Breeding

Crested geckos are one of the easiest reptiles to keep, and also one of the easiest to breed. This makes them a popular pet in the hobby, and prone to mass production without regard to genetic diversity, structure, health & fitness. Before you jump into breeding, ask yourself if you are ready for the responsibility and challenge of working with this species.

Quick Reference:

Min age: 1.5 years (18 months)
Min weight: 35 grams (40 with tail)
Females per male: 1:1, 2:1, 3:1 per enclosure
Adult enclosures: 2 minimum; 1 per adult gecko to separate pairs
Baby enclosures: 16 per female, per season
Temperature range: 72-82
Lighting schedule: 12-14 hours daylight
Incubation temperatures: 68-74
Incubation length: Temperature dependent
Breeding season: Warm, active months, usually March-September

Breeding Supplies

As outlined above, you need a separate enclosure for every animal just in case they need to be separated. Hatchlings can be housed in 6 quart plastic bins often used for shoeboxes, available at dollar stores or Target for less than $5 each. Obviously, you need to modify them with holes or screen “windows” to allow adequate ventilation. Small Kritter Keepers can be used but depending on your humidity levels, they can dry out quickly.

Additionally you will need:

  • Gram Scale (babies hatch out under 2 grams)
  • Laybox & diggable substrate (cocofiber, peat moss, etc)
  • Incubation box (an extra 6qt tub works well)
  • Hatching medium (perlite, Superhatch, etc)

Everything else you will use are items you should already be using or have readily available – paper towels to line the 6-quart bins, food & supplements, spray bottle, fake plants and disposable hides like toilet paper tubes. You’ll want to use mostly disposable or bleachable items for baby enclosures. Clean tubs and replace paper towel and furnishings once a week.

Most breeders sell their babies when they are small, under 10 grams. Generally, a gecko should be eating for a month and be around 2 grams; smaller is ok if they are well-established on food. “Holdbacks” are geckos you’ve hatched out that you want to grow up to a sub-adult, sexable size before deciding on selling them or keeping them for future breeding. At 10 grams, you can keep your holdbacks in 16 quart tubs with a similar disposable setup or you can deck out a 10+ gallon terrarium with natural soil and plants. Check out our housing section for more information on setups for juveniles and adults.

Choosing Breeders

What makes a good breeder? It depends on the traits you are looking for. Regardless of whether you are breeding for pattern, color, or structure, your breeders should be healthy, with no signs of calcium deficiencies or other medical complications. If your gecko has had health issues in the past, consult a reptile veterinarian to see if breeding is appropriate. Females use a lot more internal resources to produce eggs, but males also should be of good genetic stock, free of defects such as misshapen eyes and deformed feet. Crested geckos are an entirely captive bred species; it is unlikely any significant “new blood” will come from the wild from New Caledonia. So breeding sick or inferior animals. Some may choose to breed less intensely colored or patterned animals to maintain a more “wild” look to crested geckos, while others may choose to breed for very exaggerated traits. Each has its own merits. It is unlikely any captive stock will be used to repopulate the islands of New Caledonia, where the species is endangered, so trying to preserve wild-type bloodlines for this purpose is probably not going to come to fruition. However, there is nothing wrong with enjoying an animal’s original form instead of highly striking “morphs”.

Breeding Considerations

While the cost of housing and food is not necessarily expensive, all it takes is one trip to the vet to eat away at your profit margin. I’ve taken geckos to the vet for random issues or questions, tests and medications every year I’ve kept them. I know a little bit more about what to expect, but I definitely now know the signs of when to goto the vet.

I wouldn’t discourage anyone from getting into breeding as long as they realize the time and resources it takes. Like you mentioned, the actual supplies are very cheap, or can be very cheap depending on the type of housing, like plastic bins instead of display tanks. However, there are some unexpected costs, like vet care. We’ve run into 2 cases of egg binding out of around 20 females (some breeding, some not). We’ve had a number of other issues crop up that aren’t breeding related, but the risks go up when you have breeders (egg-binding, prolapsed hemipene, etc) and babies which are a little more susceptible to diseases or husbandry-related conditions. I think we’ve spent around $1200 in vet care over the past 5 years – for all of our animals, not just the breeders. Home treatment is an option if you have lots of experience with reptiles and especially the ones you want to breed, but many issues absolutely need to be treated by a vet. Parasites are always a possibility but thankfully we’ve never had to deal with them in cresties, but they are not uncommon.

