Breeding is definitely not the easiest thing a reptile owner has to deal with! So if you’re here because you suspect that your female leopard gecko might be pregnant, kudos for your excellent observation skills! But how can you, in fact, ensure that your leo is pregnant?
Pregnant leopard geckos will have swollen abdomens. Their eggs are sometimes visible. Many geckos will move less, spend more time hiding, and reduce their food intake. Some may stay more on the warm side of the tank. Their defensive instincts are enhanced, so they’ll likely feel more stressed.
Does your gecko exhibit any of the signs above? She might be pregnant! Keep reading, as we’ll share detailed information on what happens with your reptile during gravidity. Moreover, we’ll help you understand how to care for her and prepare for egg laying.
Table of Contents
7 Signs Your Leopard Gecko Is Pregnant
If you’ve bred your leopard gecko, you’re probably expecting pregnancy and are on the lookout for noticeable signs – look no more, as you’ll find plenty below!
On the other hand, you might be reading this because you’re confused – maybe your leopard gecko has a swollen abdomen but she’s never seen a male.
So now you’re wondering what other signs of gravidity are and how can, after all, your reptile be pregnant?
The answer is easy – it’s very common for female leos to get “pregnant” without mating with a male!
So keep reading to learn about other gravidity signs to ensure that the swollen abdomen serves indeed as a home for your gecko’s eggs.
Tip: Some of the symptoms described below may sometimes indicate other things, such as stress associated with tank conditions and illnesses. If you’re unsure what’s going on with your reptile, you should seek veterinary advice.
1. Swollen Abdomen
You might not notice the swollen abdomen at first because you’ll probably think that your leopard gecko gained weight.
However, upon a closer look, you’ll observe that only the belly is swollen, while the rest of your lizard’s body remains the same size.
Moreover, if you gently touch her belly, you’ll notice some firm, muscular lumps – those are the eggs.
If you’re unsure how to do this, take your gecko to a vet or ask someone who’s experienced in handling pregnant reptiles to help you.
Leopard gecko eggs are usually pretty soft, which is why they’re very fragile while your lizard is still carrying them.
Besides, leos are often reluctant to be handled while pregnant, so it might further complicate the process.
2. Reduced Mobility and Weakness
Naturally, pregnant leopard geckos won’t move around as much. After all, they’re carrying the “burden of gravidity.” They may move slower and stay closer to their hide boxes.
This “slowing-down” is linked to your gecko’s natural instincts. In the wild, gravid females will move less and stay close to safe spaces because, this way, they minimize the risk of predation.
Since the possibility of fleeing from predators is lower, geckos have to avoid them at all costs.
You might also notice that your gecko doesn’t engage in social displays as well. The reason behind this is the same – less movement equals lower predation risk.
Although your reptile is safe in her enclosure, these behaviors are deeply rooted in her “personality” and your gecko cannot really understand that she’s living in captivity and there aren’t any predators around.
Besides the above, most of your gecko’s energy is used to sustain the eggs. This, equipped with appetite loss (discussed below) and heightened alertness of her surroundings weaken her.
3. Appetite Loss and Thin Tail
While not all leopard geckos will reduce their food intake during pregnancy, this is still a common change. So if you notice that your lizard refuses food, there’s nothing to worry about, as it’s a natural part of the process. Why, you’re wondering, right?!
Well, in the wild, pregnant females associate feeding with locomotion.
As such, if they leave their safe space to look for food, they’re more vulnerable to predation because they aren’t able to flee as fast as before gravidity.
Besides this, your leo’s internal organs are compressed during pregnancy, which is why they cannot ingest as much food as before.
And since they’re more tired and weak, they may find it more difficult to cope with the effort of eating.
That’s why many female leos look very skinny right after laying eggs – you might not notice this while yours is pregnant because she’ll appear big due to the swollen abdomen.
On the other hand, you might observe that your leo’s tail is getting thinner, which is another indicator that she’s losing weight.
However, shortly after the eggs are laid, her appetite should return to normal, and you should encourage your gecko to eat as much as she can/needs.
If your leo still doesn’t want to eat and her body weight doesn’t improve, you’ll have to get her to a vet.
Some pet owners reported that, on the contrary, their leopard geckos started eating much more before and at the beginning of their pregnancy! Then, right before laying the eggs, they slowly reduced their food intake.
That’s why it’s essential to develop your observation skills and notice any slight changes in your reptile’s behavior.
