Here are two questions about two different geckos, both of whom happen to have names starting with “L”. As you will see, in one case the respondants are in agreement and in the other there is some difference of opinion. This highlights the fact that there is often more than one way to accomplish the same goals with various aspects of reptile keeping.
What is your secret in incubating leopard gecko’s eggs? And can you do it without an incubator?curious to hear what you guys think!
Angelicka Veach responds: It is possible to incubate without an incubator, but we are aiming for the highest possible hatch rate. We use the Albey Scholl method to prepare the incubation media. This is 1 part perlite to .8 parts water by weight. Please visit his website at http://www.albeysreptiles.com/incubate-eggs.htm for detailed instructions. The perlite was ordered from an organic gardening website to be sure it did not contain any extra ingredients such as fertilizers. We incubate each clutch in a sealed deli cup with the pairing and date the eggs were laid. This is the best method we have found for us to keep accurate records of the pairings and dates.
We use two Nature’s Spirit incubators. One is set at 88 F for males, and the other 82 F for females. The room is kept at a constant 75 F, and the temperatures on the incubators are regulated with Spyder Robotics Herpstats. We also have the incubators plugged into a 3 hour UPS in preparation for the rare event of a power outage. We have relied on the UPS before during a planned power outage when a meter was being changed.
As far as maintaining eggs that are incubating, we do a weekly air exchange. We candle and discard any bad eggs at that time. If we aren’t quite sure if development has stopped we continue to incubate an egg until we are sure. Other than the weekly checks we try not to mess with the eggs at all. Then the waiting game begins. It takes approximately 45 days for males and 56 days for females to hatch.
We use pretty much the same method for our pictus eggs, only we keep all eggs from each pairing in a container together. Next season we intend to use a SIM container for those eggs. Since pictus eggs are so fragile we are going to see if the support grid helps to keep them from getting jostled as much during air exchanges.
Julie Bergman responds: My secret is incubating at room temps, which for most people are 78-80F with a few degrees fluctuation either way. Fluctuation of temps is natural and good if it is not too drastic. I use 38oz 6.75″ ventilated “deli” cups from http://superiorshippingsupplies.com/. These are filled to just below the air holes with moistened Superhatch (by Allen Repashy). This incubation medium retains moisture better than just about anything I have used, and is a nice dark red/brown color when the moisture is correct, allowing an easy visual check to make sure things are within the correct parameters. I put in six eggs per container with just the tops showing, and wait for the offspring to hatch in about 70-80 days. Easy!
I would suggest an incubator ONLY if you desire very specific results that your room temps cannot provide, such as male leopard geckos that need temps in the 83-88F range. For females room temps in the average 80F range are perfect.
Kristi Housman responds: Incubating is definitely the most stressful thing about breeding geckos. You worry about your temps and humidity, and whether anything will even hatch. It doesn’t have to be that stressful.
There are many different types of incubators out there. The main thing to pay attention to is the themostat. Without a proper working thermostat, your temperatures will fluctuate and possibly cause deformities.
Once you have a good incubator and thermostat, you need to figure out what medium to use. I’ve personally had good luck with Superhatch. It’s easy to use and I always have good humidity. You can also use perlite or vermiculite. Make sure there are no fertilizers in them and follow the directions for use.
When you have eggs, mark the top with a pen and do not turn the eggs. Use deli cups or a SIM to hold the eggs and put them in the incubator. Now you just have to wait and see what happens. Not all eggs are fertile, so expect some to go bad. I incubate around 83 degrees and most of my eggs have been hatching around day 50. The low 80’s will give you mostly females, the mid 80’s will give you a mix, and the high 80’s will give you mostly males.
I have a 9 month old leachie, and I’ve had him for about 2 months. I’m having a few problems with getting him acclimated to his new home (exo terra 36 by 18 by 36 inch terrarium). As far as I know he is not eating and will only eat if I hold him in my hand and feed him with a spoon. I’ve stopped spoon feeding him, and it’s been 2 weeks. I’m worried that he’s not eating, and I kind of feel like he’s a little stupid and cannot find his food. I’m offering him Repashy’s CDG and super worms (Ca dusted and gut loaded, of course). Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!!
