What to do when your dragon lays eggs - Tutorial

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RioReptiles

Sub-Adult Member
It's that time of year again and a lot of people are going to be posting about what to do when their dragons lay eggs, fertile and infertile. Many times pet stores will sell people two dragons and tell them they should be housed together, but they fail to mention that they will become sexually active in just a few months. If it's already too late and your dragon is restless and scratching frantically, hopefully this will help you understand what to do.

We hear it all the time, "My bearded dragon just laid eggs, what do I do?"

If your female bearded dragon starts glass dancing like crazy or is scratching and digging constantly around her cage and looks fatter than usual, chances are she is about to lay a clutch of eggs. If she wasn't around a male dragon, it is still possible that she is cycling her eggs and will lay an infertile clutch. If she was around a male dragon, they are most likely fertile and you have to decide if you want to hatch them or not.

First, you must provide a place for her to dig and lay her eggs. Bearded dragons like to tunnell and need at least 5 to 6 inches of sand to dig in. Get a 50lb bag of play sand from Home Depot or Lowes and pour it in a 50 to 60 quart bin, then wet it enough to hold its shape, mixing the water in thoroughly, and then pack it down with your hand. This will allow her to dig a tunnel without caving in. On top of the bin, get a clamp light or put a screen across the top to support a dome light to keep her warm while she is digging.
Warning: if you don't provide a proper laying area for your dragon, eggs could burst inside her or become bound, which is almost always 100% fatal unless surgically removed! Do not delay your female from laying for any reason, she is counting on you to provide her with the necessary tools to do her job quickly and comfortably!

First time egg layers may take up to a week to lay their first clutch. Figure out the time since they were bred, and she could lay her eggs any time from two weeks to four weeks after breeding, most of the time it is about 3 weeks on the dot. She will stop eating for 3 days to a week before laying and become very restless, pacing and trying to get out. This is when you know its time to put her in the lay bin. The first couple days she may dig and stop, then want out for a while. This is okay for a day or two, but eventually she must lay and you may have to lock her in the lay bin for an evening or two until she lays. You will notice her fat stores on her tail may start to go away rapidly during the last few days and her hip bones may start to protrude, when this happens you need to make her dig and lay her eggs.

In an emergency, like if your dragon lays eggs and you didn't know she was gravid, there are a few things you can do to try and save the eggs. You must work quickly though, you only have about 24 hours to get it right.

How to tell if the eggs are fertile or infertile
Infertile eggs are usually dented and slightly yellow in color.
infertiles.jpg

A clutch of infertile eggs

Fertile eggs are full, not dented, more white in color, and if you candle them with an led flashlight, you can see the vein circle which is pinkish in color inside the egg. Infertile eggs can be disposed of, you can freeze them first if you have any doubts.
This is a fertile egg
fertile.jpg


This is a bunch of good eggs!
goodeggs.jpg


We use the Hovabator incubators, they are inexpensive and easy to find. Your local feed store should have one in stock, or you can purchase them online at beardeddragon.co or LLL reptile.
In an emergency, to keep fertile eggs at 80º to 85º temporarily, you can use a small storage bin, approximately 12" x 18" and 6" high with lid. Drill vent holes at each end of the container and on the sides. Place in a non ventilated area where there are no breezes or air conditioning, on top of an under tank heater or heating pad with a towel on top. Be sure to use a themometer inside the bin or a temp gun to check temps every hour until they are at a constant 82º to 84º. Towels can be put in between the bin and heating pad until the temps are stable. Cover the bin with a towel to hold in heat and help stabilize temps.


How to incubate fertile bearded dragon eggs

Carerully dig all the eggs out of the lay bin making sure you get them all, be thorough! Don't worry, it's OKAY to turn them the first couple days, they haven't started developing yet! However, do not turn them after 1 week and do not handle before 4 or 5 weeks. After that, handle carefully!

Find a sandwich or gladware container with lid about 2 inches deep that is at least 5 to 6 inches in width and drill a few vent holes in the sides close to the top, then fill half full with vermiculite. Make sure the vermiculite has NO fertilizer or plant food in it, these are TOXIC and will kill the eggs quickly! Add water to the vermiculite and mix it making sure all the material is evenly wet and clumps up easily. If you add too much water, drain off the excess and you should be good to go. Pat it down in the container to make sure it is filled evenly with no voids and so that it is even across the top.

In an emergency, you can use damp paper towels in a food storage container to keep the eggs good. Wet the paper towels and squeeze out the excess water, clump them up in the bottom of the container and place the eggs so they are surrounded by paper towel, then put a couple of layers on top to hold in the moisture. You can also use sand or clean soild with no fertilizers, peat moss or seed mix moistened until damp, not soggy. Place the lid on the container to hold in the moisture, but make sure it has small ventilation holes for air! Store the container at 80º to 85º temps, do not allow to get too cold or too hot! You want to make sure the eggs don't dry out, if they start to dry out you will see them dent in. You can keep eggs this way for a couple of days until you get the proper media like vermiculite or hatch rite.

Tip: Get a small LED flashlight or bright light to candle the eggs and find the pink colored circle where the embryo is starting to form. You will want to place the eggs in the media with this at the top. I don't know if it's absolutely necessary, but the one time I didn't do this, all my eggs died for the first time ever.

Now find a small tool to help you dig divots for each egg, I like using a big sharpie marker or the end of my 10" tongs. Round out a small divot about the size of each egg and place the eggs in it burying them about half way. Use your fingers to pack the vermiculite around them so they are securely in their hole. Do this with each egg, spacing them apart at least 3/8" to 1/2" so they have a little bit of room to grow. They will triple or quadruple in size by the time they hatch.


eggsburied.jpg

This is how your eggs should look before you put them in the incubator. Put the lid on and make sure it is securely on the container. The lid will help keep your eggs and vermiculite from drying out too fast and will also help keep the temps more constant for the eggs.

