Leopard Gecko Breeding:A Step by Step Guide

Leopard Gecko Breeding

Leopard geckos are among the most popular pet lizard due to their docility and ease of maintenance. Many people are interested in learning “how to breed leopard geckos”, and “when is leopard gecko breeding season”. Although it only requires mating a male and a female and allowing nature to run its course, leopard geckos breeding is simple. Leopard geckos need specific environments and setups to breed, so ensure you have those. A fool-proof  leopard gecko breeding technique is provided here.

Leopard Gecko Breeding Chart:

Leopard Gecko Breeding SeasonJanuary/February through September
Incubation6-10 weeks
Gestation16 to 22 days

How Does Leopard Gecko Breed?

Like the majority of species, leopard geckos reproduce by mating a female and a male. The eggs are then laid by the female, and they will hatch into baby leopard geckos. It’s interesting to note that the gender of the hatchling leopard gecko depends on the temperature at which the egg is incubated. This may be regulated to only yield female geckos or only male geckos.

Female geckos deposit their eggs behind rocks or below logs in the wild. The eggs aren’t yet hardened when they leave the mother, and it will take some time for them to form a protective shell. The time for incubation is then between 6 and 10 weeks, depending on the temperature.

The eggs must be incubated in a damp substrate or they’ll shrivel and die, making it impossible for the developing gecko within to survive. In captivity, geckos are pretty simple to reproduce. Let’s look at the procedure and the requirements for getting started.

Required Supplies and Equipment:

  • Egg-laying or Nesting box: that will be put in the primary terrarium and an eco-earth type substrate or lined with moist sphagnum moss.
  • Additional calcium dietary supplementation.
  • Enough food supplies:  If you want to breed your leopard geckos, a feeder insect colony is almost a need. During the mating and egg-laying cycles, your breeding pair will require additional nutrition. You could end up with a dozen juvenile leopard geckos since, despite their small size, they feed more often than adults.
  • Materials and equipment for egg incubation:  These contain vermiculite or another type of commercial incubation medium, deli cups or plastic boxes, and an improvised or professional incubator.
  • For housing the hatchlings, you’ll need space, paper towels, shelters, boxes, and water and food trays.

One Male and One Female to Breed:

To mate, you will require both a male and a female leopard gecko. If you have more than one female, your chances of achieving successful mating will increase. Since producing eggs involves a lot of energy and might wear on females with time, it’ll also be simpler on them because it can reduce their life expectancy. 

When aiming to differentiate between male and female leopard geckos, there are two main features you might take into account. You will need to carefully turn your gecko upside down to inspect any of them. As a substitute, you may put your gecko in a clear-bottomed container and then lift it over your head.

In either scenario, search for the existence of two characteristics that show the reptile is male:

Twin Bulges:

There are twin bulges along the base of the tail bilaterally.  The hemipenes of the leopard gecko, which are held at the base of the tail when not being used, are responsible for these. This bulging is not seen in female leopard geckos.

A V-shaped Row of Pores:

Between the legs of leopard geckos, there is a V-shaped row of pores. These pores are physically clear and highly noticeable in male geckos, while they are hardly noticeable, if at all, in female geckos. The pores on male gecko’s skin frequently produce waxy secretions.

Breeding Age and Weight:

Before considering leopard gecko breeding, they must be fully grown; ensure they are at least one year old. Complications might occur and the gecko’s lifetime could be reduced if a female is too young. Age is not the only element in determining breeding needs. Additionally, the female must be healthy, not unhealthy or underweight. She must weigh at least 35-40 gm because a pregnant female gecko loses weight due to loss of calcium throughout the egg-producing process.

Credit: Instructables

Breeding Tank:

The minimum capacity for a separate female cage is 10-gallon, while a 20-gallon container would be more suitable if you just have one female. The male can be introduced for breeding and then put back in his own 20-gallon cage. You will want a tank with a minimum capacity of 20-gallon if you want to breed more than one female. Ideally, there should be enough room and hides in the cage for each leopard gecko. They require a little additional room so that they are not too crowded when the male is introduced.

