Iguana Breeding: Best Tips And Everything You Should Know

Iguana owners, like all the other pet owners, will naturally desire to breed their reptiles. The issue is that iguanas are notoriously difficult to reproduce in captivity.

First and foremost, before you decide to breed them, you must understand their behavior and breeding circumstances. You must also know how to build a nest and incubate eggs properly.

This article provides all the information you need to know about breeding iguanas and taking care of their eggs.

Cute Reptiles as Pets
Cute Reptiles as Pets

Everything About Iguana Breeding

The total number of iguanas globally is approximately 200,000 to 300,000. Iguanas have become the sought-after pets for animal lovers due to their pleasing and loving personalities. They have a good memory and can tell their owners and family apart from strangers.

Breeding season in iguanas is often prompted by the weather and occurs once per year, around the end of summer, with the female carrying and depositing the eggs over the winter months. Specifically, in the wild, iguanas breed during the dry season while in captivity, they breed at any time from late fall to early spring.

When Can An Iguana Start Breeding?

Most iguanas are reproductively ready when they reach the age of three to four years. They may also reach maturity earlier. Adult female iguanas typically cycle once per year. They have been observed ovipositing in late fall and early spring.

The season or time for breeding generally differs when iguanas are in the wild or captivity. When they begin, iguana owners usually face challenges when dealing with it as their moods and specific needs change.

Mating Season of Iguana

In the wild, iguanas tend to reproduce during the dry season, ensuring that offspring hatch during the rainy season when food is more plentiful. The females carry and lay the eggs, and incubate in winter or when food has become scarce.

Iguanas are able to reproduce from late fall to early spring at any time. When your iguana’s behavior changes – males become more active and bob their heads – you will know it’s time to procreate. They can also perform push-ups, and some male green iguanas can alter their skin color to a brilliant orange or yellow.

Even females can but not to the same extent. The breeding season for captive iguanas varies based on where they are located, how much sun exposure they get, and their interactions with accompanying iguanas (if any) in the same enclosure.

Other common symptoms include increasing aggression or being more direct, and a lack of enthusiasm over handling. Female iguanas can be aggressive as well, albeit not quite to a similar degree.

Find A Mate And Mating Behaviors

During the breeding season, iguanas may become extremely hostile against other iguanas and even their owners. This is natural, and you should use caution during this season and limit your handling.

Male iguanas become violent toward other males to establish themselves as dominating figures in their region. They can be harsh toward other female iguanas and also their female owners. All of this is related to increased testosterone levels.

Male iguanas are dominating and combative while attempting to mate. In the wild, only some males can get a female to mate. After being together for some time, the female iguana chooses her mate and they reproduce.

Pick tranquil and fit iguanas for mating in captivity, and aim to introduce them solely for breeding. Female and male iguanas are able to procreate especially if they have lived together. Another possibility is to reintroduce a female to another male.

Polygynandrous mating appears to be the norm. Courtship takes place inside a designated zone that may contain more than one female. Male-on-male conflict is not rare.

Male courting activity involves head bobbing, extending and retracting the dewlap, and rubbing with nose or mouth or nipping the neck of a female. The males also use a waxy pheromone-containing material released by their pores to mark branches, rocks and females.

The male approaches the female during mating and gets on her back, getting on top of her. To confine his partner, he holds her shoulder skin with his teeth, usually creating injuries in the process. The male and female connect through their cloacal vent. The male inserts one of his hemipenes into the female’s cloaca.

Copulation lasts for a few minutes. Females have the ability to store sperm for years. This gives them the chance to fertilize eggs at a later time.

When mating, male iguanas can get aggressive and hurt a female by seizing her throat. If you are breeding for iguanas in captivity, attempt to oversee the breeding and, if required, separate both iguanas when needed.

iguanas mating
A pair of iguanas mating

Gestation Of A Iguana

About 65 days after mating, the female iguana is now prepared to lay her eggs. Her size, nutritional health, and maturity all influence the size and quantity of eggs she produces.

The eggs are usually 15.4 mm in diameter and 35 to 40 mm in length. These eggs are laid into a nest for 3 days at an average of 10 to 30. They are leather white or pale cream in color.

Their nest is about 45 cm deep to more than a meter. If the space is limited, their nest is also shared with other females. After depositing their eggs, the females return to their nest many times.

How To Help Iguanas Breed?

Changes in the surroundings and foods of the iguana are required for effective breeding. First and foremost, your iguanas, particularly the females, must be healthy and receive adequate calcium and D3 supplements. These females require calcium and vitamin D3 when they are in the process of producing eggs.

