Reproduction in Captive Gila Monsters (Heloderma suspectum)

Schwandt, Hans-Joachim jo-schwandt@gmx.de


Reproduction in the Gila Monster (Heloderma suspectum) turns out to be very complex. Specific captive conditions must approximate conditions in the wild. In my talk, I will outline the complete reproductive cycle: brumation, mating, egg-laying and deposition, and incubation. I will show an easy and optimal way to incubate and hatch eggs in a substrate-free incubator. I consider both incubation and hatching the most challenging aspects of the reproductive process. Managing the hatching sequence requires experience and patience. A check of the heartbeat of “overdue” individuals or those in “bad-looking” is often helpful information. Little movement in the hatching process with an already opened egg shell might be an indicator for upcoming complications with a partially retracted yolk sac. Yolk sacs often have to be separated by dental floss. Twins with a joined yolk cord will get a similar treatment for separation. Breeders still have to hold their breath until each individual has completed hatching. It is always good news when a healthy newborn Monster is hissing at you! Despite the tremendous progress that has been made in establishing professional reproduction techniques, there are still many unanswered questions to be addressed about this fascinating “suspectum” monster.


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Photos: D. Ariano-Sanchez (Zootropic Conservation Program), D. Beck, T. Lawson, R. Repp, J. Rorabaugh, G. Schuett, W. Wells