Is there a Crested Gecko Breeding Season?

It is best to think of crested geckos as year-round breeders. They tend to mate and lay eggs when they are the most active, usually the warmer months during Spring, Summer and Fall. Normally the breeding season starts in February or March and ends in October, giving them at least 3-4 months off every year. However, in captive conditions within a reptile room with artificially controlled heating & lighting, crested geckos may breed year-round. Whether you breed in the “off-season” (Winter) or not is up to you – it can be a little tricky to fool their internal clocks. Whatever your breeding schedule, it is very important to make sure the females take a break for a few months between seasons to regain calcium and fat reserves. While most females will stop laying on their own, you may need to remove males or co-habitating females to ensure they get all the rest and food they need to recover. Additionally, you may want to give females a year off after several seasons of routine egg laying. Females can breed throughout their 20+ year lifespan so there is no need to make them breed every year.

How do I produce super morphs?

Generally speaking “supers” are extreme versions of existing morphs. Technically, in crested geckos the “supers” are for traits, such as dalmatian spots or pinstriping. There are also super, or extreme forms of patterning, such as “super tiger”, “super brindle” or “extreme harlequin”. Patterns are what generally determines the morph, although crested gecko morphs don’t behave in the same way as other reptiles. Read more on patterns, colors and traits in our Morphs guide.

To make high-pattern, high-contrast and exaggerated traits in crested geckos, you need to start with geckos that display the trait you want. Breed only ones displaying the trait as much as possible while avoiding inbreeding. Visual presence of the trait (phenotype) holds more weight than the lineage (genotype), as you don’t know whether the animal has inherited the genes for what you want to produce. Usually it’s preferable to have the male display the best trait you want because you can breed him to multiple lower-quality females. However, sometimes there’s a star female and you’ll want to find the absolute best mate. Luckily, even great males are easier and cheaper to come by.

For example, if you want to breed full pinstripes, you would want to breed two full pinstripes together to produce predominantly pinstriped offspring. You will still likely end up with some babies that do not have full pinstripes, but the majority will be pinstriped and a few oddballs here and there – patternless, tigers and non-pinstripe flames/harlequins. If you only have one full pinstripe, find a high percentage pinstriped mate. You may have significantly less full pinstripes, a lot of it depends on the genes each gecko is carrying. If the high percentage pinner is from a full pinstripe lineage, your chances may be better.

Some people don’t mind starting from scratch, and may try to create their own line of full pinstripes with both parents being partial pinners. This is definitely possible but can take 5+ years to produce full pin offspring. However, many breeders find this challenge satisfying in the end. Set your goals accordingly!

We highly discourage inbreeding for commonly present traits such as super dalmatian, full pinstripe and extreme harlequin. The only times inbreeding should be used is to prove out a brand new trait (as in Matt Park’s Patient Zero piebald project, or to establish genetic inheritance probabilities (such as inheritance of polydactylism). There are plenty of unrelated* geckos available and there is no need to sacrifice the genetic diversity the captive population.

* It may be unrealistic to expect completely unrelated pairings. Only 200 individuals were brought back from the wild, and this is the gene pool our captive population has to make due with. We suggest breeding geckos with only a 1/32 relatedness – they don’t share anything closer than great-great-great grandparents. This can be a challenge as many breeders don’t provide lineages past grandparents, and many geckos are bought with unknown lineages.

Can you Make Money?

One of the most asked questions is Can I make money breeding crested geckos?

The answer is – maybe.

There are many factors that go into making money from breeding and selling crested geckos. There are two main strategies, buying breeder quality to create high-end babies or buying low-end to create a LOT of babies. The first strategy takes more money to start, the second takes more time. The more geckos you have, the more like “real” work caring for them becomes, and the easier it is to burn out.

The biggest start up cost is buying the initial breeders. If you want to charge $75+ for baby geckos, you’ll probably have to spend at least $500 on a breeding pair, as adult breeder-quality females usually run $300+ and a nice male at least $200. It’s always advisable to buy the best male you can afford because you can breed him to less nice females and still end up with stunning babies. Keep in mind that even the best breeding pair can throw offspring that are “pet” quality. This distinction is really determined by the marketplace.

