How to Breed Crested Geckos?
Crested geckos are easy to care for, generally docile and friendly, and overwhelmingly cute. These facts pretty much explain why they are so popular among exotic pet keepers.
You don’t need much to keep a crested gecko happy, and, with the right care, the reptile can live up to 20 years in captivity.
But you’re here because you’re looking to breed the crested gecko. If you’re not familiar with reptile breeding, you may need to prepare in advance.
Part of that involves acquiring the necessary knowledge to provide the geckos with the right environment and breeding conditions.
Before You Start Breeding Crested Geckos
The breeding aspect rests on several factors necessary to ensure the procedure’s success.
- The overall layout – Your geckos, won’t breed if they’re not comfortable in their environment. This means you should consider crafting a natural-looking layout that includes tree bark, wood branches for resting, and a leafy substrate. You can also use reptile carpet or peat moss mixed with soil for a substrate. Such a layout will scratch the gecko’s itch for exploration and provide it with comfort and safety.
- The food – The gecko’s diet is paramount for its health and growth. The food will also influence the reptile’s ability to breed since the breeding parameters include the animal’s age and weight. The female gecko is ready to breed when it’s 18-month-old and at least 1.4 ounces in weight. Geckos require a varied diet comprising fruits and insects, along with vitamin and mineral supplementation to keep them healthy. A fulfilling and nutritious diet will help them reach maturity faster.
- Overall living conditions – Crested geckos require specific environmental conditions to thrive. These include the presence of water, a 60-70% humidity rate in their enclosure, sufficient space, adequate lighting, and a stress-free setup. The idea is to provide geckos with natural conditions for them to get into their mating mood easier.
But when it comes to breeding geckos, I would say that there are 2 overarching aspects to consider:
Why You Want to Breed Crested Geckos?
This concept is simple. People generally breed geckos for 2 reasons: for personal use or for profit.
The first one is kind of tricky due to the gecko’s breeding proficiency. In short:
- The breeding season lasts about 8 months, from February/March to October
- Geckos will mate every month and produce 2 eggs every 30 days or so
- The eggs will both hatch, so the breeding success is pretty much 100%
Based on these points, expect around 15 gecko babies by the end of a breeding season.
So, if you’re not willing to expand your gecko community as much, you might want to control the reptiles’ mating behavior. Which pretty much implies separating the male from the female(s).
Geckos don’t need much to get into their mating mood. So long as the conditions are adequate, the male and female will mate within hours after being placed together.
Fortunately, breeding geckos for personal use is quite cheap. You don’t need major investment and a lot of equipment since you won’t breed geckos intensively. This brings us to the next point: breeding geckos for profit.
In theory, whatever applies to the first point applies to the latter. You will be providing your geckos with the same conditions since the goal is the same.
The only difference comes in the housing options. Since you will be producing more geckos, you want several terrariums to house the ever-growing colony.
This will allow you the necessary luxury of separating geckos by blood ties to avoid inbreeding. The latter could result in genetic issues, lowering the reptile’s quality of life and even shortening its lifespan.
Multiple terrariums are also necessary to help you select the geckos based on their looks, health, and personalities.
After all, geckos are all unique animals with distinct patterns, some of which are more sought-after than others.
Now that you’ve decided the path to take let’s move on to the second point.
What do You Need to Breed Crested Geckos?
We have already discussed the aspect of environmental conditions, but there’s more to securing the ideal breeding conditions for geckos than that.
Some of the things necessary for breeding crested geckos properly include:
- The enclosure(s) – I can only give you some general tips in this sense. You absolutely need one enclosure for the first pair of geckos doing all the love-making. But, beyond that, the number of enclosures you require depends on your goals. If you’re breeding geckos for yourself, 1-2 extra enclosures should be done, depending on how many geckos you plan to keep. If you want to sell the gecko babies and you’re breeding several pairs of crested geckos at once, more terrariums are always better. Figure out your goals and approach this point adequately.
- A gram/ounce scale – This might seem like a petty point, but it’s actually a necessary one. Even if you’re American, I would recommend a gram scale over an ounce one for purely practical reasons. You will be dealing with some rather tiny creatures, in which case the ounce scale will get confusing fast. It’s always better to measure a 2-gram gecko than a 0.07-ounce one if you know what I mean. Other than that, the scale is necessary to keep track of your geckos’ progress. A gecko baby is in a sell-ready state when it reaches 2 grams in weight.
