Students develop website for breeding and sale of geckos

Luke Hutchinson | Online Editor

Freshman Thomas Chapman is getting a headstart in herpetology with

Chapman recently created the site and is using it to professionally breed geckos and then sell them.

While reptiles are still considered exotic pets, many species like leopard gecko have become increasingly docile as the pet trade continues to make them available. Chapman said when he took care of a teacher’s leopard gecko over winter break, he had found a way to earn money.

“I fell in love with my first leopard gecko because he liked interacting a lot, and I realized I had two options: I could mow lawns, or I could do something like a business,” Chapman said. “I remember looking over at my gecko and thinking ‘I could breed them.’”

With the Arrowhead Reptile Rescue being located in Cincinnati, students have the opportunity to volunteer alongside more advanced reptiles in addition to their own pets. Chapman is an active volunteer, and he decided to invite freshman Jason De Anda to help him with the breeding process. De Anda said they share similar interests, but both had to do extensive research before launching the site.

“I had a little bit of prior knowledge, but I had to read many articles and watch a lot of YouTube videos. I even talked to professional breeders,” De Anda said. “I was friends with Thomas for a while, but we just recently started talking about geckos, so I went to his house and we got the idea of breeding through”

The breeding process requires mature adult geckos from both sexes; De Anda currently owns six females, and Chapman owns three, in addition to a bold stripe male, which is an acquired trait that buyers seek out. Chapman said his male will be the right size in time for the next breeding season, which spans from January to September.

The first step in the process is making the female and male comfortable with each other; Chapman said a steady climate plays a major role in reproduction.

“You put a female in a tank with familiar shelter and let her acclimate to her environment, and then you set up an identical tank for the male,” Chapman said. “After about a week, you can introduce the male into the female’s environment, and they will be comfortable and willing to mate in order to fertilize.”

About three weeks after fertilization, the female will lay between two and 26 eggs inside the substrate of the tank. Chapman’s next step is incubation, which he said requires extreme caution in order to protect the gecko embryo.

“It’s crucial that you first open up the incubator and check the moisture inside, because the eggs could potentially fry up,” Chapman said. “There’s a specific way you have to remove the eggs from the cage, and it requires precise markings. You have to pick up the eggs exactly how you did the first time, because if the egg tilts even slightly the embryo will suffocate when it tries to hatch.”

In addition to the morphs, Chapman and De Anda also sell a few reptile accessories on the site and breed feeder insects. After earning profit from their first few batches, Chapman said he hopes to move on to more advanced variations of geckos and to pursue a career related to reptiles later on.

“We want to get as many rare morphs as we can in the near future,” Chapman said.  “When you look at species that have been bred with the most desirable traits like the Black Pearl, you’re looking at a price range of around 1000 dollars. This might be a stretch, but I really want to own a store when I get out of college and become a professional herpetologist.”