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Tegu Breeding, Egg Incubation & Hatching

Breeding in tegus requires both an adult female and male. Tegus reach sexual maturity at around age 2, the start of so-called “guberty” (tegu puberty), and females need to undergo one or two cycles of brumation in winter in order for their bodies to become able to accommodate eggs. Most tegu species can breed up to twice a year.

Tegus breeding
A couple of Argentine tegus lizards.

Tegu breeding season generally occurs right after the end of this brumation period; in the wild, this is usually early spring (March-April). Females build nests of dried vegetation and lay between 10 and 70 eggs at once, with an average of 35 eggs a year. Colombian tegus will sometimes climb over trees and lay their eggs on termite nests which will provide protection against predators.

How to breed tegus

Allow your juvenile female tegu to undergo the cycle of brumation for the first two years of her life if you intend for her to breed. Skipping brumation may result in impacted fertility or inability to lay eggs. Both female and male tegus reach sexual maturiy at the age of 2, and undergo a period of behavioral changes or “mood swings” as sub-adults (the infamous “guberty”).

It is easier to prepare a couple for mating if they are both coming out of brumation. Copulation occurs for two-three weeks after that. After mating a female will start building her nest for which she’ll need dry leaves, hay and tree branches.

Incubation and hatching

Tegu egg incubation lasts approximately 60 days if the temperature is stable, but could last any time between 40 and 75 days in suboptimal conditions. The ideal temperature for hatching should stay constant between 86° F and 90° F.

Tegu hatchlings average about 7 to 10 inches in length and are arboreal (i.e. they climb on trees for protection from predators). In the wild, they feed mainly on small insects. See: baby tegu care.

Can female tegus lay eggs without a male?

Some species of monitor lizards, namely the Komodo dragon, can reproduce asexually via a phenomenon called parthenogenesis, in which a female is observed laying fertilized eggs without the help of a male. This behavior has not been observed in tegus, even though it could be potentially possible, it is unlikely to happen in captivity.

Female tegus do not lay unfertilized eggs, they will reabsorb their follicles if mating does not occur. In other words, both a male and a female are needed.


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