Gecko Care 101
Whether you are a newbie reptile owner or a seasoned reptile enthusiast, there is a gecko—a member of the lizard family—that will be perfect as a pet. Some geckos are very docile and don’t mind being handled, making them an ideal choice as a child’s pet. Others are much more skittish and better handled by experienced reptile owners. Do your research, select the right gecko species for you or your family, and prepare in advance of bringing your new gecko home.
Choosing the Right Gecko for You
The first question you need to consider is which gecko species is right for you. Are you bringing home a gecko as a pet for a child who will want to handle the gecko often? Or, are you an experienced lizard owner, willing to endure some bites as you build trust with and tame your gecko? While geckos share many characteristics across species, their dispositions can vary from very friendly and docile to unfriendly and aggressive. Let’s look at several of the most common species of geckos.
As you can see, most gecko species have similar enclosure requirements, with a minimum 20-gallon tank. If you can spare the space, spring for a larger and taller tank, giving your gecko plenty of space to climb and explore. Live crickets and other insects will be your gecko’s primary source of food and nutrition. Giving your gecko gut-loaded prey is key, as this will pass along more vitamins and nutrients. Most geckos, excluding the Golden Gecko, will not eat fruits or vegetables.
While we’ve noted how each species tolerates handling, remember that it will take several weeks for your gecko to adjust to his new home. Moving is stressful! Give your gecko time to get used to his surroundings before attempting to handle him. And keep in mind that, in time, even more naturally aggressive or skittish geckos, such as the Tokay Gecko and the Golden Gecko, will become tamer over time and more tolerant of handling.
Understanding Common Gecko Behaviors
If you are a new lizard owner, you may be unsure what to expect when it comes to your gecko’s behaviors. But let’s clear this up first: Unlike a certain green gecko featured in popular TV commercials, your gecko probably won’t be talking or standing on its hind legs—at least, we highly doubt it! However, your gecko might still surprise you with these traits:
• Geckos make noise! Unlike other lizards, geckos are unique in their ability to vocalize. Depending on the species, geckos may make a chirping, squeaking, or clicking sound. Sometimes geckos use their ability to vocalize when they feel threatened or are in pain.
• Some species of geckos don’t have eyelids. If you wondered if your gecko is sleeping with his eyes open, the answer is yes—well, sort of. While there are some species of geckos with eyelids, many instead have a clear scale over their eyes. When sleeping, these geckos will contract their pupils as much as possible.
• Some geckos have “suction cup” feet. Have you ever put on a special suit and jumped against a Velcro wall at a festival? Well, many gecko species can stick on vertical walls—no Velcro required! These geckos have adhesive pads on their feet, sometimes referred to as “suction cup” feet, allowing them to stick to and climb vertical surfaces. It is important, if possible, to provide your gecko with a tall tank, allowing space for branches, plants, and other items for your gecko to climb.
• Geckos like to hide. Because geckos are nocturnal, they will spend most of the daytime hours hiding. Make sure you’ve created several hiding places—like reptile caves—in the tank, especially if you have multiple geckos. Geckos will often hide from each other!
What's in a Habitat?
Considerations for Your Gecko’s New Home
Unlike cats and dogs, who are often happy curling up at the foot of a bed, geckos require very specific habitat requirements in order to stay healthy, comfortable, and safe. Consider the following:
• Temperature: Geckos will require a different tank temperature in the daytime and nighttime hours, usually never dropping below the low 70s.
• Humidity: To make sure your tank maintains an ideal humidity range for your gecko, you can utilize water bowls, misting, substrate, and other tools.
• Substrate: The substrate, or flooring, that you select can help you create a comfortable, humid environment for your gecko.
• Extras: Many geckos will become bored with a bland cage environment and will appreciate a variety of plants, branches, and other areas to explore—and don’t forget places for them to hide!
While we’ve provided an overview below, it is very important that you contact the experts at your local pet store with any questions and to ensure your habitat provides the ideal temperature, humidity levels, lighting, substrate, and fixtures.
A word to the wise: Planning to bring home multiple geckos? Keep in mind that the sex of the geckos will play a key role in cage sharing guidelines. For example, a male leopard gecko can share a cage with multiple females but cannot share a cage with another male—they are territorial and will fight. Again, be sure to consult your local pet store for guidance before deciding whether your geckos will share an enclosure.
Count on ABDragons to Help You Care for Your Gecko
Planning to bring home a new gecko? Plan to count on ABDragons for your new pet’s needs. We can provide the highest quality gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, waxworms, and other insects to ensure your gecko has a healthy, full diet. Contact us to learn more.