I have always enjoyed looking after Leopard Geckos. I first worked with them in 1995, when I started work at my local reptile store. I soon decided that I should breed this lovely species, collected a group of 6 females and 1 huge male that all lived in a 6ft vivarium. They were heated with a ceramic heater and and a basking light – no UV light as in those days you would never consider providing UV light for a nocturnal species.
Once they had all matured (2 years old) they started to breed incredibly well and produced a lot of babies, which helped me to fund my new mountain bike (recently restored – 1997 Kona Cinder Cone, I still love it today).
I fed them mainly on crickets with the occasional mealworm. These were all covered in multivitamin powder.
Although they did seem to do well, I do wonder how much better they would have done had I used more modern equipment, UV lighting and offered a wider variety of foods.
Leopard geckos grew massively in popularity over the years and started to be commercially bred on huge scale. They are reared in very simple trays – heated but with no access to UV light and fed on only mealworms (very cheap and easy) heavily coated with calcium and multivitamin/mineral powders.
Unfortunately a few serious health issues started to occur more frequently. These included metabolic bone disease (calcium deficiency), and Cryptosporidiosis (Crypto), which is a common intestinal infection caused by a single-celled parasite. This is an awful condition which causes rapid weight loss and usually results in death.
Metabolic bone disease is easy to avoid. Keep the animal at the correct temperatures, supplement the food with multi vitamin/mineral and calcium powders, and provide access to UV light.
Crypto on the other hand is more difficult. It seems like every gecko is a carrier, and stress seems to bring on the condition. We found that the best way to reduce stress on the geckos that we bought in was to rear them individually under UV light, and give them time to settle before we offered them for sale. Sometimes it was weeks before they would be strong enough to go on to a new home.
This gave me an idea: if we gathered a group together, kept them under UV light, and fed a variety of foods, could we produce better, healthier geckos?
In the spring of 2016 we started to collect eggs from the group we had assembled and carefully conditioned. We incubated them, and when they hatched we reared them in small groups (6-8), provided UV light and a wide variety of foods including crickets, locusts, mealworms, calci worms and the occasional dubia roach.
I knew that this would produce good geckos but I am still amazed at just how good they are! They are such keen feeders, eating about twice as much as the commercially bred geckos we have had before, and more keen to eat all of the different foods.
There have been very, very few infertile eggs, every single fertile egg has hatched, and every single hatchling has survived.
They are growing really well, eating like baby beardies (the bottomless pits of the reptile world), are showing amazing colours and best of all we have had no health issues! We haven’t had to hold any back and give them any special treatment – they are all thriving!
Why would you want a gecko to be bred and reared in any other way?
Come and see for yourself.
Click here to see the geckos we currently have available