Many people will choose to house leopard geckos separately, as these little lizards are more than happy to live by themselves. However, depending on the individuals, leopard geckos can live in pairs too. So you may be wondering, what are the signs of leopard gecko pregnancy?
Like many animals there are some obvious signs to look out for, but these signs may only be noticeable towards the end of the pregnancy. So I have picked out the best 8 signs which I believe you can spot from early on.
In this article we will delve a little deeper into these 8 signs, so you can truly have the best insight into leopard gecko pregnancy. These signs will help you to determine whether you think your leopard gecko is pregnant or not.
The best 8 Signs of Leopard Gecko Pregnancy
Usually leopard geckos have reasonably thin, flat stomachs, but during pregnancy this changes very quickly. When a female leopard gecko becomes pregnant, the lining on their under belly begins to swell (This is a great way how to tell if your leopard gecko is pregnant). This is to give maximum protection to the eggs which are forming inside.
The belly swells in all directions, so this is very noticeable compared to its usual shape, and will mostly look as if your gecko is bloated.
One way you can check this is by very gently squeezing the side of their stomach. If the stomach feels fairly firm, then the likeliness is that they’re pregnant. If the stomach still feels relatively soft, then the likelihood is that your leopard gecko is not pregnant. There should be a significant difference compared to usual.
It’s crucial that you only stick to feeling the sides of the belly, as feeling the underside can cause a lot of pain to your female gecko. It may seem an obvious choice on where to look for the eggs, but you can cause serious damage to them if not handled correctly.
In fact, it’s recommended that you don’t handle your leopard gecko at all throughout the pregnancy, for this exact reason.
Gecko eggs are usually very soft to make the process of giving birth a lot easier, and harden up after a couple of days once they are laid. Because of this, the eggs are extremely fragile, so it’s very easy to damage the eggs whilst they are still inside your gecko if handled incorrectly.
Loss of Appetite
During the early stages of pregnancy a leopard gecko will lose its appetite quite regularly. Although this may seem out of character, and a little concerning, there really is nothing to worry about. Leopard gecko’s can go up to 2 weeks without eating a single meal, so this is definitely something to keep in mind and monitor throughout the pregnancy.
This is due to all the changes going on in her body. Pregnant leopard geckos will often eat much less than usual, as they are expending a lot of energy through the pregnancy process. The females rely heavily on the fat reserves stored in their tails to make the pregnancy process as manageable as possible.
You are likely to see the female’s tail reduce in size, and become much thinner as it uses these fat reserves. This is a healthy sign for your gecko, but should be monitored throughout the process.
After the 2 weeks are coming to an end, if your leopard gecko hasn’t started eating again, then you should try to feed them different foods to what they are used to. They may just be fed up with the same foods which they have been eating recently, (no different to the human pregnancy characteristics) so try feeding them a different insect instead. Their curiosity usually takes over and prevails in this situation.
A little repercussion of the loss of appetite, a leopard gecko will become very lethargic through the pregnancy process. As you can imagine, a lot of their energy is being used to nurture and house their eggs. Geckos become very tired through the entire pregnancy process, so don’t be alarmed if your leopard gecko isn’t as active as usual.
It’s not unheard of that leopard geckos will actually stop to eat all together until they have laid their eggs. You should still offer them some food every couple of days, but please don’t be worried if your gecko isn’t eating.
Small lumps in belly (Eggs)
It is still completely fine to handle your leopard gecko when it’s pregnant, however you should take extra care when picking them up and putting them back down. One of the best ways you can tell if your leopard gecko is pregnant is by feeling the under belly for any lumps. These lumps you may feel are actually the eggs, and these eggs will span across the entire width of the belly, but most commonly the lower half, towards the tail.
Sleeping at irregular times
Another great sign of leopard gecko pregnancy to look out for is its irregular sleeping patterns. Leopard geckos are most active at dusk and dawn, just as the sun comes up, or goes down. If you notice that your leopard gecko is sleeping through this time of day, then you can probably assume that it hasn’t been sleeping properly.
