Poultry incubators are great. With one piece of equipment, you can hatch virtually any type of common poultry bird. With simple and easy adjustments, chickens, turkeys, ducks, quail and a host of other birds can all be successfully hatched in the same generic incubator. But is that all an incubator can do?
It’s not. What many people do not realize is that a poultry incubator can be used for reptile eggs also!
With minor changes and different techniques, a poultry incubator can serve equally well for many different species of reptile. Reptiles are a fascinating type of animal, and hatching them is a hobby quickly growing in popularity, with good reason. The many different types of reptile offer a wide assortment of wonderful opportunities for people of all ages and interests.
Reptile Eggs in Incubation Medium
Before attempting to hatch reptile eggs in a poultry incubator, there are some fundamental differences between incubation of poultry and reptiles that you need to understand. The first is turning the eggs. Poultry eggs need to be turned several times a day, but if a reptile egg is turned most of the time the egg will either die or the infant inside will be permanently damaged in some way. This is a simple problem to fix when using a bird incubator. Don't turn them manually, or if it has an automatic turner, just disable or remove it.
Another crucial difference is that reptiles require what is called ‘Incubation Medium’. Poultry eggs are placed on wire flooring, plastic racks, or pretty much any other surface and can simply be set there. Reptile eggs must be placed in an 'Incubation Medium'—a porous, mold-resistant, sand-like substance. Many things can serve as a passable incubation medium, including sand (baked to kill bacteria), but most people opt to buy professionally created incubation medium, because it is more sterile, resists mold better, holds humidity and temperature better, and is very light and porous, allowing the egg to ‘breathe’. Most people feel that store bought incubation mediums are well worth the money, as they tend to have much higher hatch rates than most other substances.
Reptile eggs also require temperatures and humidities that can be significantly different than those required by poultry. Some poultry incubators may have difficulty maintaining these temperatures, but with perseverance and a little creativity a simple solution can be found.
Conveniently, most reptile species are better able to handle minor temperature and humidity fluctuation than poultry species. A lot of this is due to the incubation medium’s ability to retain constant temperature and humidity. So investing in a better incubation medium will likely pay off, especially if your incubation conditions are less stable.
Keep in mind that the variation between reptile breeds is a lot more drastic than that of poultry. Research the species you are going to hatch thoroughly to find find ideal temperature, humidity, and other incubating specifics.
Also, many people talk about home-making reptile incubators. This can work and can be a great DIY project. We have many of the parts and pieces you may need to accomplish this task.