View Full Version : N. levis female mortality

01-18-2009, 05:53 PM
Am I the only N. levis keeper/breeder that loses a significant number of females, especially after laying a clutch of eggs? It seems like I lose 1-2 females each season, and I do not breed them until they are well into their second year and in the 25 gram range. I just found one of my girls dead in her tub 8 days after laying her 3rd clutch of eggs, and she never ate again after that. Prior to that, she had a great appetite and good weight.

My males are housed, fed, and cared for exactly the same as the girls are, and they are quite healthy, with chubby tails and excellent appetites. I know I am providing the correct environmental conditions for them, and feeding them properly. Could it be something to do with supplementation? They all get calcium-dusted crickets and weekly vitamins.

I have spoken with a few other N. levis breeders about this, and the answer is usually, "Well, females just do that". I don't want to accept this answer, because obviously we are not providing the proper care for them if they die for no apparent reason.

What am I doing wrong???

01-18-2009, 07:02 PM
I have no idea whatīs the reason for that. But it is an interesiting issue and Iīd like to know if that happens more often. Fortunately it didnīt happen to one of my females, yet.

Do you cool your levis in the winter months ?



01-18-2009, 10:38 PM
I do cool them for about 6-8 weeks in winter, but it never really gets colder than 66 degrees F (19 degrees C) in my gecko room. The female I just lost was picked up from Scott @ TLC in Daytona last August, and was a little thin. She was a ravenous eater and quickly gained weight as soon as I brought her home. She laid a fertile clutch in mid-late September, but I had not bred her to any of my males (I keep all newly aquired geckos in quarantine for 90 days). She laid a second clutch in November, (still incubating) and recovered very quickly after those two clutches. She laid a 3rd clutch on the 9th of January (in incubator now) and never resumed eating after that.

To describe my housing, the geckos are all in 15-qt. tubs housed individually in Animal Plastic racks. The warm temperature in the back of the tub is around 88-90 degrees F (30-31 degrees C), and the front is at room temperature. I have them on a substrate of Repti-Sand, a very fine-grade, non-silica sand. I have a hide on the warm side with about 1/2 inch (1 cm) of sand, and the front of the tub has about 3-4 inches (9 cm) of packed, damp sand that they use to burrow tunnels in, and the females lay their eggs there as well. They are misted 3 times a week.

They are fed 3-5 calcium dusted crickets every other day, and reptile vitamins weekly. When females are egging, I use calcium w/VitD. I give occasional small, freshly-molted super worms and waxworms by hand. I do not leave uneaten crickets in their tubs. They all have regular, well-formed stools every 2-3 days, which are removed promptly.

I am really feeling down-hearted about losing my female, and it seems like I have lost at least one every year this way. If any of you have any suggestions as so what I am doing wrong, I would greatly appreciate it.

01-19-2009, 02:52 PM
I'm sorry I cant help you, but it might be wise to send a female off for an autopsy then?

01-19-2009, 09:16 PM
I had the same thing happen to three female occidentalis... same exact thing you are describing. All died about 3 to 4 weeks apart. I think it is possibly the waxworms. In my experience, certain geckos can not digest them very well. They will kill Geckonia Chazaliae in a matter of weeks... though they love to eat them. I have stopped feeding them all together.

Just out of curiosity... when you find the dead animals... were their mouths gaping open?

01-19-2009, 09:48 PM
I've had this problem before with Strophurus williamsi.

01-20-2009, 02:27 AM
same here .. with n. levis ... feeding using cricket ... could not help you with the reason .. coz still trying to find the answer myself ... I have send the body to the university .. but their knowledge of the species very limited ...

Crandall Geckos
01-20-2009, 03:03 AM
I have had this problem with pictus a couple years back... went through 3 females til i gave up.

01-20-2009, 03:27 AM
@ Marcia

How old are the females when they die ? Are they about the same age or are there big diffferences ? How many clutches do your females lay per year ?


01-20-2009, 03:46 AM
@ Marcia

How old are the females when they die ? Are they about the same age or are there big diffferences ? How many clutches do your females lay per year ?


