Care Info

Congrats on your new addition!! 

I’ve put together an extensive categorized list below, but these are just a few important things to get you started!

 

First things first: I’m sure you’re excited to have your new gecko, but handling should be kept to a minimum for the first month. Any new animal should be quarantined- hands washed before and after handling along with being housed alone.

Feeding should be done every other night. Note- You may not be able to tell if your gecko is eating by looking at its bowl. Look for poop! This is especially relevant when you have smaller geckos. If you have a younger gecko, even a water bottle sized cap won’t be finished!

We use distilled water for cleaning and misting (leaves no water spots!). Do not use bleach or other chemicals in your cage. Vinegar and water can be used to get water stains off. I use Jurassi-Clean Spray and Wipes. There is also a product call F10 that is used for cleaning reptile cages. I have a scrub brush from the dollar store designated for cleaning gecko items.

Spot clean as needed (they like to poop on the glass/front of the cage).

 

Geckos are crepuscular and even at night, if you have the lights on, they may not move.

 

Crested and Gargoyle geckos do NOT have eyelids. They lick their eyes if there’s anything on them. This also means you may not be able to tell when they’re sleeping. Some will have noticeably sunken eyes when sleeping.

 

Geckos have all sorts of Poop. Brown, white, black, what looks like half a cricket... It is all normal!

Geckos get STRESSED. Especially when being shipped, moved to a new enclosure, or too much handling, etc. Unlike humans, when they get stressed they will not eat. This could go on for 3 weeks. It happens. Just keep providing food for your gecko.

 

Geckos do lose their tails. It is not the end of the world but the gecko should be on paper towel until its butt heals completely. They do not grow back. {Gargoyle geckos tails do regenerate! They do not look the same as the original and it takes many months to a year for it to regrow}

 

Geckos shed! They will often eat their shed so you may never even see it happen. When they are about to shed they will look gray in color and do not stick too well. If a piece of shed gets stuck, you can use a moistened q-tip to help get it off. If that doesn’t work, try a gecko bath. Check out JB’s video HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSuirE906p0

Housing:

The size of your gecko’s housing will depend on the size of the animal. Younger smaller geckos (under 5 grams) can be kept in Medium/Large Critter Keepers. We would put no more than two in one Critter Keeper. Once geckos are 5 grams (or sooner if one is found to be male) geckos are separated and housed individually until adult size for breeding purposes.

 

Geckos are then moved up to 12x12x18 front opening terrariums (Exo-Terra or Zoo Med), this is equivalent to a 10 gallon. I would not recommend keeping anything at this size beyond about 25 grams unless it’s for quarantining. 15-20 gallon tanks are suitable for single adults. Gargoyle geckos can get up to 70 grams and may need a larger enclosure, adjust accordingly.

 

I use 18x18x18 front opening terrariums for a pair of adults and 18x18x24 for a trio.

Glass, acrylic, and plastic enclosures all work well. We do not recommend screen enclosures as it becomes very difficult to monitor and control the humidity.

 

Do not house known males together. Fighting, tail loss, and death could result. It’s not worth the risk. Even females can fight; I’ve seen it happen for no good reason. You should always be prepared to separate geckos.

 

Do not put animals together prior to quarantining them for 30 days. It does not matter who or where they come from, they need to be quarantined to avoid spread of anything they could potential be carrying and it allows you to monitor their health. This means last to handle, lots of hand washing, living alone, in another room if possible. When you first get a new gecko home, you should try to avoid handling for two weeks.

 

Do not house multiple sizes of geckos together. I do not house any that have more than a 10% weight difference between them.

 

When you are ready to put geckos together, do not simply put one gecko into another’s cage. Take everything out and clean it, mix up the plants, put them back in. They can get territorial.

 

Do not put a male and female together unless you have the intentions to breed, and even then, they should be at bare minimum 30 grams for males and 35 grams for females. I prefer 35 grams for males and 40 for females. Once you know you have a boy, separate!

