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I'm considering breeding some of my pet reptiles. Is there anything I should do beforehand in order to be properly prepared? I'm not concerned so much with how to breed them, more of just what I need to have ready before I start breeding.

  • What reptiles would those be? – J. Musser Jun 27 '14 at 0:02
  • @jmusser Any really. I was putting together an answer to this question, I started noticing that it was getting long and I hadn't gotten to specifics about turtles yet. I'm moving stuff over to make a list here, then I can reference it in other answers with more details on that specific species. Sort of like an object-oriented approach to writing answers. – Spidercat Jun 27 '14 at 0:22
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The first thing I would ask myself, is what am I going to do with the offspring.

  • How many children can your species have? Note that the high number doesn't always mean the maximum, and that they could have more.

  • If you're planning on selling the offspring, what is going to happen if you can't sell all, or any, of them? Are you prepared to care for them otherwise? For many reptiles, this will mean separate terrariums for each individual.

I would then ask myself, How I'm going to care for the offspring.

  • What happens if there is a medical emergency during birth? Not only do you have to worry about having a veterinarian nearby who can care for reptiles, but you'll need one who is nearby in case of an emergency during egg laying, or otherwise. Even more, if the emergency happens to be during the veterinarian's off-hours, will you be able to pay the emergency rates?

  • Will the offspring need to be separated from their parents? Few reptiles will care for their young. Nearly all reptiles will be ready to live on their own as soon as they've hatched. Because of this lack of maternal instinct, you'll have to consider how the parent will react to the hatchlings. Some milder species such as chameleons and geckos might be more tolerant of the hatchlings for some time, assuming their enclosure is large enough to house everyone. But more aggressive species, and especially those that are carnivorous, will view hatchlings as nothing more than competition and even food. You should always plan on having separate enclosures for the hatchlings.

  • Will the offspring need to be separated from each other? Even some solitary reptiles such as bearded dragons will be more tolerant of each other while they're still young. What you'll want to be aware of is that the behaviour will change with time. It won't be at any set age, so you will have to keep an eye out for signs of aggression and be prepared to provide them with their own living enclosure when needed.

Finally, I would ask myself, am I willing to risk the health of my pet for the sake of breeding?

  • Breeding reptiles causes an incredible strain on the female. Not only from the intercourse, but from the egg laying. Creating and laying eggs takes a lot of nutrients and energy from the mother. Reptiles that are bred live shorter lives compared to those that aren't, and the more you breed them, the shorter their lifespan will be. Many reputable breeders will only breed their females a few times before retiring them, simply for the sake of the reptile's health.

  • Reptiles that come from areas with winters will only breed after coming out of brumation. Which means that unless you own a tropical species, you will need to force your reptile to brumate. This is an extremely delicate practice, as it involves lowering the reptile's temperature which will cause them to stop eating. If something were to go wrong during this process, you will have to take extreme care to ensure that your reptile doesn't become extremely ill.

If after all of this, you are confident that you are up for the responsibility of breeding your reptiles, the only things you have left to do are purchase any required licenses for breeding exotic animals, and research the breeding habits of your specific species. Good luck.

  • Reptiles that are bred live shorter lives compared to those that aren't, and the more you breed them, the shorter their lifespan will be Do you have a reference to back up that claim? Is that just reptiles in captivity or is it all reptiles everywhere. I find it hard to believe it is consisant through all reptile species as well. – Critters Jun 27 '14 at 19:00
  • @critters I've never seen a good documentation for it. It's something that's been documented by reptile breeders through forums, or word-of-mouth, not by any paid research. So take it with a grain of salt if you must. Comparing it to lifespans of wild reptiles is poor because there are so many variables that captive species don't have to worry about (temperatures, drought, food, predators, diseases). Captive animals live longer than wild species. So breeders compare their lifespans to unbred animals, and note that they're shorter. Generally nothing drastic but a couple years shorter on average – Spidercat Jun 27 '14 at 19:18
  • Note, it's the stress of making and laying eggs that causes the shorter lifespan. Reptiles without that don't have the stress of making and laying will live a bit longer because of that. Similar to problems during live-birth, reptiles can have problems with laying eggs, the most common being egg binding. – Spidercat Jun 27 '14 at 19:23

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