Note: Don't worry about the humidity in the incubator, you want to be concerned about the humidity in the egg container.

After about a month, check the vermiculite to make sure it isn't drying out too much. You may need to add water once before the eggs hatch. Use a squeeze bottle with a skinny tip and squirt a thin stream of warm water around the edges and in between the rows of eggs. When you see it go through to the bottom of the container, that should be enough.

It is very important that the eggs have moisture and do not dry out prior to hatching, babies will not be able to get out of the dry eggs because the skin will be thicker and tougher.


bigeggs.jpg

Your eggs should be big and plump after 4 to 6 weeks, these eggs are due in 2 weeks.

badeggs.jpg

If your female lays her eggs in the cage and they are exposed to heat or dry out, this is what they will look like when they start to die. They will get brown and slimy. Freeze them and dispose of them or you will get tiny flies and maggots on them. Oh, and they stink!!

eggspipped.jpg

After about 50 days, start checking your eggs daily. Any time from 50 to 75 days, you will see them begin to sweat or cave in. This is when the baby has peirced the side of the egg and will begin to make his way out. Within a couple hours, you should be able to see their noses.

eggshatching.jpg

After a few hours have passed, the baby will stick its entire head out of the egg and lay there comfortably absorbing the yolk. If the baby cannot get it's head out, it can die in the egg. This can take anywhere from 8 to 16 hours, so be patient. Once the yolk is absorbed, the baby has enough food to last 2 or 3 days in his system and he will be ready to come out.

When babies first come out, they are very exhausted from all the work it took to get out of the egg. They will find a safe spot and want to take a long nap before becoming active. They usually don't eat for 1 to 3 days after hatching, but will drink water the first day! Offer water two or three times a day for the first 2 to 3 weeks, babies can get dehydrated very easily and become lethargic. Start offering live food the second day, if they don't eat, remove it and try again later. Never leave any live food in with babies, crickets will eat them alive!

Hope you enjoyed our tutorial! Let us know if you have any questions!
 
Thank you Cheryl.. I really wanted to get a male dragon, but the more I check, the more convinced I am that Dexter is a girl... I am not looking forward to her laying eggs, but hopefully, as you said in another post, I have a few years before it happens. This tutorial has helped a lot.
 

Claudiusx

BD.org Sicko
Staff member
Moderator
Thanks for taking the time to write this Cheryl.

Should help alot of newbies! :mrgreen:

-Brandon
 

RioReptiles

Sub-Adult Member
Original Poster
Females can breed and lay eggs as young as 7 or 8 months, but this is not recommended while their bodies are still growing. Most mature adults usually won't lay infertile eggs until the 2nd or 3rd year, if at al,l and this is less likely if there are no other dragons around. For the first time ever, I did have a 8-9 month old female lay infertile eggs this year. The presence of other dragons, even the same sex, can and will cause females to cycle their eggs.
 

Kristen623

Member
OK, thanks. I think I just figured out my 4 month old is a boy so I guess I won't be having this problem lol
 

agilitygirl

Hatchling Member
Thank you so much for writing this!
So its ok to use just sand for the egg laying material? I found some 50lb bags at lowes but they had tiny pebbles in them, is that ok? Should I use all 50lbs?
Thanks!!
 

sweetiepie9

BD.org Sicko
Retired Moderator
That is a great tutorial. Another thing is to make sure the female regains her weight & energy before she lays another clutch. My Sweetie starting laying infertile eggs when she was 2 years old. She was the only dragon we had at the time. Her first year, she lay 4 clutches during the summer. She continued to do this yearly & in between we were able to feed her ample protein, calcium & salad to get her weight back up; as she got older & we got more dragons, even though she couldn`t see any of the males, she kept laying more & more infertile eggs. It was very difficult to get her weight up when she started laying 8 clutches per year, always infertile as we couldn`t breed her, we didn`t have the $ or space to raise babies. So it`s really important, even with infertile eggs, to build up the mom in between egg laying.
 

Trajega

Hatchling Member
Mine just layed 14 Wednesday. I was relieved to know she wasnt sick that I was failing to get her to eat more than 2-3 bites a day. She has not met another dragon since she was a hatchling. Looking forward to tossing a boy in with her next year for more fun :)

(ps im continuing to research and know I could have 60-100 poopers to feed and house)
 

ChiefsDaddy

Gray-bearded Member
agilitygirl":advhx2ac said:
Thank you so much for writing this!
So its ok to use just sand for the egg laying material? I found some 50lb bags at lowes but they had tiny pebbles in them, is that ok? Should I use all 50lbs?
Thanks!!
You should sift out all the pebbles and big miscellaneous pieces.
 

gaineysreds7985

New member
ok I was just reading this post and looking at the pics, and I feel really bad right now as my female laid 19 eggs that I thought for sure were no good :( but the good thing is I froze them before I discarded them, still I feel horrible :( so now my question is how long can a female store the males sperm before it is no good?
 

RioReptiles

Sub-Adult Member
Original Poster
Oh wow, I just noticed it was sticky now too.

gaineysreds7985":2y51o3s4 said:
so now my question is how long can a female store the males sperm before it is no good?
Females can supposedly store sperm up to a year, but usually first timers will lay 2 or 3 clutches about 3 weeks apart after breeding, so your girl may lay another clutch or two.
 
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