:: Breeding Reptiles in captivity

There is nothing quite like the warm glowing feeling you get from the first time you are successful in breeding reptiles. Often it can be a long process from hatchling to procreation especially for those who breed tortoises.

Here are a few considerations that may help prospective breeders are the way.

• Have animals of opposite sexes. Sex determination can be quite difficult in some animals. Depending on reptile, look for differences in build, head width, tail length colouration, femoral pores, spurs. Probe depth.

• Choice of partner. Some animals just will not mate with another of the same species for what ever reason. Others prefer communal groups, some require more that two males to be present and combat.

• Hibernation. This provides a stimuli for hormone production for the forth coming breeding season. Not all animals hibernate, read up carefully on your species.

• Climate and photoperiod. These alone can be a stimulus for breeding. Many tropical species are not subjected to a significant temperature drop but instead are stimulated by day length or a wet/dry period.

• Mating. This can last for a few days to months. Always check on the well being of your animals in this period. Males will often combat in groups and can inflict deep wounds that will need attention. Male lizards may leave several lesions on a females neck that may require Tama/peva/beta dine solutions. Male tortoises will also nip at the legs of females. Female tortoises and terrapins depending on species may also shut their plastron onto a males hemipenes (ouch!).

• Egg laying or birth of neonates. It will be noticed that the belly area will swell. There will be an increase in weight. A tendency to dig or become restless. Poor or no appetite. Skin shedding. Ensure there is somewhere for the female to lay or give birth. Failure to provide this can lead to the possibility of egg retention. Which can mean the animals will not breed again or die. Sometimes egg retention can be aided by injection of Oxytocin.

• Incubation of eggs. Many pythons in the wild will curl around their eggs and twitch to produce and maintain the correct temperature. Often in captivity the eggs are removed