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Behaviors prior to breeding?

Discussion in 'Tegu Breeding Discussion' started by Tek, Mar 20, 2020.

  1. Tek

    Tek New Member

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    Greeting all, I am a long time lurker, first time poster. Thanks alot for the help you all have provided over the years, I have found many discussions helpful in the forums here.

    I have a female Argentine B&W tegu about 7 1/2 years old and a male nearing 10 years. Both are healthy and energetic, and have been cohabitating ever since she was big enough to be with the male (about 6 years now). She has long since grown much larger than him. They live in a large hand-built terrarium, that I am considering rebuilding even larger this summer. The male had a problem 3 years ago and had to have one of his hemipens removed, but he Recovered well and is great again. They have never cohabitated with or even met any other tegus.

    They’re both very well socialized, and can be handled at any time. We often bring them with us to outings, Home Depot, and other various places and events. They also have a good amount of outdoor running free time in the yard or on the deck when it’s warm outside. In the terrarium they have a large hide, 5” deep cypress chips for Substrate, lots of climbing surfaces, a large basking stone and a litter box sized water bowl for wading or drinking. I also have an automatic misting system and regularly add water to the cypress chips to keep things humid. We always feed them outside the terrarium to try and minimize the defensive attitude of that environment.

    The male has never brumated / hibernated well, he always seems to stay awake thru the winter, with only short periods of a few days under at a time. The female used to go down in September and we wouldn’t see her until March, but within the last few years, has started to come up 1-5 per month, and this year she only settled down until January and has been fully up since then, the earliest I’ve ever seen her fully back around.

    As far as we know they have never mated. Tho the female does typically show a period of a month or so each spring where you’d think she was nesting and gets very aggressively defensive of the hide. But that typically only lasts a couple weeks to a month. Typically during this time, the female will bite the male and drive him out of the hide fairly aggressively, but this seems to be a clearly definable instance and is short lived. We would like them to mate tho!

    I have noticed a behavior off and on over the last 4 years or so... it happens one year, then not that I see, and then again another year. This year seems to be an “on” year, tho it is significantly earlier in the year this time. Typically it’s more in the summer months. So here’s my question:

    the behavior in question seems aggressive, involving a position of dominance (on top of the other), rapid huffing or snorting in short durations of 5-10 seconds, and biting and holding. The biting seems aggressive but they have not broken skin or drawn blood from each other. It’s not a super aggressive, head shaking bite like they do with mice... and we have never seen evidence of broken skin or blood. There are no scars either. The bites are very firm tho, holding may last upwards of 30+ seconds, and it is very hard to tell if the bitee is feeling pain as they both typically don’t ever show any outward indications of pain that we have ever been able to identify. It is a mutual situation, they do it to each other, it’s not just one always biting the other. The male may become a bit more generally protective of the terrarium environment during this time as well, but he gives a good warning of an impending chomp and we have learned how to calm him.

    But when the biting/holding is done or if we separate them for a moment to break it up, they go right back to basking intertwined again, and do not show any signs of fear of each other or unwillingness to share.

    what do you think? Is this a worrying aggression? Should they be separated when this happens? Or is this typical of mating rituals or other “normal” behavior?

    thanks very much!
  2. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club 5 Year Member

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    Welcome. Sounds very well kept tegus with an attentive keeper.

    If it's the male on top, it's stereotypical mating behavior.
  3. Tek

    Tek New Member

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    Yeah that’s kinda what I have been thinking, that it’s a mating activity... tho we have never seen any eggs produced, so there doesn’t seem to be mating going on. We don’t watch them 24 hours a day tho, so there could have been some attempts we just haven’t seen. Is there anything we can do to encourage a mating? We kinda wonder because the male is a fair bit smaller than the female now, and has only one hemipens, And is 10 years old, that they may not be able to make it happen.
  4. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club 5 Year Member

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    After mating, remove the male. The stress of him remaining is why she won't lay.
  5. Tek

    Tek New Member

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    is there a way to tell if a mating has happened? We don’t watch them 24 hours a day, so it’s possible they might have mated and we didn’t see it. In past years, I have seen her show clear signs of nesting, Closing off the entrance to the hide and driving the male out aggressively. is that only a response to mating or is it an automatic thing that is not specifically indicative of mating? What I mean is ... if she shows those signs this year, is that a good indicator to pull him out?
  6. Walter1

    Walter1 Moderator Staff Member 1,000+ Post Club 5 Year Member

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    You can remove him now or wait until she seems aggressive or at least touchy.

    In the wild they often skip a year betweem egglaying because it is so energetically e pensive, up to 35% of their total body mass.
  7. Debita

    Debita Active Member

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    The females prepare a 2 level nest - one area where they place the eggs, and the other level from which they guard the eggs. So - if they've mated, her next step is to create that nest. It's not the same as digging and sleeping. She'll be cranky and hormonal most likely, and it's not going to be just another nap.

    They can lay up to 70 eggs at a time! Unless you have a massive enclosure, I think you'll notice!