Feed and Supplements in Breeding Season:

It is simple to understand why the entire procedure is so challenging for the female when you take into account the size and quantity of eggs a female leopard gecko will lay over one breeding season. That is why you must properly prepare your breeding couple and create the geckos diet with additional food and minerals and vitamins:

  • The breeding partners’ dietary needs will likely increase. Breeding leopard geckos should be fed crickets once every other day, or a bowl of mealworms (Tenebrio Molitor) should be kept in the cage at all times. Insects must be no bigger than the head of a leopard gecko and no thicker than half its diameter. 
  • It is critical to provide a healthy diet to feeder insects, whether they are mealworms or crickets. Before giving insects to your pet geckos, gut-load them with hog mash or chick for 24-48 hours.
  • A greater variety of diets is beneficial to your gecko’s general health, especially as mating season begins. Other types of insects, like mealworms and crickets, can be added if they are available. Consider the calcium-rich soldier fly larvae. Several breeders prefer to incorporate a newborn mouse-pinkie into the diet on a weekly basis, although this is not required.
  • It is essential to give your geckos with sufficient calcium and vitamin D3. To allow the leopard geckos to control how much they eat, rather than dusting feeder insects, put a jar lid full of supplements in a corner of the terrarium.
  • To have fresh water on accessible at all times, use a shallow, durable water dish three to six inches in diameter.
  • In addition, feeder insects must be dusted with a high-quality multivitamin powder for almost every other feeding.

Step 1: Pre-Breeding Conditioning

Leopard geckos must weigh between 35 gm and 40 gm in order to reproduce. Although some will be considerably bigger, this is the suggested minimum.

You must first check to see if both of them are in the optimum physical and mental health. The female’s body will have to deal not just with the physical strain of breeding but also with the requirements of egg deposition it will have throughout the season. This indicates that you should provide the reptiles a lot of food for one to three months. Both should maintain a healthy weight; although, you want their tails to seem full and plump. Additionally, you should make sure the female has had appropriate calcium supplements throughout this period.

However, get your intended breeders examined by your vet so they may be tested for parasites or diseases before you start this stage of the procedure. By doing this, you’ll have more than enough time before mating your lizards to fix these problems.

Step 2: Cycling

The aim of cycling is to prepare your animals for a breeding season by synchronising and preparing them.

It often entails faking a “dry season” or “winter” for 1-2 months before bringing back the usual “summer” or “spring” temperatures, humidity levels, and day lengths. After a short period, pairings can start. This implies that, in the context of leopard geckos, you must cease feeding them for approximately a week to allow them to evacuate their digestive tracts before lowering their temps to the low-70s. If possible, decrease the length of daylight your pet lizards experience each day, and make sure to have water available at all times.

When you are ready to end the cycling phase, return everything to normal gradually over a few days and start feeding the geckos heavily once more. Breeders of leopard geckos do not, although, always use a cycling phase. Some caretakers just keep the temperature around the same level all year long and get good results. You will only need to choose the approach you want to use.

Step 3: Pairing

You may start pairing the pet reptiles up so they could mate once the cycling period is over and they’ve had a week or two of regular conditions. You may accomplish this in a number of ways. Ensure your strategy makes sense for the circumstances.

For instance, some breeders pair the leopard gecko for brief intervals (during which period they may be together for up to a day), and then separate them once more for one to two days of rest and recovery. This procedure is often repeated throughout the mating season to assure that all clutches laid by the female are fertile.

For the course of the breeding season, some breeders only keep their pet lizards in the same container. Some even keep their leopard geckos together over the whole year. However, we strongly recommend against doing this since, at best, it might generate unnecessary stress in leopard geckos and, at worst, result in fights. You simply need to choose which strategy you want to follow, just like with the cycling situation.

