How Do You Incubate Leopard Gecko Eggs? (Tutorial, Tips!)
Did you end up with some gecko eggs? The first time is always thrilling and exciting. But what to do with them? Incubation of course. Many keepers find the idea overwhelming, especially if you are unprepared. . So how does one collect and incubate leopard gecko eggs?
Proper incubation of leopard gecko eggs requires close monitoring and control of temperature and humidity—ideally between 75–95°F and 75–95%, respectively. Hence, thermometers, hygrometers, and thermostats are necessary for proper incubation.
Want to try hatching those pretty eggs your lady leo has lain? Either way, you should know what incubation entails. Here are guidelines based on our and other owners’ experience!
Leopard Gecko Egg Incubation: 2 Factors for Success!
To ensure that the baby gecko inside the eggs stays alive during the entire duration of its incubation, keepers and breeders must keep 1) temperature and 2) humidity within specific ranges.
1. Ideal Temperature for Leopard Gecko Egg Incubation
The sex of leopard geckos depends on the temperature of their egg incubation. Generally, females hatch from eggs kept at around 79°F while males hatch from eggs kept at around 90°F. Incubation temperatures between 85–87°F produce both females and males.
Yes, you read it right! A leopard gecko’s sex is not predetermined but rather, temperature-dependent .
Professional breeders even take advantage of this fact. They can produce either male or female leos in specific numbers by simply changing the incubation temperature.
The golden rule for temperature when incubating leopard gecko eggs is lower temperatures yield females and higher temperatures yield males. But there are exemptions to this rule!
More specifically, experts say that various ranges of incubation temperature can result in different sex ratios in leopard gecko eggs . Check the table below for the estimated sex ratios within the range of viable incubation temperatures, 75–95°F (24–35°C).
|Incubation Temperature||Females Produced||Males Produced|
|75°F or 24°C||95–100%||0–5%|
|77°F or 25°C||95–100%||0–5%|
|79°F or 26°C||95–100%||0–5%|
|81°F or 27°C||95–100%||0–5%|
|82°F or 28°C||95–100%||0–5%|
|84°F or 29°C||50–80%||20–50%|
|86°F or 30°C||50–70%||30–50%|
|88°F or 31°C||30–50%||50–70%|
|90°F or 32°C||10–25%||75–90%|
|91°F or 33°C||20–30%||70–80%|
|93°F or 34°C||90–95%||5–10%|
|95°F or 35°C||95–100%||0–5%|
Even in the wild, leopard gecko eggs are generally incubated in soil with temperatures around 86–95°F (30–35°C). They may be also laid in darker crevices within rock formations where it may be a bit cooler.
The incubation temperature during the first 2–3 weeks determines—or “locks”—a leopard gecko’s sex. Plus, higher temperatures normally equate to quicker hatching. So use this information to get your leopard gecko eggs to hatch faster!
Professional Tip: Boost temperatures to 85–90°F (29.5–32.5°C) by the 3-week mark to speed up the incubation process for leopard gecko eggs.
2. Ideal Humidity for Leopard Gecko Egg Incubation
During the incubation period, the relative humidity in the holding container of leopard gecko eggs should be kept within 75–95%. If the humidity drops below 75%, the egg will develop dents. Conversely, humidity above 95% can lead to molding.
As I have pointed out across several topics related to gecko-keeping, having too much of anything is not good—and so is having too little! This applies to the humidity level during the incubation of leopard gecko eggs.
Providing too much or too little humidity to the egg can easily and quickly kill the developing leopard gecko inside it.
With humidity levels way below 75%, you can expect your leo’s eggs to start shriveling up due to dehydration. In such situations, they will not be able to absorb much moisture despite being kept in a heated environment. Dry air will certainly kill the baby gecko in the egg .
Learn more about egg dehydration in our article on denting in gecko eggs.
On the other hand, humidity over 95% can result in unwanted condensation in the leopard gecko eggs’ holding container during incubation. This—combined with heat and the egg itself—can result in molding.
If left unaddressed, mold on gecko eggs can quickly spread and worsen. This may eventually result in the baby leopard gecko’s death as well.
You see, even if they typically leave their eggs to the mercy of the elements, gravid (pregnant) wild leopard geckos can still be picky about their egg-laying site. They look for spaces that are humid but don’t get directly rained on or even soaked by rainwater.
11 Materials You Need to Incubate Leopard Gecko Eggs
The materials and devices needed for a successful leopard gecko incubation include a holding container, medium, thumbtack, label, marker, spray bottle, weighing scale, thermometer, hygrometer, incubator, and notebook.
Keep in mind that this is a general list, so when you’re planning to create your very own incubator, you will need additional materials. But I’ll discuss more on that later!
1. Holding Container
Most heat-safe plastic containers with secure lids will do well. Ordinary food containers, deli cups, and shoe boxes are common choices among many in the reptile community.
However, I find that most breeders seem to prefer using 8-oz deli cups (here on Amazon). They’re the perfect size for incubating two eggs—or one clutch—at a time. Choose transparent or translucent ones so you easily see the eggs.
