You may be wondering how your pet gecko reproduces. Do they lay eggs or do they produce offspring through live birth? While it may be more obvious for other types of reptiles and lizards, it is not directly obvious with this smaller species. Intrigued and curious, I conducted some research and did some digging to answer this question.
So, do geckos lay eggs? Most geckos do lay eggs and are oviparous (reproduce by laying eggs.) Females often lay one or two eggs per clutch. Most gecko species reproduce once a year, although some species like the Tokay gecko and Leopard gecko reproduce six clutches a year.
The eggs of oviparous geckos are white with sticky pliable shells that harden once exposed to air.
Eggs incubate anywhere between 30 to 80 days (depending on the species) before fully developed baby geckos will emerge.
Once you have your pet gecko, you may event want to consider breeding them. Or you may want to be ready for baby geckos if you have a male and a female living in the same tank.
Either way, there are some things you may want to know first. I will be answering the main questions around this topic below.
Do Geckos Lay Eggs Or Give Birth?
As previously mentioned, most gecko species lay eggs, these geckos are known as oviparous.
The most common species of egg-laying geckos that are kept as pets include: the Tockay, Leopard and Crested.
However, a small number of gecko species produce live young, these geckos are known as ovoviviparous.
Live-bearing geckos are primarily from the Diplodactylinae subfamily. These geckos are native to New Caledonia and New Zealand.
Live-producing geckos include the Auckland green gecko, Jeweled gecko, Gold Stripe gecko, and the Cloudy gecko.
Live-bearing females usually reproduce once a year, giving birth to twins in the summer months.
How Do Geckos Lay Eggs?
Geckos lay eggs when they reach sexual maturity and full adult weight. This is early; the average gecko species is able to breed as early as 1 year old for males, and 2 years old for the females.
The female must be slightly older to ensure that she is safely able to pass the eggs and that it does not interfere with her general growth cycle.
It is within the later winter and early spring that the average gecko will look to mate.
The process is initiated when the male bites the back of the females neck and keeps her in place while breeding. They line up their vents and copulate.
From there, the eggs will develop inside the female until they are ready to be laid.
A female gecko will dig a hole to bury her eggs and to protect them from any potnetial predators.
Once the eggs are laid, they will continue to grow.
It may come a surprise to learn that the the shell of a gecko eggs is soft; but this enables the gecko to continue to grow outside of their mothers body.
Breeders will at this point look to incubate the eggs, and it is known that the temperature is used as a way to identify what the baby gecko sex will be.
For the most part, higher temperatures often mean a male, whereas lower temperatures without hatching indicate a female.
At around the 6-12 week mark after the eggs have been laid, the eggs will begin to shrink. This is in preparation for the hatching.
The baby geckos will use their teeth to pierce the egg and force their way out.
Baby geckos average around 3-4″ in length when they first emerge. They will then shed and eat their skin which will provide them with early nutrition.
In the first few weeks of their life, a baby geckos requirements are little. They require shelter, water and food. Like any gecko, babies require live food particularly insects which provide a lot of nutrition.
Minimizing stress during this stage of life ensures optimal growth and development.
Do Geckos Lay Eggs Without Mating?
Female geckos can lay eggs without mating. If eggs are not fertile, they will turn into fungus in a matter of weeks.
Leopard geckos eggs, for example, can be infertile, and it is not uncommon for a young female to produce an infertile egg.
Only a fertile egg can produce offspring, and for an egg to be fertilized, mating must occur.
Some gecko eggs develop in pairs, like that of the leopard gecko. When their eggs grow, the female will gain weight around her belly, and it is possible to see the eggs through her belly skin.
Where Do Geckos Lay Their Eggs?
In the wild, female geckos lay their eggs in secure locations like under tree bark, logs, or rocks.
Geckos are not very caring towards their young.
Aside from carefully protecting their future hatchlings, females deposit their eggs, go about their lives, never to return, unless to eat their own eggs – which happens occasionally.
