Geckos are very docile creatures that require straightforward care making them very popular pets. They grow up approximately 6 inches in length and live about 7-10 years in captivity.
Cage – Aquariums, Exo Terra enclosures, or plastic containers with a mesh top are commonly used for enclosures. Since geckos are terrestrial, a longer enclosure is preferable to a high one. Juvenile geckos can be housed in a 10-gallon enclosure. Adult geckos will require at least a 20-gallon enclosure.
Substrate – The substrate should be safe and easy to clean. Commonly used examples are paper towels, butcher paper, newspaper, Repti-Carpet, or Vinyl Tile. Paper pulp products such as Carefresh can be used, but your gecko should be fed in a separate container to avoid ingestion of the substrate. We do not recommend using sand, gravel, mulch, or wood shavings due to the risk of ingestion leading to intestinal blockage as well as irritation of the eyes and mouth.
Cage Furniture – A hide box is necessary and should be placed on the warm side of the enclosure. If multiple geckos are housed together, a hide box should be provided for each one to help avoid conflict. Other furniture such as large rocks, branches, and driftwood can be provided as climbing structures for your gecko. Do NOT use heated rocks due to the risk of thermal burns.
Temperature – The enclosure should be large enough that a temperature gradient, with a warm side and a cool side, can be created. This is important for allowing your gecko to control its own temperature by changing its location. Digital thermometers rather than dial thermometers should be used for accuracy. The probe of the digital thermometer should be placed at the level of the animal rather than at the top of the enclosure. At least two thermometers should be used, one to measure the cool side and one the warm side. The basking side should reach up to 92-95°F and the cooler side should be about 70-75°F. Reptile under tank heating pads are also often used as a heat source.
Lighting – Leopard and fat-tailed geckos are nocturnal and do not require special UV lighting.
Cagemates – Geckos should be housed individually to avoid fighting. If geckos are housed together, there should never be more than one male as they are very territorial and prone to fighting. Multiple hide boxes need to be provided if there are multiple geckos housed together and a large heating pad must be used to ensure all hide boxes are heated.
Insects – Insects should always be gut loaded. To do this, provide insects with a diet such as cricket food, rodent chow, or dry dog food. The primary insect used should be crickets as other insects (mealworms, giant mealworms, wax moth larvae) are high in fat and should only be used as treats. Please removed uneaten insects to prevent injury to your gecko.
Insects – Appropriately sized insects should be offered daily. The length of the cricket should not be wider than the gecko’s head.
Supplements – Dust insects with a calcium/vitamin D3 supplement (with no added phosphorus) and multivitamin 4-5 times a week. We recommend the Repashy Calcium Plus HyD powder.
Insects – Gut-loaded insects should be offered 2-3 times a week.
Supplements – Dust insects with a calcium/vitamin D3 supplement (with no added phosphorus) and multivitamin 2-3 times a week. We recommend the Repashy Calcium Plus HyD powder.
Water bowl – Provide a shallow water dish that your gecko can easily climb into. It should be large enough to fit the entire animal. Water should be changed daily.
Soaking – Soak your gecko in a shallow warm water bath for 15-20 minutes about 2-3 times a week. This will encourage your gecko to drink and improve shedding.
Misting – Mist your gecko and the enclosure once a day with a spray bottle.
We recommend a complete physical exam and fecal by an exotic animal veterinarian for all newly acquire pet geckos. Thereafter, we recommend bi-annual exams and yearly fecal exams.
COMMON HEALTH PROBLEMS
Tail Dropping – If they feel threatened, geckos can drop their tail. A new tail will grow back within 1-2 months but will look different than the original tail.
Abscess – Abscesses appear as firm lumps on your gecko. They will need to be lanced and some need to be surgically removed. Monitor your pet gecko for weight loss, decreased appetite and thirst, swelling of the joints or legs, twitching or tremors, inability to close their mouth, lumps or wounds, eye or oral discharge, breathing difficulties, or abnormal stools. If you notice any of these signs, please contact your veterinarian.