This is very common behavior for a pregnant leopard gecko, as sleeping can become very uncomfortable as the eggs begin to grow in size.
The thinning of a leopard gecko’s tail is another one of the best ways you can tell if your leopard gecko is pregnant.
Leopard geckos store fat reserves in their tails. This is why their tails always look so big in comparison to their bodies. Throughout the pregnancy process a leopard gecko will rely on these fat reserves more than ever. The fat reserves will be used on a daily basis, especially if your gecko has a loss of appetite.
Again, this is nothing to worry about, and is completely natural, but it is crucial that once your gecko has laid its eggs, that you monitor the tail size to make sure the fat reserves are being restored.
Staying well hidden
A change in characteristics is another brilliant way to tell if your leopard gecko is pregnant. Commonly a leopard gecko is very active and loves to bask out in the open, especially if it doesn’t feel threatened. It’s unusual for a leopard gecko to spend so much time in its hide on a day to day basis (unless its sleeping of course).
Although there is no direct threat to a pet leopard gecko, they may not want to be bothered at all throughout the pregnancy process. All they want to do is rest,and save as much energy as possible. This may mean that they only move in the morning hours to heat their bodies, then retreat back to their hides soon after.
Digging a lot
Notoriously leopard geckos aren’t digging lizards. The only time when they ever seem to dig is when they are pregnant. They will dig a lot of little holes in various places around their enclosure to create the best nesting spot for their eggs.
The most common place they will dig is within their hides. Geckos usually like small tight spaces, which cover them from any threats, making them feel safe. However when looking after their eggs, they need extra space, especially underneath them.
You may also see holes being dug in the cooler end of the enclosure, and most likely in the corners, as this a cool space which gives most protection.
What to do after you notice your leopard gecko is pregnant?
Figuring out if your leopard gecko is pregnant is only the beginning to the process. Once you have confirmed that your gecko is pregnant, you now want to start the preparation phase.
The very first thing you should do is segregate the male gecko away from the female. The male gecko may become very aggressive towards the female and continue to try and breed with her, causing a lot of unwanted stress. Obviously through pregnancy, you want to keep the female as stress free as possible, so this is why we encourage to remove the male, and leave the female in her known surroundings.
Breeders will have already thought about this prior to the female becoming pregnant. However, if you’re reading this article then the likelihood is that you may not be so well prepared.
I would highly recommend purchasing a second enclosure to relocate your male gecko. I have heard of people dividing their enclosure in two, with partitions, but this really doesn’t work too well, or benefit either gecko.
The best advice is to spend a little money on a second tank. Remember, this tank is only temporary, so the male won’t be kept here for the rest of time. Eventually you can reintroduce the male back into the females enclosure, and relocate the juvenile geckos into the smaller enclosure.
You can buy complete tank set-ups from amazon, and below I have picked out what I believe to be the best temporary enclosures ranging in price from budget to more expensive.
A lot of people recommend that you should try to mimic its previous enclosure as closely as possible, but I don’t believe this is completely necessary. Leopard geckos love to explore, so a new environment from time to time is actually healthy to stimulate their brains. It is however always recommended to relocate a gecko in the dark, as this is thought to be less stressful when they wake up.
What causes a pregnant leopard gecko stress?
There are many reasons which can contribute to a leopard gecko’s stress levels. Pretty much anything that differs from its usual everyday life can add extra unwanted stress, but here’s a little list of the most common stress factors which you can avoid for pregnant leopard geckos.
What you should avoid;
Relocating the female
Handling them to often
Any change in enclosure temperature and humidity
Nuisance from other house pets
Cleaning the enclosure
Obviously if you were to try and avoid all the possible factors that can cause a pregnant leopard gecko stress, then you will probably be too afraid to even put your hand in the enclosure. As long as you have been handling your gecko a few times a week, and she is used to having you around, then her stress levels should stay pretty low. She will realise that you are not a threat, and therefore will assume that you wouldn’t do anything that would put her health or safety in jeopardy.
