Ethics of breeding large reptiles

Little disclaimer here at the beginning, this is not meant as an attack on anyone who breeds larger reptiles, I was just interested in peoples opinion on the topic.

I’ve thought about working my way towards breeding some larger reptiles (Green iguanas and water monitors in particular) but tbh it seems like there are already a lot of these on the market. so I was interested in others people opinions on the best way to ethically breed larger reptiles or whether its even possible.


I think that a big factor to consider would be the market demand for a given species you are considering. If you’re committed to caring for all offspring until they find a good home, that’s less if a problem. But being large species, that’s not always practical.

Another factor would be ensuring you have the space to house the animals. Ideally, with large species, I think it would be a good idea to consider how dedicated you are to screening potential buyers and how willing you are to provide life-long support.


So I agree with the points that @mblaney brought up because these scenarios need to be taken into consideration. If you still feel the desire to pursue breeding large reptiles, I would research animals that the market is not already saturated with. An animal that is unique and in high demand would be ideal, one that you have and everyone wants. If you can come up with something that will be a “must have” for any high end keeper’s collection, you might make it worth all your time, money and effort!

Best of wishes to you!


I think the key decision when breeding any large species is market demand. I understand this firstly as intentionally not producing ‘normals’ or very low-end mutations. I feel responsible breeders aim to produce small volume (as much as possible given the species in question) but high-end, and therefore high demand, mutations.

To me this would mean the only Green Iguana I would reasonably breed would be Albinos, Axanthics and the like, maybe Snows at the top end. Monitors, I presume you mean V. salvator, again would be Black, Albino or great looking large animals like V. cumingi.

Breeding for wild-types of most of the giants (Burms or retics especially) is unnecessary and ultimately somewhat damaging to the hobby ecosystem long term I feel.


Something that always baffles me that more people don’t realize is that you’re not obligated to hatch all the eggs. Nothing says you can’t just run a few and toss the rest.


Agreed, but if I am breeding to produce any high-dollar animal with a low probability I am most certainly not culling eggs.
I can see this approach being fair when breeding non-mutation animals or homozygote x same but anywhere hets are involved I just can’t see people doing this.
In addition to this point, no one should be breeding wild-type burm x wild-type (for example) and justifying it by dumping half the clutch. So many ‘normals’ are produced as by-products there simply isn’t any need for those breedings.
When production of normals cannot be controlled breeders (and perhaps more importantly the wider hobby) should be comfortable with culling the low dollar animals. As distasteful as I know this comment will feel to many, the industry needs to self police much better and in some very niche cases I can see this option being suitable. I would not advocate for it necessarily but large businesses need to test breed new mutations and these outcomes must be considered. Corn snake breeders already self police very effectively with regard to the Stargazer mutation and as a result it is never used as a club to beat them with.

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I guess that kind of depends on your personal preference and where you’re at in your reptile life. I would without hesitation toss all but 6-10 eggs out of a retic clutch with no regards to odds. I’ve been doing this a long time so I’m pretty patient when it comes to advancing a project and the revenue from breeding doesn’t impact my financial situation enough to be a motivator.