Like other reptiles, the leopard gecko’s life cycle starts in an egg. Geckos may be born in captivity, often providing companionship for reptile lovers for up to 20 years when properly housed and cared for.
Adult leopard geckos breed as early as 1 year old for males and 2 years old for females. The female should be older since the eggs may be large and harm her growth cycle. Late winter and early spring are the most common seasons for gecko mating. The male bites the back of the female’s neck and holds her still while breeding.
The female gecko has pairs of eggs that develop on the inside of the female until she is ready to lay them. At this point, she digs a hole and buries the eggs. While maturing outside of her body, the eggs continue to grow. Therefore, the outer shells of gecko eggs are soft. Most breeders remove the gecko eggs and incubate them between 78 and 92 degrees. The temperature helps determine the sex of the gecko. The higher the temperature during incubation, the more likely a male is produced, while lower temperatures produce females, according to the Leopard Gecko Guide.
Between 6 and 12 weeks after the female lays the eggs, they become wrinkled and get smaller. Next, baby leopard geckos hatch by using their egg tooth to create a slit in the egg and push their way out. When they first emerge, the geckos are between 3 and 4 inches long. Within the first few days of hatching, the baby sheds and eats his skin, which provides him with nourishment.
During the first few weeks of life the baby leopard gecko does not require much maintenance. A small place to live, a paper towel, water and food meets all of his needs. Geckos prefer live food, so small crickets and mealworms provide nourishment for baby geckos. Avoiding stress is important for the proper growth and development of the baby gecko. Therefore, if she shows signs of aggression, such as an arched back or screeching, try to remove the stress and keep the baby happy.
Amanda Maddox began writing professionally in 2007. Her work appears on various websites focusing on topics about medical billing, coding, real estate, insurance, accounting and business. Maddox has her insurance and real estate licenses and holds an Associate of Applied Science in accounting and business administration from Wallace State Community College.