Geckos are small-size reptiles with a relatively long lifespan. They are relevantly easy to look after. They are steadily becoming a popular choice for countless reptile enthusiasts. Before getting a gecko, learn more about this unique pet and how to care for one.
1. What species of geckos can I keep as pets?
Geckos can be found on every continent except Antarctica. There are approximately 1,600 species of geckos that exist worldwide. However, not all of them are common choices to be kept as pets. If you are planning to get one as a pet, here are some gecko species that are better suited as house pets:
Leopard geckos, also known as leos, are one of the most popular species of geckos. They make good beginner pets since they are highly adaptable and easy to care for. Males should not be housed together since they are prone to territorial aggression. On the other hand, one male can live with multiple females.
What do leopard geckos eat?
Crickets and mealworms are food staples for geckos, including leos. Meanwhile, superworms and waxworms should be occasional treats only.
New Caledonian Giant Gecko
This species is considered the largest of all geckos. Breeding New Caledonian giants take time, and they are of limited availability. Thus, getting one of these is relevantly expensive.
New Caledonian giants are not the best choice as pets for children or beginner owners. That’s because they are less sociable than other species. It is okay to keep a pair of male and female New Caledonian giants in one enclosure. But do not place more than two in a tank since they are very territorial.
Gargoyle geckos are another species ideal for newbie pet owners. They are remarkable-looking reptiles that are relevantly low-maintenance. This species should not be kept in groups as they can be aggressive towards each other.
It is not advisable to put a male and a female in the same tank. It’s because the male will likely steal food from the female, and he might even bite off her tail.
There was a time when crested geckos were believed to be extinct. Luckily, they were rediscovered back in 1994. Their popularity continues to rise throughout the years.
They are hardy pets that do not require high levels of maintenance. This makes them a good match for pet owners with a busy lifestyle.
Housing a small group of them is okay. However, the group should be composed of one male, and the rest must be females. Avoid keeping males in one enclosure since they will fight each other. Separate hatchlings and baby juveniles from adult ones as they are viewed as food and will likely get eaten.
This is also known as Gekko gecko, the second-largest species of geckos. They got their name from the croaking sounds they make: “To-kay! To-kay!” They are best suited for experienced pet owners as they have slightly aggressive tendencies.
However, they do mellow down once they get used to their new environment and are properly cared for. Do not house males together, or they will end up fighting. Keeping two females is fine as they are rarely aggressive to one another. A male and female pair can live harmoniously together as well.
Mourning geckos are largely composed of females. They are parthenogenetic. They lay eggs without needing to have sexual intercourse with males. It is quite rare for them to have a male offspring. Most of the time, males in this species tend to be sterile.
They are great pets for first-time pet owners as well as advanced hobbyists. They are easy to care for and highly sociable. Since this species consists mostly of females, they can be kept in groups as they are rarely aggressive towards each other.
African Fat-tailed Gecko
This species shares a close resemblance to leopard geckos. Their distinguishing features are their fat tails, which function as fat storage.
They have a relaxed nature and love human contact. Having said that, they can easily get stressed, so be sure to handle them with great care.
When housing multiple African fat-tailed geckos, males should be kept in separate enclosures, an all-female group or pair is all right as they are less territorial than males. A group consisting of one male and multiple females is okay too.
Common House Gecko
Common house geckos are plenty in number, making them very easy to obtain. Most of them can be caught right at home. Since they usually dwell in houses, this species is quick to adjust to their environment.
They are fleet-footed, which makes them hard to handle. Thus, they are best admired in their enclosures. A group of females with one male can be housed together, but never put two males in the same cage.
In general, geckos are nocturnal species, which means they sleep during the day and are active at night. However, day geckos, as you can tell by their name, are active during the day and snooze in the evening.
They have beautiful colours and patterns. They enjoy basking, climbing, and jumping on their enclosure. It is important to note, though, that these species are flighty; hence it’s best to observe them from afar. When housing multiple day geckos, the group should not have more than one male.
2. How do I choose a healthy gecko?
Make sure to begin your search by choosing a reputable breeder. Then, carefully examine the condition of the geckos that they are breeding. Here is a checklist that tells you that a gecko is healthy and in good condition:
- They have clear eyes with an alert look in them.
- They are quick on their feet and responsive.
- Their skin is clear and bereft of dry patches and mites.
- Their toes, fingers, and tails are complete.
- They have well-built bodies and possess a good appetite.
- The interior of their mouth is pinkish and smooth.
- They do not have dried urates or faeces on their bottom.
- Their head is free from swelling or lumps.
- Their nostrils do not have any mucous.