I agree; Marcia are you sure you know the correct ages of the females? Are they ones you produced or were they all purchased?

01-21-2009, 01:31 AM
I agree; Marcia are you sure you know the correct ages of the females? Are they ones you produced or were they all purchased?They were all purchased or given to me, and of unknown age. All of them were between 25-30 grams when they were bred, and all died within 7-10 days after laying a clutch of eggs and never resumed eating.

01-23-2009, 09:21 AM
I have a Lav girl at the moment I'm very worried about, at the start of the season she was very healthy. Maybe even over weight, she used to eat like a pig. Now she is just about to drop her 3rd clutch for the season and I can't seem to get her to eat at all & is looking very thin....

01-23-2009, 01:45 PM
I have had very healthy males who have plump beautiful tales just die, and I also have had females die after egg laying. I have also had individual healthy levis stop eating and just wither away and die too. I haven't had any problems recently since i acquired an excellent group of animals. I try to supplement my female levis with mice pinks or african soft furred rat pinks while they are breeding, but I mostly feed them crickets. I have noticed that levis can have problems with thick shelled crickets and some roaches. I think it has something to do with them not being able to digest the shell completely. I supplement every feeding with minerall, probiotics, and calcium. I saw those levis that Scott had on his table at Daytona last year and they looked like skin and bone. Who knows how old they were? They had definitely been around the block a few times and looking like they did I wouldn't be suprised if they were bred to shit and were not fed enough period. I don't know if levis drop dead like this in the wild or not, so I haven't properly developed my hypothesis, but I feel that levis do well with belly heat rather than back heat, and I noticed they do better if the hot side of their enclosure is in the 90's.

01-23-2009, 04:53 PM
This is maybe more of a question than an explanation, as I have just started working with Nephrurus. I think sometimes we get used to working with species such as leopard geckos and Rhacodactylus geckos which remain reproductively prolific for such a span of years that we start to think that all species should remain productive for such a long time. For those of you that have worked with Neprhrurus for an extended period of time, how long have you found your animals to be productive? Does anyone have animals that have produced for 5+ years and are still going strong, or is there a significant drop off after 2 - 3 years? Has anyone found these die offs occurring in young, first or second year breeders? If not, perhaps it is simply a normal manifestation of aging in this species.

Anyway... just pure speculation as I don't have the firsthand experience with the genus to support or disprove the theory. There could very well be another care factor which just hasn't been nailed down yet for this species. It is nice that this thread was posted and that others have shared their own experiences, as perhaps some commonalities may be found that will help all.

Gary Hamann
Ridge and Valley Reptiles

01-26-2009, 02:57 AM
I have always wondered about Vitamin D3, don't the animals need UVB light to properly process the Vitamin D in their skin? If we are giving our animals D3, but no sunlight couldn't that cause a problem? Perhaps we should try using calcium without D3 for nocturnal animals? Or just use D3 every once in a while. Everyone knows that D3 is used to make rat poison, right?

01-27-2009, 02:46 PM
Matt, I have thought about the Vitamin D, too. Since N. levis are nocturnal and hide in burrows all day, I would not think their skin would be adapted for VitD assimilation from sunlight. The confusing thing is, my males are getting the same supplementation regime as the females are, and they look GREAT, eat well, and I have only lost one which was due to choking on his own shed. The losses I have experienced with my females are directly related to egging... that I am almost sure of.

Ira, I agree that some of the female stock I've acquired in the past may be old and used up. I would NEVER purchase a gecko that looked like those on that corner table at the Daytona Show... they were in deplorable condition! I had quite a few choice words for the guy on the other side of the table!

01-27-2009, 04:06 PM
I have noticed that levis can have problems with thick shelled crickets and some roaches. I think it has something to do with them not being able to digest the shell completely.

Which roaches do you mean ? I feed my levis Blaptica dubia with no problems so far. Even young thrive good with mainly getting dubias.
I noticed that my levis seem to have problems digesting wax moth larvae, because those came out mostly indigested.