Debbie Buis and Leon Bregman respond: First of all, congrats on the new leachianus, they are great animals! We notice you only mention the age of the animal, not the size or weight and it’s the size and weight that matters most, so be sure to mention that with any future questions.
The size of 9 month old leachies varies a lot and since you haven’t specified if it’s a GT or a henkeli, we estimate it’s somewhere between 20 and 50 grams and a maximum of 15 cm long. In the wild young leachies spend most of the time hiding out under a log on the ground and don’t walk around a lot. The vivarium you have for him is way too big. That size could easily hold an adult leachianus.
It’s better if you put him in a shoebox on paper towel, with a place to hide (like a piece of bark or half a coconut) and a bowl of water. He’ll feel safer in a more confined space.
Keep the humidity high, but make sure it isn’t wet!
Some leachies are stressed out very easily, which can be the reason he won’t eat. Leachianus can go without food for a long time, and eventually they will start to eat. Moving to a new environment can be hard on them especially if the new environment is too big. If you give him a smaller environment to live in he will be less stressed. Put in fresh Repashy CGD (Crested Gecko Diet) every other night and he will do just fine. Also, we would advise to stop feeding Superworms since they aren’t very fond of them and they are low in nutrition. Just stick to CGD with the occasional waxworm or pinky mouse, but not too often (once a month at the most) as they mostly consist of fat.
Walter Tunnell-Wilson responds: Unless your leachie was super big when you got him, the cage you are keeping him in is way too big. In the wild, pairs of adult leachies live in tree hollows, and they scent mark in it and probably in a small area around it to show others that that is their territory. They will also defend their hollow from other leachies so they don’t lose their ”home”. Those are adult leachies, but yours is a 9 month old, and you can imagine how big an adult pair’s territory is if it’s just inside a tree hollow and a little bit around it. Leachies like security, so I think you should down-grade to a little Tupperware shoebox-type thing for now. As you mentioned, leachies might not be the smartest of animals, but they will find their food a lot better if you just put their food dish right in front of the opening of their hiding spot (preferably a cork hollow) in their cage. When designing the inside of the cage, you should keep it simple: a cork hollow and a fake or live plant is all that is needed, not to mention a food and water dish.
I hope this helped, and good luck with your leachie!
Julie Bergman is the current president of the Global Gecko Association and an experienced gecko breeder of over 50 species of geckos. She established her business Gecko Ranch, LLC in 1993 and carries gecko supplies as well as breeding her own geckos. In her spare time she can be found road racing her 1994 Trans-Am in the Camaro-Mustang Challenge.
Debbie Buis and Leon Bregman are from The Netherlands, Europe and together they are “The Gex Files”. They have been private breeders of Rhacodactylus (the whole genus), Uroplatus, Eurydactylodes, Bavayia and Strophurus for quite some years now. They have kept reptiles since childhood and after they started living together they mainly focused on geckos. They now have over 100 geckos in their collection, which is still growing. This season is extra exciting for them, since they hope to have their first success in breeding Rhacodactylus trachyrhynchus trachycephalus, a live-bearing gecko from New Caledonia. For questions and examples of what they keep and breed, check out their website or send a friendship request on Facebook:
Kristi Housman owns Ghoulish Geckos. She has just started her fourth season of breeding leopard geckos. She keeps other species as well, but doesn’t breed them.
Angelicka Veach, in addition to breeding geckos, has a full time job as an after hours emergency dispatcher for a phone company. She began Retribution Reptiles LLC with Ryan Hauser in November 2009, based out of Cuyahoga Falls Ohio near Akron. Angelicka became a member of the USARK in 2009. Retribution Reptiles is currently breeding leopard geckos, and pictus geckos. Angelicka also has a pet AFT and 2 milii. Her other major hobby is studying the Japanese language and culture. She is also a facebook fanatic, and hardly goes a day without hitting that site.
Walter Tunnell-Wilson lives in northern Texas and has been keeping reptiles almost all his life. Leachies are one of his many passions, as are all Rhacodactylus geckos. He aspires to one day be breeding leachies and to travel to New Caledonia.