It seems that there are many opinions out in the herpetoculture world on housing leopard geckos together. Some breeders keep all of their geckos housed separately, only putting a breeding pair together for minutes at a time, just long enough for copulation to occur. Others house multiple female geckos together with a male for the entirety of their lives. Its an interesting discussion to have with people who keep multiple leopard geckos and the explanations they have for their opinion on the subject are even more intriguing.
First, the leopard geckos start out as hatchlings. Often, two eggs are laid per clutch and two baby leopard geckos hatch out a few days apart from one another. These geckos were in eggs that were laid at approximately the same time as one another and could potentially be housed together in the same enclosure. There could be many potential benefits from housing them together. Socialization from the beginning is an obvious one. Some geckos who never see another gecko until they are adults and are placed with a gecko of the opposite sex may be very curious and/or defensive/aggressive during the initial introduction. Socialization at an early age could possibly be helpful. Another benefit wouldn’t necessarily be a benefit to the gecko, but one for the keeper. Cleaning, feeding, and maintaining two enclosures is obviously more work than cleaning one. This could benefit the gecko if husbandry tasks are doubled on a large scale and maintenance of the enclosure is put off longer than it would be if there were fewer enclosures to attend to. Housing hatchlings together does have potential costs that would not benefit the geckos nor the keeper however. One such cost would be the possibility of nips. Geckos can bite. At young ages especially, the geckos seem more uncoordinated and easily startled. They sometimes bite each other for whatever reason and tails are sometimes dropped and occasionally, toes get bitten off. This is somewhat rare, but it does happen. Geckos can get infections and die from these injuries, so it is not something to be ignored. Geckos with these types of injuries should be treated for their injuries and isolated to recover as soon as possible. Another cost of housing hatchlings together is the lack of knowledge the keeper would have gained if they were housed separately. Housing them separately, you can see exactly how many insects the individual has eaten, how much it has defecated, you would know which gecko a runny stool came from, etc. When they are housed together, you have to guess at which gecko left you with the evidence you are observing.
Some gecko breeders incubate for female geckos and house them together as long as possible. This has many of the same potential benefits and costs as housing them together as hatchlings, but those same potential costs and benefits are extended for months or years.
Housing adult or subadult males together is not possible. They will fight and no benefit that may be gained in any way would out weigh this cost. Do not house males together.
Many breeders keep groups of breeding age females together. These groups make it convenient to add a male into the group and fertilize multiple females during the period when the male is present. Some breeders keep the male in the enclosure with the 2-4 females for a day, while others keep the male in with the females year-round. There is added stress for all of the geckos while a male is trying to breed with the females, but there is an obvious benefit by having him in with multiple females…he will likely breed with more than one female during that period of time. Again, potential costs associated with keeping multiple geckos together remain largely the same as with hatchlings, but there is one other potential cost that many don’t think about. The male might actually only breed with one or two of the females and not all of them during this time. If the male and each female were introduced in separate enclosures, the likelihood of mating with that female would be much higher since he doesn’t have a choice in which female he will be mating with. Obviously if he is in with a group of females and chooses to continually mate with only one female, she will be stressed much more as well.
I was curious about the opinions of other gecko breeders, so I started a thread on GeckoForums.net. I added a poll where you can vote for whichever scenario you prefer when housing geckos together. Please visit that thread and place your vote for one of the four options. That thread and its poll where you can vote are located here:
Two of my favorite breeders who regularly post videos on youtube house leopard geckos together. Below are a video from each of them.
First is Matt Baronak from SaSobek’s World of Reptiles:
Next is David from David’s Fine Geckos:
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. Please leave a comment if you did and feel free to ask any question you might have. Thanks for reading!