It’s not uncommon for gecko keepers to house more than one lizard in the same enclosure. This practice doesn’t work with all geckos because lizards are typically antisocial and don’t like to share space with others of the same species.
Unless it’s mating time, and the two are of different sexes. In that case, the 2 lizards will share space temporarily for breeding purposes.
However, leopard geckos are slightly different than your standard reptile. These lizards exhibit some social behavior and can live in pairs and even groups with the right assistance.
So, let’s discuss it more in-depth!
Factors to Consider When Housing Male and Female Geckos Together
No matter how social and friendly they are, leopard geckos are still reptiles. So, you shouldn’t expect too much bonding between them.
Even so, you can keep leopard geckos in pairs, provided you care for the following aspects:
I’m going to go a bit against the grain with this one. The typical space requirement for a leopard gecko is 10 gallons, which becomes 20 gallons for a pair.
However, I disagree. I advise doubling these values and opting for 30-40 gallons for your leopard gecko pair.
You can only house your reptiles in a 20-gallon setting if the lizards are juveniles or simply smaller than the norm.
Larger reptiles demand more space to perform their daily routines, which include looking for food, exploring the habitat, resting, and climbing.
Leopard geckos can exhibit territorial behavior, so it’s best to have sufficient space for them than risk causing stress and violence.
An important note here: the larger the enclosure is, the more difficult it is to deliver the right temperature gradient.
Make sure you have a powerful-enough heating system to cover the entire surface area so that your geckos receive the proper Fs.
Not all geckos are identical in all aspects, contrary to what some people may believe.
Some geckos are simply friendlier and cooler than others, while a few exhibit more aggression and territorial behavior. Leopard geckos are generally friendly and easygoing, but this isn’t always the case.
You should always assess your geckos’ interactions during the first several weeks together. It’s natural for them to showcase some mild harassing towards each other until they become more intimate, so you shouldn’t lose nights over it.
But you should intervene if leopard geckos appear stressed, exhibit excessive aggression, or spend most of their time in hiding.
This may be a sign that the 2 are incompatible, in which case you need to look for a replacement.
Your geckos should be of similar age; after all, you’re preparing them for breeding purposes.
While most geckos become sexually mature by the age of 8 months to a year old, you should only pair them for breeding past the 1.5-year mark. That’s when leopard geckos achieve their full sexual maturity and are ready for breeding.
Keep in mind that females mature faster than males, so you should choose your specimens with this notion in mind. If leopard geckos aren’t fully mature, sexually and physically, they may become stressed when paired for breeding.
And constant stress leads to weak immune systems, causing the gecko to experience health problems along the way.
Your leopard geckos should be of similar size for 2 reasons:
- Their size suggests their physical and sexual development
- A vast difference in size can lead to bullying
The first point is the most important one because geckos are typically about the same size when mature. Leopard gecko males typically grow to a maximum of 9-11 inches, while females stay smaller, around 7-8 inches.
So, the size difference between your geckos shouldn’t create a gap larger than 2-3 inches at most, provided both reptiles are fully mature.
Health is a critical factor here for 2 essential reasons:
- For reproduction purposes – You don’t want to breed ill geckos, as you have no way of knowing how that will affect the eggs or offspring. Your geckos should be fully mature, healthy, and of the right size with no visible or known genetic faults. The specific morph also matters, depending on your goals, but your lizards’ health status should be the priority.
- One sick gecko means two sick geckos – Most reptile disorders can transmit to other reptiles as well. Some of the most transmissible conditions include respiratory infections, skin parasites, bacterial infections, internal parasites, etc. If one gecko is ill, the next one will follow course shortly. And you don’t want that for obvious reasons.
The bottom line is: always source your geckos from reputed and trustworthy sellers. If you trust your local pet shop to provide you with healthy and clean specimens, go for it.
If not, I recommend opting for reputed and famous breeders who can vouch for the reptiles’ quality.
Ideally, you should always check your geckos before purchasing to make sure the investment is worth it.
Potential Dangers of Keeping Both Sexes Together
That’s right, there are some potential dangers to consider when housing two geckos in the same enclosure, even if they have different sexes.
Some of these include:
- Sexual incompatibility – Not all gecko males and females are compatible. That’s because geckos undergo a specific mating dance, which by no means guarantees successful reproduction. The female is the one that decides the outcome and whether the male is fit or not. Males don’t care much about anything because they really have no standards. They only require their mate to be a female, and that settles it. The problem, in this scenario, is that the male is interested and chasing the female, but the female isn’t. This can cause the female to become stressed and lead to violence fast.
- Sexual immaturity – Some gecko males reach maturity sooner than others. This means you can get a male that appears fully sexually mature on paper, but in reality, he’s not. The same can happen for a female as well. Pairing sexually immature geckos can lead to stress, aggression, and sickness and increase the risk of sexual incompatibility.
