanas are abandoned or die each year? Unless you intend on keeping the offspring you incubate, please dispose of the eggs as described below so you don't contribute to those numbers.
Freezing or boiling the eggs you have decided not to incubate is the safest form of disposal. Tossing them in the trash or burying them outside doesn't mean the egg will not incubate and hatch. Once the eggs have been frozen for 24 hours or have been boiled solid, you can then safely toss them in your trash or bury them outside to dispose of them.
Female iguanas will lay eggs without having mated. If this is the case with your iguana, you can skip the freezing step as the eggs are not fertile.
Still want to incubate those eggs? Dang, I was hoping I had changed your mind by now. Well if you are going to do it, you may as well do it correctly. Instructions on how to properly incubate your iguana eggs can be found below.
Juvenile Green Iguana
You can use any container that will hold moisture and maintain its rigidity during incubation. Sterilite, Rubbermaid, Tupperware and Ziploc all make a variety of products that can be used as incubation containers. Most incubation containers will cost under $5.00 and can be used repeatedly and cleaned between uses.
Vermiculite is a common medium used for incubation. A ration of 2 parts medium to one part water is typically ideal. This is done by weight and not by volume. Weigh your medium and then divide that by 2. The number you come up with is how much the water should weigh. Make sure you create dimples to receive the eggs. The dimples should be deep enough so that they cover 3/4 of the eggs.
Play sand is also an excellent incubation medium. Sand holds its shape wonderfully when damp and works excellent inside of nesting boxes as well. The sand should be the consistency of sand used for sand castles at the beach. If the sand is too wet, it will not hold the shape. If the sand is too dry, it will crumble. Sand is perfect for those who choose to incubate the eggs inside of the nesting box itself.
Iguana eggs are oval opposed to being round like other eggs. They are soft and pliable or may have a rough texture but they are not hard like bird eggs. When handling the eggs you need to ensure that you don't squeeze them.
Place the eggs gently into the dimpled medium holes you should have created for the eggs already. They should be roughly 3/4 buried. This will allow the eggs to breath and will allow you to monitor them. In the wild the eggs would be covered 100%.
Your incubator should be up and running before you place the eggs in. Your incubator should be running at a constant 83° - 86°. These are ideal temperatures for hatching out eggs at or around 90 days, though they can hatch as early as 75 days or as long as 120 days. Avoid temperatures higher than 88° as this will increase the risk of birth defects in the babies and can even kill the developing iguanas if they are subjected to temps higher than that for any longevity.
You will need a quality digital thermometer to monitor the eggs. Digital thermometers with an external probe are ideal. You can place the probe inside your incubator with the base outside of the incubator. This will allow you to monitor the temperatures without the consistent need to open and close the incubator, releasing the heat and humidity causing constant fluctuations. Incubator ideas can be found on our Iguana Egg Incubator page.
As the iguanas near their hatching date they will pierce their eggs with a little egg tooth they are born with, sometimes called a caruncle and it typically falls off within days of pipping. Many of them will rest after they open their egg and should not be assisted in coming out. They will continue to absorb their yolk after they have emerged and can go days - weeks without food and water.
Green Iguana Hatching
The offspring of iguanas in the wild are observed eating the soil from their nests as well as the feces from their parents. This helps their gut to obtain the proper bacteria required to digest vegetation. In captivity we use yogurt as a means of supplying their gut with bacteria. Most iguanas will readily accept fruit yogurts and should be offered some daily for 1-2 weeks. Following this 1-2 week period they should be more than capable of digesting the greens they have already been eating.
Hydration is important with hatchlings so they should receive daily baths. This will allow them to drink from the water as well as swim. The water doesn't need to be more than 3/4" deep and should be around 80°. Hatchlings also do well in an enclosure that is slightly warmer than that of its parents. The added warmth helps keep their immune system at peek levels while they adjust to the world. More information on heating can be found on our Iguana Heating page. Everything else should be identical to that of the adults and juveniles.
Author: Richard Brooks
Iguana Hatching © Adam Christian