Making your own reptile egg incubator can be a great way to avoid the high costs of bought incubators and still achieve a good hatch rate, if you know what you’re doing that is.
Here I will be giving you some step-by-step instructions on making a homemade reptile incubator, from buying the equipment to putting in the eggs.
Most people think that they will save a lot of money by making their own incubator, however, if you don’t already have a lot of this equipment at home, costs can start rising. Try to evaluate how much you’re going to need to spend beforehand as you may be better off buying an incubator in some cases.
You Will Need:
1 polystyrene cooler with a tight fitting lid
1 heat mat roughly the size of the base of the cooler (may need two for larger projects)
1 thermometer (you may prefer more for larger projects)
1 humidity gauge
A pencil or screw driver
A plastic cup or tray
Some thick pieces of doweling (optional)
Where to Find the Equipment
If you buy frozen food for your reptile the chances are it gets shipped to you in a polystyrene cooler that you can use as the shell of your incubator. You can also visit local pet stores or garden centres with aquarium departments and ask if they have any spare coolers they’d be willing to give you (they get the fish in these and then generally just throw them out).
Reptile stores will have the heat mat, thermostat, thermometer and humidity gauge if you don’t have any spare, but shop around for the best deals as these can be expensive.
I’m thinking that most people will have a pencil lying around somewhere.
You can buy plastic cups from the grocery store or just use a plastic yoghurt pot or something similar.
You can get plant support canes from the garden centre and chop them down to size for the doweling, or visit a local hardware store.
How to Make the Reptile Egg Incubator
Now you have all the equipment it’s time to put it together.
1. Gather the equipment onto the space you will be using for your incubator (i.e. a flat surface in a room with a fairly constant temperature).
2. Place the heat mat in the base of the polystyrene cooler so that it lies flat and covers most of the area (you can use two for larger projects)
3. Plug the heat mat and thermostat in (don’t switch them on just yet) and make a groove in the side of the cooler where the wire rests so that the lid can still sit on tight when it’s all set up.
4. If you would prefer to keep your incubation tubs off the heat mat you can now insert some doweling rods through the sides of the cooler to make a shelf.
5. Use the pencil or screwdriver to make a couple of holes in the sides of the lid for air exchange (only make a couple for now, you can add more later if the humidity is getting too high)
6. Put a little lukewarm water into the plastic cup or tray and place it inside the base.
7. Consult a care sheet to set the right temperature for your eggs on the thermostat.
8. Add the thermometer, replace the lid and switch everything on.
9. Allow an hour or two for the temperature and humidity to get to the right levels and make adjustments to the number of holes in the lid as necessary.
10. Once the right atmosphere has been achieved and maintained you can safely add your eggs in their hatching tub and wait for them to hatch!
Alternatives to Making Your Own Incubator
Making your own incubator is all the rage amongst reptile breeders nowadays, but it isn’t necessarily the right option for everyone.
If you’ve never incubated eggs before I would strongly recommend buying your own incubator at first as they are much more reliable and easy to set up.
If you don’t have spare equipment such as thermostats and heat mats it may also be worth your while to buy a ready-made incubator as you can get hold of the most popular one (the Hova Bator) for as little as $60 if you know where to look.