Are you worried about spending extra money on a fancy incubator for your leopard gecko eggs?
Do you want to get into gecko breeding without breaking the bank?
It’s entirely possible to make your own incubator and save some money while hatching leopard gecko eggs, but many owners who do this on their own miss something crucial and endanger their unborn pets.
We know no one wants to have egg-death, so we made this guide on how to incubate leopard gecko eggs without an incubator.
Making your own incubation area is simple on paper, but a little tricky in practice. You’ll need a container filled with an appropriate medium (such as peat moss or vermiculite) to keep the eggs in at the temperature you want for each gender and 60-80% relative humidity for 35-90 days.
For more details, check out the rest of the article.
What You’ll Need
Container – You’ll need a container to keep the eggs in.
A large, plastic storage container such as a Tupperware is a great option.
Keeping one with a lid is the best, just make sure you poke holes into the top throughout to get good air circulation.
The container needs to be at least 3″ – 4″ inches deep.
Heat Lamp – A good heat lamp is a must for the eggs.
This light will need to point at the container at all times, so this should be separate from the one you use in the leopard gecko’s tank.
Medium – The medium or egg bedding needs to retain moisture without getting too moldy in the high humidity.
You’ll need enough to spread out in the container and partially cover the eggs.
Water Dish/Spray Bottle – A water dish or spray bottle is a must for the eggs.
This will be used to keep the humidity up at the higher percentage it needs to be.
The most common option is the water bottle.
Spraying several times per day (as discussed below) will let moisture stay in the medium and keep the air humid.
Alternatively, some people either place the small water dish in the container and allow the heat to disperse the moisture.
Either way works, but the most common by far is the spray bottle.
Meters – When working with pre-made incubators, you don’t have to worry about the temperature and humidity.
These will often have built-in meters to measure them, and some even adjust the heaters when needed.
Without this prebuilt one, just use a good thermometer and hygrometer combined.
Place it in the container near the eggs for the most accurate reading.
Q Tips – You will need some Q tips or other soft and small wiping tools.
Even with perfect air and humidity, you may have mold growth on the outside of the eggs.
These will be needed to wipe the mold off.
Step By Step How To Incubate Leopard Gecko Eggs Without An Incubator
Follow these directions carefully.
Every step is essential for safely hatching leopard gecko eggs without an incubator.
#1 Watch For Signs Of Pregnancy
After mating, or with young adult females, your leopard geckos may show signs of pregnancy.
Briefly, watch for these signs:
- Swelling abdomen
- Lack of eating
- Lots of sleeping/hiding
- Lumps on the underside of stomach
Check out our dedicated article on how to tell if your leopard gecko is pregnant.
When you see these signs, it’s time to gather your materials and start preparing.
#2 Prepare Your Container
Get your container out and fill it up halfway with your bedding material.
Don’t spray the bedding until it’s a little closer to the egg-laying time.
Make sure there are small air holes poked into the lid.
You will also need to prepare an egg box for your female.
This is similar to a hide box with extra humidity.
In some cases, people will use their moist hide as the incubator.
This is fine if you have the right materials to fit both needs.
Most owners have a separate moist hide/egg box and incubator.
It takes 21-28 days of pregnancy to lay eggs.
#3 Get Your Temperature And Humidity Set
As time gets closer, you need to get your temperature and humidity right.
Place the not-incubator under the heat lamp.
Play around with the distance from the lamp to get the right heat.
Leopard geckos are interested in how the eggs come out gender-wise.
Different incubation temperatures affect what gender the baby is.
Here are the temperature guidelines:
- <74° degrees Fahrenheit (23° C) = eggs won’t survive
- 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) = all-female
- 87° degrees Fahrenheit (30° C) = split male and female
- 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) = mostly male
Leopard gecko owners get the power to pick whichever one they want.
Spray down the medium with your spray bottle or place in your water dish.
Make sure the material is damp to the touch.
Position your meters, so it gets a good reading on both of the marks.
The humidity should be high. Think 60% or above.
Higher than 80% often results in more mold, but as long as you take care of it in your daily check, it should be alright.
#4 Remove From Tank
Once the eggs are laid, wait for the leopard gecko to leave her eggs or gently remove her.
Take the egg box out while moving the eggs.
Lift them gently, making sure not to turn them over.
In rare cases, such turning will kill the embryos inside.
Place them in your homemade incubator.
They should be “buried” from halfway to two-thirds by the medium.
Place the lid on the incubator under the lamp.
Once they’re in, there’s not much you need to do except your daily checks.
#5 Check Daily And Wait
Every day you need to check on the eggs.
Better yet, you may need to check in 3-5 times per day.
If using a spray bottle, spray down the eggs and medium at least 3-5 times per day.
If you’re using a water dish, this isn’t as much of a necessity, but be prepared to battle with low humidity.
Once per day at least, check on the temperature and make sure it’s in the range you want.
Adjust the distance between the lamp and the container to adjust the temperature.
Also, check the humidity. If it’s low, add more water dishes OR spray more often.
If the humidity is too high for your taste (over 80%), remove some of the water or spray less often.
Check the surface of the eggs for mold. If you see some, take the Q tip and wipe it off.
Repeat until hatched.
#6 Hatch The Eggs
After 35-90 days (depending on temperature largely), the eggs will hatch.
There’s not much you need to do with your incubator at this point, but don’t reuse the medium for other eggs.
At this point, you’ll need to know how to care for baby leopard geckos.
You may also want to check out this video on another way to make an incubator.
Commonly Asked Questions
How can you tell if a leopard gecko egg is fertile? – There are two quick ways to check for egg fertility.
First, take a look at the size and color of the eggs compared to fertilized eggs.
Fertilized ones are rounder, larger, and more white.
Unfertilized ones always seem smaller, weaker, and might be a different color.
The second way is clearer; use a light.
Hold the light underneath the egg (without turning the egg over) and look for shadows and veins.
If you see these, the egg is fertilized.
Here’s our guide on spotting fertile and infertile leopard gecko eggs that dives into much greater detail on this.
Will cold eggs still hatch? – It depends on what you mean by cold.
Look at the temperature guidelines for more specific information, but eggs with a temperature under 74° degrees Fahrenheit (23° C) won’t survive.
Can leopard geckos lay fertile eggs without mating? – No. Some reptiles may randomly and rarely lay fertile eggs without mating, but this isn’t the case with leopard geckos.
Female geckos, specifically young adult ones, will still develop eggs and lay them.
But these are infertile and won’t produce offspring.
If you think your leopard gecko is laying fertile eggs without mating, you may be mistaken (read the next question).
And we have a post going into more details on leopard geckos laying eggs without mating if you’re experiencing this.
Do leopard geckos retain sperm? – Yes.
Like many other reptiles, leopard geckos will hold onto sperm from mating for many months (some even up to years).
They’re waiting for a better time and environment to allow themselves to become pregnant with fertilized eggs.
Even if you think your leopard gecko mating didn’t work, it could still get pregnant many months later.
How many eggs can a leopard gecko lay at once? – Leopard geckos lay clutches of 1-2 eggs.
Unlike other reptiles, there isn’t any wiggle room in these amounts.
The eggs already take up a large portion of the female’s abdomen and nutrients.
Any more may be potentially deadly.
Now you know how to incubate leopard gecko eggs with an incubator safely.
Many owners will attempt this on their own, but they forget one of the steps along the way.
In these situations, your eggs will have a harder time hatching.
Following our directions, your eggs will have a good chance of surviving into cute baby leopard geckos.