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Do lizards lay eggs?

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Egg laying is a common feature of birds, insects and some reptiles. Many animals reproduce by laying eggs, but have you ever thought that lizards lay eggs? Interestingly, all species of birds lay eggs, but different species of lizards do not.

There are more than 6,000 species of lizards, most of which lay eggs. Still, some are able to give birth alive. The number of eggs a female lays depends on the species of lizard. Females will try to select the best males to have the most successful clutches.

Lizards reproduce by laying eggs, but species that give birth live are more likely to have young that survive. Eggs are eaten by predators such as snakes, so lizards do their best to keep their eggs from being destroyed. Let's review how lizards lay their eggs and some interesting facts about the reproductive process of different species.

How Skinks Reproduce

Leopard gecko baby hatches from egg
The sex of leopard geckos depends on the temperature at which the eggs are hatched.

© Spok83/Shutterstock.com

About 90 percent of lizard species reproduce by laying eggs, but before laying eggs, lizards must mate. Lizards reproduce sexually when males and females mate, but some species are capable of asexual reproduction. Only about 50 lizards are able to give birth to one member, and the rest usually mate with each other to reproduce.

Most lizards will breed with each other during mating season. Spring through August is the usual time of year for this season, but each lizard has its own course. Males will try to attract a mate through various rituals, such as dancing, head shaking and bright colors. Female lizards try to choose the best mates to have healthy offspring. Chameleons use their color to attract and show off females, but other lizards may use scent or other mating methods.

Females decide the best mates, but some may not be interested in mating at all. In the wild, male lizards will travel long distances and try to attract as many mates as possible. After mating is complete, the male continues to search for another suitable female, while the female lizard works to find the best place to lay her eggs.

where lizards lay their eggs

Lizard Monster Lizard (Heloderma suspectum)
Lizards lay their eggs in shelter to protect them from predators such as snakes.

©Vaclav Sebek/Shutterstock.com

Most lizard species lay eggs, as this is their most common method of reproduction. Egg-carrying female lizards will find the best place to lay their eggs, giving them the best chance of survival.

After the mating process is over, it takes about 2 to 4 weeks for the female to lay her eggs. Safe nesting sites are preferred to give the eggs the best chance of survival.

Lizard eggs are laid in sheltered areas with plenty of moisture to keep the eggs from drying out. These nesting sites can be in pits, under logs or hidden in vegetation such as shrubs. Young lizards lay fewer eggs, and as a female grows older, she can lay more eggs.

What do lizard eggs look like?

Do Lizards Lay Eggs - Lizard Eggs
Many lizards are arboreal, but descend to the ground to lay their eggs

©Rashid Valitov/Shutterstock.com

Lizard eggs look different from bird eggs but resemble snake eggs. When first laid, they are soft with a leather exterior. There is mucus around the eggs that helps keep the eggs together.

Compared to snake eggs, they are much smaller, but large species like tegu can lay eggs as small as an inch long. Most lizard eggs are under an inch, about the size of a fingernail.

Snake eggs are extremely difficult to distinguish from lizard eggs because they are both oval in shape and have a tough white skin. The eggs of some lizard species harden to help retain water, often in species in arid regions. Turtles are another reptile that lay eggs. Their eggs look similar to snakes and lizards. All of these animals lay their eggs on land, but lizard eggs are usually the smallest of their kind.

How long does it take for lizard eggs to hatch?

baby chameleon hatching
Baby chameleon hatching from egg

©Nick Henn/Shutterstock.com

It takes on average about 40 to 80 days for lizard eggs to hatch. Eggs need the right amount of heat, moisture and airflow. Lizard eggs are extremely vulnerable and will be hunted by predators looking for an easy meal. Animals that eat lizard eggs include:

  • fox
  • cat
  • raccoon
  • snake
  • opossum

If the egg turns over, it may also drown the lizard inside. Lizard eggs need the right amount of moisture, and temperatures around 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Chameleons have one of the lowest hatch temperatures, while desert lizards can exceed 90 degrees.

Pointing a flashlight at the egg will help tell if it is fertilized, as you can see a small embryo inside. If you have lizard eggs and want to take care of them, your best option is to use an incubator.

Once the lizard lays its egg, it leaves, leaving the egg to fend for itself until the baby lizard hatches. If you find eggs in the wild and can't care for them, it's best to let them hatch naturally.

live born lizard

Eggs are not the only way lizards are able to reproduce, as some species give birth to live young. Lizards that give birth to live young are called viviparous, while those that lay eggs are called oviparous.

Live births better protect the growing lizards from the elements and give mothers more time to find the best birthing area. Lizards that lay eggs are less stressed physically, and their eggs have a better chance of surviving if the mother dies.

Live births of lizards are common for species that live in extreme climate habitats. The viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara) or common lizard is the most famous species of viviparous lizard. This species can lay eggs and young, similar to other skink species.


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about the author

Emilio Brown

Spiders, snakes, and lizards are some of my favorite types of animals, and I love keeping a few species as pets. I love learning about all the wonders nature has to offer and have been a writer for 5 years. In my spare time, you will find me walking into nature.

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