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Reptile Egg Incubation
Incubating reptile eggs is fairly easy and straightforward. There are several main goals to aim for when trying to hatch your freshly laid eggs.
First you want to provide warmth for the small embryo so it can grow. Keep in mind that reptiles are cold blooded animals that require warmth from external sources to maintain their body temperature. If not enough heat is provided most reptiles go dormant, unfortunately the eggs will just die and go bad. This heat can be provided in many ways the best of which being a good quality reptile egg incubator. Some eggs can even be hatched in room temperature provided it is in the 70 to 90 degree range. For most species of reptiles somewhere in the mid 80's is adequate and should do fine. Remember to research your specific species for the exact requirements.
Secondly you will have to simulate the earth or ground that the eggs would be laid within in the wild. Most reptile eggs do great on perlite or coarse ground vermiculite mixed with water. This is called your incubation medium. Whichever you use should be mixed 1 part medium to 1 part water by weight. This requirement can vary from species to species so once again do your homework. We have found that the 50/50 mix works great for most species. The goal is to provide enough moisture for the eggs to keep them from drying out but not so much that the eggs drown or become moldy and bad.
Once you have your egg laying medium you will then have to select a container in which to keep your eggs inside the incubator. For this you will need a container that has a lid and preferably one that is clear. In the lid of the container you will want make some small holes so that the container can breathe but not to many as to allow the drying of the substrate. about 10 - 20 pin prick sized holes should suffice. Eggs breathe and need oxygen to survive. Even though you have placed these holes in the container you are going to need to open your container at least once a week to allow for the complete exchange of gases within the container. You will not want to incubate your eggs in a container without a lid as they will dry out way too quick. Also your little ones may escape once they hatch.
Now that you have everything necessary for your reptile eggs you are ready to get started.
First mix your water and incubation medium to the correct proportions and spread about a 2 to 3 inch layer loosely in the bottom of your incubation container. Do not pack this down as you want it to maintain the small pockets of air that it holds. Next make small indentations about 1 to 2 inches apart in the medium just deep enough for your eggs to lay in them and be about halfway buried in medium. Now place your reptile eggs in the incubation medium making sure they are the same side up as when they were laid and spaced far enough that if one goes bad the mold or fungus will not spread to the others by contact. 1 to 2 inches should work fine. Then check your temperature in your incubator to make sure that it is correct for your specific species, place your lid on your incubation container, and place your incubation container in the reptile incubator.
Now don't be too anxious because the waiting is the hard part. As mentioned before you will want to check in on your eggs once a week to allow for the exchange of gasses and maybe peer through the clear containers to spot any babies. If you notice that an egg has gone bad remove it and keep on waiting.
If you notice spots on your eggs that look almost clear or like a drop of oil got on them then your medium is too wet. Remove your eggs and place them in another container with the correct incubation medium mixture.
If you notice that your eggs have small dimples or indentations then your medium is too dry. You can remove the eggs and put them in newly mixed medium or you can mist the walls of the incubation container several times each day until the dimples are popped out and the egg is firm once again. Do not mist eggs directly as this can cause them to not be able to exchange gasses and drown.
If you notice that your eggs have mold or fungus they are more than likely to be dead or infertile eggs. There is however one solution that you can try to save the fertile ones. Take athletes foot powder and rub a small amount on the surface of the egg every couple days for about 10 days. The fungus or mold should not reappear and your egg just might make it. Be sure not to over do it with the powder as it can dry out the eggs also. Any eggs that need any kind of special treatment should be moved to separate containers for close supervision and segregation from your good reptile eggs.