|West Coast Leopard Gecko.com
|Professional Leopard Gecko Herpetoculture
Breeding leopard geckos is educational for all age groups. The minimum requirement
to be successful is to have a male five months or older and a female eight months or
older. We recommend both geckos have a minimum weight of 45 to 50 grams plus.
They will lose a little weight during the breeding season, due to the stress of egg
production and mating. Some geckos may gain weight during this time period. Your
breeding pair of leopard geckos should be healthy and in prime condition. Keeping
records of breeding, weight, egg laying, hatch dates and feeding is very important.
Some breeders cycle their lights, drop temperature between 65-75 degrees for 4-8
weeks. During this time they offer no food. They do this to trigger the breeding season.
We keep our breeding racks and tanks at a constant temperature year round and our
females cycle once a year on their own.
When to breed?
Your female leopard gecko has reproductive organs which produce ova. Receptivity
and Copulation usually occurs prior to ovulation and sperm is stored in the area near
the oviducts near where the ova first enter. Sperm is simply stored and fertilization
occurs after ovulation. After fertilization, the ova then passes through the area of the
oviduct that coats it with albumen. It then passes through the shell gland, forming the
shell. We always breed our females prior to or when we see Ovum ( White solid
circles) on the upper belly. We also breed her two days after laying eggs. North of the
equator, the breeding season starts in January and can extend into October.
We keep our males separated from the females until breeding season starts. When
you first introduce a male into a females cage you notice the tail vibrating, and the male
will begin to bite her tail and work his way up to her neck. It may seem brutal, but it's
normal and natural. If your female is receptive, she will lift her tail and copulation will
occur. Some breeders breed their geckos in groups or colonies, by putting one male
with multiple females. In our facility we will take a male and rotate him from one female
to the next. We keep our females separated so we can track what eggs belong to that
breeding pair. You should always remove the male during egg laying. After she has
laid her eggs, we give her a couple days to recover and eat and then she will be bred
to the male again.
Females in their first year will lay less eggs. After their first breeding season you can
expect up to eight clutches of two, for a total of 16 eggs on average. They will lay eggs
every two to three weeks for a period of three to four months. You should provide a
moist hide box filled peat moss ( it should fill like wet dirt). We use peat moss,
because we had a $600 Raptor female die from impaction , plus a $300 vet bill. .
When it's time for her to lay her eggs, you should be able to see them through her
semi-transparent stomach. As the time approaches she will get restless and start
digging and stop eating. We separate expecting females into their own breeding
boxes, for privacy and to reduce stress. Don't change her environment, remove any
geckos living in the same enclosure.
Incubation of eggs
General information and Candling of eggs
Fertile eggs should feel resilient and will quickly become semi-hard. An infertile egg
feels like an empty water bottle. Candling of your eggs with a flashlight is the best way
to determine if the eggs are fertile. When doing this you will notice a red circle if they
are fertile. We put eggs in our incubator even if we see a little red in the egg. You may
find eggs in the water bowl or outside the hide box and this is normal. We have even
had eggs stuck to glass and plastic. You can remove them by soaking them lightly with
warm water ( just the part that is stuck) and let it soak for a couple minutes, then gently
peel the egg off the surface. I have even dropped the eggs and they hatched ok.
Incubation substrate and containers
We use a 50/50 mix of vermiculite and perlite. Start by soaking the vermiculite in water
for five minutes until completely saturated. Then grab a hand full and squeeze all of the
water out. Place the damp vermiculite in a bowl and then add 50% perlite to make
double the mix. You will only need about a cup and a half of the total mix for two eggs.
What ever size container you use, make sure you have at least an inch and a half of
substrate from the bottom and at least an inch and a half from the top. This system will
give you the correct humidity levels throughout the whole incubation period without
adding extra moisture. Put a small hole on the side of your deli cup about the size of a
pencil lead , to allow air exchange. Mark the lid with the date the eggs were laid and
from whom. Place the substrate in the deli cup and put an indent with one finger where
you will place the egg. The eggs should be buried half way in the substrate, this allows
oxygen to get to the egg. The egg will grow in size as it absorbs the moisture from the
moist substrate. Clear spots in the egg indicates to much humidity and this will kill the
egg. We place the red circular marks facing in the upward position. Rotation is not an
issue until two weeks after the eggs were laid. We use individual deli cups for tracking
purposes and to prevent a bad egg from killing a fertile one. Temperatures should be
between 80-84 degrees for an even number of males and females. Below 74 degrees
and above 95 is the kill zone. If for some reason you have dented or dehydrated eggs
you can save these by using this method. Cover the egg with the substrate ( about one
quarter of an inch) and lightly mist it with water. After 3 days uncover the egg and bury
it half way. It should appear normal. Never spray water directly onto the egg.
The Hova - bator 1602n is an excellent first incubator. It's cheap ( under $ 50.00) and
will do the job. We recommend adding a good thermostat to aid in temperature
regulation. Remember to check temperatures daily and have a good thermometer.
During the off season we keep our breeding females in colonies. We provide a big
glass tanks with basking rocks, lights, big water bowls, moist hides and plenty of fresh
food and water. Recuperating from the breeding season mentally and physically is very
important. We rotate our females every couple of weeks out of our breeding racks into
gecko club med. Our males are rotated one at a time into the tanks.
We have had a 99 percent success rate using this method of hatching eggs, with only
one loss on a commercial scale. Breeding reptiles is educational and for all age
groups. We hope it will inspire people to learn and to have fun at the same time.
Gary & Julia
West Coast Leopard Gecko
|Breeding Leopard Geckos
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