Egg-laying females are not the most devoted to their offspring, but they sometimes appear to tolerate their young for long periods – offering some protection with their presence.
It is not uncommon for a typical house gecko to lay her eggs in the basement of a home, cabinets beneath kitchen sinks are another popular nesting area.
These spaces in a house are full of moisture as water frequently passes through pipes.
These areas are often home to many insects of varying sizes, providing much-needed sustenance to an egg-laying gecko.
Before a female lays her eggs, she will search for an ideal nesting spot, where the chances of a predator finding her eggs are slim to none.
Hidden places, such as behind bookcases or bookshelves, are suitable for geckos to make their nests as there is little to no activity in these areas.
Within an enclosure/tank or habitat, geckos will lay their eggs in a particular place. We will cover this in the next section below.
Breeding Geckos And Aftercare
A gecko breeder requires a few essentials to be successful and must provide excellent care to an egg-laying female. The following is a list of things a breeder needs:
- A 10-gallon tank to house a male
- A 20-30 gallon tank to house females
- A heat mat to heat their habitat
- An egg-laying/ hide box for the female tank. Natural ones like this on Amazon are ideal.
When introducing a male to the female enclosure, be mindful of issues such as aggression. You must keep the females safe and make sure that they do not get injured by the male.
When the two have successfully mated, inspect the box after a few weeks for eggs – you must do this periodically.
Make sure to collect the eggs quickly because they can dry out very easily.
When you remove the eggs from the box, do not turn the eggs over as you might kill them.
You must move the eggs to a suitable incubation container, and fill the container with vermiculite. This is an ideal incubator on Amazon.
It is crucial to moisten the vermiculite, but you do not want it to get too wet. Consider marking the eggs when they are still in the box to know which side is up.
You can determine the sex of your geckos by the temperature at which you incubate; it is 79-82 degrees F for females and 84-89 degrees F for males.
Be careful not to make the temperature too high because it can result in females being too aggressive that refuse to breed.
Geckos range in size from small to medium-sized lizards; these reptiles are colorful and graceful creatures that scamper up vertical surfaces and walk upside-down beneath tree branches and also across ceilings.
More than 2,000 gecko species live in temperate and tropical places on every continent apart from Antarctica. In these regions, geckos climb, burrow, hunt, and reproduce.
Most species of geckos do lay eggs; however, some produce live offspring.
Fascinatingly some geckos, like the leopard gecko, can lay eggs without ever mating; these eggs are not fertilized and will not create a live baby gecko.
These unfertilized eggs turn into fungus in a matter of weeks, but it is an intriguing occurrence none the less.
Egg-laying females, like to deposit their eggs in secure locations, where predators cannot get at them. In the wild, this means laying their eggs under tree bark, rocks, and logs.
Looking for secure nesting sites is as far as they go in parenting as they are not the most doting of mothers and abandon their hatchlings to fend for themselves.
These females will go about the rest of their lives. Such is the cycle of life for these incredible reptiles.
What do gecko eggs look like? Gecko eggs look very much like a small chicken egg. They are white with sticky pliable shells that harden once exposed to air. They are the shape of a rugby ball, smaller than a coin and often have brownish colored spots across the shell. Multiple eggs are often laid at once, (known as a clutch), making it more obvious that they are eggs as they will be grouped together. When a gecko hatches, the egg will become an open/cracked shell that will naturally biodegrade over time.
Can you turn leopard gecko eggs? No, gecko eggs should not be turned. This can kill, or severely harm the gecko inside. You need to be very careful when moving or transferring gecko eggs and keep them as still as possible. Once incubation starts, you should not change the position of the eggs without a sufficient reason to.
How can you tell if a gecko egg is fertile? A fertile gecko egg should have a dark spot around the center of the egg. There will also be some spider-like veins forming around this spot. If an egg is not fertile, you may be able to see a small yellow yolk through the shell – with no visible signs of an embryo/growth or veins.