Lizard reproduction is a complicated subject.
With thousands of species of lizards, their reproduction processes vary from one lizard to the next.
But one universal question remains, do lizards lay eggs?
Yes, most lizards lay eggs, except a few species that give live birth to their young.
Let’s explore the lizard reproduction cycle and how to care for your pet lizard’s eggs while in your care.
Table of Contents
Lizard Reproduction Cycle
The lizard reproduction cycle might not be what you’d expect. Yes, most lizards lay eggs, but their breeding season is dictated by cycles of temperature, rainfall, and food availability. Fluctuation also happens with males as their testicles adjust during the breeding season. Their behavior also changes and becomes more aggressive and territorial with that season.
Lizards reach sexual maturity based on their size. In the wild, standard sexual maturity ages range from 1-2 years for small lizards and up to 4 years for large lizards. For pet lizards, however, environmental conditions have a lot of control over how rapidly they sexually mature.
Why Temperature Matters?
There are a few types of lizards, like the leopard gecko, which have what scientists call “temperature-dependent sex determination.” This means that the sex of the developing fetus is dictated by the temperature in which the eggs incubate.
Here again, the species of lizard determines what that temperature is. Additionally, a range of temperatures is required to produce both sexes at varying rates, which means the incubators that breeders use, aren’t typically accurate. You can read this scientific study about lizard sex chromosome systems to learn more.
Lizard Reproductive Strategies
The reproduction strategies of lizards vary. How a lizard lays eggs and the hatching process change depending on the lizard species. A generalized breakdown of their reproductive strategies includes the following.
Strategy 1. Laying eggs (oviparous)
Not all female lizards lay eggs, but most do.
Strategy 2. Egg-carrying (ovoviviparous)
In most female lizards, the eggs stay within her until she gives live birth. Lizards such as monitors, iguanids, geckos, chameleons, and water dragons all have the ovoviviparous reproduction stage.
Strategy 3. Live birth (viviparous)
Some lizards give live birth after carrying eggs internally. These lizard species include blue-tongued skinks, shingle-backed skin, Jackson’s chameleon, and prehensile-tailed skin.
Strategy 4. Asexual Reproduction (parthenogenic)
Asexual reproduction is found in some lizards, like the whiptail lizard, which are all female. Scientists have identified at least 30 different species of lizards that reproduce asexually.
Do Lizards Lay Eggs?
Even though lizards use different reproduction methods, most do lay eggs. Yet, while you might be expecting all lizards to lay the same number of eggs, they differ greatly in the number of eggs laid.
One example of this is anoles. They lay just one egg at a time. Other lizards, like skinks, lay two eggs, and geckos typically lay one or two eggs.
Alternatively, some large lizards, like iguanas, can lay more than 50 eggs simultaneously!
A more accurate answer to how many eggs lizards lay is it depends on the mother’s size, age, and health.
What Do Lizard Eggs Look Like?
Lizard eggs are porous and have a leather-like exterior. They expand when they absorb moisture with the embryo’s growth. Egg-laying geckos have harder eggs and don’t change in size. The color of lizard eggs is usually white, brown, or light green with an oval shape.
How Many Eggs Do Lizards Lay?
Most lizards lay four to eight eggs. As we previously noted, depending on the lizard species, however, that number varies greatly.
Where Do Lizards Lay Eggs?
Giving birth, or laying eggs, is a private affair that a mother lizard takes seriously. For this reason, she likes to lay her eggs in moist, dark areas like sheds, decks, and under woodpiles. You can find nesting sites under shrubs and tall grassy areas. The smaller and younger a female lizard is, the fewer eggs she produces.
If you have a lizard problem at home, a few places to check for nesting sites include cluttered basements and cabinets under sinks. Cluttered basements make the perfect nesting ground because they are moist and full of private hiding places. Cabinets, too, are great spots because, once again, they are damp and dark. Insects also love hanging out under the kitchen sink, which makes for an easy meal for freshly born lizards.
These two spots are the primary place where house lizards lay their eggs.
How to Care for Your Pet Lizard’s Eggs
What if you have a pet lizard that lays eggs? Now that you have the unexpected joy of caring for lizard eggs, you may be wondering the best way to do it. With the right care, you can ensure your lizard’s eggs hatch into adorable little lizard hatchlings.
