Why Female Leopard Geckos Lay Eggs Without Mating

Seeing your leopard gecko lay eggs for the first time may be a bit alarming, especially if you know your leo has not mated with a male.

New leopard gecko owners may even mistake the pregnancy for regular weight gain. 

However, finding eggs in the enclosure will make one wonder how it could have happened.

Why do female leopard geckos lay eggs when they have not mated?

As a general rule, once a female leopard gecko reaches sexual maturity, she will start a normal body process known as ovulating. This will cause the leopard gecko to produce eggs regularly, and she will either lay them or absorb the eggs back into her body.

It is important to recognize the signs of pregnancy in your leopard gecko because even if the eggs are infertile, your lizard will need extra calcium and special care to ensure she does not have any issues such as egg binding.

Keep reading for more information on the signs of pregnancy in your leopard gecko, as well as how to tell if your leo is about to lay eggs. 

We will also explore the possible scenario where the eggs may be fertile and tell you how to help an egg-bound leopard gecko.

leopard gecko laying eggs without mating

How To Tell If A Leopard Gecko Is Pregnant

Female leopard geckos reach sexual maturity between 18-24 months old. 

At this stage in life, the female starts ovulating and may become pregnant with or without mating.

There are a few signs of pregnancy in a leo, and it is wise to learn what to look for so you are able to provide your lizard with proper care and nutrition during this time. 

The most common symptoms include:

  • A swollen abdomen
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Behavioral changes
  • Being able to see the eggs

In this section, we will take a closer look at these symptoms, so you will be prepared if your leo becomes pregnant.

A Swollen Abdomen

A swollen abdomen is the most obvious sign of pregnancy in a female leopard gecko.

This swelling is different from typical weight gain because it is usually symmetrical. 

This is because leos have clutches of two eggs at a time.

Leopard geckos do not gain a lot of weight in other parts of their body, so the swelling of their abdomen is quite noticeable.

If you would like to check whether or not your leo is pregnant, gently press her belly to feel for the eggs. 

They will feel like firm muscles or two lumps under the stomach.

Lack of Appetite

Once the pregnancy is near the end, your leopard gecko may be eating very little or not at all.

A leo’s stomach and digestive tract become smaller once the eggs start to grow and take up space.

During this time, you should still be feeding your lizard its normal meals and giving her water even if she refuses to eat as much as she normally does. 

Ensure your leo gets enough nutrition by adding calcium and multivitamin supplements to every meal.

You may also notice your leopard gecko’s tail starting to get thinner, and this is due to the lack of appetite. 

Leos store fat and nutrients in their tail to sustain them when they do not have enough food, so this is the first place they lose weight when they are not eating.

Lethargy

Another symptom of pregnancy in a leopard gecko is lethargy, which occurs for a couple of reasons.

One reason your leo is moving slower is the lack of energy she has from not eating while the eggs are growing in her body. 

Most of the nutrients she is receiving support this rapid egg growth, and it takes a toll on the small lizard’s body.

Another reason your leo is moving slower is because of her protective instinct. 

In the wild, leo’s will hide to avoid predators, and this instinct kicks in even when the reptile is in captivity. 

Therefore, you will likely notice your leopard gecko moving slowly and not going too far from her hiding spot.

Behavioral Changes

Once a leopard gecko becomes pregnant, her protective instincts take over, and she becomes very alert.

This heightened alertness means your leo is more likely to display some aggressive or stressed out behaviors, such as:

  • Running away from you
  • Hiding
  • Biting and chirping at you
  • Dropping its tail

It is best not to handle your leo during this time, and you should also keep her away from loud noises and lots of movement. 

This will help keep your leo’s stress to a minimum so she can stay healthy during her pregnancy.

Placing a nesting box inside of the enclosure will also comfort your pet by giving her a place to hide and keep her eggs safe.

Do Leopard Geckos Retain Sperm?

Leopard geckos possess a special trait, and I feel it is worth mentioning here.

Leos can retain sperm for up to one year. 

This means they only have to mate once to lay fertile eggs during the year.

It is possible to purchase a leo who has mated without your knowledge, only to wind up with fertile eggs in her enclosure a week later. 

Your leo will continue to lay eggs until all of the stored sperm has been used up.

While this phenomenon is rare, it does manage to catch leopard gecko owners off guard when they weren’t planning on raising babies. 

Leos have two eggs per clutch and can have as many as 16 eggs in one year from mating just once.

Leopard gecko eggs are not guaranteed to be fertile with sperm retention as there may not be enough sperm to adequately fertilize the eggs. 

However, you should still be aware of sperm retention, so you are not caught off guard.

And if you end up with eggs we have a guide on how to incubate leopard gecko eggs if you’re interested.

How To Tell When Your Leopard Gecko Is About To Lay Eggs

A leopard gecko pregnancy lasts anywhere from 21-28 days, and then it will take another 35-89 days until the eggs will hatch. 

If the eggs are infertile, they will shrivel up and start to mold, so it is important to remove any infertile eggs from the enclosure as soon as you find them.

There are several signs your leo is about to lay her eggs, and it is important to recognize these signs, so you are able to ensure the process goes smoothly for your pet.

These signs include:

  • Excessive digging
  • Muscle contractions in the hind limbs
  • You will be able to see the eggs on the underside of your leo’s body
  • Loss of appetite
  • Clear fluid leaking from the cloaca
  • Restlessness

If you notice these signs, it is a good indication your leopard gecko will be laying her eggs within a matter of days. 

Continue to monitor your leo to ensure she does not have any issues with egg binding. 

If you know your leo has never mated and the eggs are infertile, be sure to remove them as soon as you find them, so they do not get moldy.

For fertile eggs, you would need to place them in a plastic container filled with peat moss to retain moisture and properly incubate them by keeping them at a warm temperature. 

The eggs will be tiny, so the container does not have to be very large, and if kept at an adequately warm temperature, they will hatch in a matter of weeks.

Helping An Egg Bound Leopard Gecko

Egg binding happens when a female gecko is unable to lay her eggs. 

Low temperature and humidity in the enclosure, stress, and a lack of nutrition cause egg binding.

Complications occurring when a leo is eggbound include inflammation of the reproductive tract, peritonitis, and even death of the lizard.

Your leopard gecko will show signs of depression, lethargy, complete lack of appetite, and she may start digging a lot and will appear to be straining to lay the egg.

If you suspect your leo is egg-bound, it is vital to see veterinary care right away. 

Not only will the veterinarian be able to diagnose your leopard gecko properly, but they will also be able to give her the right treatment before her condition becomes deadly.

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