What is the most popular pet among beginners? Guess who?
It is none other than the cute leopard gecko. They are available in numerous shades and are easy to handle. The most common ones include white, yellow, and ones with black dots.
Typically, hatchlings have lots of stripes, but gradually, they attain a spotted look. They are mostly seen among expert and novice gecko owners.
Leopard geckos are natives from the land of India and Pakistan. You might be wondering how big these guys grow into? Female species reach up to 7 – 10 inches length. As for the males, they grow to a size of 10 – 12 inches in length. They give you companionship for a long time as they have a life span of around 20 years. Due to their beautiful shades and patterns, these guys are the common lizard species kept at home.
Have you ever tried breeding leopard geckos? It’s not a hard task, as you think. It’s easy for a new breeder to obtain success in their initial attempts. All you need is a healthy couple to get fertile eggs. Here we will guide you on how to breed these quirky geckos.
An aquarium of about 10 – 20 gallons is essential to house 2 lizards for their entire life. The cage should have a safe and secure screened top that supports light fittings. It has to be a minimum of 1 foot tall. You can also add artificial or natural plants as decorations.
Substrates like pea gravel, newspaper, no floor covers, or flat stones work great. Fine particles of sand found on the ground, if ingested, may result in bowel problems among the young ones. Most of the species remain active during night time and do not require UVB lights for basking.
A hide box filled with vermiculite or peat moss having 6 – 7” diameter is essential. The leopards can lay their eggs safely and shed their skin here. Maintain a temperature of 86 – 90°F inside the box at all times. A heating tape or heating pad placed at the under tank will offer the best hotspot temperature. Do not keep heat rocks as they may get heated up and cause burns to your pet.
You need to feed the breeding ones with crickets on alternate days. Or else, place mealworms in the box throughout the day. Note that the insects should not be more significant than the size of the lizard. While feeding mealworms or crickets, make sure they make a balanced diet. For this, feed these feeder insects with hog or chick mash for 1 to 2 days before giving them to the geckos.
You also have to provide them with additional vitamin D3 and calcium supplements. For this, place a lid with these supplements in a corner and allow them to consume it by themselves. Use a shallow and robust water bowl of 3 – 6 inches diameter to provide fresh water throughout.
Breeding Age And Basics
Females are sexually matured only once they reach 9 – 10 months of age and weighs 45 g. In the northern parts of the equator, the breeding season is from January to September. Individuals who hatch late in the year start laying eggs only by April of the next season.
It’s natural to cool down the females before breeding. However, do not cool down the first time females as they keep growing. For the rest of the females, stop their feed 10 days before cooling. Maintain them at 74 – 78°F and give them water throughout for 6 – 8 weeks.
While introducing a male and female, you will hear a fast rattle like tail vibration from the male. A receptive female stays entirely still as the male holds her neck in his mouth and starts copulating. It’s entirely normal for a male to restrain a female in this manner. It does not take more than 2 to 3 minutes for a successful mating process. Remove the female species once a process is over.
Females lay eggs after 16 – 20 days from copulation. Once the season starts, they lay a clutch every 15-22 days with a period of 4-5 months. Females lay 1-2 eggs during the first clutch, going up to 8 – 10 eggs during the initial year. During their lifetime, they produce 80-100 eggs.
Get an egg-laying container of 6 – 7” diameter and 4” tall. For 3 – 5 females, a plastic shoebox is perfect. All of them lay eggs at the same spot. Make a small hole of 2” diameter on the top for these lizards to go in and out. You can fill the enclosure with Bed a Beast litter, vermiculite, or peat moss. This has to be always kept moist like fresh earth.
Lack of proper nutrition may result in infertile eggs. Infertility may happen if the females are not introduced to males when they reach 45-55 gms. Can also occur if they are not bred once in a month
For incubation, shoeboxes or plastic deli cups containing 1-2” of perlite or vermiculite is usually used. Maintain moisture inside the box by mixing the medium with water. Bury the eggs slightly with a spacing of half inches apart. Cover the box using a tight lid and make 5 – 10 small air holes at the top.
If dents appear on the eggs during incubation, this shows the medium is dehydrated. At that point, spray water onto the medium 4 – 5 times. Avoid spraying on the eggs directly.
Incubation temperature determines the sex of the lizard. At 80°, the hatchling will end up being a female. Around 87°, there’s an equal chance of both genders. At 90 to 98°, you get a male. Temperatures below 74° can be harmful. Simple incubators that can easily control the temperature are available. Eggs take 35-89 days to incubate based on the temperature.
Care For The Hatchling
It’s best to raise hatchlings in a shoebox till they reach 7” length. The enclosure is ideal as heat, food, water, and shelter are at proximity. A temperature of 90° is perfect for young ones. Paper towels are suitable as floor covering.
The hatchlings shed their skin and start eating within three days. One inch long mealworms are the best baby food for the geckos. Place around 5-10 of them in a lid daily.
Now that you know the basics about breeding these species, why delay? Go ahead and make one your own as well. Also, do let us know of your experience in the comments section.