Do Lizards Lay Eggs?

Written by Emilio Brown
Updated: August 25, 2022
Image Credit Jan Bures/Shutterstock.com
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Laying eggs is a common trait found in birds, insects, and some reptiles. A lot of animals reproduce by laying eggs, but have you ever wondered if lizards lay eggs? Interestingly, all species of birds will lay eggs, but that is not true for the different lizard species. 

There are more than 6,000 lizard species, and most of them are egg-laying. Still, some are able to have a live birth. The number of eggs produced by a female will depend on the species of lizard. Females will try to choose the best male to have the most successful clutch.

Lizards reproduce by laying eggs, but species who give live births have a better chance of their young surviving. Eggs can be preyed on by predators like snakes, so lizards do their best to prevent their eggs from being destroyed. Let’s go over how lizards lay eggs and some interesting facts about different species’ reproduction processes.  

How SkinkReproduce   

baby-leopard-gecko-hatching-from-egg
Leopard geckos’ sexes are determined by the temperature at which their eggs were incubated.

Spok83/Shutterstock.com

Around 90% of lizard species lay eggs to reproduce, but before eggs are laid lizards must first mate. Lizards will reproduce sexually when a male and female mate, but some species are able to reproduce asexually. Only around 50 lizards are able to produce with only one member, and the rest will usually mate with each other to breed.

Most lizards will breed with each other during the mating season. Spring to August is when this season usually occurs, but each lIzard species has its own process. Males will try to attract a mate with various rituals like dancing, head bobs, and bright colors. Female lizards try to choose the best mate to have healthy offspring. Chameleons will use their colors to attract and show off for a female, but other lizards may use scent or other mating methods. 

Females decide the best mate, 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. When mating is complete, males will move on to find another suitable female, and female lizards will try to find the best place to lay their eggs. 

Where Do Lizards Lay Their Eggs 

Lizard Gila Monster( Heloderma suspectum)
Lizards lay their eggs in hiding spots to protect them from predators like snakes.

Vaclav Sebek/Shutterstock.com

Most species of lizards lay eggs, as it is the most common way for them to reproduce. Female lizards that are carrying eggs will find the perfect place for them to be laid for them to have the best survivability.  

After the mating process, it takes around 2 to 4 weeks for females to lay their eggs. A safe nesting site is preferred to give the eggs the best chance of survivability.

Lizard eggs are laid in hidden areas with ample moisture to prevent the eggs from drying out. These nesting sites can be in pits, under logs, or hidden in vegetation like a shrub. Younger lizards produce fewer eggs, and as female ages, she is able to have more eggs. 

What Do Lizards Eggs Look Like

Do Lizards Lay Eggs - Lizard Eggs
Many lizards are arboreal but will come down to the ground to lay their eggs

Rashid Valitov/Shutterstock.com

The eggs of a lizard look different from that of a bird and are similar to the eggs that come out of a snake. When first laid they are soft with a leathery outside. A mucus surrounds the eggs that help keep the eggs together. 

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

Snake eggs and lizard eggs are extremely difficult to tell apart, as they are both oval-shaped with leathery white skin. Some lizard species eggs will harden to help keep in moisture, usually occurring for species in dry regions. Turtles are another reptile that lays eggs. Their eggs look similar to snakes and lizards. All of these animals lay their eggs on land, but lizards will usually have the smallest egg of the group.  

How Long Do Lizard Eggs Take To Hatch?

baby chameleon hatching
Baby chameleon hatching from its egg

Nick Henn/Shutterstock.com

On average it takes around 40 to 80 days for lizard eggs to hatch. Eggs need to have the right amount of heat, moisture, and airflow. Lizard eggs are extremely vulnerable and hunted down by predators looking for an easy meal. Animals that eat lizard eggs include:

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

Holding a flashlight up to an egg will help tell if it is fertile since you can see a small embryo inside. If you have lizard eggs and want to care for them the best option is to use an incubator. 

Once a lizard lays its eggs it will leave, letting the eggs fend for themselves until baby lizards are hatched. If you find eggs in the wild and cannot take care of them it is best to leave them be so they can naturally hatch. 

Lizards That Give Live Birth

Eggs are not the only way a lizard is able to reproduce, as some species give birth to live young. Lizards who give birth to live young are called viviparous while giving birth to eggs is called oviparous. 

Live births give growing lizards better protection from harsh elements and give the mother more time to find an optimal birthing area. Lizards who lay eggs have less stress on their bodies, and give the eggs a better chance of survival if the mother dies. 

Live births for lizards are common for species that live in habitats with extreme climates. The viviparous lizard (Zootoca vivipara), or the common lizard is the most well-known species of lizard that is viviparous. This species can give birth to eggs and live young, similar to other skink species. 

jacksons chameleon lizards with spikes

Jan Bures/Shutterstock.com
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About the Author

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

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