Do you know how iguanas are born? You may be surprised to find out the answer.
Iguanas lay eggs, just like most reptiles. Female iguanas can lay anywhere from 5 to 65 eggs. Green iguanas lay around 65 eggs at a time, leading to rapid population growth. Some people even call this species invasive.
If you want to know everything about iguanas laying eggs, the following guide is a must-read resource.
Do Iguanas Lay Eggs?
Lizards are known to lay eggs and not give live births. In fact, green iguanas can lay up to 65 eggs at a time. However, different species of iguanas can lay a much lower number of eggs.
Rock iguanas lay between 5 and 20 eggs at a time – far less than a green iguana.
Interestingly, iguanas burrow into the ground and lay their eggs. The reason for this habit is that iguanas need to have a very specific climate to thrive. Burrows have a temperature of 77°F – 89°F, which helps incubate the eggs.
A few fun facts about iguana births are:
- Mothers lay their eggs and never return to the location
- Baby iguanas survive on their own from the time of birth
- Many babies will die before they reach maturity
Incubation is between 60 and 85 days.
Did you know that iguanas are born with teeth, which help them break free of their eggs? I wrote a guide on this very topic, titled “Do Iguanas Have Teeth? How Many, Function, & Care.”
Do Male Iguanas Lay Eggs?
Only female iguanas are responsible for laying eggs and ensuring that the iguana species continues to thrive. However, as we’ll see in the next section, male iguanas may be less important than you think.
Do Iguanas Lay Eggs Without Mating?
Female iguanas will lay eggs around one time per year, and they can lay eggs without mating, too. She will continue to lay eggs every year from the time she reaches her sexual maturity.
The problem is that if she doesn’t mate, the eggs are pale and infertile.
If an iguana is to reproduce, she will need to mate with a male to fertilize the eggs. While there are certain seasons when mating is ideal, iguanas will take advantage of weather fluctuations and ideal conditions to mate.
What does this mean?
If the climate is going through an odd cycle where it’s warm and dry, iguanas will mate, even if it is not the “normal” time of year when they would normally mate.
Why Do Iguanas Lay Eggs?
Iguanas are part of the reptile family, and if you know anything about them, most reptiles will lay eggs. Egg laying is the most common form of reproduction for reptiles.
What Does an Iguana Egg Look Like?
When my iguana first laid eggs, I was shocked at how “normal” these eggs actually looked. However, they are smaller in size and have a whitish-brown coloring. The brown is more of a thick speckle, which makes the eggs look almost like a rock.
I’m not sure why the eggs look like a rock, but it may be a form of camouflage to protect them from predators. When cleaned off, the eggs are white in color instead of being covered in the dirt of the burrow.
Some females will produce a pale-cream egg or what is considered a “leathery white” appearance.
How Big Are Iguana Eggs?
I’ve never thought to measure my iguana’s eggs before, but I have read that their eggs are:
- 15.4mm in diameter
- 30 – 40mm in length
Eggs are typically two inches in length, but they can be slightly smaller or bigger, too.
Once iguanas hatch and reach maturity, they can live quite a long time in captivity. If you want to learn more about iguana lifespans, read my guide titled “How Long Do Iguanas Live? Plus Tips to Increase Lifespan.”
What Time of The Year Do Iguanas Lay Eggs?
Iguana expert James W. Hatfield explains in his book “Green Iguana The Ultimate Owner’s Manual” that mating takes place between the end of October and the first week in December. However, this period can change based on location and climate.
- Breeding begins in Arizona in October and lasts through February
- Breeding begins in California around the first of December and lasts through February
Based on this information, it’s easy to see that drier climates tend to have longer mating seasons. If you have an iguana in a controlled environment, its breeding season may also vary.
You’ll need to research the typical breeding period in your region to have a better understanding of the breeding season.
If you have a female iguana, you can even predict this season by remaining cautious of her egg-laying habits. She will lay eggs around the ideal mating season, even if her eggs are infertile due to not mating with a male.
When Do Iguanas Lay Eggs in Florida?
Florida is an interesting state because you can walk down the road and see green iguanas running wild in a habitat that is ideal for them most times of the year. As we learned previously, iguanas like to mate during warm and dry seasons.
Florida is warm, but there are also rainy seasons, which aren’t ideal for mating.
According to Florida’s Fish and Wildlife, green iguanas tend to mate during the months of October and November. Nesting will occur in the following areas:
- Sandy areas
Interesting behavior has been witnessed in the state, too. For example, the source states that when the iguana digs egg chambers, they’ll often include multiple entrances and may have tunnels that connect and are up to 80 feet in length.
Some iguanas have laid 76 eggs in a single season, which is one of the reasons why the reptile is considered an invasive species in the state. The invasive problem has reached such a high level that residents are allowed to capture and humanely kill them year-round.
Since iguanas tend to lay eggs near bodies of water, you may be wondering if they can swim. I wrote a guide on this called, “Can Iguanas Swim? Everything You Need to Know” that will answer your question.
