Are you breeding leopard geckos?
Do you wonder if your pet is pregnant, but you’re not sure how to tell?
New leopard gecko owners may be confused if their female leopard gecko is pregnant or just gaining weight.
It’s not easy to tell unless you have experience with pregnant leopard geckos, but this guide for knowing if your leopard gecko is pregnant will give you a great head start.
Female leopard geckos may get pregnant once they reach sexual maturity at 18-24 months of age. After mating, signs of pregnancy include a swollen and firm abdomen, lack of appetite, slow movement, visible eggs under their skin, and generally stressed and “cranky” behaviors.
Look ahead for more details on the signs and answers to commonly asked questions related to the topic.
5 Signs To Tell If Your Leopard Gecko Is Pregnant
This section shared the five main signs for telling if your leopard gecko is pregnant.
One of these signs alone isn’t enough to tell if she’s pregnant; you need to look at the whole picture and the details in this section.
#1 Swollen Abdomen
Leopard geckos don’t “gain weight” with their pregnancies as you’d expect.
They seem to get larger around their abdomen or stomach area, but this isn’t always connected with increased physical weight (though she may gain weight before and in the early days of pregnancy).
Check out how to fatten up your leopard gecko (which you may want to do before getting pregnant).
The swelling is often completely symmetrical as the leopard gecko lays clutches in groups of two.
The overall swelling makes it hard to tell if it’s eggs or just gaining weight.
Gently press the stomach of your leopard gecko to feel for the eggs themselves.
They’ll feel like a firm, muscular wall or lumps under their bellies.
Warning! This probing must be extremely gentle, or you may injure the eggs or females.
Also, females won’t like being handled if they are pregnant (more on this below), so you may have a hard time with the physical checking.
#2 Lack Of Appetite
Soon after the early days of pregnancy, your leopard gecko will not eat as much by the end of the pregnancy.
This is understandable.
As the eggs grow, the space in their abdomen for their stomachs and digestive system is limited in space.
We still recommend feeding the gecko as usual (2 insects for every inch they are long, every other day), but take your cues from the gecko, and don’t be alarmed if she refuses to eat as much as we usually recommend.
With a lack of appetite, you may notice thinning of the tail and back towards the end of the pregnancy.
This goes along with a lack of appetite.
Leopard gecko tails store nutrients and fats for when food is scarce and is one of the first parts of the gecko to lose weight when it’s not eating.
The end weight after laying eggs is often less than her starting weight before getting pregnant.
Don’t worry! She eats well and gains the weight back quickly.
#3 Slow Movements
As with many pregnant animals and reptiles, the leopard gecko becomes largely unmoving during her time.
Some owners describe the motions as “weak” and tired.
This is a combination of all the pregnancy factors, including the effect of growing eggs in her body and not eating much.
She’ll spend much of her time in the hide box, and when she does come out, it’ll be slowly and for short periods.
This is also due in part to protective instinct.
Hiding is the leopard gecko’s number one way of staying safe from predators.
Moving slowly and not straying far from a hiding spot is another way to avoid predators’ attention.
#4 Visible Eggs (Uncommon)
As the leopard geckos thin out in parts of their body, you may even begin to see the eggs underneath the underbellies’ stretched skin.
There is no surer sign than this!
Many first-timers seeing this are pretty alarmed.
It looks like the eggs are going to burst out of her stomach.
This isn’t the case, and it’s no cause for alarm.
Seeing the eggs with clarity is uncommon but not unusual by any stretch.
However, most owners will say they can see the lumps clearly defined by the end of the pregnancy.
#5 Stressed Behaviors/”Cranky” Attitude
Behavior changes are common with most animals when pregnant, which is also evident with leopard geckos.
Leopard geckos are already pretty skittish critters and like to hide and run.
Even so, with good taming practices, leopard geckos learn to enjoy being handled in small amounts.
This all goes out the window when they’re pregnant.