Most iguanas grow engaged in reproducing when the days become lengthier, with the longer photoperiod, and increased humidity and temperatures. These are natural occurrences in the wild, and you must ensure to create similar conditions in replicating them in captivity.

Gravid Iguana
Gravid Iguana

Are Iguanas Easy To Breed In Captivity?

No, they can be somewhat difficult to replicate in captivity. Even with experts and highly competent herpetologists, some zoos struggle to get them to procreate reliability when in captivity.

If they were able to reproduce successfully and the eggs turn out to be viable, the egg-laying or oviposition and incubation will pose the next challenges in the process.

How To Help Female Iguanas Breeding

Female iguanas in excellent health will have one of two possible outcomes at the end of producing follicles, developing eggs. If the female is in great bodily condition, her ovaries may mature, develop follicles, and then regenerate them if the conditions are not conducive to laying, with no additional or lingering difficulties.

The cycle will start throughout the next breeding season. The transformations that a female iguana goes through in regards to her skin turning orange or red are typically the same.

Just several weeks before the actual mating, introduce your female iguana or iguanas to your male iguana. One male can mate with one or more females for a period.

How To Help Male Iguanas Breed

If you have a male, you should expect some color changes. Orange and rusty red markings begin to blend with his adult colors. It starts with his head, neck, back and the tops of his legs.

As the 18-month milestone approaches, the color will become more vibrant and spread across a larger region. This is also the time when iguanas that had previously lived in harmony may begin to exhibit indications of incompatibility. Other males will start to act differently.

Increased restlessness, lateral torso compression, dewlap flaring, head bobbing, crab-walking, and ritualized tail motions are all posturing examples.

Slowly raise the temperature in the enclosure, offer more illumination against shade, and bump up the humidity in the tank. Checking outdoor temperatures at sunrise and sunset might help you simulate the natural habitat.

Set your alarm for the intervals. These changes apply to both sexes as these are also necessary to help female iguanas in breeding.

Female Iguanas Lay Egg

After becoming pregnant, your iguana will be gravid or pregnant for around 65 to 85 days. This gestational period will vary depending on humidity and temperature. Higher humidity is more favorable.

The lower temperature, the longer the gestation takes. She will refuse food for two to five weeks before producing eggs. The females usually lay 10 up to 65 eggs, 40 on average. You must expect to see pale, white- or cream-colored eggs that measure 1.5 inches long each. They will also look like they have a leathery texture.

Iguana Breeding
First-time female iguana laying some eggs

The Habit Of Laying Eggs

The top priority of a female iguana is to prepare a nest. She will make certain that she finds a suitable location to lay her eggs before doing so.

If she has not discovered a suitable place for her eggs, she may fail to lay them and become egg-bound. If this occurs, you will need to take your female iguana to the clinic for surgical egg removal.

This is why it is critical that you establish a safe area for her to evaluate and select as a nesting location. If she fails to choose one, she will keep searching. Some female iguanas even deposit their eggs in various locations. Do not take a chance by simply establishing one place; instead, be prepared for this circumstance.

Females in the wild exhibit extensive nesting activities. Female iguanas have been observed sharing beach areas and even nesting habitats with other females when space is limited. These reptiles may begin to exhibit nest-searching and nest-building behavior in captivity.

Pet iguanas have been observed digging up planters in the home in an attempt to construct a nest. If a suitable place is not available, females are capable of storing their ova and using them for the next laying season.

Because iguanas need an extremely hot environment, they lay their eggs in areas where they get the most sun exposure. Female iguanas also dig to protect and keep their babies.

A clutch is a collection of eggs laid by a female iguana. Each clutch can contain between 20 and 71 eggs, with an average of approximately 40. The eggs are creamy-white and leathery in appearance, measuring around 1.5 inches long.

Even in the absence of a male, female iguanas can continue to reproduce and ovulate. You may confirm if she is gravid through observation. You will notice bulges on the sides of her stomach.

Hatching Iguana Eggs In The Wild

Female iguanas do not stay around to nurture the nest in the wild. The females leave once the eggs have been placed and the soil has been brushed off the mound. 

However, there is some rivalry amongst females in some locations when appropriate egg-laying sites are scarce. So, females who have placed eggs in these spots will frequently hang around and protect their nest to prevent other females from mistakenly digging up the guarding female’s eggs while excavating space for their own.

Incubation lasts for iguana eggs from three to four months over a temperature range of 85 to 91 degrees Fahrenheit.

How To Care For Iguana Eggs? 

Caring and nurturing for the eggs ensure that they will hatch safely and will grow healthily. Providing their needs guarantees that the hatching process will be successfully done and administered. 

This caring process provides these eggs a level of protection from their surroundings and potential predators. It will also make sure that the baby iguanas will start strong and in good condition after hatching.

