The Iguana Den





Once a female iguana reaches maturity (usually around 2 years of age or 10 inches snout to vent) they may become gravid (produce eggs). Like many species of reptiles, iguanas can produce and lay eggs even without a male iguana around. Gravidity and egg laying can be a stressful time for an iguana, and gravid females need special care to keep them healthy.

The first thing to be aware of are signs that your iguana may be gravid. Increased weight, decreased appetite, and increased agitation - pacing or digging at the cage - are all signs your female may be gravid. When you start noticing these signs, it is time to take your iguana to the vet for a checkup. This vet visit is extremely important because other health problems can sometimes show the same signs as gravidity. Once at the vet, it is a good idea to have x-rays or an ultrasound done, and also bloodwork. Making eggs takes a lot of calcium from the mom ig, and your vet may want to prescribe some supplements during this time.

After your vet visit, it is time to prepare the nesting box. It is important that you have a nesting area set up for your iguana some time before they are ready to lay eggs so that they have time to get used to it. A plastic trash can with a hole cut in it, filled with a potting soil/sand mix that is kept slightly moist, makes a good nesting box. Put a human heating pad set on low under the box to keep it warm inside. Make sure you keep the area quiet, your ig does not need any more stress at this time.

Once your iguana has laid her eggs, you can remove the eggs and nesting box and discard the eggs. It's a good practice to freeze any eggs overnight before discarding to prevent any chance of future hatching in a landfill. Iguanas do not have maternal instincts and do not care for their eggs or young. She will not miss the eggs. After she lays, she will be pretty wiped out! Make sure she has plenty of fresh water, offer her fresh greens, and make sure she can easily get to her basking spot and UVB. After she has had a chance to recover, it is time for another trip to the vet. You will need another set of x-rays to determine if there are any unlaid eggs still inside her. It is important that all eggs be laid, as retained eggs can cause health problems.

A healthy, well kept iguana usually has no problems laying eggs in captivity. However, iguanas who have not had proper care, and even some healthy ones, can have problems laying eggs. They may become eggbound, or unable to lay. Situations like this definitely call for a vet. Your vet may try to induce labor, or may recommend a spay. Discuss your options with your vet to decide what is the best choice for your iguana.

While on the subject of eggs, we also need to touch on the subject of breeding. Iguanas are farmed in South America and shipped to the US by the thousands. Many die in transit, and many more die due to poor care and uneducated owners. Even more end up in rescues and shelters or are euthanized when their owners can no longer care for them. Iguanas are not widely captive bred in the US because pet stores can get them for just a few dollars each from the farms. Please be a responsible owner and do NOT breed your iguana. The shelters and rescues are already overrun with iguanas, and turn away more than they can take in. Finding good homes for iguanas is extremely difficult, as any rescue operator can tell you.

Gravid Iguana
Gravid Iguana
Gravid Iguana
Gravid Iguana
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