Preparing a Leopard Gecko to Breed
Some people who keep leopard geckos as pets eventually decide to breed them which can be a fun and rewarding activity when done correctly. I'm going to go over proper breeding conditions to help ensure your geckos are healthy enough to breed and minimize the risk of injury or death as much as possible, since it can be dangerous to breed a young unhealthy animal.
The first thing to look at is your geckos general overall health. The eyes of the gecko should be clear and not watering or have any gunk in them. They should be alert not only in the eyes but how they move when you touch them. They should stand up high on their legs and look around and move at a normal rate and show signs of being alert. Then next thing to look for is that their mouth and nose are clear as well, just like the eyes any liquid or running nose or mouth is not good. You want them to be breathing clearly without strain or noise, If not respiratory problems could be occurring. The next thing to examine is your geckos limbs. There legs should be a healthy weight and look somewhat muscular and filled out. They should not be super skinny. Also watch your gecko walk to see if its limbs bend in an abnormal way, and make sure it does not struggle to walk. Since this can be a problem of calcium deficiency and a common sign for metabolic bone diseases. The next really important factor when breeding is the geckos weight. Look at their tail, it should be thick and their body should look full. That's what to look for visually but you want to weigh them as well. They should be at least 40 grams but I would suggest waiting until they are 50 grams. If all of these requirements are met then your gecko should be healthy enough to breed.
Next you need to make sure your geckos are properly sexed. Sexing adult leopard geckos is relatively easy. Males will have two bulges above the base of their tail and above that a row of dark pores in a v shape. Females will be lacking both of these features.
Next is the heating and lighting requirements, your gecko will need to ovulate to produce eggs. The most effective way to get your females to ovulate is adjusting the temperatures. Most breeders cool the geckos by a few degrees to help ovulation occur. Just allowing the ambient air temperature to drop 5 degrees or so and lowering the hot spots in the cage by 3 to 5 degrees is usually enough. However it is a natural process and some people do it without adjusting the temperatures. Usually the natural drop in air temperature and the shorter hours of day light that occurs in the winter time is enough for geckos to ovulate.
Once you know your geckos are healthy and properly sexed the next step is actually preparing the geckos to breed. The main thing is feeding them really well. They will use a lot of energy, especially the females, producing eggs and breeding. A female can potentially lay 20 eggs in a season! That requires a lot of nutrients especially calcium to do that. You should offer both males and females as much as they are willing to eat, and always have a bowl of calcium and vitamin powder for them to have access to. This is the most simple and best way to ensure your gecko is getting what they need. The gecko is going to know best what she needs and all you have to do is provide enough. So giving more then she needs is a lot better then her not getting enough.
These are the main requirements and things you want to look for and do when preparing a leopard gecko to breed. There is a lot more to know and learn about the breeding process but I wrote this to highlight the steps to making sure a gecko is ready to breed since a lot of people skip this important step. In the future I will probably make a detailed guide on how to breed geckos as it is requested often. Please let me know what you think and thanks for reading!
- Rohman Taylor