Their fearful behaviors are amplified during this time.
Instinctively, they’re on alert to protect their potential offspring.
Leopard geckos are more likely to run away, hide, drop their tails, nip at you, and chirp angrily.
And if you’ve never experienced a dropped tail, here’s our guide to regrown tails on leopard geckos.
If it seems like your normally-mild gecko has undergone a personality shift, she may be pregnant.
Many owners used the word “cranky” to describe their personality during this time.
This is more the norm for all pregnant creatures, so it only logically follows the leopard gecko to have the same tendency.
Quick Tips To Help Your Pregnant Female
Once you’re convinced your female leopard gecko is pregnant, there are a few things to do.
These are tips to help your female stay healthy, happy, and have a good, viable pregnancy.
- Insert a nesting box or egg box in the tank (see next section)
- Remove the tank from areas of all loud sounds.
- Reduce the amount of handling you do (to nothing if possible)
- Continue feeding as usual, but make sure vitamin supplements are present every meal.
- Remove any other pets from the tank during the pregnancy.
- Move the tank to a place where people and animals aren’t moving around near it.
- Keep your movement extra calm and slow when interacting with the female.
How Long Is A Leopard Gecko Pregnant?
Leopard geckos have a short pregnancy period.
After the male and female leopard gecko has mated, she’ll become pregnant.
But it’s only after 21-28 days the female will lay her eggs.
In some ways, this short period is made up for with its lengthy incubation period.
It takes 35-89 days for the eggs to hatch.
You’ll know they’re about to hatch when beads of moisture start to gather on outside the egg, and the eggs shrink in size.
This isn’t the whole story, though!
As with several reptiles, leopard geckos can store sperm inside to get pregnant up to three times from one mating.
This comes from a natural evolutionary need.
Female leopard geckos aren’t always in a place in the wild where they can:
- Gather enough food to survive a pregnancy
- Find males to mate with
So when these conditions aren’t met, they will hold onto their sperm until conditions are better or if they don’t find a male in a while.
Each clutch contains one or two eggs, so there’s the chance for up to 6 leopard geckos from one pairing.
You’ll find our guide on how to incubate leopard gecko eggs extremely helpful if you’re going to get into breeding.
Where Do Geckos Lay Their Eggs?
Leopard geckos lay their eggs in soft, moist ground.
This is at ground level in the wild.
In captivity, you’ll need to create an egg box or nesting box for the pregnant female to use.
Then, fill the small container with a soft medium such as peat moss.
It helps the female to make the box covered so she doesn’t feel threatened while she lays.
This is intuitive, so don’t be offended and believe your pet doesn’t trust you.
Can A Leopard Gecko Lay Eggs Without Mating?
Yes, they can.
As with many reptiles and animals, unfertilized eggs need to be evacuated whether or not they’re a product of mating or not.
For leopard geckos, this tendency is strong with young geckos.
They produce eggs more readily and so will get “pregnant” even without a male.
Older leopard geckos will carry eggs without mating as well, but this is much less common.
Once you see the signs of pregnancy (even without mating), you’ll still need to do what you usually do for leopard geckos.
Provide vitamin supplements with every meal and put a nesting box in the tank.
And if you would like to learn more about their vitamins, we have a guide to leopard gecko vitamins to help you.
Also, do everything possible to remove any stressors in the gecko’s environment.
They’ll be noticeably smaller and discolored when these eggs are laid than typical leopard gecko eggs.
This is a sign these eggs are unfertilized. They will not hatch.
Dispose of them without guilt.
If you’re unsure, it’s OK to incubate the eggs for a couple of days.
Unfertilized eggs collapse and gain mold quickly, so the eggs are confirmed unfertilized when you see this.
We hope you find this guide on how to tell if your leopard gecko is pregnant helpful.
Remember to look not just for a larger stomach but the other signs as well.
Put all these together and get your leopard gecko checked out by the vet if you’re worried.