To start, set up an incubator. Lay the eggs on top of the proper substance, place them into a container, and don’t disturb them. Here’s how to do that properly.
Choosing A Container
The size of your lizard determines the size of the container you’ll use. Small eggs are easily placed inside deli cups and plastic containers. A bit larger eggs can be placed into sandwich containers, and the largest of eggs can be put inside larger plastic containers.
Next, cover the container and poke holes in the lid for ventilation. You’ll also want to measure the container to ensure you get the right incubator for it.
Buy An Incubator
Since reptiles require warmth to survive, you’re lizard eggs will need an incubator. These devices regulate the egg’s temperature as they prepare for hatching. Keep them insulated at a constant temperature and have clear sides to watch them easily. You can buy incubators from pet stores, farm supply stores, and online [affiliate link here].
The best incubators are Hovabator incubators because they are fairly inexpensive and frequently recommended by lizard owners.
Get A Thermometer
Regardless of the type of incubator you buy, the thermometer is the most important element in helping your lizard’s eggs to hatch. The key here is to ensure your thermometer is working correctly. The exact temperature of your incubator varies depending on the lizard species.
Do your homework and research which temperature is appropriate for your lizard. Most lizards prefer temperatures of around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Opting Out of An Incubator
If you don’t have the means or space for an incubator, you can leave the lizard eggs in the vivarium. Learn how your species of lizard prefers to lay its eggs, whether out in the open or dug underground before you proceed.
For lizards that lay their eggs in the open, use a deli cup with a hole and place it directly over them. Put a damp paper towel under the cup to prevent their eggs from drying out.
For lizards that bury their eggs, use a light layer of the substrate over the eggs and place a thermometer directly next to them to check their temperatures.
Either way, leverage heat lamps and heating pads to manage the vivarium’s temperature correctly.
Use A Pencil To Mark Them
Once you uncover eggs, don’t turn them. Lizard eggs start growing immediately and attach to the side of the eggshell. When you find eggs, use a pencil to gently mark the side of the egg facing you when you find them. This helps you recognize where the top of the egg is, so you don’t damage its contents–the lizard! Once you move the eggs, place them upwards so you don’t accidentally hurt the lizard.
Detach The Eggs
If you find your lizard’s eggs early enough where they are still stuck together, carefully separate them. Don’t force any of them apart, however, as that could damage the egg.
Use Water-Proof Incubation Containers
Use water to keep your egg incubator humid enough to sustain the lives of young lizards. Ensure that the water you use and the container stay sterile, too. Any mold or fungi growth around the eggs could prove fatal.
Add about two inches of water to the bottom of the incubation container to help the eggs grow naturally. You’ll also want to use reptile medium, a mold-resistant sand-like substance. Sand, moss, and perlite can all be used as a medium for your incubator. Ensure you add enough water to keep it from clumping together and not so much that water leaks out when squeezed.
Use The Finger Method Before Moving Eggs
Before moving an egg, use your finger to make a small indentation into the incubator’s medium where the egg will go. This gives the egg a safe place to land, so it doesn’t roll around and hurt the embryo. This is almost like burying the egg. It should be half-covered with the medium, too.
Move The Eggs
Now that you’ve done the hard work, carefully move the eggs from the vivarium to the incubator. Before you get started, wash your hands thoroughly. Once ready to move them into the selected container, ensure they stay upright, with the pencil marking at the top. Don’t roll them. Place them inside the container in the medium.
Add The Container to The Incubator
After you’ve moved all of your lizard’s eggs into the container, close the lid. Then, place the container in the incubator. Write down when they were laid and added to the incubator, and then determine when you expect them to hatch. Mark that date on the calendar and monitor the temperature inside the incubator. From there, your job is easy! Most small lizard eggs take between 40 and 60 days to hatch and up to 8 months for larger lizards like Komodo Dragons.
Want To Learn More About Lizards?
Lizards are predators and pets, but when it comes to reproduction, they want healthy babies like any other species. Whether you own a pet lizard or are just curious about how they exist in the wild, follow the OddlyCute blog to learn how they live, breed, and hunt.
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