P.S.It would be interesting if someone has sent one of the unclear dead levis for autopsy.

01-27-2009, 05:46 PM
sometimes when the levis eat too large of a roach maybe this is the problem. I haven't had any problems feeding dubia as long as the hot spot is warm enough for them to digest properly. Lateralis barely have a shell, they are fast as hell, but if you cripple them they make good meaty meals occasionally. I think crickets work best.

01-28-2009, 07:25 PM
I have never had a "healthy looking" levis die on me yet, I have had one yealing male levis stop eating and wither away for no apparent reason, though he was clearly looking bad before his death, I was originally given a pair of older females some 5 years ago, these were presumably wild caught and given to me by DECC (National Parks), I was also given some old levis from a friend that same year, they were all mid to old aged looking geckos at the time. I bred with these geckos for 5 years, some laying very well, out of the 4 geckos ( 1 m, 3 fm) all bar 1 is alive today, 1 died last year after losing alot of weight, the other 2 females stopped breeding this season and were given away a few weeks ago, and I still used the male successfully for breeding this season, I think he still looks to have a few good years in him yet. I'd expect Levis should live for at least 15 years if kept healthy. I feed only crickets and roaches, no UV, no D3, and rarely dust (only during spring). All are kept in tubs, females in pairs, males solo, 2 inches of play sand, terrcotta hide that is kept moist at all times, rest of sand bone dry, they are never misted.

Geckos and Goannas
01-28-2009, 09:27 PM
Could it be the limited bloodlines in the U.S.?

01-29-2009, 02:09 AM
Could it be the limited bloodlines in the U.S.?Good question!

DLS Reptile
01-29-2009, 12:16 PM
Marcia, I have limited experience with the nephrurus but one thing you stated in your care raises a flag. Some of the care sheets I have seen state that the levis should be fed 6 days a week when breeding. If you are feeding every other day they may not be getting enough nutrition to sustain them. Other than that everything you are doing seems to be the norm with these geckos. I am looking to get into this species very soon so it will be a learning experience for me.:)

01-31-2009, 02:18 PM
Partially limited bloodlines attribute to a lot of sudden deaths probably, and I agree that it is very important to stuff your levis when they are breeding and laying eggs. In a week with a very productive egg laying female I will feed her 4-6 massive gutloaded dusted crickets or 2 mice/asf rat pinks and they will still eat a few crickets after eating these 2 pinks! It's crazy how much they can put down when they are rolling well in an egg laying season. I try to feed them as much as the female can eat at this time. They need a lot of calcium and nutrients to make the good fertile 'harder leathery' eggs that they will generally produce.

02-02-2009, 01:44 PM
The ideal solution would be to have the correct weight and age to withstand birth. Assuming that those constants are withing breeding. In the area of 25 grams and at least 2 years of age, it is my opinion that the lady should not be able to produce more then 1 clutch for the season. The best thing would be to have several ladies rather then provide the stress that apparently contributes to their death..

I seriously doubt its a food related issue. In the wild these animals are "get whatever you can eat" to survive. In our environment we have them under a controlled food item, a controlled temperature, a controlled breeding program and yet the females are more susceptible to dying at a greater pace then what should be considered normal... I attribute the matter to greed. I think we sometimes push the ladies beyond exhaustion.. Just my opinion. JERRY

02-02-2009, 05:32 PM
All of my girls are well over 18 months old and weigh 25-30 grams befoe I will breed them. The problem is that I can get 3-4 clutches out of them from a single breeding. Sometimes I think they are laying themselves to death! How do I stop them from laying?

DLS Reptile
02-02-2009, 05:54 PM
Marcia, That is the problem you can't. How many females have you had this happen to? I have had female leopards that are like laying machines and always healthy. I have had a few females that no matter what you do they refuse to put on weight and stop eating. Though it is rare it does happen.:( P.s. I wonder if this may be a calcium absorbing issue. I know they are nocturnal but maybe they do use uv to some extent??