How Often Do Iguanas Lay Eggs?
Typically, iguanas will lay eggs once per year, but the egg laying process may take several days. Once an iguana has reached sexual maturity, she’ll lay eggs annually.
However, once mating occurs, you can expect the female to lay eggs in 65 days.
How Many Eggs do Iguanas Lay?
Iguanas can lay 5 – 65+ eggs in a single season. As you just read, some iguanas may lay up to 76 eggs or more at a single time. Green iguanas seem to lay the most eggs, which is likely why they’re the most common iguana pet species.
You have to remember that just because 76 eggs are laid, this doesn’t mean that you’ll have an equal number of baby iguanas.
In captivity, the survival rate of baby iguanas is much higher because it’s possible to control their environment and eliminate the risk of predators eating them. With that said, if they’re in the wild, many of these iguanas will die.
Parenting and caring for their babies is not something that a female or male iguana will do on their own naturally.
Thankfully, iguanas are born with the teeth they need to break through the eggshell and enter the world. Also, the teeth will allow them to forage for their own food and begin fending for themselves without their mothers.
How Long Does It Take for an Iguana Egg to Hatch?
Iguana eggs have an incubation period of 90 – 120 days before they hatch. Eggs will need to be at the ideal temperature to incubate, which is why the female iguana is so diligent in her approach to burrowing.
When she makes tunnels and burrows for her eggs, she ensures that the eggs can remain at the right temperature for incubation.
Maintaining the ideal incubation temperature range will increase the likelihood of eggs hatching and the baby iguanas being healthy.
How to Know if an Iguana Egg Contains a Hatchling
If you love iguanas in the same way that I do, you’ll be very excited to see your first egg. Knowing what is inside the egg is a big mystery, but you can use an approach known as “candling” to catch a glimpse of the embryo.
The process involves:
- Lighting a candle
- Holding the candle far from the egg
- Inching the candle closer to shine a light through the egg
Oftentimes, you’ll be able to see the embryo inside of the egg. If the inside is dark, the egg is not fertile, or the embryo is yet to develop.
What to Do If Your Iguana Lays an Egg?
It’s normal and natural for iguanas to lay eggs, and your pet will give you some signs that she’s about to lay a clutch:
- Gaining weight without diet changes
- Easily irritated
The egg-laying process is a physically demanding one, so your female iguana will likely be feeling exhausted after the ordeal.
Make sure that she has access to fresh food and water to keep up her strength. She should be able to reach her basking spot easily and enjoy a good rest.
If you notice that your iguana is having a tough time laying her eggs, don’t hesitate to contact your vet. Your vet may also recommend giving a calcium supplement until she lays her clutch.
Making an Egging Box
If you know that your iguana is going to lay eggs, you can create an egging box to make the process as natural and comfortable as possible.
An egging box will give her a place to dig a burrow to lay her eggs. The size of the egging box will depend on the size of your iguana.
- For smaller iguanas, two kitty litter pans may work well. Tape them together rim to rim and leave an access hole for her to lay her eggs.
- For bigger iguanas, you may need to use an outdoor trash can.
You can fill the egging box with a mixture of sterile potting soil, sterile sand and water to recreate a natural burrow.
Introduce your iguana to the burrow slowly, and make sure that you place it in a warm, quiet location. Ask your vet for advice on your egging box setup and to ensure that it’s right for your iguana.
A female iguana can take 10 hours to lay her eggs, so be patient.
Once she’s done laying her eggs, she will crawl out and collapse in her basking area. If you can’t place her egging box near her basking spot, make a new one near the box for her.
Have some food ready for her so that she can start recovering from the ordeal.
Don’t be alarmed if she looks a little worse-for-wear after laying eggs. It can take a few weeks for iguanas to look like their normal selves after laying eggs.
Just keep a close eye on her and be prepared to get in touch with your vet if she’s showing any signs of metabolic bone disease.
Do Iguanas Lay Eggs in Trees?
Iguanas are arboreal creatures, which means that they live in trees. Does that mean that they also lay their eggs in trees? No.
A few weeks after a female mates, she looks for a nesting site. Once she finds the perfect spot, she will start digging a burrow.
In that burrow, she’ll create a special little chamber for her eggs. Then, once she lays her eggs, she will leave the burrow and fill it in with dirt, leaving just a little air pocket in the egg chamber for her babies.
Are Iguana Eggs Edible?
If your iguana is laying eggs, you may be wondering whether you can eat them. In some countries, they actually do eat iguana eggs. Many South American countries consider iguana eggs a delicacy.
Some people say they taste like rich cheese.
But I don’t recommend eating your iguana’s eggs. Why? Because of the risk of salmonella.
Remember that iguanas carry salmonella in their intestinal tracts, and that bacteria can be transmitted to you through anything that comes in contact with their feces. That includes their eggs.
So, while you can technically eat their eggs, it’s better to be safe than sorry and avoid it.