The Life Cycles of Iguanas

By Delialah Falcon

Iguanas are lizards that live in tropical climates. They have become popular pets, which has led to their capture in the wild to be sold for profit. Iguanas are cold-blooded creatures that eat mostly plants, leaves and fruit, but will occasionally eat eggs and insects. They can grow to be up to 6 feet long and have tails that can detach from their body when pulled without causing any harm.


Once a female iguana has mated with a male, she will begin digging a burrow in the ground so she can build her nest. She will lay her eggs approximately 45 days after mating. Although she will lay between 40 and 50 eggs, only a fraction of those will survive. Once the eggs are laid, she will desert the nest, leaving the eggs to develop on their own.


The hatchlings will begin developing inside of the eggs immediately after the eggs are deposited into the nest. The eggs will enter into an incubation period for eight to 10 weeks before the hatchlings will emerge.


After the incubation period is over, the hatchlings will begin to emerge from their eggs. The hatching process does not occur all at once and can take anywhere from one week to 10 days. The hatchling will scratch the egg and create a crack or two in the shell. The hatchling will then go into a resting phase. A day or two later, more cracks will develop, followed by another resting phase. The hatchling's head will emerge, and another resting phase will follow. These phases will continue until the hatchling emerges completely from the egg.


After the hatchling emerges, it will still have the yolk sac attached to the body. This yolk sac was the lifeline that provided the nutrient to keep the hatchling alive during the incubation process. Once out of the egg, the sac will remain on the hatchling for two to three days, continuing to provide nutrients. When the sac falls off, the Iguana is now a baby and will need to begin consuming food to stay alive. It will take two years for the baby to reach adulthood.


An iguana enters adulthood at around 1.5 to 2 years on average. A male iguana will be ready to mate at this time. Female iguanas may take an additional year or two to be ready to breed, as they may require more time to build up their calcium reserves. The female may, however, begin to produce eggs sooner, even if they are not yet fertilized. Iguanas can live to be 30 years old.