Do not forget to check the enclosure that they are kept in. If it is crowded and unkempt, it certainly indicates they lack proper care. Consider looking for another breeder if this is the case.
3. How to look after a gecko lizard
There are slight variations of care requirements from species to species. However, in general, these are the following things that you need to prepare when getting a pet gecko lizard:
Geckos are small reptiles, although some species tend to be a bit larger. The recommended size of the tank is ten or twenty gallons. Make sure that it has a secure lid to keep your pet from escaping. The enclosure should contain water bowls, branches to climb on, and a hiding place.
The tank should have a substrate as well to retain moisture. Choose a pet-safe one such as orchid bark or coconut husk. You may also opt for paper towels and newspapers as these are low-cost substrates. But it is not highly recommended since these materials often undergo bleaching and dying, which can harm your pet.
Approximately 70 and 90 degrees is the ideal temperature for most geckos. On the other hand, some may need higher basking temperature areas, which is about 100 degrees. To keep a proper temperature gradient in the enclosure, one side should have a temperature of 70 degrees. Meanwhile, the other side should be 90 or 100 degrees.
The humidity level of the aquarium should not go beyond 70% or 80%. Consider getting a hygrometer as it can easily help you measure the enclosure’s humidity. Placing a huge water bowl or spritzing the aquarium with water is an excellent way to increase the humidity levels.
You need to provide your gecko with a regulated day and night cycle. A white light must be visible in his enclosure during the day. Lack of it will lead him to get confused and stressed.
It is recommended that you invest in UVB-emitting bulbs, especially if your pet is active during the day. UVB rays help in regulating his appetite, circadian rhythm, and activity levels.
The most common foods for geckos are mealworms, waxworms, superworms, and crickets. Crickets and mealworms are suitable options as their daily meals, whilst superworms and waxworms should be given sparsely.
Be mindful of the insect’s size when buying. Their head should be no bigger than the width of your geckos head. Avoid picking ones that are too big as they can cause choking and stomach blockage.
Always feed these insects with a nutritious diet before feeding them to your gecko lizard. This ensures that your pet is consuming a meal that is loaded with nutrients.
Dusting the insects with calcium powder once in a while is advised too. It provides additional nutrition to your gecko. Freshwater should be available in their enclosure at all times.
In general, feeding should be done every other day. Adults can consume around two to ten insects, whilst baby geckos may eat approximately twenty insects at a single feeding.
4. Do geckos have teeth?
Geckos are born with teeth that are between fifty and one hundred in number. The satanic leaf-tailed geckos, however, possess over three hundred teeth. Throughout their lives, they will lose their teeth and regenerate them. Once an old tooth falls off, another one replaces it almost instantly.
Although they have numerous numbers of teeth, they don’t chew their food. Instead, they swallow it whole. Because of this eating habit, their teeth are not perfectly aligned. This makes it difficult for them to bite and munch on their food.
However, their teeth are still important to them as they primarily use it for hunting and killing their prey. So, do geckos bite? By nature, they are docile reptiles, but they turn into aggressive animals if threatened or provoked. To protect themselves from threats, they will bite.
5. Is it okay to hold a gecko?
It is better to watch them as they scamper around in their enclosure than handling them. Compared to cats and dogs, they are less likely to enjoy human touch. If you do want a gecko that is fine with being handled, crested geckos and leopard geckos are good options.
Be gentle when approaching and handling your gecko lizard. Avoid sudden movements as it can startle them. He might attempt to flee by jumping off or biting your hand, which is dangerous for both of you.
If your pet does not tolerate being touched, then do not force him. Never catch your gecko by his tail as it will drop as a form of defence mechanism. Although it naturally grows back, it may not look as it was before. Some tails that regrow tend to be deformed; for instance, they may be shorter than their original form.
6. How long do geckos live?
Geckos can live up to 10 to 20 years. Giving them proper housing, food, and care will greatly help in prolonging their life.
Owners must be aware, though, that geckos are susceptible to health problems. So, lookout for signs of illnesses such as drooling, wheezing, poor skin condition, mouth discolouration, loss of appetite, and lethargy. Early detection of symptoms means treating the health issue before it worsens. Thus, it can save your pet lizard’s life from imminent danger.
7. How much are geckos?
The prices for geckos may vary greatly depending on their species, breed, and age. They may cost as low as £25 to over £150. Some pet owners and breeders include the full vivarium or a few parts of the vivarium set-up, such as heating, egg store-box, lighting, and thermostat, when selling. Thus, the prices from responsible breeders tend to be higher, amounting from £100 to £350.