I first started breeding Leopard Geckos in 2000 in my dorm room at NYU. I always had a fascination with reptiles and fish and wanted to pursue a degree in Biology in hopes of getting my PhD in herpetology. However, after realizing that life in college was hard enough and the PhD would cost me far more than I would ever really make, I settled into a degree and career in IT which came easier to me than Chemistry. My love for reptiles remained and to my roommate’s dismay, the rack in our closet got bigger.
Early Breeding Experiences
During my first breeding season I had 2 females and 1 male, all Tremper Albinos. The hovabator that I kept on the top shelf of the closet was busy and at the end of that year I had 12 more to add to my collection. My roommate, as understanding as he was, asked me to limit my collection to its current size so if I was going to breed I was going to have to sell them.
Luckily I stumbled upon Kingsnake.com and found a place to post the geckos I had for sale and I was able to make some extra cash, always good for a student, or even better to trade for a different gecko. This continued for 3 more years until it was time for me to leave school. Moving into an apartment smaller than my dorm and needing my money for things like rent and food meant giving up my geckos. I always vowed that as soon as I had the space and time I would breed again.
Gecko Keeping Revisited
Eight years later here I am newly married and with a new house to fill with geckos. Back in October of 2010 I was at a local herp show and, going back on my promise to not buy anything, purchased 4 Leos, one male and three females. The male was a Sunglow and a het for Raptor and the females were a Mack Snow, Tremper Patternless and a SHTCB. In hindsight I would have gotten a different group but my head was spinning with the genetic possibilities.
When I first started you could count the number of genetic morphs on one hand and now they are everywhere with combinations making things very complicated for the beginner. I decided to make my first goal to produce some nice Sunglows and SHTCB from the Patternless and SHTCB females I have. The Mack Snow was a mistake because I am at least 2 years away from getting any interesting combinations out of her and my Sunglow male. I’d love to have a Super Snow Raptor and I think that I will try to pick up another gecko to help that project along in my second season.
I keep my group individually in a homemade rack system. I will most likely be getting a pre-made rack as eggs start to be laid so I have room for the hatchlings. I use 3 inch Flexwatt heat tape for the belly attached to a Big Apple Herp thermostat. I have rounded out my equipment with a ThinkGeek refrigerator incubator with a fan inside to keep the temps consistent throughout the incubator.
So it seems I am back where I started in 2000 with a little more experience and the room I need to grow. I plan on chronicling my first year back breeding so that beginners will have some idea what they are up against and maybe someone can learn from my failures and hopefully some of my successes as well. I will also keep track of my overall expenses because this is a business after all. I don’t plan on doing this to support myself but I feel like there might be some people that wonder how viable it is to turn a profit and my numbers might be helpful. Just for up to date info, including the cost of the geckos but not electricity, I am $618.73 in the hole.
I am also going to keep track of the weights of my geckos at the time of writing so we can see how they fluctuate during a breeding season. Currently they are as follows:
One of the things that I remember from back when I first started was how important record keeping is. I weigh my geckos once every two weeks and more often if I think there is a problem or illness. I believe it allows me to provide the best care for my animals and in turn the best product for customers. I use an excel spreadsheet to keep track of current breeders/holdbacks, available geckos, gecko weights as well as a balance sheet for expenses and sales. If anyone is interested in a copy for their own use just email me.
I won’t begin breeding until the geckos are 50 grams or over so there is still a little time. While I have been waiting I started a colony of meal worms. If you are going to breed I highly suggest you also breed at least one colony of feeders. It will save a ton of money and I also enjoy it almost as much as the geckos themselves. I will go into what it takes in a later installment but there are a ton of web pages dedicated to the subject.
I hope that you will follow my journey through this column and we can all learn a lot together. If you have anything in particular you’d like me to highlight over the course of the breeding season please let me know. I want this to be as interactive as possible so please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions.