Breeding Crested Geckos
We believe that when keeping any reptiles, and particularly those that are considered endangered (crested geckos were believed to be extinct until 1994), one should try to breed them. Achieving a solid population of geckos that are bred in captivity will discourage the trade in captured specimens and will thus help the native population.
In addition to the conservation motive, breeding crested geckos will show that your pets are reasonably happy and there is nothing as rewarding as seeing a baby gecko hatch from its egg.
Sexing Your Geckos
It will not come as a surprise to you that you will need both male and female crested geckos to breed. Defining the sex of a gecko is only possible once they have reached sexual maturity.
As you will be more likely to purchase young geckos, as they are more readily available and cheaper, you may have to purchase a small group and sex them once they are mature. If you do this, you may have to part with male geckos later, as you can only keep one male in a cage. Sexual maturity is generally reached within the first year, though this may differ by specimen.
The best method to sex a crested gecko is to inspect the vent, at the base of the tail. Males have very prominent bulges just after the vent and also have pores (so-called femoral pores) in front of the vent. The easiest way to determine the gender of crested gecko, if you are inexperienced or want to check what a breeder is telling you, is to compare a number of gecko’s vents.
You can expect your crested geckos to breed around the year. In their natural habitat they stop breeding during the cooler season. It is recommened to emulate this season to give your females a break. Try to lower the temperature in your crested gecko cage to the lower 70′s (21-22 degree C) for a period of 3-4 months and your females will thank you.
Basic Requirements for Breeding Crested Geckos
Fortunately it is quite easy to breed these geckos. Generally, you should make sure that the basic needs of a crested gecko are met (see Crested Gecko Care), i.e. cage size and set-up, temperatures and you need to place a container (flower pot or plastic box) with substrate that is kept moist but not wet. A mix of soil and sand (3:1 ratio) is ideal for this purpose as it maintains moisture and it is easy for a gecko to dig in. The nesting site should be deep enough as the female will dig up to 5 inches deep to lay her eggs.
The crested gecko cage should be checked for eggs on a regular basis (every 3-5 days) as it is important to transfer them to an incubator. Carefully remove the top 2 in of substrate to check. A good tip is to poke a hole into the substrate with your finger. The female is likely
to use this to lay her eggs and will fill the hole after laying her eggs. It is thus very easy to check for new clutches.
All reptile eggs need to be treated with particular care as they are not structured like bird eggs. Unlike bird eggs they must not be rolled as this can lead to the death of the embryo. It is recommended to mark the top of the eggs with a marker pen to avoid accidental rolling when moving them to the incubator. You can carefully remove the eggs with your hands or a small spoon and transfer them into the incubator.
Used live cricket plastic boxes are good containers to be used as incubators, as they have ventilation holes in them and will prevent the hatched baby geckos from escaping. Any other plastic box that will hold a humidity while keeping the eggs ventilated (use small holes to prevent the substrate from drying out). If you don’t feel comfortable with building your own contraption, you can also purchase complete reptile incubators. It may be worth the investment as your geckos will continuously breed.
Fill half the incubator with substrate such as vermiculite or perlite, both of which can usually be obtained from your local garden center. Don’t choose fine grains, if you have the option, as your baby geckos could accidentally swallow some grains which could lead to their death.
When setting up your incubator, you should mix the substrate with some water (one part water to two parts substrate is recommended).
Check if the moisture of the substrate regularly during incubation. You can take a grain of vermicule and press it between your finger and thumb. If water oozes out, the moisture is ideal. For perlite, you should see a little condensation on the top of your container. You can add moisture by carefully filling water into along the side of the container (don’t pour it over the eggs!), but be carefull not to create a puddle of water at the bottom of the container. All the water should be absorbed by the substrate.
You should aim to keep the temperature between 78 and 84 degrees F (26-29 degrees C). Hatching should take place between 50 and 70 days.
Once the crested geckos are hatched, you should immediately transfer them to their new crested gecko cage, which you set up well in advance.
Do not transfer them to the cage where you keep the adults as these may eat the young!
Obviously, you need to be very careful when handling your baby cresties as they will be only about an inch long. You can keep the siblings together in a cage, it is better though to keep them individually as they can grow at different paces, which could put the smaller sibling at risk of losing out on nutrition and being bullied by the larger gecko.
Caring for the young crested geckos is essentially the same as caring for the adults. Humidity should be kept at around 75%, with temperatures between 72 and 80 degrees F (23-27 degrees C). Make sure that uneaten food, particularly live crickets, is cleared and that crickets for example are small enough to be easily swallowed. Baby geckos can suffocate on large insects, so make sure to feed adequate sizes.