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Leopard Geckos: The Most Popular Pet Gecko
Popular and Easy to Care For
Leopard geckos are one of the most popular pet geckos for good reason. They are easy to care for, handleable, and come in a variety of bright colors. Native to Afghanistan, Iran, and India, these nocturnal geckos are terrestrial and prefer to hide during the day.
To house a leopard gecko, you will need at minimum a 20 gallon long aquarium with a secure mesh or screen lid. Provide a heat lamp and under tank heater to maintain a temperature of 88 to 92 F. Leopard geckos are insectivores, so feed juvenile geckos insects like crickets, mealworms and waxworms 2-3 times a week. Adults can be fed 2-3 times a week. Always provide a shallow water bowl for drinking.
Leopard geckos do not require high humidity, so only mist them occasionally. Provide a humid hide box with damp moss or paper towels. Replace the moss or paper towels once a week or if it becomes soiled. Provide additional hides for your gecko to get away from the heat and feel secure. Add branches or platforms at multiple levels for climbing and basking opportunities.
Leopard geckos can live 15-20 years, so they are a long term commitment. However, for those looking for an easy to care for pet reptile, the leopard gecko is an excellent choice. Their hardiness, longevity, and docile nature make them suitable for owners of all experience levels.
Crested Geckos: Unique “Eyelash” Geckos
Crested Geckos: Unique “Eyelash” Geckos
As their common name suggests, crested geckos have distinctive eyelash-like appendages. These New Caledonian geckos are also known as crested lizards or eyelash geckos due to their characteristic soft, fleshy protuberances found above their eyes.
Crested geckos are one of the most popular pet geckos due to their docile temperament, easy care requirements, and range of color morphs. They do not have sticky toe pads like most other geckos, but instead have claws that enable them to climb vertical surfaces. Crested geckos can live 15-20 years, so they are a long-term commitment.
Some key points to consider when purchasing a crested gecko:
- Crested geckos do not require live insects, as they eat a powdered diet as well as some fruits. This makes them very easy to feed.
- Crested geckos need a tropical rainforest environment. Their enclosure should be at least 20 gallons, with humidity around 70-80%, temperatures of 72-78 F, and live or artificial plants. Mist your gecko with lukewarm water or use an automatic mister.
- Crested geckos are arboreal, so their enclosure should be taller than wide, with branches or platforms at multiple levels. Provide hiding spots, foliage, and climbing areas.
- Handle crested geckos gently and sparingly, as too much handling can stress them. Never grab a gecko by its tail, as it can drop off.
- Look for a gecko with bright, clear eyes; supple, shed-free skin; and a fat, rounded tail. Check that all limbs move properly and that there are no visible parasites.
With the proper care and environment, crested geckos can make delightful and hardy pets. Their unique ‘eyelashes,’ colors, and easy-going nature are sure to make them a favorite in your home.
Gargoyle Geckos: Colorful Geckos That Don’t Need Crickets
Gargoyle geckos are a visually striking and engaging type of gecko that does not require a diet of live crickets and insects. Their colorful markings and patterns are appealing to observe in a home environment.
Gargoyle geckos are frugivorous, meaning they consume fruits and fruit-based diets. A commercially-prepared powdered diet can provide gargoyle geckos with all the nutrients they require. These powdered diets are mixed with water to create a smoothie-like consistency that gargoyle geckos eagerly lap up. The convenience of not needing live feeder insects is appealing to many owners.
Size and Lifespan
Gargoyle geckos are a medium-sized gecko, reaching up to 9 inches in length. Females tend to be slightly larger than males. With proper care, gargoyle geckos can live 15-20 years, so they are a long commitment. Due to their longevity, they are best suited to owners dedicated to caring for them for potentially decades.
Gargoyle geckos should be housed in an enclosure at least 18 inches high, 12 inches deep, and 12 inches wide. Provide multiple hiding spots, climbing areas, and foliage for your gargoyle gecko. A heat lamp and UVB light should be used to maintain a temperature of 77 to 82 F. Mist your gargoyle gecko with lukewarm water or place a shallow water bowl in the enclosure to raise the humidity. Gargoyle geckos are arboreal, so vertical space and climbing areas are appreciated.
