There are many methods and products used to incubate crested gecko eggs. This article provides a few common methods that have worked well for many hobbyists. Incubation is the simple aspect of breeding crested geckos. The only difficult part of incubation is the wait!
What to buy:
- Superhatch or
Preparing for eggs
Egg collection can be made easier when the female gecko is kept on a substrate like paper towel. Provide a laybox as described in “Breeding Crested Geckos” that can removed with ease during egg checks. If the enclosure is filled with coconut fiber or a similar soil substrate, you will need to search the entirety of the enclosure for eggs. This method works fine if you plan to keep humidity up check for eggs infrequently. If you search the whole cage each night, you will likely stress out the gravid gecko.
There are several medias on the market. Repashy Superhatch and vermiculite remain two of the most popular today. Superhatch is a calcined clay media with a high porosity for water retention. This media changes color based on the amount of water present, and can be reused if boiled. Moisten Superhatch by soaking the media and draining excess water. Depending on your environment and incubation container, the superhatch may need remoistening before the eggs hatch. Pour water down the side of the container, or transfer eggs to a holding container while re-soaking the superhatch. Vermiculite is a classic incubation media, believed to inhibit mold and fungal growth. Read more about using vermiculite as an incubation media here: Vermiculite and Incubation.
Many hobbyists implement a variety of containers to incubate their eggs. From plastic bead dividers to deli-cups, the possibilities are endless. Minimum recommendations are a 16 oz deli-cup with 1.5-2 inches of incubation media. If you do not plan to check on the eggs at least once per week, add small holes with a push pin for ventilation. If you lift the lid tocheck on the eggs once weekly the deli cup can be used without holes. Be sure to use an unventilated lid for the deli-cup. I prefer an un-modified plastic shoebox (with a latching top) and 2-3 inches of Superhatch. The superhatch doesn’t dry out and there is plenty of air volume for gas exchange by the eggs. I check the eggs once per week by lifting the lid, providing additional ventilation. A larger air volume in the container will lessen the shift in temperature and humidity experienced by the eggs.
Be gentle, be patient. The most important thing to remember about egg collection is to keep the egg oriented exactly how you found it. Take the time to gently brush substrate aside in the enclosure or laybox. (Pretending to be an archaeologist brushing dirt from a fossil is helpful—and also fun). Geckos can lay between the roots of plants or under cage décor, so don’t forget to check there if your search comes up empty. When you uncover the eggs, have the incubation container ready. Lightly mark the upward side of the egg with a pencil, this will help you to place the egg correctly if it is dropped or bumped. Gently pick up the egg between two fingers and place it into the incubation media with the pencil mark up. Cap the container and wait
Eggs can be checked for viability as early as 24 hours after deposition. Gently hold the egg in its un-rotated position and shine a bright, concentrated light to the side. Turning off the lights will help with the viewing. If you see a red “cheerio”, then you have a fertile egg. If you see nothing but yellow or pinkish fluid, the egg may not be fertile. Reheck your egg again in a few days to make sure there is no embryo before deciding to toss it. Many hobbyists prefer not to candle eggs and incubate all eggs until they prove unviable by molding. If you do not feel comfortable with your candling ability, incubate the egg.
Incubators and temperature
Incubators are an excellent way to keep eggs safe from unsafe temperatures in all months of weather. The exo terra incubator allows for cool incubation at 70 degrees, perfect for crested geckos. Large temperature spikes and drops during incubation can kill the embryo. Many hobbyists believe that incubation temperatures directly impact the incubation time and morphology of the hatchling gecko. Lower temperatures (68-74) extend incubation time, as much as doubling the number of days in the egg. With longer incubation times, the geckos hatch larger, with thick tails, larger tailpads, and more developed crests. Higher temperatures (75-80) equate to less time developing in the egg. These hatchlings are often observed with smaller tail pads, less-developed crests and an overall smaller gecko.
Egg progress and complications:
As the gecko embryo grows, the egg will expand. Sometimes the expansion can cause a leak at “pinch points” of an unevenly calcified egg. If the egg is leaking before it is due to hatch, it is best to patch the leak with a small piece of tissue or similar paper. Keep in mind that when it comes time to hatching, the egg may sweat, or leak profusely out of the slit made by the hatchling’s eggtooth. If you see mold growth over an egg, the egg is likely no longer viable. The egg could have been infertile from the start or the embryo could have died during incubation. If you see a molded egg, remove it and the surrounding media. You may choose to incubate the molded egg separately until you are positive that it is no longer viable, or dispose of it.
About the Author:
|Lauren Phillips is a graduate student studying Tropical Conservation at Michigan State University. Lauren is currently in charge of tadpole husbandry and gecko-related inventory here at Josh’s Frogs. She owns and operates The Adventure Gecko, a small-scale business focusing on breeding New Caledonian gecko species. Check out her Facebook page.