Step 4: Mating

After, your geckos are getting ready to reproduce after being exposed to one another and starting to circle one another. It shouldn’t take more than two to five minutes to accomplish this full process, which is quite brief. The female, if interested, will approach the male slowly after hearing the male rattle his tail.

The entire mating and courtship procedure must be carefully observed from beginning to end. Never leave your geckos alone for an extended period of time; in the event that either one suddenly becomes aggressive, they are likely to suffer terrible injuries if they are not rapidly separated.

The first indication that your male gecko is ready to mate with your female is when he raises his tail in the air and rapidly rattles or vibrates it as he approaches her slowly. A gentle rustling might be heard if you pay close attention.

The female leopard gecko will then have a chance to reject the male’s attempts. She will “freeze up” and stare at the male, indicating her willingness to mate with him. She may also withdraw or even act violently if she is not open to his courtship. At this stage, keep a close check on both leopard geckos in case you have to separate them.

Give them some time to get to know one another. Your female gecko will most probably be pregnant and about to hatch her first clutch of eggs.

Step 5: Egg Deposition

Within around a week following the first pairings, you should add an egg depositing container to the female’s enclosure. Cut a two-inch-diameter opening in the lid of a small plastic container to allow the leopard gecko access to the interior; this works well. Insert several inches of slightly moist (not wet) potting soil or vermiculite within the cage. When the female is ready, she will crawl inside the enclosure and lay two reasonably large eggs. She normally buries them before leaving the chamber to get some water and take a rest.

During the breeding season, she will continue to lay a fresh clutch once every 2-3 weeks. Most females will produce three to five more clutches during the next weeks. Every time your leopard geckos mate, expect anything between six to twelve eggs! It is recommended to pay close attention to the female after each clutch. She should be fed heavily so that she may restore her fat reserves, and you should ensure she always has access to a dish of calcium powder and water.

Step 6: Egg Incubation

The time during which eggs are incubating is likely the one that causes new breeders the greatest concern. But in reality, all that is necessary for leopard gecko eggs to hatch is the correct quantity of a temperature that falls between 77°F-92°F (25°C to 33°C) and moisture . The embryos will die at any temperature below 74°F.

The tricky thing about temperature is that the incubation temperature determines the gender of the embryo. If  you incubate the eggs at the lower temperature range of 80°F, all the hatchlings will be female. Only males will be born when the temperature is over 90°F (32°C). Hatchlings of both genders will be produced at temperatures in the mid-temp range, approximately 85°F to 87°F (29-30°C). Depending on the temperature, eggs can incubate between 35 to 89 days.

Credit: terrariumquest

Egg Incubation Supplies for Leopard Geckos:

You will require the items for the eggs to hatch successfully:

  • Vermiculite
  • Plastic container, deli cups, or other containers of a similar type
  • While tap water is acceptable, but leave it for two hours to allow the chlorine evaporation.
  • Heated terrarium or incubator 

Steps for Incubation:

  1. Vermiculite or another substrate should be moistened by adding water gradually or dripping water.
  2. Approximately 2 inches (5 cm) of the damp substrate should be layered at the bottom of the plastic tray. There are two approaches you may take. You can put individual pairs of eggs in a small, 500 ml (16 oz) deli cup or some eggs in a bigger box to incubate. The eggs will then be placed in an empty enclosure with a regulated temperature or in a commercial reptile incubator.
  3. In the dish, place the eggs as you found them. To prevent drowning of the embryos within the egg, this is essential. To prevent the substrate from drying out too much, cover the dish with a lid.
  4. The location of the egg tray depends on your possibilities and ambitions. Undoubtedly, purchasing a reptile incubator is the greatest way to truly manage the temperature. As previously mentioned, you may also utilize an empty cage. You may just place the enclosed egg dish/tray in your adult leopard gecko container at the low end of the care and cost spectrum because the temperature there is already fine. Put it somewhere where it can’t be flipped over.
  5. In the meanwhile, wait and examine and vent the eggs on regularly.

