Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Leopard and African Fat-Tailed Gecko Breeding, Egg Laying and Incubation

©1997 Melissa Kaplan


This document does not discuss basic care, only that related to the laying and incubation of eggs. For care information, please see the articles on leopard gecko care and fat-tailed care in the list of lizard care documents.


Feeding And Supplementation
Offer vitamin- and calcium-coated food to females daily or every other day during breeding season. Pink mice are also good food for them.


Laying Eggs
Females may lay several clutches of two eggs each during the breeding season; occasionally, single eggs are laid. Geckos which are very healthy and well cared for may lay as many as 8 times during the year, but fertility decreases with age. Very young geckos are also not as fertile. Older leopard geckos may stop producing any eggs during their last years.

The developing eggs will be seen as bulges on their sides. There are two ways to set up an egg laying place for them. One is to daily mist one area of the substrate so that the medium is slightly damp and check the area a couple times a day for eggs. Another method, and one that is a little safer for the egg, is to construct an egging container made of a plastic container half filled with damp (but not wet) vermiculite or sphagnum moss. Cut a hole in the side of the container just above the level of the damp vermiculite or moss; make it big enough for the gecko to enter and leave. (This is container is a great way to provide an area of humidity at all times for the geckos - it is also called a humidity retreat box. If you are already using one, check it for eggs when you see that your female is gravid.) The egg laying/humidity retreat box is better for the egg as it is less likely to dry out before you find it and it won't get accidentally stepped on by the geckos or nibbled on by prey.

Freshly laid eggs are slightly sticky. If the egg is fertile, it will firm up, becoming rapidly turgid, and will will feel slightly chalky to the touch.

Infertile eggs are thin and soft.


Incubating The Eggs
You need to strike the right balance between a properly humid environment and it being too wet. Combine 6 parts vermiculite with 4 parts water so that the vermiculite is just barely moistened. Without changing how the eggs were laid, place them carefully into the moistened vermiculite, half burying them in the medium. Place a small container of water into the vermiculite too to help keep the humidity up.

A second method is to cut a piece of foam rubber to line a plastic box. Pour enough water into the box so that the foam is saturated and water just covers it. Place small dishes, lined with dampened vermiculite or paper towel, on the wetted foam, and place eggs in the small dishes. Cover the dishes with a layer of dampened paper towels.

Once your egg incubation boxes are prepared, you must incubate them. A Hova-Bator, sold in feed stores for bird eggs, works well. Follow the package directions for setting the incubator up and adjusting the temperature. Any place where you can keep the eggs safe from being jostled or shaken and where you can keep the temperatures constant throughout the incubation period will work. You will need to be able to get into the egg boxes to check the water and add water periodically.

If eggs are incubated at 79 F, the majority of all hatchlings will be female. If incubated at 85F, you will get an almost equal number of males and females. If incubated at 90F, most will be male; at 92F, practically all will be males. Females hatched from these eggs are generally more aggressive than other females, and are generally considered unsuitable for breeding. If you are trying to guarantee a certain number of males, set up two incubation chambers, with one set up at the higher, male-producing temperatures, and the other at one of the lower female-producing temperatures.

Depending upon the temperatures used, eggs will hatch in 6-12 weeks, with the higher temperatures hatching sooner.


Raising The Hatchlings
House them separately in small enclosures (sweater box size is fine) complete with a *shallow* water dish and hide box. Adults and older geckos will intimidate baby geckos who may end up starving. Hatchlings will generally not eat for a week after hatching as they are still living off their yolk. After their first shed, they will they should be fed vitamin and calcium supplemented crickets. Do NOT feed large crickets - smaller ones, even though you have to feed more of them, are more nutritious. Mist several times a week (hatchlings generally need slightly higher humidity than adults) and keep a shallow bowl of water in the enclosure.


Notes On African Fat-tails
Cool down lizards in October/November to 68-72F. Do not feed during this time. Have water available but do not mist the enclosure. One month later, slowly raise their enclosure back to the proper temps. After they are warmed up, offer food; feed females every other day with calcium-supplemented food items, including pink mice.

Females may produce 2-7 clutches of 1-2 eggs during the season. Set up an egg laying box as for the leopards.

Incubate fat-tailed eggs as described above for leopard gecko eggs, but keep at 85F for an even ratio of males and females, with temps ranging between 88-90F for mostly males.

Hatchling fat-tails are more delicate than leopard gecko hatchlings. House separately as above, using paper towels or fine orchid bark or cypress mulch for substrate. Keep them warm and mist the enclosure daily as well as keep their water dish filled. After 3-4 days, they will shed and be ready for feeding. These hatchlings are shyer than leopards, and some may refuse to eat after their shed. These must be carefully hand fed to get them started.



The General Care and Maintenance of Leopard Geckos and African Fat-tailed Geckos. Philippe de Vosjoli, 1990.

Lizards in the Terrarium. Harald Jes, 1987.

Leopard Geckos. Ray Hunziker, 1994.

Related Articles

Leopard Gecko Care

Fat-Tailed Gecko Care

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