4. Spending More Time on the Warm Side of the Tank
Leopard geckos usually don’t bask. After all, they’re nocturnal creatures and, naturally, in the wild, they can’t bask under the sun, as they’re asleep during the day.
Even though they sometimes stay in their basking spot, this isn’t, in fact, actual basking because they do not need it to survive.
On the other hand, they do benefit from what light and heat offer them, so they won’t say “no” to some sunbathing once in a while.
General details set aside – why are we discussing this when we should talk about pregnant geckos, right?!
Well, we shared these details because you might notice your leopard gecko spending more time on the warmer side of her tank. This might look weird at first, but it has a scientific explanation.
A study based on time-lapse photography showing the activity of a New Zealand gecko demonstrated that, despite the fact that they’re generally considered nocturnal, females are partly diurnal and spend more time under the sun than males.
As such, this research confirmed that the female geckos that had spent more time under sunlight could reduce the gestation period by around 14 days.
Other studies confirm, as well, that higher body temperatures speed up egg development in pregnant lizards.
Even though there is no extensive research on this topic in regard to leopard geckos specifically, you might want to consider this aspect as a sign of pregnancy in case your lizard exhibits this behavior.
However, remember to check for other signs to ensure this is indeed gravidity.
5. Sleeping Issues and Stress
Leopard geckos usually develop a sleeping schedule – that is, they sleep around 10-12 during daylight and wake up at sunset.
Pregnant females might not be able to sleep as usual. They may find it difficult to lie down and be too stressed to follow their regular sleeping routine.
This, in turn, can cause further distress and make them feel irritated, nervous, and restless.
Moreover, since their survival instincts are enhanced during pregnancy, leos will constantly be on the lookout for potential predators or anything else that can put them and their eggs in danger. They may even become slightly aggressive toward their owners.
Besides this, if your gecko wakes up during the day to spend time on the warm side of her enclosure, it’s highly likely that her sleeping schedule will slightly change.
Many leopard gecko owners notice that their lizards have started digging a lot. At that time, they don’t even know they are pregnant.
This is usually one of the signs that inform reptile parents that they have a pregnant pet, especially if their lizard has never seen a male!
As such, if there’s nothing else that may cause your leo to dig – that is, if she feels safe in its enclosure, the temperature is set correctly, and her diet is nutritious enough – this is likely a sign of pregnancy.
Females dig little holes that can eventually serve as nesting spots. Most leos will dig holes in their hides and in the corners of the tank because that’s where they feel the safest.
A leo owner realized her lizard was pregnant when they noticed that the water dish was full of substrate, which ended up there while the reptile was digging.
Watch her adorable leopard gecko digging for her soon-to-be babies!
7. Visible Eggs
Sometimes, especially by the end of the pregnancy, your gecko’s eggs become visible through her thin stomach skin. They’ll look like two large whitish spots.
You might be startled if you notice them without knowing your leopard gecko is pregnant, but there’s no need to worry. As long as your gecko doesn’t look distressed and isn’t overdue, this is normal.
However, if your leopard should have already laid the eggs and wasn’t able to do so, she may be suffering from dystocia or, in other words, egg binding. In this case, a visit to the vet is mandatory.
Learn more about egg binding by watching this video:
How to Care For a Pregnant Leopard Gecko
Caring for a pregnant leopard gecko is a completely different field of science! Since they’re fragile, weak, and even scared during this period, it’s essential to learn what they need to go through gravidity easily.
While we can’t really do much to help them, and they should try sorting everything out themselves, we can, at least, provide extra care and ensure they feel comfortable and safe.
1. Separate the Female Leopard Gecko
If your female gecko is alone in her tank, that’s amazing! You can skip this part.
However, if she’s still with the male, the first thing you should do is remove him from the enclosure. Leaving him there will cause the female much stress, especially since he’ll likely continue the breeding process.
It’s not recommended to move the female to a separate tank because a new environment will, again, cause her much stress.
On the other hand, males can also suffer from being relocated, which is why breeders recommend moving them to an enclosure that resembles the initial one as much as possible.
2. Reduce Stressors
Your pregnant gecko is stressed enough because of her pregnancy, so it’s of utmost importance to help her by reducing any other potential stressors.
As such, avoid handling her, producing loud, sudden noises, cleaning her enclosure, and introducing new geckos.
If you interact with your lizard, move slowly and be very calm; otherwise, she might get spooked, become aggressive, and avoid you altogether.
