How to Incubate African Fat Tail Eggs & Leopard Gecko Eggs
Mealworms are a very popular food resource for many reptile hobbyist and breeders. They are affordable, easy to maintain and accepted by a wide variety of reptiles including African Fat Tails and Leopard Geckos. A mixed diet is always a preferable option with any species, but there are several things you can do to significantly increase the nutritional value and longevity of your mealworms. The following is how we setup and maintain our orders of mealworms and it works very well for us. I get asked quite a lot about it so I thought I would just create this article to show everyone :)
We use Ziploc® Brand Containers with the Smart Snap™ Seal for our egg boxes. They are 76 FL OZ and 7" L x 11" W x 3" H and are very easy to clean, completely transparent and high enough to fit a couple of inches of Perlite with plenty of space leftover for the eggs. It's very important the eggs do not touch the top of the egg box. These also work very well for Hovabators, you can easily fit two side by side. We do not punch holes in our containers. If you do not punch any holes make sure you open the container every so often to allow some fresh air exchange. For us, we are always adding eggs or removing babies almost on a daily basis which works perfect for air exchange.
First we rinse and disinfect any new egg box prior to being used. This helps eliminate any residue that has built up from shipping & processing. Make sure after each season you discard the old Perlite and replace it with fresh Perlite.
Next we place the egg container on our scale. We use the My Weigh 7001DX scale which includes a Tare function. This resets the weight back to zero once you place your box on top of the scale and press the Tare button.
Resetting the scale back to zero with the Tare function.
For incubation medium we use Perlite. We buy it in large quantity from our local feed supply store, but almost any nursery can supply you with the amount you need. Make sure you buy "pure" or organic Perlite. You do not want any additives of chemicals included with your Perlite.
Fill the egg box with about 1/2" to 1/3" of Perlite making sure there is plenty of room between the Perlite and the top of the egg box. For this size egg box two 16oz deli cups worth of Perlite works perfect. During incubation the sides and lids can be prone to "sweating" water droplets and it's very important they do not come into contact with your eggs. Excessive moisture will rot and mold your eggs very quickly. Note the weight (amount) of Perlite added to the egg box. In my example the weight is now 105 grams.
Now you need to add the correct amount of water to get your mixture just right. We use a ratio of .8:1 (.8 water to 1 part Perlite). In our example that means you multiply 105 x .8 which equals 84 grams of water. This process has always worked very well for us.
To distribute the correct amount of water I again press the Tare button on the scale to reset it back to 0. I now know I need to add about 84 grams of water to reach my .8:1 ratio. I do this by adding water gently with a garden sprayer starting on one side and spraying evenly side to side all the way down the container and back until I reach the desired weight.
I normally stop it a few grams short of my desired goal to double check the consistency of the mixture. I will then add another few grams of water if needed to the Perlite.
After mixing the Perlite thoroughly I place a large amount in the palm of my hand and squeeze tightly. The goal is to make a large clump that sticks together without squeezing out excess water. If the clump falls apart, add a few more grams of water. If water leaks out when you squeeze, add a few more grams of Perlite and remix.
Once you have the mixture complete smooth out the Perlite inside the egg box, add the lid and place it in your incubator so it does not dry out. You are now ready to receive your African Fat Tail Gecko or Leopard Gecko eggs. It's always good to get your incubator up and running including your egg boxes for at least a few days prior to your geckos laying eggs. Remember, due it early! You never know when they will decide to drop a clutch or two.
Example of fertile African Fat Tail eggs.
Once the eggs are laid and removed from the egg laying nest box we always mark them for identification and make a small indentation into the Perlite for the eggs to sit down recessed into the medium.
Fat Tail eggs inside one of our incubators.
Leopard Gecko eggs inside one of our incubators.
After about 45 to 65 days or so depending on your incubation temperature you will begin seeing your eggs dimple and crack. Once this happens hopefully a healthy African Fat Tail Gecko or Leopard Gecko baby will emerge from the egg very quickly, unlike most snake eggs.
Fat Tail baby emerging into the world.
It's very important to not disturb them once they start hatching from the egg.
Hatchlings have a tendency to run all over the eggs looking for shelter and often times move eggs around. Marking them previously will also help you rotate the eggs back around into the proper position after removing the hatchling.
Special notice. Hatchling Geckos can be extremely defensive, flighty and scared and will bolt from you and can often drop their tails in a defensive mode. It's imperative that you handle them properly and safely as quickly as possible to remove them from the egg box into their new home. Once a baby has been hatched it should be removed into a warm wet moist zone so it can shed excess yolk and incubation medium from it's body. After about 24 hours we set them up individually in their new homes.
Hatching out baby geckos can be a very rewarding experience. Please make sure you have adequate resources before attempting to breed and produce geckos. It takes a lot of time, energy and money to do it properly. I hope this article has helped you!