You can start cheaply by buying breeders that aren’t quite so nice (less colorful, less patterned, less well-structured) and hope for the best. But with the crested gecko market being what it is (over-saturated with pet quality animals and more and more breeders every day), you might get $45 per baby. You may have to wholesale your stock to a local pet shop (not a chain store, they have exclusive contracts with mass-producers) just to have room to breed again next year.

Another cheaper option is to buy unsexed animals and hope you end up with a good breeding group. This would be my recommendation to someone just getting into cresties. You run the risk of getting mostly males (there seems to be a skew towards males hatching out) and pairings that might not be ideal. And you have to wait 1-2 years to breed them. You can sell the extra males, but unless they are of breeding quality, you don’t get much (if any) more money from them as you would selling unsexed babies, as there are more males available than females.

The more animals you have on hand, the more time you have to spend on care. It becomes less of a hobby and more like a job if you get overwhelmed. If you think of the time you invest in your stock as time that you could spend making money in a different way, you really do lose money. However, if you are happy spending 4-10 hours a week, on average, taking care of your colony and aren’t accounting for your time, the babies you sell are “profit” after a year or two of breeding.

Most people breeding crested geckos stop after 2-3 years. Either they lose interest in reptile breeding or they move on to a different species. Many breeders use any “profit” to buy new and different breeding animals and adding to their collection. There are successful breeders who focus on crested geckos. They produce high end animals and have the reputation to make good money even without a large breeding facility and only producing around 20-50 babies a season. Others rely on mass-producing with a mix of pet quality and high end animals produced; the former usually are sold wholesale to pet shops for $10-20 apiece.

So while you can make money, it’s not often and takes a year or two, in which case you might get frustrated at the returns on your investment and time. Many people think they can pick this up as a side-business but the reality of the big picture makes it unlikely. Not impossible, though! If you have lots of time to spend and you enjoy it, it may turn a nice profit.

44 thoughts on “Breeding

  1. Hi, I’ve had my male and female together for about 3 days now. Every time my female comes close to my male, the male runs away. How long do you think it will take them to mate or if it will not happen at all? Thank you, Daniel

    • Sometimes a female will reject a male, such as a male that is too small. Are they different in size? It could take a couple of weeks. If there is any fighting, separate them and try again in the spring. They generally are less likely to mate in the winter. Good luck!

  2. Now I have 1 male and two females I herd my male mating call when it was just him and the one female I dont know if they mateded or not thou..but I have got anothrt female I wanted to breed with and he doesn’t seem the slightest bit intrested in either of them now..my temps are always 72-79 degrees I mist twice- three times daily I mean im doing everything and I can’t seem to get him motivated…im contiplating getting another male because he doesn’t seem to want to preform but the breeder I got gim from says hes proven and in fact has bred with my female before he came to me…can u help me out here?? Ha thanks man

    • This time of year is considered “off season”. They are less inclined to mate. However, they could have done so when you weren’t watching. Check for eggs. It generally takes about 2 months after pairing for fertile eggs. Keeping the male separate from the females for a few weeks and then introducing might get a better response as well. Good luck!

  3. How long will it take for my crested geckos to lay eggs I’ve had them together since jan. 1 and I here them mating every night since and I want to know ahead of time . Thx

    • It generally takes about 45-60 days for the first fertile eggs. However, it could take longer. But start looking about 4-6 weeks after mating just to be sure. Sometimes infertile eggs are laid depending on the female’s cycle of egg laying. I’d incubate any you find just to be safe. Good luck!

  4. I’m also looking for someone to bye them once they hatch and if they hatch comment back if your interested and I will give my email

  5. I have a male who weighs 36 grams and a female ( tailless) who also weighs 36 grams , wondering if breeding them now is fine

    • If the introduction goes well, it could be fine. Some like for a female to weigh 40g but we’ve found that tailless 35 grams is fine as long as the female is at least 2 years old and a good eater. Just closely monitor her weight and eating habits. Good luck!

