Over a thousand species of geckos exist in the world. The most commonly found in captivity include leopard, African fat-tailed geckos, and New Caledonian crested geckos. Lifespan in captivity is approximately 7-10 years, and adult size of the most popular species is generally up to 6 inches (measured snout to vent). As compared to many other species, care of geckos can be relatively straightforward, making them good pets.

Housing:

  • Geckos should be housed singly throughout their lives to avoid conflict between other geckos. Two or more juvenile or female geckos can sometimes be housed together if adequate space and hiding areas are provided.
  • Cage:
    • A 10 gallon enclosure is adequate for a single juvenile gecko.
    • A 20 gallon or larger enclosure is appropriate for an adult.
    • In addition to glass aquariums, Exoterra brand and similar enclosures are appropriate.
  • Bedding/substrate:
    • Newspapers or paper towels are safest and easiest to replace/clean.
    • Vinyl tile or Repti-Carpet can be used.
    • If a paper pulp material such as Carefresh is used, you should feed your pet in a separate enclosure to prevent ingestion.
    • Replace the bedding/substrate or clean the hard surface every 1-2 days to prevent exposure to waste.
    • SAND, GRAVEL, MULCH/BARK, OR OTHER NATURAL SUBSTRATES SHOULD NOT BE USED DUE TO DIFFICULTIES IN CLEANING, RISK OF GASTROINTESTINAL ISSUES IF EATEN, AND PROBLEMS WITH IRRITATION OF EYES AND DELICATE TISSUE OF MOUTH.
  • Cage furniture:
    • Branches, driftwood, cork bark and/or large rocks can be provided for climbing.
    • Place a hiding box on the warm side of the enclosure.
    • In addition to providing adequate floor space, it is necessary to provide several hiding areas if multiple geckos are housed together.
    • HEATED ROCKS SHOULD NEVER BE USED DUE TO RISK OF THERMAL BURNS.
  • Temperature/heating:
    • A temperature gradient should be created within the enclosure, with a warm side and a cool side. This allows the gecko to regulate its temperature by changing location.
    • A reptile under tank heating pad is usually sufficient to maintain the correct temperatures.
    • Use multiple digital thermometers with probes to monitor temperatures of 92-95 degrees F over the heating pad and 70-75 degrees on the cooler side.
    • Always place a hide box over the heating pad. If you have more than one gecko in an enclosure, you will need a larger heating pad and multiple hiding boxes, as animals will often not share.
    • You may need a ceramic heating element or colored heat light to provide sufficient heat and reach the recommended temperature ranges if you keep your home on the cooler side.
    • Heating pads with which we have had good experiences include Ultratherm Heat Pads (beanfarm.com) and Cobra T-Rex Heat Pads (available from many pet stores).
  • Lighting:
    • As this is a nocturnal species, no UVB light source or basking area is required.

Dietary Recommendations:

  • Feeding Juveniles:
    • Insects:
      • Offer appropriately sized gut-loaded insects DAILY.
      • Crickets should be no longer than width of gecko’s head and removed immediately if not eaten.
      • To properly gut load, provide insects with a complete diet, such as rodent chow, dry dog food, or bird pellets. Insects should primarily be crickets.
      • Mealworms, giant mealworms and wax moth larvae are high in fat, and should be offered only in small amounts and on occasion.
  • Vitamin supplements:
    • Dust insects with a high quality calcium/vitamin D3 supplement (with NO phosphorous added) 4-5 times a week.
    • We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus.
  • Water bowl:
    • Provide clean, fresh water in a dish/bowl into which your gecko can easily climb (small/low for juveniles).
    • It should be large enough to fit your pet’s entire body. Change water daily.
  • Feeding Adults:
    • Insects – Offer gut-loaded insects TWO TO THREE TIMES PER WEEK. Remove any uneaten insects immediately.
      • To properly gut load, provide insects with a complete diet, such as rodent chow, dry dog food, or bird pellets. Insects should primarily be crickets.
      • Mealworms, giant mealworms and wax moth larvae are high in fat, and should be offered only in small amounts.
    • Vitamin supplements:
      • Dust insects with a high quality calcium/vitamin D3 supplement (with NO phosphorous added) 2-3 times a week.
      • We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus.
  • Water bowl:
    • Provide clean, fresh water in a dish/bowl into which your gecko can easily climb (small/low for juveniles).
    • It should be large enough to fit your pet’s entire body. Change water daily.
  • Encourage drinking:
    • Mist environment and gecko once daily with water in a spray bottle.
  • Soaking:
    • Soak your pet 2-3 times a week in warm, shallow water for 15-20 minutes to encourage drinking, improve hydration, and help with shedding.

Preventative Health Recommendations

  • Examinations:
    • We highly recommend that your gecko be seen after purchase and a yearly physical examination with with fecal analysis.
  • Signs of Illness:
    • Please consult us should you notice any of the following signs: weight loss, decreased appetite/thirst, abnormal stools, twitching/tremors/seizures, swelling of the limbs, inability to close the mouth properly, discharge from eyes and/or mouth, difficulty breathing, distension of the abdomen in non-breeding animals, masses/lumps, or wounds/cuts/scrapes.