Help, my bearded dragon just laid eggs!

We hear it all the time, "My bearded dragon just laid eggs, what do I do?"
If your female bearded dragon starts scratching and digging constantly around her cage and looks fatter than usual, chances are she is about to lay a clutch of eggs. If she wasn't around a male dragon, it is still possible that she is cycling her eggs and will lay an infertile clutch. If she was around a male dragon, they are most likely fertile and you have to decide if you want to hatch them or not.

First, you must provide a place for her to dig and lay her eggs. Bearded dragons like to tunnel and need at least 5 to 6 inches of sand to dig in. Get a 50lb bag of play sand from Home Depot or Lowes and pour it in a 50 to 60 quart bin, then wet it enough to hold its shape, mixing the water in thoroughly, and then pack it down with your hand. This will allow her to dig a tunnel without caving in. On top of the bin, get a clamp light or put a screen across the top to support a dome light to keep her warm while she is digging.

Warning: if you don't provide a proper laying area for your dragon, eggs could burst inside her or become bound, which is almost always 100% fatal unless surgically removed! Do not delay your female from laying for any reason, she is counting on you to provide her with the necessary tools to do her job quickly and comfortably!

First time egg layers may take up to a week to lay their first clutch. Figure out the time since they were bred, and she could lay her eggs any time from two weeks to four weeks after breeding, most of the time it is about 3 weeks on the dot. She will stop eating for 3 days to a week before laying and become very restless, pacing and trying to get out. This is when you know it's time to put her in the lay bin. The first couple days she may dig and stop, then want out for a while. This is okay for a day or two, but eventually she must lay, and you may have to lock her in the lay bin for an evening or two until she lays. You will notice her fat stores on her tail may start to go away rapidly during the last few days and her hip bones may start to protrude, when this happens you need to make her dig and lay her eggs.
In an emergency, like if your dragon lays eggs and you didn't know she was gravid, there are a few things you can do to try and save the eggs. You must work quickly though, you only have about 24 hours to get it right.
How to tell if the eggs are fertile or infertile

Infertile eggs are usually dented and slightly yellow in color. See image below.

Infertile Bearded Dragon Eggs

Fertile eggs are full, not dented, more white in color, and if you candle them with an led flashlight, you can see the vein circle (or what we call the "Cheerio" which is pinkish in color inside the egg. Infertile eggs can be disposed of. I would suggest freezing them first if you have any doubts.

Fertile Bearded Dragon Egg

This is a fertile egg!

This is a clutch of good eggs!

We have typically used the Hovabator incubators. They are inexpensive and easy to find. Your local feed store should have one in stock, or you can purchase them online.
In an emergency, to keep fertile eggs at 80º to 85º temporarily, you can use a small storage bin, approximately 12" x 18" and 6" high with lid. Drill vent holes at each end of the container and on the sides. Place in a non-ventilated area where there are no breezes or air conditioning, on top of an under tank heater or heating pad with a towel on top. Be sure to use a thermometer inside the bin or a temp gun to check temps every hour until they are at a constant 82º to 84º. Towels can be put in between the bin and heating pad until the temps are stable. Cover the bin with a towel to hold in heat and help stabilize temps.
How to incubate fertile bearded dragon eggs
Dig all the eggs out of the lay bin making sure you get them all, be thorough! Don't worry, it's OKAY to turn them, they haven't started developing yet! However, do not turn them after 1 week and do not handle before 4 or 5 weeks. After that, handle carefully!
Find a container with lid about 2 inches deep that is at least 5 to 6 inches in width and drill a few vent holes in the sides close to the top, then fill half full with vermiculite. Make sure the vermiculite has NO fertilizer or plant food in it, these are TOXIC and will kill the eggs quickly! Add water to the vermiculite and mix it making sure all the material is evenly wet and clumps up easily. If you add too much water, drain off the excess and you should be good to go. Pat it down in the container to make sure it is filled evenly with no voids and so that it is even across the top.
In an emergency, you can use damp paper towels in a food storage container to keep the eggs good. Wet the paper towels and squeeze out the excess water, clump them up in the bottom of the container and place the eggs so they are surrounded by paper towel, then put a couple of layers on top to hold in the moisture. Place the lid on the container, but make sure it has ventilation holes for air! Store the container at 80º to 85º temps, do not allow to get too cold or too hot!

Find a small tool to help you dig divots for each egg, I like using a big sharpie marker or the end of a wooden spoon. You can use your finger as well. Round out a small divot about the size of each egg and place the eggs in it burying them about halfway. Use your fingers to pack the vermiculite around them so they are securely in their hole. Do this with each egg, spacing them apart at least 3/8" to 1/2" so they have a little bit of room to grow. They will triple or quadruple in size by the time they hatch.

Bearded Dragon Eggs Set Up to Incubate

This is how your eggs should look before you put them in the incubator. Put the lid on and make sure it is securely on the container. The lid will help keep your eggs and vermiculite from drying out too fast and will also help keep the temps more constant for the eggs.
After about a month, check the vermiculite to make sure it isn't drying out too much. You may need to add water once before the eggs hatch. Use a squeeze bottle with a skinny tip and squirt a thin stream of warm water around the edges and in between the rows of eggs. When you see it go through to the bottom of the container, that should be enough.
It is very important that the eggs have moisture and do not dry out prior to hatching, babies will not be able to get out of the dry eggs because the skin will be thicker and tougher.

Your eggs should be big and plump after 4 to 6 weeks, these eggs are due in 2 weeks.

Big Eggs

If your female lays her eggs in the cage and they are exposed to heat or dry out, or even if it was just not a viable clutch, this is what they will look like when they start to die. They will get brown and slimy. Freeze them and dispose of them or you will get tiny flies and maggots on them. Oh, and they stink!!

Bad Bearded Dragon Eggs

After about 50 days, start checking your eggs daily. Any time from 50 to 75 days, you will see them begin to sweat or cave in. This is when the baby has pierced the side of the egg and will begin to make his way out. Within a couple hours, you should be able to see their noses.

After a few hours have passed, the baby will stick its entire head out of the egg and lay there comfortably absorbing the yolk. This can take anywhere from 8 to 16 hours, so be patient. Once the yolk is absorbed, the baby has enough food to last 2 or 3 days in his system and he will be ready to come out.

Bearded Dragon Eggs Hatching

When babies first come out, they are very exhausted from all the work it took to get out of the egg. They will find a safe spot and want to take a long nap before becoming active. They usually don't eat for 1 to 3 days after hatching, but will drink water the first day! Offer water two or three times a day for the first 2 to 3 weeks, babies can get dehydrated very easily and become lethargic. Start offering live food the second day, if they don't eat, remove it and try again later. Never leave any live food in with babies, crickets will eat them alive!
Hope you enjoyed our tutorial! Let us know if you have any questions!

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