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Preovulatory Stasis and Other Medical Issues in Iguanas

Updated on March 17, 2019
Author Cheryl profile image

Cheryl has been writing online for over six years. She has published nine books and written in many genres. Writing is her passion.

Bearded Dragon Getting Her Eggs Removed

Preovulatory Stasis in Female Iguanas

Anastasia, our iguana, was born with many issues. Not only was she paralyzed from having a calcium deficiency, but she also developed eggs when she was 18 months old. The pictures below represent every aspect of her surgery.

Because her growth was stunted we did not think she would ever develop eggs, let alone get egg bound. This was a very frightening journey that we went through with her. Getting her spade was the best thing we could do for her or this would have been a yearly problem. Iguanas needs are very tedious but with the right housing and heat and light sources and with proper diet, these problems should not arise.

Anastasia was adopted by us from an owner who abused her and many other iguanas, by having her in a small 10 gallon fish tank with many other iglets and only feeding them lettuce. Iguanas diets are strictly vegetarian but lettuce has no nutritional value to them.

Iguanas are reptiles that should have never been bred for pets. These lovely creatures belong in a tropical climate to be free. Although many animal lovers think that having an iguana is a piece of cake, they are very intricate creatures that can come with a lot of problems if an owner does not know how to take care of them.

Pre-ovulatory stasis is a condition a female iguana gets when her eggs do not form completely in order for her pass them. This condition is very dangerous to any iguana in captivity because if the yolk burst it is poison to the iguana and ultimately if not treated rapidly will cause death.

If your iguana becomes gravid you must also make a nesting box. We took a dish box because she was so little and put potting soil in it very wet. She would go in there and dig, but it never made her go into labor. It must also be kept warm. Once the eggs have been laid you can remove them because iguanas do not bother with their young once they are born. Dispose of the eggs and make sure you destroy them if they are fertile and you don't want them. There is enough breeding of these animals that are mistreated instead of being in the wild where they belong.

Female iguanas will make eggs every single year whether they mate or not, starting at about two years of age. In captivity this can become a problem if the owners do not provide the adequate housing, heat source and nesting box for the iguana to lay her eggs but this alone does not guarantee that the iguana will be able to lay her eggs.

There are other reasons this can happen, as our iguana had metabolic bone disease and was too small to ever complete her cycle. She was required to have surgery because if left unattended she would have died.

Iguanas have the same organs that humans do but their reproduction of the yolks start in the liver. The ovaries produce a follicle and the eggs begin to form and end up like a cluster of grapes. When the iguana ovulates the follicles release the yolks and they are shelled before they are laid.

Surgery to remove the eggs can cost up to $700.00 depending if the iguana needs a hospital stay or not. Anastasia stayed overnight. We were lucky that she was doing well the next day. We also had to keep her in a 20 gallon tank, as she could not climb for a month after surgery to give her sutures time to heal.

When female iguanas become gravid or pregnant they will become anorexic in the last two to four weeks. They carry their eggs for 8 weeks. At this time owners need to watch their iguanas closely because even though they don't look like they have lost weight, they can become very dehydrated. 5 to 7 days after the egss become visible they should be laying them. If it goes beyond that time, a trip to the vet is warranted.

I can not stress enough to have a herp vet if you choose to have an iguana. Have blood work done once a year and a thorough examination. These animals can become ill if not treated properly.

One Angry Iguana After Surgery


Anastasia Getting Her Eggs Removed

We decided to have our iguana spade during her egg removal. The photo below shows one side of her eggs being removed. She had a total of 13. Eggs grow on follicles like grapes grow on a vine. Once they are spade there is never anymore eggs. They clip the follicles with small staples, so they can't produce eggs anymore.

Anastasia During Her Surgery to Remove Her Eggs

The only time you will see an iguana lay on their back.
The only time you will see an iguana lay on their back.

The Eggs Must Be Carefully Removed

The first side of the eggs removed came out perfectly. The other side came out with one egg that burst. The vet completely suctioned her out to get any excess egg that was left in side of her.

She came home on 7 days of antibiotics given as an injection and pain medication. She really did not eat for the first few days. We kept her hydrated with baby food fed by a syringe.

Removal of the Eggs

She had a total of 13 eggs but they can carry as many as 30
She had a total of 13 eggs but they can carry as many as 30 | Source

Suture Line

Her sutures stayed in for three months because iguanas do not heal fast like humans. Even today after almost a year she still has a scar but it is fading as her scales are becoming bigger. If you want a reptile as a pet, please educate yourself on all of its needs before taking on such a big responsibility. It's not like owning a cat and you give them treats, food and a litter box and there you have it.

In the above picture you can see the egg that burst. If you look from the left behind the first two is just a small portion of the egg that was left on the follicle.

Sutures Pulled Up Like A Tent

It is the only guarantee that her suture line would heal.
It is the only guarantee that her suture line would heal.

Metabolic Bone Disease


Metabolic Bone Disease

Iguanas need a boat load of calcium daily and they must get it from their food. If they don't get enough calcium they can come down with metabolic bone disease or a depletion of calcium.

Signs of MBD are a bowed mouth, unable to move, refuses to eat. This is an emergency and the iguana needs to get to the vet and given prescription calcium.

If you do nothing about it, your iguana will become dehydrated and die. Their mouths are bowed so they can't eat their food. We had to syringe feed our iguana until the calcium started working.

As long as you don't wait too long it is curable but some of the damage is irreversible. Anastasia has one knee that is locked. It doesn't stop her from climbing though.

Symptoms of MBD

Refusal to eat

Bowed mouth as in the picture above

Extra fatty back legs

Losing weight due to the inability to eat

They do make calcium for reptiles but I do not recommend it. Anastasia got liquid calcium from her vet that I gave her every single day for two years. After that her calcium levels were great and we took her off them.

Iguana Care

Be Prepared

If you decide to adopt an iguana Please Be Prepared. Go to the Green Iguana Society and read the whole website. Their diet is important and so is the correct lighting and heat. They need to bask in the sun but in captivity it is not likely so you must get them a UVB basking light. Our vet recommends Power Sun and they are good lights for basking.

Iguanas can not regulate temperature so anything hot for them to lay on will burn them. Once they are burned then you have risk for infection. I can not impress upon you enough that if you love this reptile you must have a good herpe vet. Not all vets see reptiles. You should establish that before you ever pick them up from the store.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2013 Cheryl A Whitsett


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