For example, if the enclosure opens up from above, you’ll have to be extremely careful when reaching inside the tank because your gecko might get really scared.
If you have other animals in the house, move the tank to a room where pets aren’t allowed.
3. Maintain Her Diet but Don’t Force-Feed
Whether she’s lost her appetite or not, you should continue offering her food.
During this period, it’s of the essence that she gets enough vitamins and minerals that will provide her enough energy and strength for the upcoming egg-laying process.
Some pet owners recommend switching to Dubia roaches, as geckos find it easier to catch them, and removing the crickets from the diet, as they may bite the lizards.
However, do not force-feed her if she won’t eat. Remember that geckos can go without food for around two weeks, and not eating before laying the eggs is common.
4. Watch Out for Complications
Naturally, you’ll have to keep a close eye on your reptile while she’s pregnant. If she’s lucky, she won’t have any problems laying the eggs.
Sometimes, however, geckos develop secondary conditions that can scare both them and their owners. That’s why learning about possible symptoms beforehand is crucial.
Weakness, tiredness, and stress may cause your leopard gecko to stop feeding and drinking altogether. While she can survive longer periods without food, water is of necessity.
Generally, if leopard geckos go without water for 48 to 72 hours, dehydration is a high risk.
Make sure to provide fresh water daily, check the humidity levels regularly, and mist your leo more often than usual if dehydration symptoms are visible.
While pregnant, your leopard gecko sustains the life of two other soon-to-be baby leos. It’s only natural that she’s more prone to infections.
Besides, the less she eats, the higher the risk (which is why you should still encourage her to feed and get the required vitamins and minerals).
Don’t leave your leopard gecko alone while she’s pregnant, and always check for infection signs. This way, if something happens, you’ll spot the symptoms in time and provide your reptile with the required treatment and care.
c. Egg Binding
If your leopard gecko cannot lay her eggs, she might be suffering from egg binding, also called dystocia.
If it’s due time and your leo seems unable to lay her eggs, she’ll be weaker than usual and lethargic.
If she shows these symptoms, you must take her to the vet immediately, as dystocia is life-threatening for both the mother and the babies.
This condition is associated with suboptimal tank conditions, malnutrition, dehydration, injuries, infections, and other illnesses.
Here’s How to Prepare for Egg Laying
Did you think leopard geckos are the only ones that need to prepare for egg laying? Of course not! Leo owners have lots of things to do themselves! But we’re sure this is exciting for you, especially if you’re planning to incubate the eggs!
Here are some things you should prepare for egg laying.
1. DIY a Nesting Box
You can use a simple Tupperware box as a nesting site. If you can see through it, the better. Then, you’ll have to make a hole on the side or top of the box so that your gecko can get in.
Add some substrate and mist it with water so that it just clumps together a little. Avoid soaking the substrate. Place it inside the tank and let your leopard gecko explore it!
2. Adjust the Diet Accordingly
Your leopard gecko should return to her normal eating habits after laying the eggs. However, they may sometimes feel reluctant in regard to eating and will need some encouragement.
If you want to help her out, ensure to “prepare” some tasty treats for your reptile beforehand, preferably something she’s never eaten before.
These lizards are extremely curious, so your female reptile will likely not be able to resist the urge to try something new.
Besides some new food sources, your leo will need enough calcium in her diet.
3. Prepare for Incubation
If you want your gecko’s eggs to hatch, it’s recommended to incubate them. Now, this is a whole different “expertise,” and caring for leo eggs might be challenging.
If you’re unsure how to do this, you can call your local vet, and ask if they can incubate the eggs for you or at least provide you with a list of things you’ll need for incubation and share some advice on how this is generally done.
Here’s what reptile owners usually need for leopard gecko egg incubation:
- DIY incubation container or a commercial incubator
- Water to mix with the substrate
- Separate enclosures for the babies
Once everything’s done and you need to move the eggs, you’ll have to be the most careful you’ve ever been! Moreover, you’ll have to check them regularly to see whether they’re fertile.
It’s also important to maintain the required temperature and humidity in the incubation area. Did you know that temperature can influence the sex of future hatchlings?
Tip: Wanna learn more about caring for leopard geckos? Have a look at our leopard gecko care guide here!
- How Often Can You Handle A Leopard Gecko? - May 16, 2023
- Why Your Bearded Dragon Is Not Eating & How To Change That - May 16, 2023
- Can Female Chameleons Have Babies Without A Male? - May 16, 2023