Advice from the Leopard Gecko Advisor: Shipping, Males and Females

Answers to two more questions posted in Gecko Time’s comments section!

I want to ship to leopard geckos today from Los Angeles to Clearwater Florida. It will be 66 degrees in LA. Do you think I need a heat pack? I am afraid they will get too hot later.

Shipping geckos requires a lot of diligence and planning in order to assure their safety and a successful shipment to the recipient.  Always remember that animals rely on us for their safety and well-being, and we never want to put them in jeopardy.  When shipping geckos, you need to determine the weather and temperatures at the three points of their itinerary, the source, the shipping hub (you need to find this out), and the destination.  Never ship geckos when there is a storm forecast at any point, or when there are extremes in temperature.  Also remember that the cargo hold of a plane is much colder at 30,000ft.

When we ship geckos in cold temps, I recommend using 72 hour heat packs.  Smaller packs often fail, and usually do not provide enough warmth to the shipping box.  Using a 72 hour pack also gives you some leeway in case your shipment is delayed at the hub for an extra day due to mechanical issues, etc.  Always ship priority overnight, but that is no guarantee your shipment will arrive at the destination the next morning.  Also, always use an appropriate Styrofoam lined shipping box, and punch two small air holes in the box with a screwdriver so the box isn’t airtight.  Write “LIVE” on the top of the box so the shipper knows to take extra care with your precious cargo.

If the temperatures look adequate at all three points, you may not need a heat pack.  Overheating reptiles in shipment is a common cause of death, just as shipping in extreme cold is.

If temps look like the lows might be cold, then definitely use a heat pack.  If they are cool but you feel you still need to provide warmth, I’d place the heat pack on the top of the cup, making sure to use some crumpled paper between the cup and heat pack so as not to overheat the gecko.  If temp lows are cold, then place the heat pack under the cup, again insulating with paper.

My guess is, this time of year, you could be fine without a heat pack, but check temps at all points, as well as weather.  Soon, we will have just the opposite problem, high temps, in which case you need to provide a cold pack in the box.  We recommend at least an 8 oz cold pack frozen solid, and insulated with paper so the gecko doesn’t get too cold.

If you have specific questions, you can email me and I’ll be glad to give more specific advice at that time.  Best of luck.

I have the problem of my leopard gecko not eating, and I see that you said they do not need a mate, but we have a male leo too. Could her being able to smell him make her want to mate?

Yes, the presence of a male will often cause the female to ovulate in the spring.  I generally prefer not housing a male and female together.  Males can get very aggressive towards the female, and she may not be willing to mate, particularly if she is not ovulating.  A fight can ensue, and serious damage can be done.  I’ve even heard of females killing males too.  The only time to put them together is at breeding time, and only when the female is ovulating.  When the mating is done, separate them to avoid problems.  Chances are that your female is ovulating since she is not eating.  If you wish to breed them, you can leave them together and observe their behavior.  If she is receptive to the male’s advances, she is ovulating, they will mate, and you will get eggs in a matter of a few weeks or so.  Also, be sure you have customers to take your geckos.  It’s not a good idea to breed without knowing people to take the new geckos.  You could get anywhere from a couple to 14 or more eggs so be careful not to overproduce animals, a common problem people don’t consider.  Good luck.

What do you think?

Written by Ray Roehner

Ray Roehner began collecting and studying reptiles and amphibians at the age of five. When he was 14, he worked in the animal labs of a major cancer research hospital where his interest in animals, and in particular high quality animal care and husbandry, nurtured his desire to work in the animal field. His subsequent science degree, coupled with his certification as an animal technologist, put him on the career path to manage the animal research efforts of two major companies in cancer and diabetes research. His love for reptiles continued and he became fascinated with leopard geckos, studying them and developing a high quality care program based on the many studies he designed and conducted to develop cutting edge care protocols to produce and maintain leopard geckos of the highest quality. He felt a calling to write this book so he could share his work and knowledge with others in order to further the hobby and most importantly to him, to benefit the well-being of the animals that he so truly loved.

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