The Basking Spot: Hovabators – March 2013

By Jennifer Greene

With Spring on the way, many reptiles are beginning to emerge from brumation or their winter cool down period, and breeding is starting.  Your reptiles will be courting each other and breeding, and love is most certainly in the air.  Now is the time to start considering how you are going to incubate your eggs when they come, not in two months when the eggs have already arrived!  With this in mind, this month’s basking spot will discuss the ubiquitous and easy to use Hovabator incubator, of which there are 4 commonly available models.

The Basic Model – The 1602

The basic model is the 1602, which is coincidentally the least expensive.  It has no frills, no fancy extras, but it is reliable and extremely simple to set up.  It arrives with the top nestled inside the bottom, with the heating element and all the equipment inside already set up.  The only thing you need to do is flip the top over and put the wafer thermostat in.

Now, if you are naturally blonde like I am, putting in the wafer thermostat can be deceptively difficult.  The first time I put the thermostat in, I put it in backwards, which resulted in my incubator running at full heat for the 6 hours I had it plugged in that way.  As you can imagine, that is not what you want the incubator to do.

This is what the wafer looks like when it is the correct side up.

The correct way to install the thermostat wafer is to have the “innie” part screw in to the control rod that goes all the way through the lid of the incubator – for more details, please view the video linked here.

The bottom of the wafer has a button on it that rests on the little needle that determines temperature.   Screw the thermostat into the control rod, and then gently start turning it until you hear the wafer click into place.

Alright, with everything in place, now all you have to do is plug it in and get your temperature dialed in!  I highly recommend getting your incubator ready to go at least several days, if not weeks, before you have eggs to place inside, as the incubator does take 6 to 12 hours to heat up and then be calibrated.  You’ll have to turn the control rod to increase or decrease temperatures as needed.  You may want to consider adding a thermostat to your incubator, and leaving the control rod turned up high so that the thermostat controls the on/off of the heat element.

The Next Step Up – the Model 1582

The basic model 1602 incubator comes with only small picture windows and no frills.  If you are setting up your incubator in a classroom or on display, or if you just plain want to be able to see your eggs easily, the 1582 model comes with a large picture window over the entire top of the incubator.  Set up and use of the incubator is the exact same, but for a small increase in cost you can see the entire insides of the incubator without having to remove the lid.  This will help keep temperatures consistent within the incubator, and prevent the loss of humidity that happens each time you open the lid.

The Turbofan Incubator – the 2362

Don’t need a big picture window, but you do want to prevent air from settling within the incubator and creating discrepancies in temperature between the top and bottom of the incubator?  Then you want the model 2362, the Turbofan Incubator.  It comes with a small fan in the top of the incubator that keeps the air moving, ensuring that your entire incubator is one consistent temperature from top to bottom.  You will have to monitor your humidity a little more closely when using a Turbofan incubator, as the air movement can cause moisture to evaporate a little more quickly than when the air is stationary within the incubator.

The Best of Everything – the 1583

Lastly, if you just want the best of everything, we also carry the 1583 model incubator.  This incubator comes with the big picture window so that you can see everything happening inside the incubator, as well as a fan in the top to keep temperatures consistent!  This is the top of the line incubator, and ideal if you want to be absolutely certain nothing goes wrong and you can easily see and monitor the inside of your incubator.

Any and all of these incubators can be hooked up to a thermostat for maximum control over conditions in the cage, and I highly recommend the use of a digital thermometer to easily see temperatures in your incubator without having to lift the lid and check the mercury thermometer included with the incubator.  Hovabators are a consistent, easy to use incubator that are perfect for nearly all egg incubation needs, making them perfect for the beginner or even the experienced herper needing a simple incubator for a side project.

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