If you are a new gecko owner, there is a high chance you end up confused – either your gecko is pregnant, or it is just gaining weight. Geckos need extra care during their breeding period. You must provide the required things to ensure it is safe for them to breed.
Swollen abdomen, slow movements, lack of appetite, stress, and cranky behaviors are the usual signs of a pregnant gecko. Usually, a female gecko gets pregnant when they reach sexual maturity at 18 -24 months.
Usually, geckos breed at the onset of February and stop at the end of September every year. Geckos require good health and suitable weight with the sexual maturity to breed. A female gecko lays 1- 16 eggs, two per clutch.
Conditioning Before Breeding
Some gecko owners condition their geckos before breeding, wherein they reduce their gecko’s photoperiod anywhere between 6-10 hours and lessen 10-15 degrees temperatures, and also the food will be reduced.
Usually, conditioning is done at the end of November to the onset of January, which is about 8 weeks. Once, the photoperiod completes, the food and the temperature becomes normal.
- A box with eco earth type substrate or moist sphagnum to lay the eggs and this box will be place in the enclosure.
- Added calcium supplements.
- Adequate food! breeding the feeder insect by your own is advisory. The breeding geckos requires more food during mating and also, the juveniles eats often.
- Materials and equipment for incubating the eggs.
- Paper towels, food, shelter, water tray , box and spaces for enclosing the hatchling.
Food and Supplements During Breeding
Breeding geckos require more food and fresh water. A dish with mealworms must be available in the enclosure every time. Your gecko requires a better variety of food during the breeding to be healthy. Apart from crickets and mealworms, offer soldier flies larvae to the gecko, as they are rich in calcium.
Some of the owners, like to add pinkie (newborn mouse) to the gecko. Set a dish of pure calcium powder in the enclosure, make sure it is available all the time, as gecko knows the amount of calcium intake does not get panic on overdosing.
Some people may recommend Vitamin D3 with calcium. But there is a high risk for overdosing on vitamin D3. Alternatively, you can dust the feeder insects with Vitamin D3 and multivitamin powder.
The gestation period of the gecko is 16 – 22 days after breeding. Geckos are capable of producing 80-100 eggs in their lifetime. Once you spot an egg, replace them in the prepared incubation tray. Handle the eggs carefully, avoid rolling them and remember to place them in the original position, or else, the embryo may sink in the egg.
Your pet gecko needs sufficient moisture and a temperature of 77-92°F. If the temperature drops below 74, the embryo may die. The sex of your gecko can be determined by the temperature in the incubation period.
If the temperature is below 80°F, the hatchling will be female, and if the temperature increases to 90°F the hatchlings will be male. If the temperature is 85-87°F, then you will get both male and female. For the incubation of eggs, you need:
- Plastic boxes
- Water , tap water is okay, but keeping the water for 2 hours to get chlorine evaporated can be ideal.
- Incubator or a heated enclosure.
Hatching of eggs
On average, the baby geckos will hatch in 35 – 89 days from their eggs. You cannot witness this actual movement, as this happens quietly and quickly.
Hatchlings are kept in the plastic box till they grow to 7 inches. A plastic box that measures 12 * 6 * 4 inches, with a water tray and paper towel. You can keep the gecko together unless one among them is growing faster than the other.
They start shedding after 3- 4 of hatching, it is not necessary to offer food before this process. You can also skip feeding your gecko two days per week. Provide small mealworms or cricket that has grown 1/3.
The Don’ts of Gecko Breeding
- Don’t breed a gecko which is not in good condition.
- Avoid breeding geckos that is either too young or too old.
- Don’t breed a gecko which has genetic diseases.
- Avoid breeding in large colonies in the initial stages, and do not get overwhelmed with large number of hatchlings.
Signs to Declare Gecko’s Pregnancy
You can notice the gecko stomach getting larger, this is not related to weight gain, because gecko’s stomach is usually flat and their tail becomes bigger when they gain weight. The pregnancy swelling is symmetrical, as they lay eggs in clutches.
To feel the presence of an egg, you can touch the stomach gently, it feels like lumps in their stomach. If your touch is hard, you might hurt or injure the gecko. Remember your female geckos will not like to be handled during pregnancy.
Lack of Appetite
Your gecko will not be fond of food because when the eggs grow, their digestive system becomes limited. Succeeding the loss of appetite you will also notice thinning tails.
Don’t worry, they will return to normal life after pregnancy. Your gecko will weigh much less than before even after laying the eggs. Do not worry, she will start eating well after laying eggs.
The slow movement is the result of all her suffering. During pregnancy, your gecko likes to spend most of the time in the hide box, in case if she is out, you will notice her slow movements. She hides to save her eggs from the predators. Moving slower is also for the sake of her offspring; by moving slower, she will escape from the predator’s attention.
Visible Eggs (Uncommon sign)
This cannot always be noticed, but it is the surest sign to indicate her pregnancy. Due to weight loss, you can see the eggs visibly under her stomach, which gives a ” going to burst” feeling to a new gecko owner. Seeing the eggs directly is uncommon, not unusual.
Stressed Behaviors / “Cranky” Attitude
Geckos are normally a nervous species and often hide. During the pregnancy period, the fearful nature will be magnified, they will turn on their alert mode to protect their offspring. If you notice a personality shift, then she may be pregnant.
Tips to help your female stay healthy, happy, and have a better, feasible pregnancy.
- Set an egg box in the enclosure.
- Do not place the enclosure in the noisy areas.
- Avoid handling your gecko in their breeding period.
- Add vitamin supplements in every meal.
- Take away, other pets during this period.
- Keep the enclosure in place, where your gecko will not be disturbed of any movements.
- While interacting with the female gecko during breed, be more calm than usual.
Can A Gecko Lay Eggs Without Mating?
Yes! Like other reptiles, geckos do lay unfertilized eggs. Laying unfertilized geckos is quite common in young geckos, as they produce eggs sooner, they will get pregnant without a male.
On the other hand, the older geckos will also lay unfertilized eggs. When you notice your gecko is pregnant without mating, you must do all the usual things to be done.
Common gecko diseases during pregnancy:
- Respiratory problems
- Drooping head or limbs
- Gaping mouth
- Thinning of tail
- Lethargy and weakness
- Loss of weight
- Discharge from the eyes or nose