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Preovulatory Stasis in female iguanas

Updated on October 29, 2013

Anastasia being operated on

Removal of the eggs

Her sutures after the surgery

Why iguana owners need a vet

Anastasia after surgery with her eggs
Anastasia after surgery with her eggs

Iguana problems in captivity

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 above 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 not 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.

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.

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.

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.


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      Nancy 4 years ago

      These are awesome pictures. Great hub voted up.

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