- Egg-laying/incubation boxes – Yes, you need separate enclosures for each of these activities. Geckos have specific requirements for their egg-laying activity, including a diggable substrate and specific environmental conditions. After the female has laid its eggs, you can now move them into the incubation box. If you have multiple gecko pairs, multiple boxes will be necessary. However, it’s worth noting that one incubation box can accommodate several eggs since they all require the same conditions to hatch. And the resulting gecko babies are small, so they don’t need too much space, to begin with.
Other utensils worthy of mentioning include:
- Adequate food and supplements for the babies
- Fake plants, wood, and leaves to create a natural and comforting setup
- A spray bottle to keep the humidity levels in check
Plus, consider having one or several boxes to house the hatchlings. Fortunately, baby geckos are tiny when hatching, as they will reach their target weight of 2 grams in about 1 month.
So, you will probably be able to house them in the same box for the most part. The situation only changes when you have several breeding gecko pairs producing a lot of offspring.
So, now that you have everything in order, choosing the right gecko pair and housing them properly should be your next priorities.
In this sense, you have several critical aspects to look into, and we will discuss these in the following section.
Guide to Breeding Crested Geckos
When it comes to breeding crested geckos successfully, consider the following 3 points:
1. Choosing a Crested Gecko Pair
I believe this is your ‘make or break’ tip that will define the breeding process’s success or failure.
Choosing your geckos carefully is paramount to ensure high-quality offspring that will take on the best genes. Doing so will provide geckos generations with a stable genetic pool, longer lifespans, and greater adaptability.
So, what markers should you consider when choosing your gecko pair? I believe that it all boils down to 3 fundamental aspects, although the case can be made for more.
Either way, have these 3 in the back of your mind at all times:
Checking the Sellers
In short, not everybody sells quality geckos. Like always, the hunt for profit can warp people’s ethics, which can lead them to prioritize speed and quantity over quality.
Many professional gecko breeders tend to deal with more hatchlings than they could handle realistically.
As a result, the quality of care will diminish, as providing dozens of hatchlings with optimal care at once while chasing profits is an unrealistic expectation.
And then there’s another aspect to consider. This overcrowding issue will also lead some professional breeders to ignore or fail to notice genetic faults that would make the hatchling unfeasible to sell.
So, you will get a low-quality gecko, not because of mal intent from the seller, but because that’s how things are sometimes.
To avoid this issue, I recommend working with reputed sellers with a solid reputation in the business.
Always double-check the gecko’s background, assess its housing conditions prior to the purchase, and check the quality of care up to that point. It may be difficult, but it will be worth it, considering you’ll be getting quality specimens.
Looking for Physical Faults
Not all crested geckos are perfect specimens. Some will exhibit physical faults that could affect their quality of life.
Some of these defects are the result of injuries, fighting, improper handling, disease, or even genetic issues.
I have seen crested geckos with eye problems, deformed or injured nostrils that made breathing difficult, or locomotory issues.
Such problems will dramatically affect the reptile’s quality of life and even shorten its lifespan. Always assess your gecko thoroughly before purchasing it, if that’s possible.
Looking for Suboptimal Aesthetics
This comes down mostly to personal preference. In short, not all geckos are alike. They all differ in terms of pattern, coloring, and even personalities.
Some geckos are more valuable than others in terms of looks and physical features, so you want to do your research before getting your specimen.
The price range alone should persuade you to put in the extra effort in this sense. A common gecko will land between $50 and $100, but the situation will change fast when talking about high-end specimens.
A unique gecko with sought-after characteristics and a pristine pedigree could easily top $3,000 and even reach $5,000 or more.
The conclusion is simple – choose your gecko carefully. Especially if you’re breeding them for profit, in which case getting high-profile geckos will provide you with a solid gene pool to make use of.
2. Housing Crested Gecko Adults
Housing crested geckos properly is necessary to improve the reptile’s quality of life and prolong its life.
After all, crested geckos can live up to 20 years with optimal care, which is unusual for a small creature. So, what parameters should you consider when housing a crested gecko?
I would say you have several points to consider:
The Reptile’s Profile
Many people skip this point, but it’s actually important. Understanding your gecko is essential for crafting its environment, and I’m not talking about its personality but about its biological and anatomical profile.
Crested geckos possess toe pads that allow them to climb their habitat pretty much effortlessly. They are also quite proficient jumpers; an ability that allows them to get out of harm’s way fast.
So, you want to have their enclosure secured to prevent the geckos from climbing or jumping out.
Because that tends to happen in uncovered terrariums. Just make sure that the lid has breathing holes to prevent excessive humidity and CO2 buildup.
Terrarium Size and Shape
Despite being rather small, the crested gecko requires at least 20 gallons of space, preferably vertically.