One last stress that is good to know about is abdominal pains. No different to human females, leopard geckos experience very uncomfortable abdominal pains. They will seek to relieve the pain in whatever means possible, so it’s not uncommon to see your gecko bathing in its water bowl, or basking on a warm rock to release the uncomfort.
Don’t worry though, as this type of behavior is completely natural and is essential for the development of the eggs, making sure the babies come out as healthy as possible once hatched.
Let’s look into the stress factors of a leopard gecko a little closer
Relocating the female
You should alway relocate the male gecko as the change in scenery will cause a lot of stress to your pregnant female gecko. Any sudden change in scenery is stressful for most animals, and although in the wild geckos are used to moving around, they will usually have a preferred hiding spot which they go back to.
Handling them to often
Handling a pregnant leopard gecko too often can cause serious abdominal pains. Too much pressure on the belly will quickly become very uncomfortable for the female, which adds unwanted stress. During the pregnancy, you should try to keep contact to a minimum, as much as possible.
Any change in enclosure temperature and humidity
A change in temperature or humidity can be one of the leading factors to a leopard gecko’s increased stress levels. Geckos don’t even need to be pregnant for this to cause them stress. The change in temperature can mean that she cannot correctly regulate her body temperature, which in turn means the eggs may not form properly either.
Nuisance from other house pets
Keeping other pets away from your pregnant leopard geckos enclosure is very important. Even though your gecko may be used to seeing other pets through its window, their emotions are heightened and will see other animals as potential threats. You want your make your leopard gecko feel as safe and secure as possible throughout the pregnancy process, so eliminating a potential threat is certainly an action which should be taken.
Any loud noises throughout the day has the potential to cause your leopard gecko stress. Their intermittent sleeping pattern means that you may be waking them up from some much needed sleep, even if you think they’re usually awake. Just imagine a time when you have been sleeping and you hear a loud bang. You are usually woken up in a bit of a stock, with your heart racing a little. This is not different for leopard geckos.
Cleaning the enclosure
Finally here we have, cleaning the enclosure. You want to try to reduce the amount of times you clean out the enclosure, as this usually means having to move your leopard gecko into another enclosure, or hidebox until the cleaning is complete. This undoubtedly causes a lot of stress to your gecko.
Although hygiene standards should always be kept high, we recommend that you only clear out the messed bits of the enclosure through pregnancy. There’s really no need to be cleaning the entire enclosure too often. Just clean up the messy bit as best as you can.
What does a pregnant leopard gecko look like?
It’s very hard to visually see if a leopard gecko is pregnant just by looking at it. The changes that occur are gradual, and hard to notice throughout the time that the eggs are forming. But there is one noticeable difference which you should be aware of.
Pregnant leopard geckos actually form a little baby bump on the underside of their bellies. When they are horizontal, possibly laying on a rock, this is very hard to see, but if you carefully pick her up, and bring her to a vertical stance, then you will be able to see the baby bump. In this situation you should only be holding her from underneath, letting her front and back legs climb on to your fingers. DO NOT put any pressure on her underside.
What you should see is her belly drop. This isn’t actually the case, but you should be able to see the eggs drop slightly lower towards her tail. This will cause a tiny baby bump, which looks like a little pot belly.
When leopard geckos are pregnant, they only ever birth two eggs at a time. Because of the size of the eggs, when the female is basking, the eggs naturally just rise up into her body slightly, which means her body shape stays relatively the same. Usually you would expect the female to look wider as the pregnancy progresses, but this isn’t the case.
It’s much easier to see a change in their behaviors, rather than notice any visual difference to their bodies. This is why the 8 factors above are so important when determining whether or not your leopard gecko is pregnant.
Well there you have it. Everything you need to know on Leopard gecko pregnancy. To recap, the best 8 signs to look out for are, Swollen belly, Loss of appetite, Lethargic, Small lumps in belly, Irregular sleeping pattern, Thinning tails, Staying well hidden and Digging a lot. If you notice any more than a couple of these, we would recommend going to see a specialist reptile veterinarian for their professional advice.