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Geckos are a unique variety of lizard known for more than 2,000 different types worldwide. While they thrive in warm and tropical habitats and have for approximately 50 million years, these diverse lizards also make popular pets. Let’s get to know the most common gecko species kept as pets.
- Why Keep A Gecko?
- Types of Geckos
- Geckos As Pets (Video)
- Build Your Own Reptile Terrarium
There are several reasons to consider a gecko as a pet:
|Editor’s Pick: Gecko Starter Kit|
|Crested Gecko Kit|
- Geckos are versatile pets yet even the most advanced herpetologist can find a challenge in certain species.
- These gentle lizards make for unique and beautiful pets that are fun to observe and learn from because these tropical lizards are not native to our non-tropical climates.
- Geckos provide vast educational opportunities. These lizards are considered one of the most interesting varieties of lizards in the reptile community. With an incredibly diverse population of species, geckos are the largest in the lizard families.
The gecko starter kit at right is a great option for your crested gecko. It comes with a thermometer, hygrometer, foam bark looking backing, climbing ornament with watering holes and attached artificial plant and plantation soil base.
Geckos comprise the single largest group of lizards in existence. In fact, there are over 2,000 gecko species currently recognized worldwide, with many more yet to be discovered.
However, not all species are considered suitable for life in a glass aquarium. It is important for herpetologists to understand that while most species of gecko could be kept in captivity, not all species will thrive. There are a handful of species that are more commonly selected for life as a pet gecko due to their unique characteristics.
The giant day gecko is a diurnal species of gecko meaning that they are active during the day rather than at night. This species of gecko is considered to be a particularly hardy variety of gecko. The bright coloration of this gecko (bright green and red) makes it a pleasurable gecko to observe. The long lifespan of this gecko species is just one of the most appealing factors that make it the perfect pet for herpetologists worldwide.
Native Country: Madagascar
Aquarium Type: The giant day gecko prefers to live in a terrarium that is filled with plants and full-spectrum lighting. They prefer taller rather than wider tanks. It’s important that the terrarium has higher levels of humidity in addition to having an adequate food supply and clean water source.
Living Conditions: While not all gecko species are capable of the glass climbing that many herpetologists like to observe in pets, the giant day gecko is something of an acrobat and can easily climb the sides of a glass terrarium. When kept as pets these geckos prefer to live in solitary or in mating pairs (they do not thrive when kept in communal terrariums).
Ideal Temperature (F):
- day: 82-86 F (28 – 30 C)
- night: 75-82 F (24 – 28 C)
Size: Up to 12 inches.
Life Span: 6 to 8 years.
Nutrition: Crickets, mealworms, wax worms, large fruit flies and fruit puree.
The white-lined gecko is somewhat docile compared to other gecko species. This thin but large green or brown gecko is so named after the white line that runs the length of its back (and has the nickname “Skunk Gecko” as it resembles a skunk).
This uniquely colored gecko is not only attractive to look at but it also possessed some of the characteristics that herpetologists look for in pet lizards including the ability to climb, unique behavioral characteristics (curling of the tail when disturbed) and the ability to live in small communities. In comparison to some other species of gecko, the white-lined gecko is relatively easy to care for in addition to being mild-mannered which is what makes this the perfect choice for newcomers to gecko keeping.
Native Country: Indo-Australian Archipelago
Aquarium Type: It is recommended that a tank is around twenty gallons in order to accommodate a pair of lizards or thirty-five gallons or larger to accommodate three.
Living Conditions: While most geckos prefer to live in solitary environments, the white-lined gecko is capable of thriving in a communal tank if the tank is large enough.
Ideal Temperature: Like most geckos, the white-lined gecko requires a high level of humidity in its tank in addition to high temperatures.
Size: Up to 10 inches
Life Span: 10 to 20 years.
Nutrition: Mostly insects and crickets.
The Central American banded gecko is a variety of gecko that spends the majority of its life on the forest floor rather than in trees. They are a nocturnal species (vs diurnal), meaning they make the majority of their movements during the night.
Nocturnal species are not always the best choice for amateur herpetologists who want to see a lot of activity from their pet gecko. Central American banded geckos are known for their beautiful patterns.
They are one of the hardiest species, but are not fond of being frequently handled since they prefer to rest during daytime.
Native Country: Guatemala southward towards Costa Rica.
Aquarium Type: This gecko species is happy to live in a plastic shoebox type aquarium or a more traditional glass aquarium. Look for a ten gallon size for a breeding pair. These geckos can’t climb, which reduces the risk of them leaving their enclosure unexpectedly.
Living Conditions: It’s important to offer a selection of hiding places that can provide security. Not only do Central American banded geckos like to hide out during the day while they rest but these lizards also utilize seclusion when laying eggs and shedding skin.
Size: Up to 7 inches
Life Span:10 to 20 years.
Nutrition: Young crickets a few times per week and wax worms occasionally. And fresh daily water supply.
This is from a Pets 101 segment courtesy of Animal Planet TV. If you’re not squeamish, geckos are a cool and exotic pet!
The Madagascar ocelot gecko can be either striped or banded in pattern and during the day prefers to hide under leaves, sand or rocks in order to rest before nocturnal hunting. One of the most recognizable features of this gecko is the large head that it utilizes to dig under sand and cover itself during the day which is why many people refer to this lizard as the “big headed gecko.”