This is an active and energetic reptile that enjoys climbing and exploring its habitat. I recommend around 30 gallons since you also need to include branches, wood, and various other decorations designed to make the habitat feel more natural.
These will provide the gecko with a variety of hiding and climbing areas and keep them happy and calm.
This is necessary given the gecko’s fidgety personality. These guys don’t like being handled, and they can get stressed quite easily at times.
The ideal temperature range for crested geckos rests between 72 and 80 F. This may seem like a more-than-generous range which goes to show the reptile’s adaptability.
The gecko regulates its internal processes based on the environmental temperature, along with other factors like lighting, food availability, and humidity.
Higher temperatures equal a faster growth rate and higher metabolism. This is useful when growing hatchlings since they will feel more comfortable and grow healthier in warmer environments.
However, be wary. Adult geckos can get stressed out at higher temperatures. So, look for a comfort zone around 73 to 75 F during the day and 68-72 during nighttime.
This will keep your gecko more comfortable in the long run.
Just be careful about positioning your heat source adequately. Geckos are quite the climbers, so they can easily get into areas they’re not supposed to go to and get burned in the process.
A steady light cycle is necessary to help the reptile regulate its biological rhythm. A 5% UVB lighting source should do the trick in most cases since there’s no need to go overboard with it.
Remember to dim the lights during nighttime to enforce a natural light cycle that would help the reptile get its much-needed rest.
And above all, always keep the light source at a safe distance from the gecko’s roaming ground. Otherwise, the small reptile may wander into it and get burned.
This is a make-or-break parameter since humidity is vital to crested geckos and reptiles in general. Geckos prefer a more humid environment than other reptiles and lizards, with the golden ratio sitting around 70-80%.
You will see some gecko breeders recommending 50% humidity, but that’s too low, both from personal experience and from the experience of other breeders.
If the humidity is too low, geckos may experience respiratory problems and skin infections.
To provide optimal humidity, I recommend several methods:
- A water bowl for the water to evaporate in the habitat and allow the lizard to take short baths whenever necessary
- A well-aerated environment to prevent stale air and improve atmospheric freshness
- A water-retaining substrate like organic potting soil that will increase air humidity gradually
- Rely on an automatic mister or fogger if the methods mentioned above are insufficient
- Rely on a hygrometer to monitor humidity levels in the gecko’s habitat to identify any discrepancies early on
Humidity is vital for lizards and all reptiles in general since it supports their growth, metabolism, and allows them a plus of comfort.
The substrate has more of an aesthetic impact since these lizards aren’t necessarily bottom-dwellers.
That being said, they will feed on the substrate and tend to swallow some in the process. This means you need to show extra caution when discussing the type of substrate to use to minimize the likelihood of choking.
So, gravel is out of the question, and so is lizard sand. The latter could be useful for other reptiles, but not the geckos.
Use moss, peat, or a mix of coconut fiber and soil. You should also consider the substrate’s ability to retain water and boost humidity levels, as we have already discussed.
Geckos are insectivores, for the most part, so they savor insects more than anything. They also consume fruits occasionally like pears, bananas, papaya, peaches, etc.
That being said, you can feed your geckos commercial gecko food made specifically for them.
However, if you really care about your gecko’s wellbeing, I recommend feeding it live insects as often as possible.
This will help the gecko exercise its hunting abilities and keep the reptile active and happy. Roaches, crickets, silkworms, and grasshoppers are all viable options, so long as they’re small enough for the gecko to eat them.
Sourcing your insects is of particular importance. I advise avoiding wild-caught insects since they can contain parasites and pollution-based chemicals that could poison the gecko.
But what does the gecko eat in the wild, if not wild insects, right? Right, except the gecko’s natural habitat is not in the middle of a pollution-ridden city, is it?
The solution would be to grow your own insects which is not as difficult as it sounds. They don’t need too much space, will multiply fast and will provide your geckos with sufficient nutrients to fulfill their needs.
Plus, you can fill up the insects with essential vitamins and minerals to complement the gecko’s nutritionary needs.
When it comes to feeding frequency, you’re in the luck. Adult geckos won’t eat more than 3 times per week, generally speaking.
Just make sure to provide as many insects as they can consume in one sitting, and they will remain satiated for days. Juvenile geckos tend to eat more often, requiring one meal daily.
Pay attention to all these factors, and your gecko will adapt to its habitat with great ease.
3. Nest Boxes for Crested Geckos
If you’ve already set your geckos’ home and they seem happy and comfortable in their nest, you now need to prepare to breed them.
Fortunately, geckos don’t need much to breed successfully.