To supply oxygen and monitor humidity, examine the eggs every few days. On dead or infertile eggs, bacterial or fungal growth may develop; remove those quickly. Add a small amount of water to the dish’s corners if you think the vermiculite has become dry. Eggs that have developed dents may also indicate that their environment has been dry, but don’t worry – they will return as soon as the moisture content reaches their ideal level.

Step 7: Care for Hatchlings

The greater the temperature, the sooner the embryo develops and, as a result, the sooner it hatches. The egg swells, becoming considerably bigger, around a week before the baby hatches. You will observe egg deformation a few hours before the baby hatching. To come out of the egg, baby geckos develop a tooth called a “hatching tooth”, however, this tooth is quickly lost after its function has been accomplished.

You shouldn’t be concerned if you watch the hatchling since it will take pauses and retreat within the egg throughout the process. The entire procedure goes quite quickly. It is a great idea to keep the baby in its box for a short time so that the yolk sac may be rubbed out as it will still be connected to the baby.

Diet:

Before their first shed, which typically occurs 3-5 days after hatching, baby geckos will not feed. To feed the hatchlings, keep crickets or small mealworms available. Keep in mind that the feeder insects should not be larger than the distance between the gecko’s eyes.

Housing:

Hatchling leopard geckos must be kept with similar-sized geckos. They may experience bullying and stress if kept among larger geckos. Males may only be housed together at this stage; when they become older, though, you must separate them. Just keep in mind to put the leopard geckos in enclosures with others of the same size to reduce any potential issues.

When keeping juvenile geckos, paper towels and reptile carpets are both excellent choices. Do not forget to include a small dish of water with the hatchlings. To avoid the baby from slipping into the water dish, ensure it is not overloaded. In general, the hatchlings must be treated like adults and provided the same amount of heat and care.

Handling:

Holding the hatchlings must be kept to a minimum because you are a giant to the baby, and holding the babies will terrify and perhaps stress them out. You should give the hatchling some time to develop. Wait approximately a month before holding the babies, and when you believe they are ready, begin slowly, just like you would with adults.

Conclusion:

Leopard geckos are among the simplest reptiles to produce, and a dedicated owner may gain great rewards in the results of leopard gecko breeding. Ensure you have a strategy for the lizards’ care and have tanks prepared for the baby geckos before starting your breeding process. Females can produce several clutches over a season, but they only ever produce 1 or 2 two eggs at a time. This could indicate a few babies, all of whom require enough room, nourishment, and care to develop normally. All the crucial foundational aspects of leopard gecko breeding were addressed in this article. Never stop learning because the more you learn, the better outcomes you will achieve.

FAQs:

Does the leopard gecko usually lay two eggs at once?

Although geckos normally lay two eggs at a time, occasionally they only lay one. Female geckos that are young or adult or who have previously laid a lot of eggs are most likely to experience this.

Do leopard gecko eggs need an incubator?

It is feasible to just let your gecko’s eggs incubate in the egg-deposition box, but you’ll likely notice a decrease in the likelihood that they will hatch. Additionally, when the adult geckos enter the egg-laying container, they’ll probably damage the eggs.

How long does the leopard gecko breeding season last?

Leo females often don’t attain sexual maturity until they weigh 35-40 gm and are 9-10 months old. They have a breeding season that lasts from “January to September”. Late-hatched lizards might not begin egg-laying until April of the following season.

Is it simple to breed leopard geckos?

Due to their lengthy mating season and ease of breeding, leopard geckos are known as the simplest lizards to breed. The breeding process can begin with no particular conditions. Hatchlings do not need a specialized diet and are simple to care for.

Does leopard gecko breeding take place in captivity?

When your gecko is sexually developed and reaches around 35–40g, you can breed it in captivity. Female and male lizards will mate if housed together. Additionally, you may breed your pet gecko in captivity at either period of the year.

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