 

Décor/Substrate:

Substrate is a personal preference. I use paper towel for ease of cleaning and health monitoring. I have used ecoearth/cocobark/moss in a naturalistic setup. However, it became a pain when my females came to breeding age and would just dig and lay where they pleased. There is also the issue of impaction that has been raised by eating substrate when feeding live insects. It’s for these reasons I do not recommend using it. It does look nice though... (heck I have three planted vivs - two bavayia cyclura and one giant day gecko!),

 

The gecko’s enclosure should be decorated with plants, sticks, vines, flowers, etc. You can use real plants, I do not, so I cannot speak to what you should use. Tried it with the naturalistic setup and they would just sumo-wrestle the plants. Please make sure the plants are safe for your geckos if you choose to go that route. When selecting fake plants, make sure there are no sharp ends/points that your gecko could get hurt on. Some silk/plastic plants and flowers have dyes that will bleed. It’s hard to know this when you are at the store trying to buy it, but if you rub the plant with your fingers, you should be able to tell if the dye will come off. I use bamboo sticks in my cages. They are available at Hobby Lobby and sometimes Target. Cut them down to size of your cage. I also use cork rounds/flats as climbing surfaces.  If you buy plants from the pet store, you will notice that the suction cups can’t always hold up to your geckos weight on them. I buy a pack of all plastic suction cups at the dollar store and add them to the plants.

 

There should be a significant amount of hiding and climbing spaces for your gecko, not a bunch of empty space.

 

You should have a dish that you put your food in. Some of my geckos have mushroom ledges with dish spots, some have custom made shelves, others have the cheap, easy to clean $1 petco food dishes in them. I've never noticed a difference between where a food bowl is located and how they eat.

Temperature, Lighting, Humidity:

Temperatures can vary between 67-77 degrees (my recommendation). Our gecko room is regulated to be 72 during the day and 69 at night right now.

 

These geckos DO NOT need heat lights or heat pads at all. If your house drops below 65 degrees, I would get a LOW grade heat bulb but really, I would suggest moving them to a warmer part of the house or not owning them. If you're hitting 80 degrees in the summer, also, please think of the animals and not what you want. 

Humidity 

 

You also do not need to provide UV/UVB lighting for these geckos. You can, but it's not necessary. Some say it has benefits, some say it's just for plants or for their viewing pleasure.

 

Diet:

This is topic up for a great amount of debate at this point in time.  For the novice gecko owner, I would recommend sticking with just one diet. Commercially available diets include Black Panther Zoological, Pangea Complete, Leapin' Leachies,  ZooMed, GeckoPro, Clarks., BFG, and Repashy. We currently feed Pangea, Leapin' Leachies, and Repashy on rotation. We have the best overall luck with the Watermelon flavor Pangea. Ours also love that flavor combined with Repashy Cherry Bomb or Leapin Leachies Chewy Linguine (1:4 ratio mixed with other diets). As a treat, we blend fresh mango with Minerall Calcium and a little Pangea once every 2 weeks. We do not recommend feeding the store branded diets from Petco or Petsmart, etc at this time.

 

You can use different size caps as food bowls for my geckos such as water bottle, Gatorade, green tea, etc. all washed out beforehand. We use reusable silicone caps (pop bottle sized for 15 grams and under, 2 ounce size for adults).

I keep small shallow water dishes in my geckos’ enclosures 15 grams and up. Some will never touch them, others will drink out of them.

 

Depending on the diet you choose you do not have to feed insects if you don’t want to. Other diets you have to feed them weekly for protein and other nutrients not a part of the diet. Read the label to find out. If you are feeding insects, they should not be longer than the width between your gecko’s eyes. We recommend using crickets or dubias (our preference). You can feed the crickets and dubias old crested gecko diet to gut-load them.  Dubias have more nutritional value than crickets. We do not recommend using different type of worms (meal, wax, etc.) especially those with hard exoskeleton/shell though some people have luck with them. Do not feed more crickets than your gecko can eat in one sitting, as the crickets can and will crawl on your gecko and bite them. W feed dubias in glass/smooth sided dishes (this way they can’t climb out). Dust your insects with calcium (like Repti-Cal or Miner-All). Also, we do not recommend feeding bugs more than once a week, preferably longer, as they will ONLY eat their bugs and skip out on their food which as more nutrients (think how kids would rather have mac and cheese in every meal rather than every touching something balanced). We feed insects every two weeks.