Here are the main points to write down:
- A male and a female – I know that this sounds like something Captain Obvious would say, but it had to be said. So long as they’re in the mating season, geckos will mate with relative ease since females aren’t too picky about their partners. However, make sure you only have one male gecko. Males can be extremely territorial and possessive about their females, food, space, and hierarchical dominance. You don’t want that heat.
- A nesting box – Fortunately, you’re in no hurry to get the box ready. The female gecko will produce the eggs approximately 2 months after mating, but this timeframe can vary. Even so, it doesn’t hurt to have the box ready. The nesting box should be approximately 6 by 6 inches, 4 inches tall, and possess a small opening for the female to come and go as it pleases. The female will use the nesting box when the time comes.
- The female’s wellbeing matters – The female will keep the eggs in its belly for quite some time while they’re forming. These will consume take up calcium and other nutrients from the female’s body, putting it at risk of developing nutrient deficiencies. Always supervise your female gecko to make sure it remains in good health until the eggs are delivered. Otherwise, the eggs might not be viable.
As general footnotes:
- Choose your crested geckos carefully based on the principles I’ve already presented earlier to ensure a clean, high-end gene pool
- Make sure that the male gecko is healthy with good genes
- Make sure that both the male and the female are fully sexually mature (at least 9 months of age)
- Feeding your geckos nutritious food more often will speed up their growth, making them sexually available sooner
Regarding the nesting box, some people remove it after the female lays its eggs. That’s because the eggs require careful care, preferably with temperatures in the mid-70s or closer to 80 F.
The higher temperatures will reduce the incubation period. Just be sure not to go overboard with it. The eggs might be rendered fruitless otherwise.
Caring for Crested Gecko Eggs
Caring for the gecko’s eggs involves a lot of passive ‘work’ on your part. In other words, you won’t have to do much since the eggs will undergo incubation naturally.
That being said, let’s look at the specifics here:
How Do You Incubate Crested Gecko Eggs?
You use a nesting box, as I’ve detailed earlier, and keep the eggs either half-buried or sitting on the substrate. Nothing too fancy.
Everything else regarding incubation that matters falls in the line of humidity and temperature.
What is the Best Temperature for Crested Gecko Eggs?
Crested gecko eggs need to sit at temperatures between 70 and 80 F. This is the natural range that would allow the eggs to sit comfortable and ‘cook’ properly during the incubation period.
The interesting part is that you can increase the temperature slightly to reduce the incubation period. Just be careful about it. Too much heat and the eggs may become unviable.
How Long it Takes for Crested Gecko Eggs to Hatch?
Crested gecko eggs take about 65 to 75 days to hatch. This is quite the period if you think that the female will only lay 2 eggs at once.
Fortunately, geckos’ mating season is 8-months long, so there’s plenty of offspring to come.
You can also shorten the incubation period by upping the temperatures a bit. Take the temperature up to 78-80, and the incubation period will drop to 55-65 days.
How do You Maintain Incubated Crested Gecko Eggs?
You need 2 basic things to keep gecko eggs in mint condition: keep the temperature stable and spray some water occasionally to keep humidity within desirable values. That’s all.
Gecko eggs don’t need any more maintenance work than that.
Do You Need a License to Breed Crested Geckos?
Typically, no, but it depends from state to state. You might want to look into it a bit more to avoid any potential legal issues.
Since I’m not a legal expert, I won’t give legal advice, so you would better inquire actual professionals in legal matters to get accurate information.
Do Crested Geckos Care for Their Babies?
Yes, crested geckos care for their babies if by ‘care’ you mean eat them. Adult geckos have no problems eating the little fellas running around since they view them as prey.
So, you want the eggs to hatch in a separate container, away from adult geckos.
You should also keep the babies separate until they are large enough to no longer fear the adults. This could take at least 6 months.
Crested geckos are a breeze to care for and even easier to breed.
For a TL:DR section:
- Source your geckos from reliable sources to minimize the risks of genetic faults, injuries, improper physical features, etc.
- Only keep one male per enclosure with 1 to 4 females
- Manage temperature, humidity, and diet to provide geckos with all the necessary parameters for successful breeding
- Have a nesting box ready for the pregnant female
- Remove the nesting box once the eggs have been laid
- Protect the young since their parents may eat them given the opportunity
Oh, and don’t forget not to manhandle your geckos too much. They don’t appreciate the attention and might shed their tail (which doesn’t grow back) or attempt to jump or flee, hurting themselves in the process.
Show them your love by providing optimal living conditions, and they will appreciate it more than anything.