  6. What is the best incubation method for Crested Gecko eggs? I have seen the Zoo Med or Exo Terra kind but I am worried about temperature fluctuations. What do you use and recommend? Thank you, Tori

    • We use a 6qt sterilite tub with Repashy Superhatch (aquatic pond soil made from calcined clay). We don’t trust the commercial reptile incubators because of known failure issues causing temps to get way too high. We like to keep them cool, so a dark cabinet works out well. Keeping a cup of water in there helps regulate the humidity. A wine cooler is another possibility, just make sure it doesn’t get too cool. 68-72 is a good range.

  7. Hi, my female has been laying eggs for a few months now. She has laid 3 clutches of eggs. All of the eggs we’re fertile, but died after about 1 month. I use superhatch and keep the humidity up in the container. I air it out once a week and that is all I do. What am I doing wrong?

    Question 2: My healthy female hasn’t laid eggs in about 43 days now. I feel the eggs in her, so I know she is gravid. Does that maybe mean my female is egg bound?

    Thanks. Daniel

    • Do you add water at all to the container? Do you have holes in it? I’ve found that if the Superhatch dries out, adding water can “drown” the eggs because they adjust to the moisture around them during development. I recommend keeping the container air tight, adding water very gradually only if needed, and keeping the container in a cabinet with a water dish to further regulate humidity. Sort of like with baking bread if you are familiar with that trick.

      I wouldn’t worry too much unless the female shows signs of weight loss, like droopy crests and protruding hip bones. Sometimes they skip a month or two.

  8. Hi, Thank you very much. I have 2 more questions. When you say “with a water dish” do you mean inside of the container or outside of it? And what do you mean by skip a month or two? I know she is carrying eggs, so are you saying she might not lay them for another month? Thanks

    • The water dish should be outside the actual incubation container, but inside another cabinet (on a different shelf) that holds the incubation container. So you are putting both the incubator and a dish of water in another closed container to help maintain the humidity at a steady level.

      And yes, sometimes they do hold on to eggs a little bit longer, without being eggbound. I have heard (but have no scientific reference for it) that they can re-absorb the eggs and not lay at all. Females seem to have several sets of eggs developing at any given time so they can lay off schedule without much issue. But you should definitely keep an eye on her so that she doesn’t become egg bound. Signs are lethargy, dehydration, weight loss but with a swollen abdomen (due to eggs), protruding hip bones, drooping crests and overall odd behavior. That’s when a vet trip is necessary.

  9. Hi, I have 2 eggs I’m incubating right now. They were laid about 40 days ago. I just candled them and saw all of the red, but with a big black dot. Is that bad or good. Thanks

    • The big black dot may be the embryo, especially if it looks like a solid mass. It’s hard to tell exactly what you are seeing. However, eggs can go bad during development. Never give up on an egg, and always incubate until it either hatches or is practically disintegrated from mold.

    • I have heard that 6-8 is a peak time for females but I don’t have a lot of first hand knowledge. I frequently let females skip a season or two depending on my personal breeding goals but I’ve never had an older female (most of ours are over 5 years) have issues.

  10. I would like to breed and sell, but my parents aren’t sure. They’re leaning towards no, but I’m hoping to change their minds. If you know, is there any requirements for selling them?

  11. I have 1 male and 1 female and I’m wondering how long do I keep them together in the same cage. Like only a week then take her out and keep her alone while laying her eggs of keep them together longer. Thanks.

  12. I’m ready to breed my Cresties.Last year my female rejected the male actually knocking him off the branch -he was so afraid he hid in the corner for a day until I put him back in his separate enclosure . I did that tried re-introducing them . Now I year later I’d like to try again I have some new substrate Moss. That is super soft and they have both gained weight and look healthy . Do you have any advice for helping her not reject him ? She’s a beautiful 2 1/2 yr harlequin and he’s a 4 yr outstanding Dalmatian . What time of day should I put him into her enclosure ?

    • I would introduce them in the evening and see what happens. Sometimes females will reject smaller males. You could try putting her into his enclosure to see if she is more receptive, or you can swap some of their furnishings for her to get used to his scent.

  13. Hiya,

    Just wondering on the aftercare of a laying female? Does she require any extra meals or supplements? My girl laid her 2nd batch today, and hope she is getting enough into her as I worry she isn’t! She’s not skinny or anything, just maybe a less bloated after the lay.

