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Today we’re going to be talking about breeding crested geckos, and raising the hatchlings. Breeding crested geckos can be a rewarding experience, and compared to other reptiles, are one of the easier reptiles to breed. Crested geckos themselves make great reptiles to keep as pets, and come in many different morphs for you to choose from. However, while breeding crested geckos is ‘easier’ it is by no means easy and requires a lot of effort and knowledge before hand. So after the necessary little notes below, let’s get into what you need to know to breed crested geckos!
Learn how to take care of pet crested geckos HERE.
See 10 cute crested gecko morphs HERE.
There are affiliate links in this article, in order to help support this blog and to recommend products I have used and recommend for your journey of breeding cresties!
Things To Consider Before You Begin
Before you begin breeding crested geckos there are a few things you need to consider. These things are:
- Do you have two healthy crested geckos? Are they of proper age and weight to breed? Breeding unhealthy crested geckos together will just produce more unhealthy crested geckos babies in an already saturated market. Not to mention, it is quite unethical to knowingly produce sickly babies. Breeding geckos that are too young, especially females, can cause a lot of stress on the mother.
- Do you have enough money? You will need to buy supplies, food, and enclosures for the babies. And while not overly expensive, it is a bit of money to get set up for your first breeding project. After the initial set up costs you can reuse many of the supplies for the coming years, as long as they are properly sanitized. Another expense is vet visits. While it may be unpleasant to think that any of your hatchlings could be sick or injured, it is a possibility that needs to be accounted for.
- Are you able to care for all the hatchlings if you can’t sell them right away? Finding a new home for all the babies can be a challenge, and take some work. Do you have the time, money, and space to care for the babies for months, even years if you can’t find them homes right away? Crested Geckos can have many babies each season, so make sure you are prepared to care for ALL of them.
Buying The Supplies
Before you even attempt to breed your crested geckos, you should make sure you have the proper supplies for the eggs and hatchlings. While you won’t need them all right away, it is better to be prepared. Lets get into what you’re going to need!
- A lay box for the female. Once the female crested gecko has been gravid for enough time, she is going to lay her eggs. She will be looking for a soft, secure place with enough humidity to lay them in. This is where the lay box comes in handy. This does not need to be fancy. You can use an old, larger Tupperware container with a lid or small plastic tub with a hole cut out of the lid (make sure the edges are not harsh or sharp). Plastic is recommended as you don’t want to use anything that can go moldy or deteriorate from water. Fill the container with sphagnum moss (like this moss here), not too much that the container is packed, but enough that the female can comfortably dig around and lay her eggs. Make sure the container stays moist at all times, but not soaking wet.
- Incubation boxes for the eggs. The incubation boxes for the eggs can be very simple. A plastic tub or container of any shape can be used (again plastic as you don’t want anything that can deteriorate over time). Anything from a basic plastic tub from the dollar store, to a large container with compartments in it (like this) will work. You can keep the eggs separate with each egg having their own container, or all the eggs together with labels of the dates they were laid. The choice is up to you.
- Incubation medium. There are a couple options for what you can fill the incubation containers with. The most popular/common mediums include: hatchrite, superhatch, vermiculite, and perlite. The first two options are specifically for reptiles, and the second two can be found in almost any hardware store, or on amazon as linked above. Any option is fine, just make sure that if you buy anything from a hardware store it does not have any additives in it.
- Enclosures for the newly hatched geckos. We’ll get more in-depth on how to set up the enclosures later on, but the basics you’ll need are a smaller, plastic tub. The rest of the supplies are everyday household supplies such as paper towels, bottle caps, etc. While you could go out and buy small proper glass enclosures such as these for the babies, that can get expensive and this is not necessary. They do look nice however.
- Scale. If you don’t already have one, a gram scale such as this will be an important tool for you. You can keep track of the weight of the eggs if you wish. Keeping track of your females weight to make sure that she isn’t losing too much weight during the breeding season is also important. The last reason you need a scale is to keep track of the babies weights, to make sure they are growing and not losing weight.
Taking Care Of The Female
Make sure that your female crested gecko is at an appropriate weight for breeding. As the added stress of breeding and producing eggs on an underweight female can be detrimental to her health. Make sure that she gets a break from laying eggs during the winter, which should happen naturally. If it doesn’t happen, consider finding a cooler (NOT cold) spot to keep her so that she has the chance for a break. Make sure that she gets plenty of calcium – you can add a small bowl of calcium for her to lick from if you’re worried about her not getting enough.
The Actual Breeding
Crested geckos have a natural breeding cycle of about 8 – 9 months starting in the spring. How you go about putting the breeding pair together is up to you. Breeding pairs can be kept together year round if they get along, or put together for a shorter amount of time if the male is being aggressive and not leaving the female alone, and needs to be removed. Females only need to mate once to be able to produce eggs for quite a few months, so if separation is necessary the female can still produce viable eggs.
Mating generally takes place at night, so even if you do not see them mating, it is still very possible that they have. Depending on how your male behaves, mating can seem “gentler” with chirps and head bobbing, or seem more aggressive. As long as you keep an eye out making sure the female isn’t becoming distressed, all should be fine.
If breeding is successful (as it often is with crested geckos) the female will then lay two eggs every 30 – 45 days for the duration of the breeding season.
Setting Up The New Eggs
Once the female has laid her eggs in the egg box, you’ll need to move the eggs to their incubation box. To set up the container for the eggs, first you’ll obviously need your container (with a lid to keep moisture in). Make sure the lid of the container does have some air holes, as you want to allow some ventilation through. Fill the container about two thirds of the way with whatever incubation medium you have chosen (making sure to properly rinse it off first, removing any dust or debris). Make sure the medium you have chosen is damp and contains water, but is not soaking wet. Make sure to check that your medium has not dried out during any point of the incubation. If it has started to dry, just simply add more water in. Make sure to add the water beside the eggs, and not by dumping it on top.
