What is the best reptile (bearded dragon) egg incubator?

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addelinaperry

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I am new to breeding (egg-laying) reptiles and have gravid female bearded dragons. I am looking to buy an affordable, high quality incubator (and one that does not waste too much electricity) for them. I have had egg incubators before to hatch chicken, quail eggs which cost around $20 off ebay but it wasted ALOT of power and was very poor quality and high maintenance by having to constantly top-up water etc.
I cannot afford the very high quality ones for many hundreds or even thousands of dollars at the moment although am looking at investing in one in the future.

I have also considered making a diy one somehow but it seems less accurate and more prone to errors or temperature spikes which I am trying to avoid.

Any other tips on hatching bearded dragon eggs?

Also I own pythons and have thought about trying to breed them (I have one bredli and one jungle and may go out and purchase each a partner to try and breed), and would also like to use the same incubator for the dragons and the pythons. Would I be able to incubate them all together under one temperature/humidity?
Thank you.
 

addelinaperry

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What i mean is i would consider trying to make a DIY homemade incubator but am worried it may not work as good as a proper store bought incubator and damage the eggs.
I have spent thousands on these bearded dragons which are high yellows and reds coloured morphs (not sure the exact genetic names atm) and wouldn't want to lose eggs.
Thanks
 

Herpetology

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They are unstable if you make it poorly

you need to wrap a heat cord around the inside of a bar fridge, put a pc fan at the top of the fridge so it circulate the heat around so it’s not hotter at the top (heat rises) with full water bottles at the bottom to hold heat in case of a power outage and a dimming thermostat. (Microclimate, habistat)

do you have pics of your beardies? Bit concerning you’ve spent 1000s but not sure what they are

proper store bought incubator and damage the eggs.
All the store bought ones are rubbish and off temp, unless you’re buying a lab fridge incubator:p
 

E.Shell

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Those small, low-cost incubators are more for a one-time project. Inconvenient and not at all durable. Ideally, they should be well-sealed to maintain both temperature and humidity. I justify this expense by asking myself 'How much money do I lose if the incubator kills a clutch?" "Two clutches?" "More?" I had three clutches of eggs in one incubator at one time - I felt remiss "only" spending $180USD on my first one, not to mention having only one. "All your eggs in one basket..." as the proverb goes.

I used a bar-top wine chiller to make a great incubator. I disconnected the solid-state heat exchanger (to defeat the cooling function) and the exterior 'condenser' fan, but left the interior circulator fan running. I also left the thermometer readout and interior light working. I have electrical and electronics experience, so working out these changes wasn't too hard to accomplish. One could skip the mods, just leave the chiller unplugged and still have it work fine, but at least a battery-powered circulator fan should be used inside to keep the temperature consistent throughout the compartment.

Once finished, the wine chiller incubator system held 85F~29C within 1 degree and the entire interior space is the same temperature throughout; within one degree of 85F, and most often, 85 exactly. It was monotonous, set point 85, probe temp 85, analog thermometers placed at various areas inside show 85 too.
https://www.aussiepythons.com/threads/wine-fridge-incubator.228594/#post-2543840

The thermostat is the heart of the operation and everything depends on being able to control and hold temperature without excessive deviations. Buying cheap here is to gamble with success. I bought a 'Vivarium Electronics' VE-300x2 thermostat. It is a very expensive dual-channel unit, but has excellent control and flexibility. I could have done fine with either of the next three steps down (VE-300, VE-200D, VE-200) but no one had any of them in stock and I had a time problem with 17 monitor eggs at stake.

As 'herpetology' says above, the single biggest thing is to have it "dimming" (pulse proportional control), so you always have just enough gentle heat to keep temperature where it needs to be, instead of having a simple 'on/off' function that is either 'off' or 'full blast' and bounces internal temperatures all around the set point temperature. I'm in the US and I don't know what is available where you are, but I am very pleased with the Vivarium Electronics product and their customer service.

I used two 8 watt under-tank heat mats that were always slightly warm (never cool, never hot) due to the pulse-proportional control. I left the wine chiller's internal circulator fan running and that was plenty to keep the inside air well homogenized. I first tested one 8 watt matt alone and running full power, full time, it brought the temperature up to 80F~27C, with ambient room temp at around 65F~18C. Two 8 watt matts were more than enough and would have easily held it at a much higher temperature.

A commercial incubator I initially bought for $180USD had several minor issues before it suddenly failed:
1) There was a temperature offset between the set point and the probe reading, so I had to offset the setting to get it to hold target temperature...according to the probe. All digital, calibration not possible.
2) Neither the set point nor the probe temperature were correct. I has to rely on analog thermometers (two calibrated 'core thermometers') to find and set the actual temperature.
3) Temperature fluctuated a few degrees. It would let the contents cool down two degrees below set point, the start and run until it was two degrees above set point and shut off. Maybe not critical, but likely not optimum.
4) Temperatures throughout the incubator varied by several degrees, both vertically and front-to-back. I had to rotate egg boxes to try to ensure equivalent incubation conditions.

I selected that model because it had good reviews/comments and because it would cool as well as heat. That cool function was important because I had to keep it in a second floor space that got very warm in summer.

Then, the commercial incubator failed in the middle of the night, tried to pull down to 40F~4C and almost killed a 17 egg clutch of Ackies.

I had considered making my own incubator at first, but thought it better to trust a professional outfit, as do you. I now regret not having just built my own to begin with.