Uniquely this species of gecko is a prolific breeder and is known to lie between twenty to thirty eggs per laying season.
Native Country: Madagascar and arid regions of South Madagascar.
Aquarium Type: A larger aquarium like this one made with high quality thick, high hardness tempered glass with a tough screen top provides ventilation and allows UVB and infrared penetration.
Living Conditions: The Madagascar ocelot gecko is much like the Central American banded gecko in that it prefers to live as part of a breeding pair or as a single male with two females.
Ideal Temperature: Unlike many other geckos because of its natural arid environment, this gecko prefers to live in a lower humidity aquarium with a higher temperature of between 82 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. While this gecko does require lower humidity levels, we recommend spraying the sides of the terrarium with water daily to provide adequate moisture.
Size: Up to 5 inches long, they are recognizable by their rather large heads.
Life Span: 6 to 10 years.
Nutrition: Young crickets and mealworms and a daily supply of clean water. Because these geckos lay so many eggs during a single season, it is critical to provide them with a healthy level of calcium supplementation since much of their calcium reserves will go into egg production.
The frog eyed gecko is another nocturnal gecko known for burrowing. These terrestrial geckos are also commonly called “plate tailed” or “wonder geckos.” The more commonly recognized of the frog eyed gecko species is the Roborowski’s gecko. Roborowski’s gecko features brownish-orange bands across its body.
The scales of this gecko are fishlike and are used by the gecko in an attempt to scare away predators when it feels that it is being threatened. The rattling of scales is not only used as a method of self-defense, but Roborowski’s gecko also uses this display as a mating courtship behavior and a method of establishing their territory to other males of the species.
Native Country: Turpan, China – a location in northwestern China where the temperatures are extremely high in the summer and extremely low in the winter.
Aquarium Type:Like many of the geckos previously mentioned Roborowski’s gecko generally thrives as a part of a pair and they prefer to live in terrariums of around 15 to 20 gallons so that there is enough room for both geckos to thrive.
Living Conditions: These geckos prefer moist sand for burrowing, and fresh water for drinking.
Ideal Temperature: The Roborowski’s gecko manages to survive in these extreme temperatures by burrowing into the sandy desert where it can maintain a healthy body temperature. When kept in a terrarium this gecko species requires a large layer of sand in the bottom of the aquarium in order to be able to burrow.
Maintaining the proper temperature of a Roborowski gecko’s terrarium can be tricky since they require high levels of heat in addition to temperature drops during the night and winter. This can be attained through the use of a heat lamp.
Size: 4.5 to 5.5 inches
Life Span: Up to 20 years.
Nutrition: The Roborowski’s gecko is most active in the early afternoon and prefers to feed at that time on a diet of young crickets and mealworms.
The leopard gecko is a species of gecko that is commonly carried in pet stores.
Native Country: South-Asian Afghanistan, Pakistan, Northwest India.
Aquarium Type: The appropriate size terrarium for the leopard gecko varies based on how many are being kept in one tank. These geckos prefer to be housed in breeding pairs or alone. A 10 to 20 gallon aquarium is recommended for housing one to two leopard geckos, but the larger choice is preferred to allow enough space for hiding places and plants.
Living Conditions: Prefers to live in rocky areas or grasslands (as opposed to sandy areas). The leopard gecko can thrive in glass or plastic aquariums that offer a secure hiding place.
Ideal Temperature: Between 82 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit, but they generally thrive much more when night time brings a drop in temperatures.
Size: 6 to 10 inches.
Life Span: 6 to 10 years. However, they have been known to live as long as 20 years.
Nutrition: Leopard geckos prefer to feed on young crickets and mealworms like most other geckos.
The gargoyle gecko (or New Caledonian bumpy gecko) is considered one of the easiest types of geckos to care for so they are recommended for amateur reptile keepers.
Native Country: New Caledonia
Aquarium Type: The gargoyle gecko requires a tank at a minimum of 20 gallons, but the larger the tank, the happier the gecko will be. This aquarium has a raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater and the front doors can open separately to easily feed and prevent escape.
Living Conditions: This species of gecko can live in small groups with a single male and multiple females. Keeping multiple male gargoyle geckos in a single tank is not conducive to healthy living as they may fight. Unlike many of the other geckos covered in this article, the gargoyle gecko is a tree-dwelling lizard and thrives in taller vivariums.
Ideal Temperature: Prefers a tank that has a temperature between 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with a drop to the low 70’s at night. Since these geckos prefer cooler areas at times, it is important have a section of the tank unheated, so that they can move to help regulate their body temperature.
Size: Approximately 8 inches long including the tail.
Life Span:15 to 20 years.
Nutrition: The gargoyle gecko feeds on many things including live insects and crested gecko good such as this Pangea Fruit mix, formulated with insects as one of the main ingredients. It contains dried fruits, whey protein isolate, egg, bee pollen, algaes, probiotics, and more.
Want to build the ultimate home for your gecko? Our reptile terrarium guide gives you step-by-step instructions on constructing your own reptile terrarium for your gecko. It covers everything from ground covering to climate, temperature, size and materials of tanks.
And if you are the proud parent of a crested gecko you won’t want to miss our ultimate guide to the crested gecko.
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