Captive-Bred vs. Wild-Caught
It is best to obtain a captive-bred gargoyle gecko. Wild-caught geckos may be more prone to health issues and have shorter lifespans. Captive-bred geckos are also better socialized and acclimate more readily to handling and interaction with their owners. For the health, longevity, and temperament of your gargoyle gecko, captive-bred is the way to go.
African Fat-Tailed Geckos: Handleable Geckos That Eat Mealworms
African Fat-Tailed Geckos are another popular pet gecko that can be handled and eats mealworms. Like leopard geckos, African Fat-Tailed Geckos are terrestrial, meaning they live on the ground. They are docile, easy to care for, and enjoy human interaction and handling.
House African Fat-Tailed Geckos in a 20 gallon long aquarium or enclosure with a secure mesh or screen lid. Provide a heat lamp and under tank heater to maintain a temperature of 82-88 F. Include hiding spots, climbing areas, and other furnishings. Mist your gecko with lukewarm water or give it access to a shallow water bowl for drinking.
Feed your African Fat-Tailed Gecko a diet of live insects like mealworms, waxworms, and crickets 2-3 times a week. Gut-load feeder insects before offering them to your gecko. Dust the insects with a calcium and vitamin powder to ensure your gecko gets proper nutrition. Always have fresh, clean water available for your gecko as well.
African Fat-Tailed Geckos can become quite tame and enjoy frequent, gentle interaction and handling. Handle your gecko for 10-15 minutes a day to help socialize it. Support its whole body when handling and never grab its tail. Be very careful when handling hatchlings. Always wash and rinse your hands before and after handling any reptile.
Take your African Fat-Tailed Gecko for annual checkups with a vet experienced with reptiles. Watch for signs of illness like lethargy, loss of appetite, discharge from the nose or eyes, or diarrhea. Quarantine new geckos for at least 30-60 days before introducing them to the rest of your collection.
With the proper care and handling, an African Fat-Tailed Gecko can live 15-20 years and make a wonderfully interactive pet. Their easygoing nature and mealworm diet makes them suitable for keepers of all experience levels.
Mourning Geckos: Tiny Geckos That Don’t Need Lighting
Mourning geckos are one of the smallest gecko species available in the pet trade. As their name suggests, mourning geckos are primarily nocturnal and do not require UVB lighting, making them ideal for beginners.
Due to their small size, mourning geckos can be housed in enclosures as small as 10 gallons. Provide multiple hiding spots, climbing areas, and foliage to give these active geckos opportunities for exercise and enrichment. A secure mesh or screen lid is recommended as these geckos can climb smooth surfaces.
Mourning geckos do not require any special heating or lighting. Room temperature will suffice for these tropical geckos. However, a low wattage heat lamp can be provided if temperatures drop below 65 F. Always monitor temperatures to ensure they remain in the appropriate range.
Feed mourning geckos a diet of small feeder insects 2-3 times a week. Pinhead crickets, fruit fly cultures, and mealworms are all suitable feeders for these tiny geckos. Gut-load feeder insects before offering to ensure maximum nutrition.
Always have a shallow water bowl available for drinking. Misting the enclosure to increase humidity will also provide moisture for these geckos to drink.
Mourning geckos are quick and can be difficult to handle. Only handle occasionally and for short periods to minimize stress. Never grab a gecko by its tail, as it may drop its tail in defense. Always scoop a gecko gently with both hands.
With the proper care and enclosure, mourning geckos can live 4-6 years and reach up to 3 inches in length. Females are capable of parthenogenesis, meaning they can reproduce without males. This allows mourning geckos to establish colonies quickly. However, breeding is not recommended for beginners.
Mourning geckos make interesting and active pets for gecko enthusiasts. Their small size, simple care requirements, and intriguing reproductive abilities give these geckos appeal for experts and novices alike. With some patience, these shy geckos can become quite tame and socialized to handling.