02-02-2009, 11:46 PM
I will admit my experience with this species is very limited, but I have had a lot of reptiles over the years. From what I have read it seems to me that it is most likely a calcium absorption problem. Reading this thread reminded me of the issues everyone was having with Tarentole Chazaliae a few years back. We soon realized that UVB was very much necessary. Is there any documentation on the behavior of pregnant females in the wild? Could they vary well bask in the morning sun?

The idea of bloodline issues makes sense, but why are the males ok? I would think if lack of genes was an issue it would affect both sexes not just one.

02-03-2009, 01:08 AM

not really sure if i can help you much i have been breeding Levis for about 6 years and never had any of these experiences you guys are talking about. I Keep mine very similar to the way you do. But i use only jurassic sand have never used anything else for my levis. as far as depth i dont give them much sand basically 1/4" you will know it's enough when you mist under there hide's and they can close the entrance to there hide's with sand.

I use bottom heat around 90* hot side i do mix my cal W vit. and dust every feeding. females get fed 6 day a week and males every other day.

For my gravid female's i tranport them to a diff. tub sloped with moist sand almost to the top on the cool side slopes down to the hot side. after they drop eggs they are removed and put back in there tub. and i wait to feed her till next day but mist her cage well.

I think my oldest girl is somewhere around 8 yrs old and she is still producing 3-4 clutches every year. I say somewhere as she was an adult already proven when i bought her and i have had her 6 years. Well hopefully this maybe somehow help's.

DLS Reptile
02-03-2009, 07:26 AM
Marcia, weren't you guys on the west coast having issues with mealies and your leos? maybee your having the same issues with your crickets???

02-03-2009, 02:50 PM
I don't think it's a cricket issue. They come from a totally different source than the tainted mealworms we all were getting last season. I feed my N. milii, N. wheeleri, C. v. bogerti, and D. vittatus the same cricket feeders as the N. levis, and have not had any issues at all. The thing that is confusing is that my male N. levis are fat and healthy, and have only lost one in the past 5 years to a freak situation where he choked to death on his shed while trying to eat/swallow it. My N. milii are breeding and egging like crazy rith now, and I've had no fatalities with any other specie.

DLS Reptile
02-03-2009, 09:24 PM
Ok, I am just trying to weed out all possibility. It is very strange indeed and I don't understand it either. You produce first rate beautiful geckos so I find it hard to believe it is something you are doing. It may just be a freak thing with that bloodline???

02-06-2009, 01:58 AM
I dunno. It is so frustrating and discouraging! Now I think I know why there are no single female N. levis available out there. I wonder if my problem isn't more common than people will admit? I used to get irritated that breeders were unwilling to sell individual females, and I swore that I would never do that... but I am going to hold back several of my own '08 female offspring.

02-09-2009, 02:24 PM
Now I think I know why there are no single female N. levis available out there. I used to get irritated that breeders were unwilling to sell individual females, and I swore that I would never do that... but I am going to hold back several of my own '08 female offspring.

I wouldn't say there are NO single female N. levis available. I may happen to know where one is...;-)

02-14-2009, 10:48 PM
Marcia, your problem is more than breeders/people are willing to admit. Fact is that some breeders have weaker smaller lankier animals and in levis these smaller females don't produce. If you have a good producing female she can produce you 10 eggs a season easy. I have had problems with perfectly healthy males dropping dead too, it is not just the females don't be mistaken. If I hatch a female that takes off from birth and is growing fast and eating voraciously I definitely would not sell her, lol. Maybe next year....

02-15-2009, 06:53 PM
Thanks for the honesty, Oli. Do you think it may be due in some respect to the relatively shallow gene pool we have to work with here in the US?

02-15-2009, 07:22 PM
Yeah most likely this is the case. Everything is basically related at this point, except illegal wildcaught animals I'd presume. I'm not saying I'm for or against this type of action, but I would think for the protection of this earth's biodiversity the country of Australia should export a very limited number of healthy wildcaught animals for a decent price which in turn they could use to fund programs to perhaps re-introduce some of the endangered animals? Who knows. I like that they are protecting their wild life as these Australien species are definitely special animals!