Many owners who try to hatch or incubate leopard gecko eggs on their own are often unsuccessful. The majority of the unsuccessful attempts result from a lack of knowledge on the required essentials or missing a critical step in the incubation process. This will be a worthy read if you are concerned about; the high cost of leopard gecko egg breeding services, huge expenditures on ready-made incubators, or even the risk of your pet eggs dying in the own-incubation process. We made this detailed guide to help you make the best choice of incubation materials for a homemade incubator and atmospheric parameters settings for a successful leopard gecko egg hatching.
It is important to note that incubation is about keeping temperature, humidity, and ventilation within a specified range for the desired outcome. For instance, check out this post to see how you can use different temperature rages to influence the gender of your Leopard Geckos.
We shall consider what items are critical when setting out to hatch your leopard gecko eggs by yourself.
In this article
What You Will need to make a homemade Incubator.
A suitable container to hold the eggs is the primary requirement when incubating leopard gecko eggs at home. Below are some key aspects you need to pay attention to when choosing the best container to use;
- Well ventilated Container: Air circulation is critical for leopard eggs incubation. Since we will need the container to be closed for easier temperature regulation, ensure the lid is poked sufficiently for air circulation.
- Able to offer protection to the eggs: Eggs are fragile and can easily crack. Ensure your container has a body strong enough to withstand any accidental external impact. It is evident that you will want to ensure the safety of your eggs but can not leave this unmentioned.
- Deep enough to accommodate the incubation material/medium, eggs still leave room for air circulation. A container of about 3″ -4″ inches deep will make a good choice.
- Able to withstand a humid environment: To incubate Leopard Gecko eggs, you will be required to provide a specified humidity. A suitable container must not become wet or deformed if water is sprayed on it. Cartons, therefore, should not be your first choice as much as they are cheaply available.
Medium / Egg Bedding
These are the material that cushions the eggs during the incubation process. However, the medium does more than that; it plays a critical role in holding moisture for optimal hatching conditions.
Below are some of the qualities of a suitable medium;
- Enough quantity to cover the eggs
- Not too hard to the extent of cracking the eggs
- Should be able to retain moisture but still not get moldy
Most users choose peat moss/vermiculite to incubate leopard gecko eggs.
You can not incubate Leopard Gecko eggs without a heat lamp. Therefore, it is of utmost interest that you get a good heat lamp that will exclusively be used for the incubation.
Some leopard gecko keepers have tried using the same heat lamp used in the gecko’s tank and have poor hatching outcomes. Ensure the heat lap always points to the eggs until they hatch.
Water Spray / Water Dish
Humidity is a critical aspect to bear in mind as you prepare to incubate leopard gecko eggs at home. Without a ready-made incubator, you will need to choose between using a water bottle to spray the medium or placing an open water dish for water to evaporate.
If you choose to use a water bottle, remember it will require you to spray several times during the day to ensure the medium is moist. The eggs will demand your presence to fulfill the humidity monitoring and control requirement when you choose this option.
On the other hand, placing an open water dish in the container to evaporate and humidify the air is less tasking. However, this will require slightly extra space in the container.
You will need to monitor humidity and temperature to ensure they range within the optimal parameters. This is where the environmental meters come in handy.
For temperature and humidity readings, get yourself a good thermometer and hygrometer, respectively. For more precision in keeping the eggs in the desired range, ensure the meters are kept as close to the eggs as possible.
To incubate leopard gecko eggs, you need to be extra keen on the process. Leopard Gecko eggs are very fragile both structurally and their sensitivity to changes in the environment. Below is a carefully detailed guide on best practices in the incubation process.
Learn How to Incubate Leopard Gecko Eggs in a homemade Incubator.
The anxiety of knowing if your leopard gecko eggs will hatch can sometimes get overwhelming. This is especially true when a lot of time and resources have been put in place to ensure a successful incubation.
To reduce your anxiety and facilitate a more predictable incubation outcome, we will list the whole journey of the eggs. Our preparation will begin from selecting viable mating partners, getting quality eggs, the incubation process, and finally to the safe hatching.
Breeding Right Leopard Geckos:
This may look like a step that events have passed. However, if you don’t double-check to confirm that you have viable fertilized eggs, you will server even more loss while incubating infertile eggs that will never hatch.
Below are the steps to ensure you breed viable leopard geckos;
- Ensure your Leopard Geckos are correctly sexed. Keeping all females will still lay eggs, but the eggs won’t be fertile. Remember, you may not witness the mating for confirmation since it happens at night in hideouts and is rarely observed.
- Avoid breeding Leopard Geckos that have any form of genetic disease or malformation.
- Only breed Leopard Geckos that are healthy and not malnourished. Breeding is incredibly exhausting to female Leopard Geckos.
- Never breed Leopard Geckos that are way too old or too young.
It is important to note that it is advisable not to breed too many females if you are new in the breeding practice. A female may lay between 6 -16 eggs.
Therefore, breeding one male with one or two females will ensure you get just enough eggs to learn how to incubate leopard gecko eggs and care for fewer young ones.
Safe Egg Laying in a Deposition Container:
After you are done breeding the females, add an egg deposition container. These containers come in various sizes, so look around your local pet store to find one that fits your needs. For this project, you will need a 2-inch diameter hole in the lid of your container where the female will access the container to deposit the eggs.
