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What Are the Best Tips for Breeding Leopard Geckos?

By Cynde Gregory
Updated Mar 05, 2024
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Leopard geckos can be successfully bred by pet owners who have properly researched the process. Breeding leopard geckos will require temperature-controlled cages and proper nesting materials. Owners should not attempt breeding leopard geckos until the animals are physically mature and hand tamed. A mature, healthy female, proper cage conditions and good nutrition are essential.

Breeding leopard geckos in captivity can be more difficult than reproduction in the wild. In the wild, leopard geckos breed between February and September. First- time breeders are wise to breed their animals during this period when the geckos are naturally inclined to mate, although more experienced breeders can step outside these boundaries if necessary.

Geckos should be hand-tamed and sufficiently mature prior to mating. Hand-taming is just a matter of allowing the lizards to climb around the owner’s body, sitting them in the open hand, and handling them within the cage. It’s best not to attempt breeding leopard geckos until they are at least eight months old, both because they need to be sufficiently mature to handle the pregnancy and because it’s hard to determine their physical and personality traits before that. Successful breeding means producing geckos that have the kinds of characteristics other owners will want.

Gradually, lowering the cage temperature to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius) eight weeks before mating helps the female prepare her body. The colder temperatures should be maintained for about two weeks, during which time she should not be fed. The temperature must slowly be raised back to normal as the female resumes eating greater and greater amounts so she will be able to create healthy eggs.

A male and female should be left alone in a cage during mating. Male geckos can be aggressive and violent during mating. It’s only a problem if the female resists his aggressive flirtation and fights back. In that case, she needs a different male, or at least a break of a few days before a second attempt.

To determine if a female gecko is pregnant, owners can flip the female upside down to see is she is gravid. If so, the eggs will be visible through the thin skin of her underside. If she is pregnant, the leopard gecko will need a suitable nest. The animal's regular hiding box can be transformed into a nest by layering it with dampened peat moss and potting soil.

Once the eggs are laid, it’s necessary to move them for incubation. They must be marked prior to moving in order to know which side should be placed directly on the ground. Boy babies result from heat on the high side, around 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31 degrees Celsius), while females will gnaw their way out of shells that have been kept between 80 and 85 degrees (27-29.5 degrees Celsius). It takes 40 to 60 days from mating to hatching.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal age for breeding leopard geckos?

Leopard geckos should be at least one year old or have reached sexual maturity before breeding. Females should weigh at least 45 grams, while males can be slightly lighter. It's crucial for their health that they are not bred too young, as this can lead to complications and stress for the animals.

How do I ensure my leopard geckos are healthy enough to breed?

Before breeding, leopard geckos should undergo a health check to ensure they are free from parasites and infections. A well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamins is essential for their overall health. Regular monitoring of weight and behavior can also indicate good health and readiness for breeding.

What type of environment is best for breeding leopard geckos?

A quiet, stress-free environment is key for successful breeding. The enclosure should have a temperature gradient with a warm side of about 88°F and a cooler side around 75°F. Provide multiple hides, including a moist hide for egg-laying, and ensure the enclosure is clean and secure.

How can I tell if my leopard geckos are ready to mate?

Signs that leopard geckos are ready to mate include increased activity, more frequent vocalizations, and in males, a noticeable enlargement of the preanal pores and hemipenal bulges. Females may show a more rounded abdomen when they are carrying eggs. Observing their behavior closely will help determine readiness.

What should I do after the leopard geckos have mated?

After mating, provide the female with a lay box filled with moist vermiculite or peat moss to encourage proper egg deposition. Maintain optimal temperatures for egg incubation, which can influence the sex of the hatchlings. Eggs typically hatch in 35-89 days, depending on incubation temperatures, according to breeding experts.

How do I care for leopard gecko hatchlings?

Once hatched, separate the young geckos to prevent stress and potential aggression. Provide them with a warm, humid environment and small-sized food items dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements. Hatchlings should be kept in simpler setups to ensure easy feeding and monitoring of their health and growth.

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