The content on this page is used with permission from Anne Keating.
Her website, CyberGecko.org, is no longer online, so I am hosting this
helpful information on my site. (Anne wrote to me that she is in her
second decade of keeping Leopard Geckos and the majority of her geckos
including the gravid female on this page are over 10 years old.)
Leopard Gecko Egg Laying
Here is Dragon in the process of laying her eggs.
A dead giveaway that this is happening is the significant amount of peat
moss that she has kicked out of the nesting box. (Note that a small
amount of laying medium will initially be kicked out of the nesting box.
This is a good signal that the actual act of egg-laying is not far off.)
Here is Dragon shortly after laying her eggs. In this picture you can
see the first one.
Here you can see both eggs. Two eggs is the standard size of the clutch,
though it is not unusual for a first time mother to lay just one. (This
was the case with Dragon's first clutch. The clutch pictured here is her
Here's a closer look at the eggs:
Once the eggs are laid, it is important that they be removed as soon as
possible from the gecko's enclosure and placed in a prepared incubator.
This is done quickly to prevent the eggs from drying out or getting
chilled. This must be done with some care so as not to roll the eggs.
Typically, breeders will mark the top of the egg with a soft pencil or
fine line marker to indicate "which way is up" and protect the
developing embryo. (Excessive rolling can literally drown the embryo.)
Here's a closer look at these freshly laid eggs.
Leopard Geckos Eggs - Fertile or Not?
Part I. Candling Eggs, or Safely Determining Whether Your eggs are
Candling has been practiced for years by poultry and reptile breeders.
It's a simple concept: a bright light directed at the side of an egg in
a darkened room will light up the interior of the egg, permitting the
breeder to see if the telltale veins and pinkness of a developing embryo
are present. Typically this is done in the early stages of the
incubation process. (Later the egg will appear all black as the by now
large embryo blocks out the light.)
To candle leopard gecko eggs is a simple process. A mini MAG light works
great and all you need is a room that gets dark--a bathroom or closet
will do well, or you can candle at night.
STEP 1: Turn on the flashlight and narrow the beam to a pinpoint and
then gently position at the side and barely touching the surface of the
STEP 2: Turn off the room lights and move the flashlight along the side
of the egg. Look for faint pink and red veins (these may appear as a
swirl). If these lines are not present look for tell-tale color. Fertile
eggs glow pink (more on this in the next page):
Part II. Fertile or Infertile: A Guide to Reading the Candling
The following photos illustrate the differences between fertile and
infertile eggs. (One big caveat though, never toss an egg until it
explodes, stinks to high heaven, is covered in mold, has completely
collapsed, etc. Many leopard gecko breeders have had eggs they had
completely written off hatch out perfectly normal geckos.)
Gecko eggs like many reptile eggs are not hard shelled like bird eggs.
Rather they have a leathery exterior and give somewhat when handled.
However, fertile and infertile eggs can in some instances feel
distinctly different when they are picked up and examined. The infertile
egg in the photo above felt like a partially filled water bottle and was
more translucent than the fertile one which was white, firm and felt
more like a stale marshmallow.
In the following photo, the top egg is fertile and the bottom egg is
not. While this is not always the case, in this case the infertile egg
is larger and longer. The overall color of the surface is uneven, white
is broken up by translucent patches and the egg has a sheen to it that
is missing in the fertile egg. The fertile egg is smaller, compactly
shaped and the surface color is a chalky white and the overall texture
of this egg is leathery, like fine white suede or paper:
Here's a closer look at a fertile egg as it is being candled 6 days
after being laid. The most obvious clues that this egg is fertile is the
red orange glow. Other definitive signs include the presence of pink
veins (the arrow is pointing to one tell tale red line.)
Part III. Waiting for Baby, or Candling as the Gecko Develops
Day 9 Pictures
This is very cool, now not only are the veins in the egg present, but
one can see the dark spot of the developing embryo as well.
Even with the room lights on, the eggs glow pink. Here is the same egg
as in the photo above:
Even more dramatic is another egg laid the same day:
Leopard Geckos Eggs - Hatching
Part IV. Detecting Hatching Signs
You can begin to anticipate the hatching process a week or more before
it begins. One of the tell-tale signs that the geckos are on their way
is when the eggs begin to be noticeably larger than when they were laid.
In this photo are 4 eggs in various stages of development. The two
smaller eggs toward the top are between 3 and 4 weeks old. The large egg
marked "clutch mate" and the collapsed egg that the blue arrow is
pointing to are 50 days old. The collapsed egg is at the very beginning
of the actual hatching process and its clutch mate is hours away from
Here's another look at the size difference between the eggs that are
hatching, about to hatch and one that was laid a few weeks ago. The
smaller egg to the far left is the size of a freshly laid egg:
Part V: The Hatching Process (7.12.02)
The hatching out process begins as the hatchling "pips" the leathery
shell using an egg tooth on its snout.
1. A new hatchling and another one pipping
Zooming in on the egg that is pipping:
2. The hatchling pips the egg
3. and then gets its nose out
4. Then works to push its head out
5. by rotating and pushing
6. and then retreats for a rest
At this point the hatchling retreated briefly inside the shell
"swimming" a full circuit around the inside of the shell before
returning to the slit in the shell.
7. After a brief rest, the hard work begins again
8. Hatchling having its first look at the world
9. Now pushing the rest of the head out
The hatchling rested and cleaned its face at this point in the hatching
10. A rest and a quick clean
11. More resting
12. Another cleaning
Approximately an hour and three quarters elapsed up to this point. The
last fifteen minutes were dramatic as the hatchling completed the
13. Time to leave the egg
14. Freeing the front legs
15. It is hard work to free the torso
16. The legs are almost out...
17. Hatchling's Out!
18. Another view of the new Hatchling
The whole process took just under 2 hours.
19. Wasabi, the star hatchling, 17 hours after hatching
20. Updated picture of Wasabi (taken on March 8, 2009)
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