If you are not intentionally breeding your leopard geckos, you should generally not keep them in the same tank for many reasons – unexpected pregnant leopard geckos being one of them.
Don’t worry about it if you somehow ended up with a pregnant gecko – with a bit of research and the help of your local reptile vet, you’ll soon have a batch of gecko eggs and cute little hatchlings soon after!
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your next steps.
How leopard geckos get pregnant
Leopard geckos are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs rather than giving birth to live young. In order for a female leopard gecko to become pregnant, she must first be mated with a male.
Leopard gecko mating behavior is fairly simple and typically consists of the male following the female and trying to mount her. If the female is receptive, she will allow the male to mate with her.
This is not only possible but expected behavior. That’s one of the reasons why we recommend never keeping a male and female leopard gecko in the same tank unless you are trying to breed them!
How to Tell if your Leopard Gecko is Pregnant
If you suspect your female leopard gecko might be pregnant, or more accurately, gravid, there are some signs to look out for. In this article, we will discuss how to tell if your leopard gecko is pregnant, the different stages of pregnancy, and how to provide proper care during this time.
Physical Changes: A gravid leopard gecko will exhibit some noticeable physical changes. Look out for the following signs:
- Weight gain: A gravid female will experience a significant increase in weight as her eggs develop.
- Swollen abdomen: The female’s abdomen will become visibly swollen and slightly lumpy, as the eggs occupy more space inside her body.
- Visible eggs: In some cases, you may be able to see the outlines of the eggs through the gecko’s skin, especially on the lower sides of the abdomen.
Behavioral Changes: In addition to physical changes, gravid leopard geckos may exhibit changes in behavior. Common signs include:
- Decreased appetite: A pregnant gecko may eat less than usual or refuse food altogether.
- Increased digging: Gravid females often display an instinct to create a nest for their eggs, resulting in increased digging behavior in the substrate.
- Restlessness: Pregnant geckos may become more active, pacing their enclosures as they search for a suitable nesting site.
Seeking Veterinary Assistance: If you are unsure whether your leopard gecko is gravid or if you notice any signs of distress or illness, consult a veterinarian experienced in reptile care. Your vet can perform an examination, provide guidance on proper care, and help ensure the health of both the mother and her eggs.
What To Do With a Pregnant Leopard Gecko
After mating, the female leopard gecko will begin the process of oviposition, or egg laying. This process usually takes place about 2-4 weeks after mating. The female will search for a suitable nesting area where she can lay her eggs. This area should be humid and have a substrate that will hold moisture.
It’s important that for pets, this nesting area should not be in the regular gecko enclosure, especially if the pregnant gecko is not alone!
While some gecko owners and breeders will have a completely separate tank for egg laying, you can also create a special box or cave filled with soft substrate. This safe place will keep the eggs protected until they are ready to be incubated! Watch this video to learn more.
Tips for your Pregnant Leopard Gecko
There are several things for you to make sure that your pregnant leopard gecko and the eggs are healthy:
Providing a suitable nesting area: It’s important to provide your pregnant leopard gecko with a suitable nesting area where she can lay her eggs. Without a safe place to lay eggs, your gecko may feel uneasy and stressed, and the eggs may get negatively affected by an improper environment.
There are also pre-made gecko caves that are ideal for nesting – a removable top and enough space for a soft substrate are important!
Ensuring proper nutrition: A pregnant leopard gecko will need more food due to the energy required to produce eggs. It’s important to provide your pregnant gecko with sufficient live insects, and especially: lots of calcium! It’s recommended to supplement every meal with calcium powder for pregnant geckos. More about these supplements here.
Monitoring the health of the pregnant gecko: It’s important to monitor the health of your pregnant leopard gecko and seek veterinary care if necessary. Signs of illness in leopard geckos can include loss of appetite, lethargy, and abnormal stool. However, keep in mind that while pregnant, your gecko may be more withdrawn and calm in general, so while it’s good to be careful, there’s no need to be paranoid.
What to watch out for
There are several potential complications that can arise during pregnancy in leopard geckos. Here are some things to watch out for:
Egg binding: Egg binding occurs when a female leopard gecko is unable to lay her eggs due to a physical obstruction. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including a calcium deficiency or obesity. If you suspect your leopard gecko is struggling with laying the eggs, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.
Dehydration: Dehydration can be a concern for pregnant leopard geckos, as they require a humid environment to stay hydrated. It’s important to provide your pregnant gecko with a humid hide and to mist the enclosure regularly to help prevent dehydration. However, don’t push it: 30-40% is a healthy humidity level, going too high can cause infections! Just make sure to have a humid hide available and fresh water in a bowl at all time.
Infections: Pregnant leopard geckos are at an increased risk of developing infections due to the stress of pregnancy. It’s important to monitor your gecko for infections and visit the vet if you notice anything! Infections can be quite dangerous to your little one and usually need to be properly treated.
The Eggs are laid – what now?
Once the eggs are laid, it’s important to be careful – even small changes such as turning them around can make the embryo drown inside the egg!
Generally, as soon as you notice that the gecko has laid her eggs into the area you have prepared for her, it’s time to move on to the next phase: Incubation.
If you are not a gecko breeder or don’t want to go through the somewhat complex of incubation and hatching, it might be better to find a reputable gecko store or breeder nearby and ask if they can take the eggs.
However, if you want to hatch the eggs, this guide on incubation and breeding is a great place to start.
Be prepared for expenses – just a proper incubator will cost at least $100, and you’ll need separate tanks for new geckos as well! (Here’s how much a full gecko tank setup costs)
Leopard geckos are solitary and territorial, and especially males will fight and potentially kill each other if kept in the same tank.
In conclusion, caring for a pregnant leopard gecko requires some special considerations to ensure the health and well-being of both the gecko and the eggs. It’s important to provide a suitable nesting area, ensure proper nutrition, and monitor the health of the pregnant gecko.
Also make sure to watch out for potential complications such as egg binding, dehydration, and infections. By following these tips, you can help ensure that your pregnant leopard gecko has a successful pregnancy and produces healthy eggs!