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Five Tips to Encourage Reluctant Breeders

By: Dr Gareth Evans - Updated: 23 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Cycles Photo-period Lighting Temperature

You’ve done all the right things, selected the best possible animals to breed from, cared for them really well, fed them and generally prepared them for this moment – and now it seems, they’re just not interested in doing the ‘birds-and-the-bees’ thing!

There are not many things more frustrating for any would-be breeder than to meet with reluctant reptiles, but don’t give up hope just yet; all may not be lost. Fortunately there are a few tricks that you can try that might just turn the situation around, so don’t despair.

Simulate Natural Cycles

Environmental triggers are often important to many kinds of reptiles to kick-start the reproductive process, so if yours are proving a little reluctant, consider whether your vivarium conditions adequately reflect the part of the world they come from originally. For many temperate species, photo-period is a major factor, so something as simple as adjusting the lighting so that their day/night cycle replicates nature may make all the difference. With tropical or equatorial species, however, it may be experiencing a rainy or dry season that sets them up for breeding in the wild. Do your homework on the particular kind of animal that you have and try to give them the external clues that they need and you could soon find they forget their reluctance.

Don’t Forget Dormancy

Changes in temperature can also be important. For some species from the cooler parts of the world, breeding naturally follows a period of dormancy/hibernation, soon after they emerge in the spring and with these animals, allowing them to slow down for a while is essential. If this is something your research suggests is necessary for your pets, a period of two or three weeks of lower temperature is often all it takes and when you warm them back up and offer them food once again, you may find that the urge to breed kicks in quite naturally.

Degrees of Separation

If you don’t normally keep males and females apart, then separating the sexes for at least a few weeks ahead of your intended breeding time can often do the trick once you re-introduce them to each other.

Use Rivalry

Sometimes nothing works quite so well as a bit of competition and jealousy – even in the reptile world. Introducing a ‘rival’ male can often lead to some serious courtship and territorial displays as each tries to outdo the other, which in turn seems to make the females sit up and take notice. Obviously it’s only something to contemplate with species which aren’t likely to fight each other to the death, and even then only if there’s enough space for the vanquished to avoid the victor, but it can work wonders, especially with some kinds of lizards.

Space and Security

Stressed animals don’t breed – it’s as simple as that – and one of the quickest ways to make a reptile feel anxious is to deny it adequate space or security. This is always an important issue with these creatures, but it’s never more vital than when you’re trying to breed them, so make sure they have enough places to hide away when they feel the need. Many once reluctant breeders have gone on to produce youngsters like clockwork after the simple addition of a few new hiding places to the vivarium. It’s a tip that can never do any harm – and can often be all that’s needed to turn things around completely.

Like almost everything else to do with keeping reptiles, there’s no substitute for knowledge and experience – which means doing your research thoroughly before you even think about planning to breed from your pets, to make sure you’ve got all the conditions right for them. Sometimes, no matter how well you look after your animals, and how fit and healthy they are, they just won’t breed. Unfortunately, that’s just one of those things – biology is like that. With a bit of luck, however, trying one or two of these tips will turn reluctant breeders into prolific ones and you’ll soon be looking for good homes for the new brood!

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