In the container, ensure you have good and enough potting soil or vermiculite that is slightly damp.
Here are the signs of pregnancy in leopard geckos to get you to start preparing for egg-laying;
- Lack of eating
- Excessive hiding and sleeping
- Swollen abdomen
- Ease of irritability
Prepare The Container to Incubate Leopard Gecko Eggs:
After about 21 – 28 days of pregnancy, your leopard gecko eggs will all be ready in the deposition container and ready for transfer to your incubation container.
Get your container as described above and spread your bedding material. Proceed to spray the bedding only when ready to transfer the eggs.
Set Up Temperature and Humidity Meters:
Depending on if you want to hatch all male, all female or mixed male, and female leopard geckos, choose the suitable temperature range between 74° degrees Fahrenheit (23° C) and 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C).
- Setting the temperature constantly above 74° Fahrenheit (23° C) but below 80° Fahrenheit (27° C) temperatures you will get all female.
- Between 80° Fahrenheit (27° C) and 87° Fahrenheit (30° C) will result in a split of female and male young ones.
- Temperatures above 87° Fahrenheit (30° C) but below 90° Fahrenheit (32° C) will result in all-male leopard geckos.
Any other temperatures outside the above range will kill the eggs.
For humidity, have it range between 60% and 80% to ensure the bedding is damp and not wet. If using vermiculite as the medium, a 1:1 ratio of medium to sprayed water weight is typically ideal.
How and When to Transfer Eggs to the Incubation Container:
Incubation time is calculated from the moment the eggs reach the optimum internal temperature for embryo development, not from the moment the eggs are laid. It is therefore critical to take note that the incubation period might have as well begun in the depository container.
Since the depository container will most likely be within the Leopard Gecko habitat, where a heat lamp will provide suitable temperatures for incubation, embryos will have started forming by the transfer time. However, this does not mean they should be left to incubate in the depository container fully.
What is the purpose of an egg incubator?
Reasons why Leopard Gecko eggs need to be transferred from the depository container to the incubator include;
- It isn’t easy to maintain egg hygiene in the depository container. Fluff from hatched eggs will end up contaminating the unhatched eggs.
- Not possible to clean and disinfect eggs in the depository container.
- It is much more difficult to control temperature and humidity in the depository container than the ease of controlling the same in a specially designed incubator.
When transferring the fertile leopard gecko eggs to the incubator, keep the following precautions in mind to avoid killing the eggs;
- Ensure you lift the eggs gently and keep their position while placing them in the incubation container. Never turn the eggs over as this may kill the embryo already developing inside.
- Avoid knocking the eggs against each other; this will break their delicate shells and lead to the death of the eggs.
- Ensure you get the eggs buried in the medium at least halfway to two-thirds.
- Once all eggs are in, put on the perforated container lid and have the heat lamp constantly directed on the container.
From here on, you will need to monitor and maintain the desired environmental parameters to ensure they are within the optimal ranges as you wait for hatching.
How long to incubate leopard gecko eggs.
Hatching of the incubated eggs will begin anywhere after 35 days to about 90 days. Temperatures are primarily the determining factor of how long you will need to incubate leopard gecko eggs.
Hatching Leopard Gecko Eggs.
Once the long wait is over, what next?
Below are the immediate steps you will need to take once the hatchlings start popping out.
- Remove the hatchlings from the incubator immediately they hatch.
- Please place them in a clean environment pre-set with environmental conditions matching their adult counterparts.
- Ensure the new environment is small for the baby geckos to find food once they get ready to eat easily.
- Do not be tempted to house the hatchlings together with the adults. They may end up being a meal.
- Only keep hatchlings of the same size together to avoid bullying, tail loss, or even death of the smaller ones.
- Ensure the newly hatched leopard geckos are sufficiently misted with higher humidity to provide their drinking water and keep them from drying out.
- Never reuse the medium for another incubation.
How Do I Know If My Baby Leopard Gecko is Healthy?
Some newborn hatchlings may, unfortunately, be born with deformities. Here is a list of deformities you might witness.
- Eye and eyelid problems,
- Umbilical hernias,
- Misshapen or foreshortened limbs,
- Kinked tails, and
- Other skeletal abnormalities.
Most deformed baby leopard geckos may, in fact normal (i.e., healthy) and can go on living as any other. However, sometimes they might have problems or deformities that make them unable to adapt to their new environment. For these, you may need to provide them with an environment adapted to their individual needs, including special attention when they sleep and unique eating habits.
Conclusion on how to incubate leopard gecko eggs.
At this point, you hopefully know that learning how to incubate leopard gecko eggs without an incubator is not limited to the step-by-step process of incubation. To achieve the desired result of eggs successfully hatching into healthy baby leopard geckos:
- Choose healthy and viable mating partners.
- Use the recommended materials for your homemade incubator
- Be keen to follow through with best incubation practices
- Prepare in advance to offer the best welcome experience to your baby leopard geckos
If not necessary, do not breed your leopard geckos for the fun of it for the following reasons;
- Breeding is an exhausting experience for the female leopard geckos and shortens their life expectancy.
- Getting many new baby leopard geckos, if not well planned for, will strain your resources in feeding the extra mouths and housing provision.