- Improper layout – Leopard geckos are ground-dwelling lizards that rely on their habitat’s layout to move around, hunt, eat, and hide whenever necessary. The latter is especially important because geckos like to retreat to their safe spaces when stressed or tired. If your terrarium doesn’t have enough or fitting hiding places for your leopard geckos, the lizards can become stressed, and we’ve already discussed what that means long-term.
Other potential problems you might be dealing with include improper tank size, insufficient food to accommodate 2 reptiles, improper ventilation, and humidity control (humidity levels will increase faster with 2 lizards compared to 1.), etc.
So, make sure you have all these parameters figured out before bringing your leos in.
Only Keep Male and Female Geckos for Breeding
This is an important point, which may look obvious, except it’s not. Many gecko keepers opt for a male-female pair simply because they want more than one gecko.
Not because they plan on breeding the lizards. Don’t do that!
You need to understand that Mother Nature follows Mother Nature’s plan, not yours. Your geckos will attempt to mate and breed if they’re of different sexes, no matter what your initial goals were.
If you didn’t want or didn’t expect a handful of gecko hatchlings to fill your tank, tough luck, that’s what you’re most likely getting.
This comes with a clear-cut problem: you’ve not prepared for the coming tiny geckos. This can impact the hatchlings’ survivability since they need to be housed separately from the adults during their first few months of life.
You can also say you will simply dispose of the eggs after the female produces them to eliminate the problem altogether.
In this case, you’re still left with 2 geckos that will breed anyway and undergo the stress of mating regularly. The situation is even worse if the geckos are incompatible, which we’ve already discussed.
So, only pair male and female leopard geckos if you plan on breeding them.
Providing a Safe Environment for Breeding
Now that you’ve decided what you want, you must prepare your geckos’ breeding grounds.
The preparation process refers to 3 critical strategies:
Temperature Control for Breeding Requirements
Leopard geckos require a specific temperature gradient to stay healthy and comfortable in the long run. The basking spot should occupy approximately 30% of the enclosure’s total area and stick to a temperature range of 88-92 °F.
The cooler zone, which should revolve around 75-80 °F, should occupy the rest of the terrarium.
This temperature gradient will eventually stimulate the geckos’ breeding behavior once spring arrives.
Setting Up an Appropriate Nesting Space
Once the temperature is set, you now need to produce the nesting space to incentivize the female to lay the eggs. Gecko females always lay their eggs in safe areas, hidden from potential predators, including other leopard geckos.
So, go for a hide box, cave, or covered tunnel-like structure where the female can prepare the nesting spot.
The substrate is also important to meet the female’s requirements. Opt for vermiculite or coconut fiber, as these are notorious for their moisture-retaining properties. The substrate should be slightly humid but not wet.
Once the female has produced the eggs, you can remove them from the enclosure to prevent the lizards from eating them. Which leopard geckos are known to do in some cases.
Minimizing Stress Levels During Breeding Season
I’ll go ahead and qualify stress as being the most devastating to your geckos’ breeding abilities. Stressed geckos can experience health problems and infertility and may not even enter their mating mood, to begin with.
Reptiles can experience stress for a variety of reasons, including:
- Improper setup with insufficient hiding areas and not enough space
- Improper temperature or humidity, causing physical and psychological discomfort
- Poor diet, insufficient food, insufficient water
- Crowding, forcing geckos to get into constant territorial conflicts
- Improper lighting, blurring the distinction between night and day
- Over-frequent or improper handling and petting
- Illness or injuries resulting from parasites, bacteria, poor handling, gecko-on-gecko violence, hazardous habitat layout, etc.
All of these issues can cause your geckos to experience a variety of health issues aside from the difficulties of mating and breeding.
Feeding Requirements for Different Genders of Geckos
You may not have expected this one, but gecko males and females actually have different dietary requirements.
Their dietary needs don’t vary by much, but there are still some differences you need to account for.
- Calcium and fat – Leopard gecko females require more calcium and fat than males, although not by much. Their calcium requirements will increase visibly when gravid, as their bodies use the extra calcium to produce the eggshell. The same applies to vitamin D3, which is essential for proper calcium synthesis.
- Live insects – Leopard geckos love live insects, as they are part of their natural diet. However, females should refrain from consuming live insects when gravid. Interestingly enough, live insects can cause the eggs to become infertile or malformed. Opt for dead powdered insects for adequate protein and calcium intake.
- Feeding frequency – Both genders eat just as often, except when throwing gravid gecko females into the mix. It’s normal for females to consume more food more often to produce the right amount of nutrients for the developing eggs. You should always watch your gecko’s appetite during this time and adjust the meal plan accordingly.
Leopard geckos can live together, but only under specific conditions. Females can coexist in a properly set-up environment, while males are pretty much incompatible with each other.
Your next best option is pairing a male and a female, so long as your goal is to breed them.
In that case, today’s article should be one of your main reference points when looking to handle the situation properly.