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When Is Iguana Breeding Season?

Perhaps you have pet iguanas that you’re hoping to breed, or maybe you’re just interested in finding out more about how iguanas produce offspring. Whatever the reason, you’re asking the question, when is iguana breeding season? What are some of iguanas’ mating habits, how many eggs do they lay, and how long does it take the eggs to hatch! Keep reading! In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions.

When is Iguana Breeding Season?

when is iguana breeding season

The breeding season for iguanas is largely based on weather and climate patterns in a particular region.

Iguanas living in the wild will lay eggs during the dry season. This is so the eggs will hatch during the rainy season, when there is more food available for the baby iguanas.

With this in mind, the breeding season may be in late summer, at the end of the wet season. Eggs will then be laid during the winter, during the dry season, and they will subsequently hatch in the spring or early summer, as the rainy season approaches again.

Again, though, wet and dry seasons may vary somewhat from region to region.

For iguanas in captivity, the breeding season depends even more heavily on location–the breeding season may be at a much different time in the south than in northern regions. When the season begins and ends is largely dependent on how much warmth and sunlight the iguana gets.

Regardless of when the breeding season begins, it almost always lasts longer for males than for females. A single male may mate with different females during the course of the season, or he may mate repeatedly with the same female.

Iguana Breeding Habits

Iguana Breeding Habits

Iguanas have some unique breeding habits. According to a study published on the United States Geological Survey website, as well as this article from Science Daily, it would seem that female iguanas choose their mates from clusters of eligible males that hang out in designated “mating territories” during breeding season.

As noted above, the breeding season lasts longer for males than it does for females. Each female may spend a few days exploring the available mating territories, scouting out the males to determine which one to mate with; then they mate, perhaps once or perhaps multiple times over a week or two, and then her breeding season is over.

Males, on the other hand, may remain sexually active for about a month, during which time they try to catch the attention of any number of females that enter the territory.

Females are typically drawn toward the largest, most dominant males in the region. They may mate multiple times in the same season with the same male, but rarely mate with multiple males in a single season.

Dominant males have much more access to the females than the non-dominant males. 

Sometimes, non-dominant males simply don’t engage in sexual activitied because they aren’t chosen by any female; other times, try to force themselves on the females. In these cases, the females will most often resist the attempts.

Females also have a hierarchy of dominance during the breeding season–the dominant females have the most access to the mating territories of their choice, while non-dominant females have fewer options.

The general behavior of iguanas changes drastically during breeding season: they tend to become more aggressive and territorial, may eat less or go without eating completely; and often, their colors change from the usual green, brown, or gray to a more orange or rust-colored tint.

How Many Eggs Does an Iguana Lay?

Different species of iguanas lay different numbers of eggs, and the numbers can range from anywhere between 1 and 70. Let’s look at the egg numbers of some common species:

  • Green iguana: This large iguana commonly found throughout North and South America lays a large number of eggs–usually anywhere between 20 to 60.
  • Marine iguana: This unique water-loving species found only in the Galapagos Islands lays only 1 to 4 eggs per clutch.
  • Rock iguana: This type of iguana is representative of most iguana species in the number of eggs it lays–usually 5 to 20 eggs at a time.

Iguanas will lay their eggs in holes they dig in the sand or dirt. They will typically stop eating for the last month or so of the gestation period and will spend much of their time preparing the burrow; then, when it is ready, they will lay the eggs. 

Some iguana species may cover the eggs with dirt and soil to protect them, then will allow the eggs to self-incubate–the female doesn’t stay with the eggs.

Check out this video of what iguana breeding and nesting behaviors sometimes look like in captivity:

How Long Does it Take for Iguana Eggs to Hatch?

Again, how long it takes for iguana eggs to hatch will depend on the species. The incubation period can vary from 2 to 4 months and may be even longer depending on climate and weather patterns.

Female iguanas lay one batch of eggs per year, whether they’ve been fertilized or not. Though unfertilized eggs will not hatch, it’s necessary for the iguana to lay them, so keep this in mind if you have a pet female iguana–even if you are not breeding her, she will lay eggs once a year.

Conclusion

The breeding season of iguanas depends largely on climate, amount of sunlight received, and even whether or not food is scarce. It typically begins during the wet season so that eggs will be laid during the dry season; that way, by the time they hatch, the wet season will be returning and there will be a greater abundance of food for the new hatchlings.

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