    • You can mix some calcium without D3 into her food once or twice a month for a precaution but I do not generally do this with laying females, it’s just a precaution. They will look a bit deflated once they lay eggs. :)

  14. I have a female and two males. Can a crested gecko mate with one and then the other and then choose which ones she’ll lay or will the sperm mix and she’ll lay a mix of both? She’s already mated with one male once but tbh, I’d rather mate her with my fashion than the bicolored male which was the one she first mated with. That one was unintentional but it was too late by the time I’d realized they had gotten together as I’d had them both out and had them in separate areas when I ran to answer the phone and came back then they had already gotten together. He’s a quick little bugger, lol.

    • Hi Terri! It’s possible she could select sperm from a particular male, there is evidence of this in other reptiles. However, the general thought is they will use the “freshest” sperm when they lay eggs. But there is a lot we don’t know, and retained sperm could be the reason it’s hard to predict the appearance of offspring!

  15. Hi!! I was wondering if after mating, the male and female cresties are supposed to stay in the same encloser or not while the female is laying eggs. Which one is better? Thanks so much, happy 4th of July!

    • Hi Claudia! Some people keep their pairs together – we usually do. Others prefer to house all of their geckos in separate enclosures, which is good for monitoring them. As long as the male isn’t harassing the female (or vice versa), it’s ok to house them together in our opinion. But always separate if there is any aggression, bullying or signs of stress or ill health. Good luck!

  16. Hey there!
    I was wondering what do you do after the babies hatch? I’ve heard some people say leave them in there until the first shed & some people say take them out. Mine are incubated in a plastic shoe box container with no holes, that I just open once a week for air flow. I was worried if I leave them in there after they hatch until they shed it may not be enough air.

    • Hi Candy! I would try to remove them within 24 hours from the incubator. The shoe boxes aren’t air tight but I would worry about them getting dehydrated – there’s usually no standing water even though it is humid in there. They can also disrupt the other eggs or fight each other (very rare) if they hatch at the same time. If you check the egg box once at night and once again in the morning, you should be fine. I’ve found that most hatch between late afternoon and around 4am. Good luck!

  17. How often should I be checking the nest box for eggs? I am worried I am stressing the female too much if I check every day (she fires up, goes crazy jumping around and tries to escape). But I don’t want to leave eggs in the nest box too long either.

    • Generally between 40-60 days after mating, and then every 3 weeks thereafter in case they are early. Check once a day when you expect them.

  18. Hi, I recently put a pair together, both over 40 grams and the male is acting very strange. He stares at her from a distance and watches. I held them side by side once and he went to bite her. Is there any way I can make him not vicious towards her and they can breed? Anything will help thank you.

    • Biting is part of mating. The male grabs the female by the leg, arm or head. He generally clamps down on her head during mating. It’s not very romantic.

  19. Hi i have a 1 1/2 yr old male bicolor and a 2 yr old female flame, i assume, both together in a bigger plastic tub with ventilation holes plenty of vines with a warm humid lay box i mist once a day moderately leave a few crickets along with the gecko diet i have a seal tight incubation container for eggs and a seperate container for the male during off seasons i have snakes but never got into lizards/geckos but i would like to know if everything sounds right for them to breed. Temps stay from around 70/79 they have 12 hiurs of artificial house lamps from around my home and 12 hours of darkness.

    • As long as the female is 35+ grams and there is plenty of space (64 quart tub or larger), all sounds well. Be prepared to remove the male if he seems to harass her and she begins losing weight. You might want to turn the lights on for 14-16 hours a day to simulate the breeding season light cycle. Just be sure they don’t get too hot, your current range is appropriate. Good luck!

  20. Our first hatchling is about to turn 1 year old at the end of this month. Since then we’ve been successful, hatched 6 more healthy babies from the same parents.
    Yesterday, one egg (layed in January) started cracking, some fluid leaked out. We thought we’d see a baby this morning but instead nothing else has happened except that leaked fluid looks coagulated and the cracks almost looked sealed over. Can I do anything to help? Should I? Hoping it’s not too late and we haven’t lost a baby‚Ķ

    • Sometimes eggs do leak. You can patch with a tiny piece of paper towel like for a shaving cut. This can help keep the liquid in until it’s time to hatch. I’ve had leaky eggs hatch, but they often do not. Good luck!

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