There are some basic things that every reptile incubator needs. Here is a list of them along with information about each one. You may notice that this information is similar in many ways to the information needed for a bird incubator.
Depending on how many egg you want to hatch at a time, you may want something small that will hold just 4-8 eggs or a larger container that will hold dozens. Determine how many eggs you anticipate you'll have to incubate and then decide on the container. The more insulation the container has, the less energy it will require to keep it warm. However, reptile eggs often don't need to be much warmer than room temperature, so this isn't a bif factor. A common container is just a simple tupperware type container. You don't want something that will be drafty, but you do need some way for fresh air to come into the container. The developing embryos need oxygen just like you and I do. The shell is poreous and allows carbon dioxide to leave and oxygen to enter. A clear container or one that has a viewing window is handy for observing the eggs, especially while they hatch.
The size of the container, the amount of insulation it has and the room temperature will all have an impact on how much enegery, measured in Watts, you need for your incubator. Some of the popular table-top incubators (such as Little Giant and HovaBator) use a low wattage heating element. The Little Giant uses a 40 watt heater and the HovaBator uses a 25 watt heater.
A good thermostat will help you keep the temperature in the appropriate temperature range. Especially if you have your eggs in a room environment that changes a lot, a thermostat will help keep a more steady temperature that is warm and appropriate for your eggs.
A reptile egg needs a warm and moist enviroment. Consider the envorinment that nature provides when a snake or lizard buries thier eggs in the ground. The ground helps keep the eggs at a relatively constant temperature and also keeps them moist without being too moist. Too much moisture for extended periods of time may cause mold to form and kill the egg. It is very common to use a medium such as vermiculite to mimic the ground for your eggs to be placed in. Place the vermiculite with water added. Ours comes with instructions on how much to add. Then place the medium in a small container (like those that come with our reptile incubator kit) and place those small containers inside your incubator.
Managing humidity in your incubator will keep the eggs from drying out too fast and also keep it from being too moist. Follow the instructions that come with the repile medium.
Thermometer and hygrometer
A thermometer will measure the temperature and allow you to adjust the thermostat accordingly. A hygrometer will measure the relative humidity. There are analog devices and digital types. All measurement devices will have some variability so testing and calibrating your device is always a good idea.
An egg turner IS NOT needed for reptile eggs. In fact, turning the eggs could kill them. In nature, once the eggs are laid and set in the ground, they normally lay their undisturbed until they hatch. Try to follow that same situation with eggs you incubate.
An egg candler is just a modified light that allows you to cause the egg to glow enough to see if the egg is developing. With a good candler, you can see the veins forming and may even be able to see the baby reptile moving inside the egg. If the egg is not developing, you can remove it to make room for good eggs.
For those who would like to purchase the entire kit ready to go, see this page for our available options: Reptile Egg Incubators
At IncubatorWarehouse.com, we have a nice selection of products for both the do-it-yourself'er and those who prefer to purchase the whole incubator kits.