It's important to have the incubator set up and ready before your female bearded dragon lays her first clutch of eggs. At the first sign of mating or pregnancy, fill a container with moist substrate and turn on the incubator. With the incubator stabilized at the correct temperature before she lays her eggs, you increase the odds of a 100 percent hatch rate.
The Gravid Dragon
A gravid, or pregnant, female will gain weight quickly. As the eggs grow, you will be able to feel them inside her. You also will see the lumps in her belly. As laying nears, she will become restless and wander her space, digging randomly throughout the habitat. Provide a nesting box with moist substrate, such as peat moss, to help stimulate the female to lay her eggs. Right before she's ready to lay the eggs, she will stop eating. She will lay a clutch of 18 to 24 eggs about four to five weeks after mating. She will continue to lay up to five clutches throughout the season.
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Have the incubator already at 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit before the female bearded dragon lays her eggs. Fluctuating temperatures will reduce the hatch rate percentage.
As soon as the female lays her eggs, carefully remove them. Do not shuffle or turn the eggs, as doing so can displace the embryos.
Place the eggs in a plastic container filled with moist perlite, vermiculite or peat moss to keep them hydrated. You do not need to cover the eggs completely, just place them on top of or partially in the substrate. Cover the container.
Once a week, aerate the container the eggs are in by lifting the lid for a few minutes to refresh the air inside the container and prevent mold growth on the eggs.
With the incubation temperature between 82 to 84 degrees, the eggs will hatch between 55 to 75 days. Lower incubation temperatures will increase the incubation period.
Types of Incubators
You can purchase an incubator or make your own.
Chicken egg incubators such as the Hovabator can incubate bearded dragon eggs. Some have internal thermostats that regulate temperature. Such incubators are small, so if you have multiple females laying eggs, consider a larger incubator or make your own.
Avoid egg incubators with thermal fans. These can dry out the bedding inside the containers and dehydrate the eggs.
Build an incubator with an old refrigerator.
- Remove the cooling elements, motor and coils.
- Use a heat cable or heat tape for the heating source. Position the heat source to the back of the fridge with heat-proof tape.
- Drill a hole in the back of the fridge to push the wires through to the thermostat.
Use a large Styrofoam chest or plastic cooler for an incubator.
- Place a pan to hold water in the bottom of the chest.
- Make a platform to hold the egg containers using mesh hardware cloth or chicken wire.
- Use masking tape or reflective tape on the inside of the chest to protect the Styrofoam from the heat source.
- Install the heat source -- heat cable or tape -- along the walls, securing it with heat-proof tape, and plug it into a thermostat to regulate the temperature.
The Eggs Hatch
About 24 hours before the bearded dragons hatch, the eggs will begin to collapse. Once the babies start to hatch, it will take a few hours to a few days for the entire clutch to hatch. The bearded dragons will hatch 4 inches long. Leave them in the incubator for about 24 hours, allowing their yolksacs to fully absorb.
Hatchlings generally will start to eat about 72 hours after hatching. Feed the hatchlings two to three times a day. Offer small bits of chopped fruit, vegetables and greens, as well as small crickets.
Set up the habitat, prior to the babies hatching, with the same lighting and heating as an adult bearded dragon habitat. Use paper towels or slate tiles for substrate in the hatchlings' habitat. If you plant to re-home the babies, keep them for at least six weeks to ensure they are healthy and eating properly.