Sorry folks, bad title pun aside, I wanted to sit down and tell you guys the super cool story behind two of our really special red iguanas! Our big male and lovely female red iguanas came to us from a previous owner who was concerned about their breeding.
The female had laid a previous clutch that never hatched, so the iguanas came to us to see if we could provide a better environment and hopefully bring her next clutch to term. When the pair first arrived, we could plainly see that the female was near to bursting with eggs. Aside from her abdomen being fairly swollen, you could actually see the small bumps of the eggs pressing against her sides. We got the pair settled into a roomy cage, and set about trying to find an appropriately sized lay box. Due to her size, we actually had to improvise quite a bit, and actually ended up using a trash can packed with a combination of sand and soil that was wetted down and compacted so that she could dig herself a suitable hole in which to lay her eggs. It ended up doing the trick nicely, as she was only with us for 4 days before she laid her eggs! Based on her size and how inflated she looked, we were expecting a huge clutch, but we were still mightily impressed to see that she laid 50 eggs! We removed the lay box from the cage and placed the eggs into an incubator.
While the eggs were “cooking”, we worked on getting to know our newest, biggest breeding pair. The adults took a bit of time getting used to their new enclosure, but with a ton of patience, time, and love they’ve settled in nicely. Both iguanas love to chow down on the leafy greens that are so important to their diets, but they also both go bananas for…. well, bananas. One thing that we’ve noticed is that the male is fairly protective of the female. While she is fairly nice and tolerant of some handling, he will flap his dewlap, puff himself up, and on occasion, chase people who walk past his cage. He has been seen cuddling with her, very tenderly laying his dewlap over her shoulders or head. While they haven’t shown signs of producing another clutch, it’s very dear to see them still so close together.
Just about 60 days passed before we saw signs of movement from the iguana eggs. We were pleasantly surprised and more than a little confused to see that our clutch of 50 eggs had yielded 56 iguanas! Did the Reptile Zoo have its own moment of spontaneous generation? Are we just really bad at counting? No! Turns out we simply had a few batches of twins! While the sets of twins are markedly smaller than their single-egg siblings, they are no less healthy, and are very cute! The baby red iguanas are actually born with a fair amount of green on their bodies. Each time they shed, they lose a little bit of that green pigmentation and get redder and redder as they age.
Little bit of green still showing on this guy!
All of the babies ate within 24 hours of hatching, which is unusual for almost any reptile. Usually there is a bit of a fasting period where they live off the remaining nutrients from what was left of their yolk. The babies must take after their parents when it comes to eating habits. Once we had established they were healthy and doing well, we placed them into an enclosure that closely replicates the environment they’d have in the wild. They have tons of room to climb, with branches and foliage spanning the entire length of their roomy cage. They love to be fed, and will clamber all over each other to get at their greens. We’re so excited to have these little nippers here with us, and hope you’ll come visit them soon!