A few pics:

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Incu-WC-040.jpg
 

dragonlover1

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There is nothing wrong with home made incubators, I have an old bar fridge I've used for several seasons with many species. last year I had 10 tubs at once with 5 species and all hatched successfully .
As #Herpetology said heat cable and a PC fan to circulate heat, a thermostat and you're in business . I have an extra thermometer just to verify temps
 

addelinaperry

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Thank you! How about using an old chest freezer that opens on the top? It seems like it would hold temperature very well.
I have one but not sure how to feed in a heat cable/cord, computer fan, vent holes etc. How would you cut into it?

Also would opening the incubator/fridge door cause dramatic temperature or humidity swings which would affect the eggs? Especially because mine is in the garage and it is almost winter so outside the incubator is very different to inside.
 

Herpetology

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Thank you! How about using an old chest freezer that opens on the top? It seems like it would hold temperature very well.
I have one but not sure how to feed in a heat cable/cord, computer fan, vent holes etc. How would you cut into it?
you can use a drill to make the opening holes and then once its all set up use sillicone to fill the gap around the cords


Also would opening the incubator/fridge door cause dramatic temperature or humidity swings which would affect the eggs? Especially because mine is in the garage and it is almost winter so outside the incubator is very different to inside.
no, opening it once a week is good for air exchange (old air out, new air in) just dont do it every 10minutes
 

addelinaperry

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you can use a drill to make the opening holes and then once its all set up use sillicone to fill the gap around the cords



no, opening it once a week is good for air exchange (old air out, new air in) just dont do it every 10minutes
Thanks I also have a small ~15by15cm vent covered with flyscreen that I am thinking of installing somewhere hopefully to provide a little bit of air circulation (photo attached of what it looks like).
Also a question, what is the best substrate to place dragon or python eggs on in the incubator? I have both vermiculite and perlite (and garden soil that may contain fertiliser)?

One last question (I may be getting a head of my self here), can you incubate bearded dragon eggs and bredli python eggs in the same incubator, under the same temperature and humidity?

Thanks again.
 

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Herpetology

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Thanks I also have a small ~15by15cm vent covered with flyscreen that I am thinking of installing somewhere hopefully to provide a little bit of air circulation
Don’t bother, just open the incubator door once a week.
what is the best substrate to place dragon or python eggs on in the incubator? I have both vermiculite and perlite
I and lots of others use vermiculite, lots of people use perlite, lots of people do a mix
Do a search on adequate vermiculite/ perlite mix for reptiles
don’t use soil
One last question (I may be getting a head of my self here), can you incubate bearded dragon eggs and bredli python eggs in the same incubator, under the same temperature and humidity
I don’t know, google or search function could tell you, they’re both extremely common bred animals

233FA6AE-010D-4CE1-BE77-BBE5BA0AF31D.jpeg
I use a slightly wetter vermiculite mix and use a fish egg grid to seperate them from vermiculite, If u get the mix right , you can sit them on the vermiculite, but water touching the eggs will kill the eggs
 

Friller2009

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One last question (I may be getting a head of my self here), can you incubate bearded dragon eggs and bredli python eggs in the same incubator, under the same temperature and humidity?
I would assume so. Many people incubate multiple clutches from different species at a time in the same incubator. It’s much cheaper and makes more sense then having and running multiple incubators. Although there are exceptions to that rule with things such as heat sensitive reptiles (forest dragons and leaf tails)
 

dragonlover1

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I incubate multiple species in the same incubator, 3 species of beardy,central netted, frilly plus Lacie . I haven't yet bred pythons but imagine they would be the same. If when that time comes I can build another incubator for them if neccesary
 

addelinaperry

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Thank you. I would love to keep and breed lacies but it seems too much waiting for their 9month+ incubation times.
 

dragonlover1

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Thank you. I would love to keep and breed lacies but it seems too much waiting for their 9month+ incubation times.
Yes it is a long time, but if you have as many critters as I do, the time seems to pass faster as there is always something to do . I always look forward to babies hatching, they are so exciting . This year with the weird weather is a perfect example ; I have 2 week old P.henrylawsoni and 4 day old C.kingii to entertain me
 

Friller2009

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Yes it is a long time, but if you have as many critters as I do, the time seems to pass faster as there is always something to do . I always look forward to babies hatching, they are so exciting . This year with the weird weather is a perfect example ; I have 2 week old P.henrylawsoni and 4 day old C.kingii to entertain me
NT frillies? The weather is getting weirder each year.
 

dragonlover1

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NT frillies? The weather is getting weirder each year.
yes mate, normally my dragons have hatched and been adopted long before this but here I am still having hatchies this close to winter, BUT wait for it I still have 1 clutch of P.henrylawsoni due in about 5 weeks. WTF ?
At this rate I will still have dragons when my lacies hatch and need their rooms
 

Friller2009

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yes mate, normally my dragons have hatched and been adopted long before this but here I am still having hatchies this close to winter, BUT wait for it I still have 1 clutch of P.henrylawsoni due in about 5 weeks. WTF ?
At this rate I will still have dragons when my lacies hatch and need their rooms
Crikey! 5 weeks! Due basically in winter! That is insane.
 

addelinaperry

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Don’t bother, just open the incubator door once a week.

I and lots of others use vermiculite, lots of people use perlite, lots of people do a mix
Do a search on adequate vermiculite/ perlite mix for reptiles
don’t use soil

I don’t know, google or search function could tell you, they’re both extremely common bred animals

View attachment 333279
I use a slightly wetter vermiculite mix and use a fish egg grid to seperate them from vermiculite, If u get the mix right , you can sit them on the vermiculite, but water touching the eggs will kill the eggs
Thank you, that looks good. Can you separate the eggs or best leave them like that?
I have left my adults alone and have no idea if they have mated. Would the female gain significant weight when developing the eggs?
She has been 3kg, should I keep weighing her and notice a change or is there another way to see if she is carrying eggs? (Without going to the vets for xrays).
 

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