Crested Geckos can be prolific breeders in captivity if you follow several basic but essential steps. We recommend waiting until your female Crested Geckos reach 12 months and your males 9 months before you start breeding them. Although they may breed at younger ages we have found waiting allows the geckos to reach full maturity and has resulted in greater breeding success. Breeding males are typically 25 grams and females are between 30 and 35 grams. Crested Geckos will always lay their eggs in pairs and in a female’s prime she can produce 6 to 9 clutches per year.
Sexing Crested Geckos is relatively easy once you know what to look for. You should examine the underside of the gecko, just below the vent and if you see enlarged hemipenal bulge you have a male. Females will not show a noticeable bulge. Also males will have pre-anal pores, these are located on the underside of the legs and have small black spots on them.
Breeder Crested Geckos should be put through a cooling or cycling period to help stimulate the breeding cycle. Before geckos enter the cooling period it is crucial to completely empty their digestive tracks. During cycling temperatures are lowered to the high 60’s(F) to low 70’s(F) Only water is made available during this period, which should range between four to eight weeks.
Once the cycling period is over temperatures should be brought back to normal levels and a regular feeding program. As soon as the geckos have acclimatized to the regular temperatures the males can be introduced to the females. A general rule of thumb is that each male can successfully breed up to five females. Within four weeks the females will start becoming larger and a look at their underside will show the outline of the developing ovum. At this time eggs can be laid and a nesting box should be introduced with a small entrance hole and a good layer of moist coco fibre where the female can bury her eggs (the coco fibre will prevent the eggs from drying out but it is important that it is kept moist).
Eggs should be removed daily from the nesting box and placed into an incubator. The eggs should carefully be placed in an airtight container on top of a bed of moist vermiculite. Crested gecko eggs should be incubated at a temperature around 75F. During incubation containers should be opened twice a week to allow fresh air and to remove condensation that has formed on the lid.
Finally, it is important to separate the males and females at the end of each breeding season so that the females are given a chance to recover from the hardships of breeding.
Within two to three months the babies emerge from the egg and they quickly become active and measure a fraction of the size of an adult. Babies should immediately be moved to a hatchling enclosure, which is essentially a smaller version of the adult’s enclosure. Housing hatchlings in small groups or individually can an effective way to help reduce stress through their transition period. Initially no food should be offered and the enclosure should be kept moist by spraying once a day. After a hatchlings first shed is complete, which is around day 10, you can offer baby pinhead crickets.
Breeding projects are one of the most fascinating and dynamic aspects of Crested Geckos in captivity today. New morphs are continually being produced and there has been significant increase in the new number of morphs over the past several years. Morphs range in varying colors and patterns all of which are based on specific genetic traits. You can select from pattern variations such as Pin Stripes or Harlequins to color morphs including the beautiful hues of the Flame morph. And today many of these morphs have been combined to create beautiful combinations of patterns and colorations.
My advice to anyone looking to a breeding project is to start out with a clear idea of what your project will be, keep meticulous records and to have fun – it is a very rewarding and exciting experience!