When fiji iguana males start thier courtship they often start off by following the female around the cage, licking her tail. And they will do the characteristic head bobbing that you also see in the common green iguana.( you can watch the short video where you can see the male trying to impress the female with his head bobbing).
If the female is not willing to mate with the male, she will often turn dark green in color, as a sign that she is not ready.
When the the fiji iguana males courtship has been approved by the female, he will be able to start the mating process.
As other reptiles the fiji iguana male has what is called hemipenes ( they have a hemipenis on each side of thier tailbase).
For the male to be able to breed with the female he need to be able to position himself correctly, more or less on top of the female. For the male to be able to get to that position he will bite the females neck and hold onto her that way. And since they are equipped with two breeding organs, it is not important to the male what side his tail is on. After he has a good grip and are in position he will work his tailbase more or less under the females tailbase so that it is possible for them to begin the act of mating itself.
The time frame of the mating part itself vary alot, sometimes its just a few minutes while other times it can be more then 20 minutes. The mating normally takes part over several days, while the female is receptive of the male.
Af the fimale has become gravid, and the short mating period is over, it will take about 4 weeks before the female will lay her eggs. Often the female will start to test dig in the search of a good nest site, up to a week before she will lay the eggs.
After she has been doing the test digging and have found a good spot for the eggs, she will dig out a nest. They will often dig out the nest under a log or piece of cork, and the nest site can be anything from 5-10 cm deep to more then 20cm, depending on moisture and soil temperature.
We have discovered together with a good friend( from comparing tests) that the females seem to prefer soil temperatures around 24.5-26c if given a choice ( thats one reason why we have different soil temps throughout our cages and different levels of humidity).
The clutch size is normally 2-5 eggs, and the females can lay eggs up to 3-4 times a year. It is very individual how many times a year a female will lay eggs, as some will do the 3-4 times a year while others will only do 1 time a year.
After the female is done laying her eggs she will carefully move them into position and start to cover up the nest. She will use her front legs and her head to push the soil back into the nest hole
and to press it so that it is packed nicely. Some females are so good at it, that it can be hard to see where the nest site is.
The incubation of the eggs is pretty straight forward. Fiji iguana eggs are pretty robust compared to some other lizard species, and can handle a bigger range of moisture for incubation then spices like dwarf monitors.
The incubation boxes, are made from clear plastic boxes with an upwards curving lid. In the lid 3-6 holes a cut with a diameter of about 10mm.
As incubation substrate, vermiculite works very well. The vermiculite is mixed with water 1:1 by weight, but since fiji iguana eggs are not so sensitive to moisture you can do 1:1.2 vermiculite to water if you are scared it will dry out during the incubation.
A layer of about 5cm thick mixed vermiculite is added to the incubation box, and the eggs are placed half buried into the vermiculite.
Before closing the incubation box a piece of plastic wrap is added over the box. Then the lid is placed onto the incubation box.
The plastic wrap acts as a barrier for the moisture, as moisture cant get through it, but the air particles is not blocked by it.
We normally incubate fiji iguana eggs at 27-28c, but they can handle incubation Temps that are a bit lower, at least as low as 23c. and up to 29-30c. The temperature do not seem to affect the what sex the babies turn out to be, like we see with crocodiles.
The incubation period can be anywhere from 125-198 days. The eggs will increase slightly during the incubation period.
When its time for the babies to hatch you will sometimes see that the eggs start to dent, its a clear sign that the hatching will start shortly. If you start seeing water drops form on your eggs, it means your incubation was too wet and the babies are trying to get rid of excess moisture. If they can’t get rid of the excess moisture, the babies will drown inside the eggs. Often they are able to get the excess moisture out of the eggs, and healthy babies will hatch, but it should serve as a reminder for the next time you incubate, to keep it slightly dryer.
As for the incubator itself, it is simply made from a poly box, 3 heat mats, thermostat , metal grill, cricket box and a thermometer.
you can see on the photos how simple it is made, but ill do a quick run through.
the incubator itself is a 50L styrofoam box. On the inside of the lid on the styrofoam box, there is added 2x7w heat mats, and in the bottom of the box there is 1x14w heat mat. In every cornor on the bottom of the styrofoam box there is added a cricket box without a lid. On top of those cricket boxes is where the metal grill is placed ( you place your egg boxes on the metal grill ).
Then the thermostat and thermometer sensors are placed on top of the egg boxes ( make a small cut in the top of one side of the styrofoam box so you can get the sensor cables into the styrofoam box).
Then you are basiclly ready to incubate fijian iguana eggs.
Raising the babies:
After an incubation period of 125-198 days the babies will start to hatch. Normally the babies will hatch over a period of a few days. Like other reptiles they are born with an egg tooth, that they use to cut open the egg.
Since most females are pure green, some with a little blue and males have blue bands, its easy to see the sex of the babies the minute they hatch.
Babies should be left inside the incubator for a day or two after they have hatched, to give them a chance to absorb any left over egg yolk.
Baby raising cages are ready before the babies hatch, to make sure that the temperature and humidity are correct. Temperature in the baby cages are 28-30c with a basking spot at around 38c. The humidity in the cages are around 75-80%.
As basking spots they have a normal halogen bulb. 18-20w bulbs are used since it baby cages, and our breeding room already hold the temperature the babies need.
As main light in the baby cages i use a 9w LED strip light, the color are the same as for the adults(4200k).
As for the UV light in the baby cages they have a 15w t8 6% UV tube that is on all day.
The baby cages are made out of some 124L plastic boxes, or same size cages. The boxes have ventilation like a normal cage and have a “sliding door” in the front so you can open it easy without making the babies scared(The often go to flight mode if you try to open from the top).
A good amount of small branches is added. Fake plants are added to give the babies hiding places, and they can drink water drops from the leaves when the cage have been sprayed. The baby cages have bio substrate.
At the moment i dont have a mist system set up for the baby cages so i use a normal 5L spray bottle. The baby cages are sprayed 2-3 times a day depending on humidity.
I normally raise the babies together for the first 6 month to a year.
The babies normally start eating after 1-2 weeks, some are quick to start eating while others can take rather long time. Its important to just let the babies be alone and not try to force them to eat. The food for the babies is the same as it is for the adults.
A common misconception with fiji iguana babies is that they are omnivores, so many breeders offer them insects.
Studies of wild fiji iguanas has shown that they are strictly herbevores. That mean that they do not eat any types of insects and breeders and keepers should try to follow the way these iguanas eat in the wild.
Some of the babies born here at Brachylophus.dk