Once the female has laid the eggs, carefully remove the lay box from the enclosure. Take the eggs from the lay box and transfer them to the incubation box, making sure not to rotate the eggs as you do so. It is best to leave them facing up the same direction that you found them in. You can make a soft mark on the egg using pencil to make sure you know which way is up for the egg. You can then put the lid on and put them wherever your incubation spot is.
Incubation Times and Temperatures
Crested geckos eggs can be incubated at room temperature, around 72 – 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike many species of geckos, as long as you are able to keep your breeding area at adequate room temperature, you will not need any additional heating or lights. If your house gets extremely hot in the summer, you will have to make sure you have an area you are able to move the eggs to cool down and be at proper temperatures again.
The eggs can incubate anywhere from 60 – 120 days. If incubated at the warmer end of the room temperature scale, they will hatch earlier around the 60 or 70 day mark, and tend to be on the smaller size. If incubated on the cooler end of the scale they can take up to (or more than) 120 days to incubate, however the hatchlings tend to come out slightly bigger and stronger if allowed this extra time to incubate.
Candling Eggs And Checking For Duds
Eggs that are fertile and are most likely to turn into babies will have a smooth, leathery, blemish free white shell. Any eggs that are discoloured or have slight lines on them are still possibly viable, but keep an eye on these as they may be duds. Eggs that are hardened or dried out are not viable, and are best to be tossed. Within a couple hours, or days, when you candle the eggs you should be able to see a red dot surrounded by a red circle. This means that the eggs are fertile, and if all goes well will grow into baby geckos.
If you candle your eggs when they are first laid and don’t see the sign of it being fertile, give it a couple days of incubation anyways to see if it’s just a slow grower, and check again later. If the eggs starts to deflate or go moldy in the incubation box, it is not a fertile egg, and should be gotten rid of.
You can candle your eggs by gently picking them up (making sure not to rotate them) and placing them over a flashlight so you can see through them. Please don’t use an actual candle to do this, as you don’t want the eggs to get too warm. As much fun as it can be to see the geckos growing in the egg, try not to disturb the eggs too often. However checking on them periodically to see how they are growing is fine.
Preparing For The Hatchlings
Before your crested gecko eggs hatch you’re going to want to get their new enclosure set up. It’s best to keep it on the smaller size, anything under or around 5 gallons will be fine. If you use a small shoe-box size plastic tub, make sure you have added in adequate air holes for the baby. You could even cut a few larger holes out of the side and cover them in mesh. (Do not make the holes too large as you want to be able to keep some humidity in). A medium kritter keeper is also a suitable enclosure for a hatchling.
Paper towel is the best to use as the bottom for your enclosure, as it is easy to replace, easy to check for signs of eating (such as poop being present), and the baby gecko will not accidentally eat it.
As far as hatchlings go, the simpler the better. You can use a small fake plant, or some empty paper towel/toilet paper rolls for them to hide in. You’ll want to only use things that are easily cleaned or replaced. You can place a bottle cap or jar lid full of water in the enclosure as well as one for food. Make sure the one with water is shallow enough that the baby can not get trapped in it or accidentally drown.
Hatchling Cresties, Now What?
Near the end of their incubation time, it is important to check on the eggs often to make sure you see when they hatch. Crested geckos may start to emerge from their egg, but not fully leave right away. For some it may take up to 24 hours for them to fully hatch. Do not bother them during this time and allow them to do their thing until they fully emerge.
The baby is ready to be moved from the incubation box when it is up and about, and looks alert. You can then move the baby to its new home, gently picking it up. Babies can be flighty, and are small enough to fit on your fingertip, so make sure that it does not have a chance to fall far if it jumps from your hand. Move the baby to their new home, and give it a quick spray.
The baby geckos can be kept together in their pairs when young, and moved apart as they grow. However, the easiest way to avoid nipped tails or any aggression is to keep them separate from the beginning. This allows you to also make sure that you can keep track if each one is eating, looks healthy, etc.
You should make sure you weigh the babies fairly often, to make sure they are eating enough food and gaining weight. If the babies start to lose weight and stop gaining, a trip to the vet might be in order.
Basics Of Caring For Babies
Caring for baby crested geckos is quite similar to caring for the adults, which we have a more in-depth article on above. The babies may not eat for a couple days, but you can offer them small amounts of food a day or so after they hatch. You can offer them the same powdered meal replacement powder, such as pangea and repashy, as you feed to your adult cresties.
Since young geckos shed a lot as they grow, misting the enclosure twice a day will make sure they have the humidity they need to shed well. A sprayer like this can help you save time and keep things quick. Having proper sheds that don’t get stuck on toes or tails is super important for the baby as it grows. As well as misting twice a day you can add a small shed box of a small container with a hole big enough for the baby. Fill it with damp sphagnum moss and you’re good to go.
How long you keep the hatchling crested geckos is ultimately up to you. They do not need their parents once they have hatched (and should be kept separate from the parents), so it’s not a matter of taking them away from their parents too early. You do however, want to make sure that the baby is healthy, eating and growing well before you decide to sell them.
Some people will start selling their hatchlings as early as 6 weeks old. Other breeders will wait until the babies are larger, around 6 grams, to get a better idea of their more adult colouring. They may wait this long in order to decide on a proper price or if they’d like to keep them for future projects, as some crested gecko’s colours will only start to show and really pop as they mature. This will be a choice that depends on your plans for your breeding projects.
And there you have it!
Those are the basics for breeding, incubating, and caring for hatchling crested geckos! We wish you the best on your journey of breeding crested geckos! If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comment section below, and we’ll make sure to get back to you.