Some also use incubation trays like this one on Amazon to ensure that the eggs don’t sit in water even if the bedding is too moist. One type, like this, comes with an old-fashioned thermometer whereas the other doesn’t.
2. Incubation Medium
Each breeder has a preference for a specific incubation medium for reptiles like leopard geckos. I even know a few who create their own substrate recipes for egg incubation.
Choices for egg incubation medium include, but are not limited to:
- Coco coir
- HatchRite (perlite, polyacrylamide, and water)
- Clay rocks
What’s important is that the egg’s substrate during incubation is clean. In other words, it should be free of fertilizers and other foreign substances. These can contaminate and kill the embryo.
You will need a regular short flat-headed pin or a thumbtack to pierce small holes into the plastic container to ensure airflow and prevent air stagnation.
Others, however, prefer using a ⅛-inch hole puncher like this one on Amazon. Scissors might also do the trick.
4. Label Sticker
Having a label sticker can also help leopard gecko owners identify and keep track of the eggs being incubated.
But it won’t be necessary if you already have a regular masking tape at home that you can write on without any issue.
5. Permanent Marker
With a permanent marker, you can easily label the leopard gecko eggs for hassle-free tracking throughout the incubation period.
Some people prefer sticking to black ink. Others like using different inks for color coding. The color doesn’t really matter though. What’s important is that the marker ink doesn’t smudge easily and is easy to read.
6. Spray Bottle
Any regular plastic spray bottle will do. Just make sure that it is clean and filled with fresh water before using it.
Find out which type is safe in our article on water for geckos.
This will help you raise the humidity while the leopard gecko eggs are being incubated.
7. Weighing Scale
Now, you don’t need a big and bulky weighing scale to incubate leopard gecko eggs. A small digital kitchen scale will be more than enough.
Using this, you can ensure that the medium-to-water ratio is just right!
As mentioned earlier, the temperature is a crucial factor in ensuring the successful incubation of leopard gecko eggs. So you need a good thermometer to determine whether or not the temperatures your little leo eggs are experiencing are too low or too high.
Discover which products we recommend in our article on the best gecko thermometers.
Using a digital thermometer that doubles as a hygrometer on Amazon can help you cut back on expenses. This can also make monitoring less troublesome.
Keeping a temp gun close can also help you double-check temperatures during egg incubation.
On that note, you also need to have a reliable hygrometer so you can keep an eye on the humidity levels while your leopard geckos’ eggs are being incubated.
Depending on your exact incubation setup, you may need a hygrometer that has a corded probe. Oftentimes, however, a simple digital hygrometer with a water-resistant casing will work perfectly.
Check out our top picks in our article on the best gecko hygrometers.
You need at least 2 medium-sized incubators if you’re planning to go into breeding leopard geckos professionally. Just keep in mind that reptile incubators can be quite expensive, but they’re a good investment for starting up a breeding business.
Big fridge-type incubators are generally worth several grand, like this one on C Serpents. Smaller units, in comparison, are worth at least 100 bucks. In comparison, small chest-type incubators (here on Amazon) will cost around 50–200 dollars.
If you’re only planning to incubate gecko eggs as a one-off thing, then there’s a way for you to create a very cheap DIY mini-incubator. You may be able to incubate your precious leo eggs without one as well.
Lastly, you will need to have a notebook or journal that you can use for record-keeping when you’re monitoring the incubation of leopard gecko eggs.
By having one, you won’t have to just memorize important details like collection time, the parents and their respective morphs, and so on.
You could also use a spreadsheet on your computer if you want to do this digitally—or you could do both so that you always have a backup if anything happens.
9 Simple Steps to Correctly Incubating Leopard Gecko Eggs
Leopard gecko eggs can be incubated correctly by cleaning the materials, puncturing the container, preparing the medium, collecting the eggs, labeling the containers, setting the incubator, placing the eggs in the incubator, recording data, and checking the eggs regularly.
Although these steps follow what many experienced breeders do, you don’t have to do them steps in this exact order.
For example, others start labeling and recording data right after collecting the eggs. My advice is: do these in the order that’s most convenient for you!
1. Clean the Materials
Disinfect the containers with diluted white vinegar solution then dry them thoroughly with some kitchen towel. If the container still smells strongly of vinegar, then you can rinse it with some clean water and dry it again.
This is to ensure that the eggs won’t be contaminated after being placed in plastic containers.
Some think that this is unnecessary especially since the plastic egg containers used for incubation are brand new, but it’s always better to stay on the side of caution. Otherwise, you may just waste time, effort, and resources on an egg that died because of contamination.
2. Puncture the Container
Leopard gecko breeders recommend puncturing about 6–10 pinholes on the sides of the incubation container. You can easily do this with a thumbtack. Others prefer using hole ⅛-inch punchers as it’s much more convenient to use. For those, only 2 holes are necessary.
Still, I know people who prefer using big containers, like shoe boxes, without holes in them whatsoever. Researchers sometimes do this as well. But daily or weekly airing out—or “burping”—is needed in such cases.
Either way, the key objective is to ensure sufficient airflow without sacrificing adequate humidity throughout the incubation period. However, I personally think that piercing holes into the container is the better option since it causes minimal disturbance.
