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Breeding the Green Iguana – Indoor and Outdoor Nest Sites – Part 1

Those of you with a mature pair of Green Iguanas (Iguana iguana) may expect to see courtship behavior in February/March (Note: males may become aggressive at this time, please see article below).  While these huge lizards can be quite a handful, captive breeding is a worthwhile experience that you’ll not soon forget.

If not provided a suitable nesting site, gravid females may retain their eggs, which can lead to serious illness and death.  Having a suitable area to deposit eggs is thus critical to both good health and breeding success.

Natural Nesting Behavior

Female Green Iguanas construct deep nesting chambers in the wild, and, for those of you who live in warm climates, are most easily accommodated in outdoor enclosures or aviaries.  In such situations they may choose their own nesting site, but its better to induce them to lay in a specific place, so that you can easily remove the eggs for incubation (it’s difficult to successfully incubate eggs in an outdoor nest).

Constructing an Outdoor Nest Site

Gravid females will be drawn to dark, moist, protected nesting sites that are a bit warmer than the surrounding area.  A black 55 gallon plastic garbage can turned upside down and buried so that only 12 inches or so protrudes above the surface is ideal.  An entrance hole should be cut into the exposed part of the can, and, unless it is in a sunny location, an outdoor-rated incandescent bulb may be positioned above it.

Moisten the soil within the can regularly, and be sure that it is loose enough to allow for easy digging peat and sphagnum moss may be added to help in this regard).

These and similarly arranged nesting areas are very attractive to gravid Green Iguanas, and are almost always readily accepted.

In Part II of this article we’ll take a look at creating a different type of outdoor nest, and how to set up gravid females indoors.


Further Reading

Male Iguanas can become dangerously aggressive during the breeding season; please see Aggression in Male Green Iguanas for information on this and related concerns.

You can watch a female Iguana dig the beginnings of a nesting chamber here.


About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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