Hatching for Hobbyists

Some previous posts on Anole Annals have stimulated excellent discussions regarding the care of Anolis eggs in a laboratory setting.  To this, I’d like to share a few tips as a hobbyist who has successfully incubated A. carolinensis eggs outside the laboratory for many years.

A month before breeding season, I place a small organic (fertilizer-free) potted basil plant in each cage.  This plant is watered weekly to keep the soil moist enough to prevent egg dessication without making the soil too heavy for easy digging.  Every few days, I comb through the soil with my fingers to check for eggs.

An A. carolinensis digging a hole to bury her egg

Any eggs that are found in the plant soil are immediately transferred to a small acrylic cage where they are shallowly buried in fertilizer-free water-moistened vermiculite purchased from a home and garden store.

Eggs are buried in moistened vermiculite

The incubation cage with a vented lid is then elevated close to a 15 watt incandescent bulb (for my set-up, a tall cup does the job nicely) inside one of my adult anoles’ cages.  Also nearby, but not directly overhead, is a 15 to 20 watt UVB fluorescent bulb.  Every 3 days, a few drops of luke-warm tap water are sprinkled directly on top of the eggs.  In this environment, A. carolinensis eggs hatch in about 43 days (range = 36 to 63 days).

Incubation set-up by one hobbyist

Immediately upon hatching, the baby anoles are removed from the incubation cage to be singly housed or housed with other hatchlings.  Baby anoles should not be housed with adults as their older counterparts sometimes eat them for dinner!  Four days after hatching (range = 3 to 7 days), baby anoles begin eating gut-loaded pinhead crickets and flightless fruit flies.

Please note that collecting anole eggs from the wild may be illegal in your state or country and any discussion related to illegal collection of animals from the wild is banned from Anole Annals (for more info, click here).

About Allison DeVan

I received my Ph.D. in Vascular Physiology from The University of Texas at Austin in 2009. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow/research faculty at the University of Colorado-Boulder in the Integrative Physiology of Aging Laboratory. My research focuses on the effects of aging, exercise, nutraceuticals and disease on endothelial function and large elastic artery stiffness in humans. Although I do not formally research Anolis, I have bred and kept Anolis carolinensis for more than 20 years.

5 thoughts on “Hatching for Hobbyists

  1. Thanks for this post Allison. Have you tried incubating a somewhat more tightly sealed vessel that would prevent dessiccation of the substrate while simultaneously permitting some degree of airflow to the developing egg (see, for example, Julienne’s previous post on my lab’s current practice)?

    1. Rich, Thanks for the tips! I will have try your method. Fortunately, with my setup, most eggs hatch if I find them and bury them in moistened vermiculite before they desiccate. My biggest problem is getting my females to lay their eggs in the potting plant soil and not out in the open where the eggs desiccate or are eaten by crickets before I find them. Interestingly, I’ve observed a (subjective) positive association between my anoles’ age and their “competence” in the selection of egg laying location; the older and more experienced the female, the better her selection of an egg laying spot.

  2. Pat,

    In my experience, males and females begin eating more and putting on weight about a month before breeding season (for A. carolinensis, around April). Males increase their frequency of dewlap displays and begin patroling their territories more aggressively. When approached by a male, receptive females will stay still and bend their necks to allow the males to take hold. Gravid females tend to look “heavier” in their lower abdomen and breeding males have slight swelling in the area of their reproductive organs (base of the tail). Experts, do you know of any other signs?

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