Prepare A Nest Box For Your Iguana

How do you bring your iguana to lay eggs in a nest? The greatest form of the nest would be hiding where she could enter to lay her eggs. This might be a huge, thick cardboard box with a door on one side of the enclosure.

You may put a box under its enclosure and fill it with sand. It will be used by the female to bury her egg.

You should build this box as soon as you find out your iguana is pregnant as it will help increase the iguana’s maternal trust and desire to lay eggs. If your iguana is unable to walk or move during pregnancy, take her to the clinic for an injection.

Make a hole in a box. Ensure it is large enough for a female iguana to enter. You may also use plastic containers such as long garbage cans, but make sure they are large enough for the iguana to enter and sit in. Wooden chambers are an additional alternative. You have to ensure that it feels comfortable inside.

The moist substrate must next be placed on the flooring of the box. Be careful in including enough substrate since iguanas will dig deep to lay their eggs. 

Remember not to add any decorations, furniture, or rocks since this will disrupt the egg-laying iguana and cause her to abandon the egg-laying position. No light should be present in the nesting box. Ensure that the humidity is high as well.

As a substrate, you may use wet soil, perlite, and sphagnum moss. You should then combine one of these soils with 1⁄2 sand. Soil and sand are required since iguanas burrow in them to lay their eggs. Sand should only be used as a nesting location, not throughout the vivarium.

Note: Once the eggs have been laid, Your iguana will be thirsty after producing eggs, so provide plenty of water and spray her two to three times each day.

Iguana Eggs Incubating

After the iguana mother has placed her egg in the hiding box, place it in the incubator. During the egg movement, do not forget to wear latex gloves to keep your hands clean since the eggs are bacteria-sensitive, even with frequent and consistent handwashing.

You must be cautious when taking their eggs since the mother will become more worried and hostile if her eggs are threatened. You may raise it using the back of a spoon.

Then place the eggs in the same area in the incubator. To build a low-cost incubator, use a plastic box that is also covered in plastic. The lid regulates the humidity within the tank.

To minimize humidity, open the lid for about three minutes every day. Mix in some vermiculite and water in the same volume. Vermiculite must be both moist and dry. Add some warm water.

The temperature must be about 85 up to 91 degrees Fahrenheit. Because you must ensure that the temperature remains steady, keep a thermometer in a visible location at all times. 

The incubation period ranges from 90 to 120 days. Check on the eggs every day throughout this period.

The hatchlings open the egg using a particular egg tooth known as the caruncle, which comes off immediately after hatching. For the first week or two of an iguana’s existence, the yolk supplies the majority of its nutrition.

How to breed and hatch iguana eggs in captivity [Source: Reptile’s story]

Gender And Appearance Of Baby Iguana 

Young iguanas are colorful, usually showing green or blue-green with black chevrons. The general appearance of iguanas includes dusty brown back legs or sides and blue dorsal spines.

The spines along the back are tiny, particularly observed in females. Female iguanas have sleeker and longer bodies. They have smaller skulls.

Caring for a young iguana includes providing adequate shelter and nourishment. Its tank must be large enough to allow its development, and it must have enough quantities of light, water, and temperature. Its food must also be managed to provide enough fresh greens and low protein levels.

You will not be able to tell the sex of the baby iguana unless it grows older. When they do, you will notice that male iguanas are notably bigger than females. They may have lumps on the tops of their heads and longer spikes running down their backs.

Males are also more likely to have a huge dewlap beneath their chin and massive muscles near to their mouths than females. Male iguanas appear to have big jowls due to their muscles. On the insides of their legs, male iguanas have visible femoral pores.

FAQs

How many times a year do iguanas lay eggs?

When female iguanas reach their sexual maturity, they will lay approximately 20 to 70 eggs once per year.

What month is the breeding season for iguanas?

In the wild, iguanas breed at the end of summer while in captivity, they breed at any time through the end of autumn through spring.

How many babies can an iguana have at one time?

Different kinds of iguanas lay varying numbers of eggs at one time. For example, green iguanas lay 20 to 71 eggs, blue iguanas 1 to 21 eggs, and marine iguanas lay 1 to 6 eggs.

Do iguanas stay with their babies?

Females may return to the nest multiple times after depositing the eggs, but they do not stay to defend it.

Conclusion

Iguanas can be very interesting reptiles and breeding them can be highly anticipated. As an owner, you have to remember the normal stages of mating and breeding so you would be better equipped when evaluating the needs of your pet. 

Adjustments in the iguana’s housing and food are needed for optimal reproduction. We hope this article has been helpful in educating you about iguana breeding.