Pet Gecko Care Sheet

Author: Kristy Walker   Date Posted: 3 April 2018 

GECKO (Gekkonidae)

There are about 140 native geckos in Australia, and although we don’t have any native chameleon species, we have a wide variety of interesting and exotic types of geckos!

 

Geckos are a popular choice among reptile enthusiasts as they are one of the easier reptiles to care for. However, while they will tolerate moderate handling, they typically don’t like to be handled unnecessarily or cuddled, so they may not be the best choice for young children.

 

While you might see geckos in the wild, it’s important to never catch one. You will need to obtain your gecko from a domestic source and you may need a license. To check the licensing requirements in your state to keep a pet gecko, please check our Reptile Licence Forms.

 

Subspecies

Scientific Name

Natural Range

Barking/Thick-Tailed Gecko

Underwoodisaurus milii

Southern Australia

Knob Tailed Gecko

Nephrurus levis

Australia

Leaf-tail Gecko

Saltuarius eximius

Eastern Australia

Velvet Gecko

Oedura lesueurii

Coastal NSW/SE QLD

Western Spiny-tail Gecko

Strophurus strophurus

Western Australia

 

TERRARIUM

What kind of housing do geckos need?

Ideally, your gecko’s terrarium should have a natural look and feel, with plenty of live plants, rocks, and sand or gravel. You should also include a dark, safe hiding place - at least one for each gecko in your terrarium.

 

Your gecko, when fully grown, should be kept in a minimum terrarium of 30cm x 30cm x 30cm. If you wish to keep more than one gecko, you will need a larger enclosure - 60cm x 50cm x 50cm as a minimum. It should be well-ventilated with a secure lid that can be locked, to keep your gecko safe.

 

Geckos require a permanent water source. A water dish or, even better, running water is ideal for your terrarium. Your gecko will not only drink the water, but also bathe in it, so regular water changes are required.

 

Your terrarium will need a layer of natural substrate, such as fine sand. Unnatural substrate such as newspapers or paper towels should be avoided. 

 

 

TEMPERATURE

What temperature do geckos need?

Your gecko’s terrarium should have a warm and cool side. Two thermometers in your terrarium, one at each end, can help you monitor both temperatures. The warm side of the terrarium should be kept between 29-32°C, and the cool side between 19-24°C. A good general rule of thumb is to try and have the cool side 10°C cooler than the warm side.

 

Low wattage globes can be used to provide heat for your terrarium. If you are able to provide an under tank heater, this will allow your gecko to mimic natural behavior, and absorb heat from the soil, which can aid with their digestion.

 

Your gecko will use thermal regulation to keep his body temperature right, moving himself from the warm to cool side of his terrarium as needed. This regulation is essential for your gecko’s metabolism, digestion and immune system. 

 

Geckos also require humidity in the 10-30% range. A hygrometer in your terrarium will allow you to monitor their humidity. A fine spray of water every couple of days will also help with humidity levels.

 

 

LIGHTING AND DAY & NIGHT

What lights do geckos need?

Geckos are nocturnal and do not require ultraviolet light as your other reptiles may do, but they still require a day and night cycle. A 2.0 UV light can be used in your terrarium on a 10-12 hour cycle each day.  Your bulbs should be changed every 6 months, as they lose their strength over time.

If you’d like to enjoy watching your gecko at night, equip your terrarium with a night-specific bulb. This will allow you to watch what your gecko is doing without disrupting his evening activities. 

 

 

FOOD

What can I feed my pet gecko?

Geckos love insects! Your gecko will enjoy feasting on a variety of cricketsmealwormsand other bugs. Mealworms are best as an occasional treat. Live insects should be dusted with calcium powderor supplementsto boost the nutritional value for your gecko. Take care not to feed your gecko insects that are too large, as they may cause blockages.

 

Hatchling geckos will need to be fed daily, while your adult gecko will only need to be fed three to four times weekly. 

 

Your nocturnal gecko will prefer to hunt and eat in the evening, and food should only be provided in the late afternoon or at night. While feeding, particularly in summer, you can lightly mist your gecko’s face with water, which they can lick off and drink. 

 

 

COMPANIONS

What other pets can I keep with my gecko?

Your gecko should not be kept with other reptiles or babies. Adult males should not be housed together as this can cause aggression, fighting and injury. A single male can be kept in the same terrarium with several females, or several females can share a terrarium.

 

 

TERRARIUM DECORATIONS & ACCESSORIES

What can I add to my gecko’s terrarium?

In addition to your gecko’s water source, he will also need safe hiding places (one per gecko). These spaces should be safe, enclosed and dark. Caves, logs or rocks are ideal hiding spots and will allow your gecko to feel safe while he is sleeping during the day. A moist hiding place is where your gecko will hide when it’s time to shed his skin.

 

You can also provide your gecko with climbing spots using rocks and branches. 

 

Your terrarium should be layered with 5-8cm of a substrate such as fine sand. If your gecko is particularly small - 15cm or shorter - you may want to consider reptile carpet to avoid any geckos accidentally eating the sand. This should be spot checked daily and any mess cleaned, and completely changed once per month. 

 

 

LIFE SPAN

How long do geckos live for?

When well cared for, and if all his requirements are met, smaller geckos will live 3-5 years, while larger geckos can live to 10 years and beyond!

 

While the size of your gecko depends on his species, most geckos average between 10-13cm.

 

 

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