3. Prepare the Medium
Bring your kitchen scale out, place your clean and empty egg container on top of it and then press the tare or “T” button. Afterward, fill the container with some fresh incubation medium, up to ⅔ of the container’s height. Take note of the weight and then press tare again.
Gradually add water into the medium using the spray bottle add stop once you’ve reached the same weight as you did initially with only the medium. This 1:1 water-to-medium ratio is commonly used by breeders.
But some people like adding a little more or a little less. You may have to experiment a bit, depending on your choice of medium as well, to find out what ratio works best for you. After that, thoroughly mix the water and medium together until it can form clumps
Once you can do that, flatten out the medium before finally pushing some indents into it. These shallow grooves are where the eggs will stay in during the incubation period.
4. Collect the Eggs
Take out the lay box from your adult gecko’s tank to collect the eggs without intruding too much on your soft-scaled pets.
Carefully dig out the moist substrate bit by bit until you find the pearly white eggs of your leopard gecko. Normally, you’d find two eggs at a time. But there are instances when you will only get one, especially when it’s your female’s first time laying eggs.
If the eggs have a weird color, texture, and smell, it is likely a dud. But if you want to make sure that it is no longer viable, you can still incubate them.
Pro Tip: Spritz a bit of clean water on eggs that have stuck together to safely separate them. Then pat them dry with some tissue to prevent molding.
5. Label the Egg Containers
Using your permanent marker and label sticker—or strips of masking tape—properly label each egg container.
Ideally, the label should give you details on the date of collection, the morph of the parents, and the target sex. You can write these in full or develop a way to code them to keep the label short. Just make sure you have a copy of what all your codes mean.
For instance, sex can either be TSF for temperature-sexed females and TSM for temperature-sexed males. You could also do TSN for temperature-sexed neutral if you set the incubator to 85–87°F (29–31°C) for mixed-sex leopard gecko eggs.
6. Set the Incubator
Set the temperature of your incubator, or the thermostat that comes with it, to the right temperature range (see x in this article). You could print the chart I included at the very beginning as your guide for this.
Pro Tip: Add water bottles to the bottom rack of the incubator to act as insulators to help keep the temperature inside more stable.
7. Place the Eggs in the Incubator
Now, you can finally place the egg-filled containers in your incubator. Ideally, you want to start placing them in the middle since that’s where the heat stays most consistent.
But, of course, optimal placement will depend on where the heating elements are placed. The position of the fan—if there is one—may affect and improve the overall temperature as well.
To be completely sure that your eggs are kept at just the right temperature and humidity, make sure to also place a thermometer and hygrometer along with the containers. Their probes should be right where your eggs are for accurate readings.
8. Record the Data
After everything’s in place, record all relevant details in your notebook and/or spreadsheet. These details could include:
- Names and morphs of parents
- Female’s ovulation time
- Date they were paired
- Time and date the eggs were collected
- Incubation temperature for sex determination
You can forecast when your female will lay their clutches for each breeding season with such information. More often than not, female leopard geckos will lay a clutch of eggs every 2–3 weeks during the season.
Additional notes and observations such as the female’s number of eggs per clutch, and the quality of eggs produced, among many others, can also help you in the long run. These could improve both your husbandry and breeding practice.
9. Check on the Eggs
The work doesn’t stop at chucking the eggs into the incubator. When everything’s set up nicely, you will still need to regularly monitor the eggs.
Check both the thermometer and hygrometer for readings. Lower or raise the temperature setting accordingly. Spritz some more water at the sides of the egg container or directly at the incubation medium to keep humidity levels within the optimal range.
Pro Tip: Keep an eye out for dents, molding, discoloration, oozing liquid, and foul smells. These are signs of bad eggs that may already be rotting.
Should you need to keep leopard gecko eggs in the same position you found them?
Despite being a widespread belief among breeders, scientists say that the mortality of a leopard gecko’s eggs is not affected by changing its position after collection. However, studies on the effects of egg turning in snakes show that hatchlings that have been turned during incubation are more likely to die.
When it is too cold or too hot for leopard gecko eggs?
Incubation temperatures below 75°F (24°C) are too cold for leopard gecko eggs, while temperatures above 95°F (35°C) are too hot. It is highly likely for the developing embryo inside to die if they are constantly exposed to such temperature extremes during incubation.
Are “hot female” leopard geckos always functionally infertile?
There have been studies that showed that “hot females”—those incubated at temperatures of 90–95°F or 32–35°C—were functionally infertile. However, other studies showed that there was no difference between the fertility of hot and cold female leopard geckos. More studies are necessary to draw definitive conclusions on the topic.
Summary of How to Incubate Leopard Gecko Eggs
Keepers can keep leopard gecko eggs alive by incubating them in an enclosed container with temperatures and humidity ranging between 75–95°F and 75–95%. Exposing the gecko eggs to environmental conditions outside such ranges can kill the developing embryo inside.
Close monitoring and control of temperature and humidity levels are needed in the successful incubation of leopard gecko eggs. This can be done with a thermometer, hygrometer, and incubators, among other pieces of equipment and materials.