Breeding:
Please do not think you are going to start breeding geckos and quit your day job. We both work full time, have this whole gecko thing, and I’m still not sure I'm making a profit. Money should not be your motivation for breeding; it should be better the species by breeding healthy, well-structured, beautiful animals. Never breed just because you can.


That being said, you will obviously need an adult male and female. Bare minimum weights would be 30 grams for a male and 35 grams for a female (crested). For gargoyle, add AT LEAST 10 grams for each. I prefer both to be bigger, especially for the females, since laying eggs does take a toll on their health.  Most of my crested breeders are 40-50 grams, I have some girls that are near 70 grams.  Our ideal group is 1 male to 2 females.


When selecting your breeders, you want to keep a few things in mind: head structure, parents/lineage, and desirability.
You do not want to breed a gecko with no or poor crests. It’s not doing anything for the species. There are a few exceptions, when the rest of the gecko is phenomenal and you are breeding to a mate that has exceptional head structure. Temperature can affect the head development when incubating, but if you’re finding that it’s not making a difference, I would not continue breeding a pair that is constantly producing babies with poor structure.

With the love/hate relationship people have with Dalmatian spots, you may have people who want to know about the lines a gecko comes from. Spotless geckos can produced spotted babies and vice versa. You also want to know about their structure and colors as well.
Desirability goes two ways… One - if it will sell. Two - if it doesn’t, are you going to want to have this gecko in your collection? Never breed something you wouldn’t want to keep yourself. Keep in mind, a one night stand for a gecko could mean clutches for the next year. Are you ready to care for 16+ babies? Do not count on your friends to buy them from you.


If that last part was puzzling… Geckos can retain sperm for up to a year. We have no way of knowing how long they will retain, if they will retain, but they can and do as they please.  This is also why when you pick a male, stick with it. If you decide part way through the season you want to try another male, I would HIGHLY suggest you don’t. You could put the male in and still be getting eggs from the previous pairing. You have no way of knowing the lineage this way. Change males after cooling a female in the winter.


How To Breed: You put them together. Hope for the best. That’s it. Just kidding.

 

You need to monitor their health by keeping record of their weight and checking for any bite marks. If you are noticing that the geckos are fighting, they may not be a compatible pair. This does not happen too often, but you need to be ready for it. There is some nipping by the male to get their female to cooperate... I count 28 days from the day the geckos are paired and start watching for digging in the lay box.


Lay boxes are where the geckos lay… they are usually some sort of plastic container (I use the off brand Ziploc food containers with a hole cut in the cover for entry). You can use a variety of lay box materials including vermiculite, perlite, sphagnum peat moss, eco earth… it’s all personal preference. We are currently using spaghnum moss in our layboxes. Put about two inches of the material in the boxes and make sure it’s moist, not dry.


Some females will dig and lay all in the same night, others will dig and stay in there for a few days (labor?). Others will be jerks and lay outside of the box. You really have to monitor your females and get to know their habits. For example, I have females who are always on the top of their cage, except those two days before they lay they go to the bottom and plop out eggs in the paper towel. If you are using paper towel and you notice a bunch torn up, odds are, there are eggs in that mess. Be careful.


Some breeders will mark the top of the eggs with a pencil so they do not rotate the eggs. Some even put the date and breeder on the egg. I keep it simple. I have my incubation box ready to go next to me, put two little indentations in the incubation material and carefully move the eggs into their spots. I label the outside of the container with date and dam.


Eggs will hatch between 40-120 days, this will vary depending on temperature. Colder temps, longer incubation, better structure and size.  Warmer temps, shorter incubation, poor structure, smaller size. Generally speaking. Temps to incubate: 66-80 degrees. Mine are currently kept at 72 degrees during the day and 68 degrees at night. I’m looking at 90 day incubation. You must also monitor the humidity in the container according the material you are using.


Once babies hatch, place them in their new enclosure.
I’m sure I’m missing something on this… Let me know if you’d like me to include more.

© 2020 LGP Gecko

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