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.
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.