Do Gila Monsters Lay Eggs? (with Video & Pics)
The Gila Monster is a mysterious, solitary lizard. They had me wondering how they reproduce or if they even lay eggs or have live young. If you want to know I will tell you.
Do Gila Monsters lay eggs? Yes, they do lay eggs. Typically, they will lay anything from 2 to 12 eggs in one Batch. This is usually in the summertime, around July and August. When the eggs are laid there is a small hole dug up which (approximately 12 cm deep) and the eggs are left, unattended to hatch.
Now you know that they lay eggs, let me explain how they breed in the wild, how they breed in captivity, some useful tips to increase the chances of successful breeding and much more.
How are they breed in the wild?
It is often suggested that a random group of Gila Monsters is put together to encourage successful breeding. This is mainly due to the complexities of differentiating the male and the females.
The hypothesis is if there is a large group, it increases the chance of some of them pairing up and mating. In addition to this, there is another theory that the males in the pack, that may typically be hard to breed, will be more inclined to do so, due to social pressure and increased competition from rival males.
How is breeding achieved in captivity?
In captivity there are other challenges, firstly the male does not have an escape route when it is in an enclosure. Therefore there will be more fighting, however, it is believed that fighting is a natural part of establishing who will mate.
The best method
The method that has been used successfully in captivity is deliberately separating the male and female Gila Monsters. Then, when you wish to breed them, introduce the female to the male enclosure.
There will be fighting and combat but this is a natural prerequisite to mating. The winner will be gifted the female for breeding. But, you do have to keep a close eye on the fighting to reduce the injuries on the losing lizard.
In captivity for some reason, it has been noticed that the male Gilas use a lot more biting than they would in the wild. This can open up cuts and injuries. Therefore, this needs to be managed.
The Importance of Temperature
To encourage successful mating, you need to make sure that the temperature is perfect. Especially after the winter cooling period. To get this right you need to have the temperature at a consistent 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Once you have this and get the timing right, you can expect the “magic” to happen within 4-6 weeks.
Getting the Female/Male Mix Correct
For the best results, you need to have a one-to-one ratio of male and female Gilas. This is not mandatory but it usually gives you the best results. Typically, once the male and female are paired up for mating, you can expect this copulation activity to last anything from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours.
What should you do once the female is gravid?
Once the female has completed mating and is actually gravid (basically a lizard form of being pregnant), you need to make sure that you separate her. This is so she can lay her eggs and keep them safe from other cage mates.
During this period, when the female is gravid, she will be quiet but alert. It will be a noticeable difference in behavior.
You may even notice large periods of time while she may even appear motionless. Nevertheless, she will still be alert and on the lookout even though she is actually in the enclosure on her own.
The best housing at this stage
During this time you should provide an adequate nesting box for your female Gila monster. This will give her time to rest in the nest box before laying her eggs. Just make sure that there is some Moss substrate there for her to lay her eggs and feel comfortable.
What preparation is required before breeding?
To successfully breed you need to make sure that the female is adequately fed. This is really important and something that a lot of people underestimate. The reality is, if they are not fed adequate food before reproduction, it will not happen it’s a simple as that.
The lizard’s body needs a certain amount of fat reserves for it to allow the female to reproduce so that it does not put itself, or its eggs, at any danger during the process.
The reproduction will typically happen before the winter cooling off period. Therefore, the year before this mating season you need to make sure that the female is well fed and has fat reserves.
How should they be treated after egg laying?
— Gila monster (@gilamonsterasu) January 5, 2018
After egg laying, they need to be fed so that they can return to the correct weight. Similar to before they were gravid.
However, do not stop there. After the winter cooling off period, it is important to continue with their feeding. To keep them well fed for the following years breeding cycle. If you do this on a consistent basis you should be in a position to breed them on a yearly basis, without any problems.
Do their hatchlings have any known Predators?
Yes, they do have Predators this includes:
- Birds of Prey
- Cage Mates
Humans are one of their biggest predators. They will often use excuses that they were defending themselves to justify their actions. Coyotes are another predator. Also in captivity, other cage mates are also known predators. Hence the reason why it’s important to keep the female on her own during the egg laying process.
Are Gila Monsters endangered? The official IUCN record states that they are “near threatened”. This is largely to do with changes in their habitat. Such as roads being introduced in the middle of their habitat. Unfortunately, this causes them to be run over when this happens.
In national parks, the Gila Monsters are protected. However, there is a large amount of interest on the black market for them. People are known for capturing them illegally in the wild to sell them on as pets to other people.
Do Gila monsters live underground? Not exactly. The reality is 95% of their time is lived burrowed underground. However, that remaining 5% is spend mixing with other lizards or animals, for example, when they come out to breed or attack their prey.
Are they dangerous? No, the Gila Monster is not regarded as dangerous, however, they do have a venomous bite. On a day-to-day basis, they are quite a relaxed, docile and solitary lizards. But if they are provoked or feel threatened they will bite.
Do they have a large appetite? Yes, they do. However, they don’t eat often. They have the ability to eat up to one-third of their own body weight in one single sitting. However, they have a slow metabolization and have the ability to store fat reserves in their tail. Meaning they may only need to eat a handful of times a year to maintain.
How long does it take for their eggs to hatch? They do not Hatch immediately, it could take as long as 10 months before they actually hatch out during this period of 10 months they are literally left on their own to fend for themselves once they hatch out typically they will be about 6 inches in length and I’ll be left to fend for themselves without their mother being there.
Are Gila Monsters & Komodo Dragons the same thing? No, the Komodo Dragon is substantially larger than the Gila Monster. And it is a very ferocious and formidable lizard. In fact, it is the largest lizard of them all. Because the Gila monster is venomous and assumed to be dangerous it is often bought up in the same conversations. However, in reality, they are quite different.