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Temperature and Color and How They Effect My Leopard Gecko

Proper management of temperature is probably the single most important thing you need to master to not only keep your Leopard Gecko healthy, but also to assure that its color is always at its best. Note that if you expose your Leopard Gecko to prolonged low temperatures this will permanently effect its color and is irreversible.

 There are a few basic things we will touch on here:

  • Temperature as it applies to the sex of your Leopard Gecko.
  • Locking in the best color during the incubation process.
  • Proper eating and defecation.
  • Maintaining your Leopard Geckos color throughout its adult life.

Sexing Your Leopard Gecko During Incubation

The actual sex (Male or Female) is determined by the temperature that your Leopard Gecko's egg is incubated at.

  • 82F or 27C - Eggs that are incubated from day one at this temperature will produce mostly females.
  • 87F or 30.5C - Eggs incubated at this temperature will produce an approximate even number of Males and Females. This is the Pivotal Temperature for Leopard Gecko eggs.
  • 90F or 32C - This temperature will produce mostly Males.

Note that in some cases certain individual Females may produce males and females at different temperatures. This is certainly not the norm but can happen. This is the reason many breeders cant guarantee the sex of a Leopard Gecko.

Once an egg is laid place your Leopard Gecko egg in the incubator. Place it in a position that is heated to the temperature you desire for Sex Determination.

After 22 days the sex of your Leopard Gecko is locked in. Then move the egg to another incubator that is set a higher temperature of 90F or 32C to lock in the best possible Color of your Leopard Gecko until it hatches.

Locking in Color During Incubation

After you determine the sex of your Leopard Gecko, then you want to focus on locking in the best possible color during the final phase of incubation prior to hatching.

What many breeders will do is have several incubators set at different temperatures. We have 3 incubators set at the following temperatures:

  • 82F or 27C- This is our Female Sex Determination Incubator. We leave these eggs in the incubator for 22 days and then move them to the final Grow Out Incubator.
  •  90F or 32C-  This is our Male Sex Determination Incubator. We leave these eggs in the incubator for 22 days and then move them to the final Grow Out Incubator.
  • 90f or 32C - This is the Grow Out Incubator where we place all eggs after Sex Determination. All eggs hatch from this incubator.

Hatchling Temperature Management

After an egg hatches it is critical to make sure that the temperature of the cage you place your hatchling in is set correctly. The following are things you need to do to be successful in growing out your Leopard Gecko hatchlings:

  • Hatchling Cages- Place hatchling in a small cage. Shoe box size in perfect. This creates a situation where your Gecko is limited in the area it can move around, but also assures that the area you do provide can be better managed temperature wise.We have also noted that due to the small size of the cage and close proximity of food that the hatchlings do eat much better in this environment. 
  • Temperature - Keep the temperature on one end of the cage at a solid 90 to 92 F. This area may be about 25% of the cage. This will assure they will eat when the time comes and that their color will be its best as they grow out.
  • Hide area- Place a small enclosure in the hot area for your hatchling to hide in as they are very nervous and prone to stress at this age in their life. It is very important that your hatchling has contact with the heated area of the cage, this is why we use a overturned feeding dish with a side cut out to allow access. We have found that if you place a more traditional hide box like the ones you use once they are adults that this can be a problem. A hatchling has not yet had enough experience in life to stay in the proper hot spot. See cage picture above.
  • First Skin Shed- Place only water,no food, in the cage for the first 2 to 3 days until they shed their skin for the first time. This first shedding of their skin will kick start their metabolism for eating and defecating. This is real important. If you do not follow this process your hatchling may not survive its first days alive.
  • Deification for the first time and feeding- After you see that your hatchling has defecated for the first time or after 3 days, then and only then place a small amount of food in its cage. Don't over feed as hatchlings can over eat and become Impacted. This can lead to their death. Place about 6 small mealworms in a container and chart the eating activity of your hatchling.
  • Vitamins- Place a small amount of Vionate Vitamins in  a very small cap (We use Corona Beer tops) in the cage once you start feeding. Also place a very small amount of vitamins in the food you offer to your hatchlings. We will place vitamins in the food for the first 2 months after hatching. After this time we will then assume that the hatchling is getting its vitamins from licking it up from the provided vitamins in the Small cap. This is real important as a lack of proper vitamins in this early stage may lead to or increase the possibility of your hatchling having Impaction that could lead to its death.

From this point your main goal moving forward is to maintain proper temperature control and feeding habits that assure your Leopard Gecko will have a healthy happy life while gaining the most possible size and having the most beautiful color possible.

Please note that most of this information I learned form reading "The Herpetoculture of Leopard Gecko's by Philippe De Vosjoli and Ron Tremper. This is the best source of Leopard Gecko information to date. And unfortunately is going out of print in the near future as per Ron Tremper.