Gecko - How to Care for a Gecko

Gecko - How to Care for a Gecko
The gecko is very different from most lizards. Their head has a more triangular shape than the lizard’s V shaped head. Many geckos have little suction cup feet allowing them to cling to just about anything. Most geckos, unlike lizards, are able to store fat in their tails to avoid starving when food is sparse. However, like many lizards they are autotomous, which means they can drop their tail and make a run for it. They leave their predator with a wiggly tail, and most of their lunch missing. This is the reason why you should never pick up a gecko by the tail. The tail is going to grow back but never as beautiful as the original.

Few gecko lizards produce any sound, while many geckos do vocalize, using sounds for a variety of reasons; one is to warn intruders. This means they can also hear. It’s possible with some geckos to look through their ear to the other side and see daylight and no, they are not blond. I can tell blond jokes because I was born blond.

Think about your pet or pets when blasting your music, this can cause severe injury to their ears. You are responsibly for their health and well-being.

Remember that exotic pets require considerably different care than say a pet dog or cat. You need to learn as much as you possibly can about the exotic pet you want before purchasing. You also need to make sure you have his habitat and all supplies ready before bringing your pet lizard home.

Make sure you can afford an exotic pet before purchasing your pet. The daily diet and vet bills can be expensive.

Look for a gecko that is healthy with a nice fat tail, alert, and has bright colors. Take a fecal (fresh) sample to a veterinarian that specializes in Herpetology (herp vet) to check for parasites.

There is approximately 700 different species of the gecko ranging in size from 1 ½ inch to 14 – 15 inches long. One variety that is popular as a pet is the Leopard Gecko. This is just one of the species that is captive bred. Buying captive bred exotic pets protects the population of these animals. A captive bred gecko helps protect humans from the vermin found on wild lizards and other herps. The Leopard Gecko is usually calm, gentle and rarely bites unless relentlessly provoked. They are also quite content to sit on your shoulder while you read, watch TV, or simply enjoying your pet. They do look as if they enjoy human interaction, unlike many species in the lizard family. Another popular pet gecko is the Crested Gecko. Most geckos are nocturnal.

Other gecko’s, people have as pets, would be the African Fat Tailed Geckos named because of their fat tail. The Fat Tailed Gecko is more shy and docile than the Tokay Gecko.

The Tokay Gecko is bigger, more aggressive and can give a nasty bite. In fact, they may seek you out just to be hostile. Another words, you may find a Tokay stuck to your toe. They may become less hostile but this is not the norm. They are more vocal than other geckos and the sound is where the name is derived from (To-Kay) The Tokay has beautiful markings but I don’t recommend them as a pet.

Day Geckos are one of the few geckos that are not nocturnal they are diurnal (active at day). They are very good climbers. They are not a pet for beginners they are thinned skin and delicate. They are territorial and need to be housed separate from other geckos. All male geckos of any species should be housed separately. They prefer a vertical enclosure with tall vegetation to climb. Add a few horizontal plants such a bamboo to bask. Some Day Geckos have different needs than other Day Geckos (there is over 60 species of Day Geckos) for example the Phelsuma barbouri prefers a horizontal enclosure.

Madagascar Ground Geckos are smaller around eight to ten inches. They do not climb as other geckos do. They are quite docile normally, once they get to know you, as with the Leopard Gecko they make a good starter pet gecko.

A gecko needs at least a fifteen-gallon aquarium or reptile type enclosure. In all but a few special cases, bigger is better. A vivarium specially made for reptiles is perfect. If using a screened cage make sure his hidey-hole is kept humidified. Don’t use small or dusty substrate, for example, sand they will ingest it; leading to serious problems. Use gravel, paper substrate (paper toweling or newspaper no colored ink), cypress mulch, coconut fiber bedding, or orchid bark. Some people use Reptile carpet but I have seen the problem of the geckos becoming stuck. Cleaning up after a gecko is quite easy. They will pick their favorite corner to use as a toilet. Don’t house more than one male gecko. They will fight to the death.

Provide a moist hidey-hole for the gecko. Mist the hidey box daily. The gecko will need this moisture for shedding. The new disposable freezer containers work great. Cut a hole in the top and add damp peat moss/vermiculite mixture. The gecko needs to have a heated enclosure provide a warmer and cooler end. They should not have heat rocks; these have caused serious burns. Geckos don’t need the extreme heat that bearded dragons and other reptiles need. One side of the enclosure should be at a norm room temperature (around 75F) ascending to the warm end of 85F to 90F. You can achieve this with an under tank heater on one end of the habitat, or a 75 watt red light bulb, or possibly a ceramic brooder lamp. Use an accurate thermometer. They are cold-blooded and cannot make their own heat. Protect the gecko from the heat source.

Supposedly, geckos don’t need the UV lighting as other lizards do. They should have a twelve hour light-dark cycle. I think some exposure to UV is beneficial to the gecko’s skeletal structure.

Most geckos like foliage in their cage, use non-poisonous plants such as broad-leaved houseplants or ferns. Safe artificial vegetation can be used but many can have harmful chemicals, dye etcetera. Some geckos prefer a desert theme. Just make sure the vegetation does not reach to the top of the enclosure. You don’t want them escaping. In addition, it is a good idea to make sure the top is secure and locked.

Geckos are carnivorous meaning they don’t eat plants. Feed gut loaded crickets about half the size of the gecko’s head. They should be dusted with vitamins and minerals such as RepCal and Herptivite. Go two days RepCal one Herptivite, or mix just enought to use for one feeding. They can also be fed mealworms. Use wax worms only as a treat they have few nutrients and a lot of fat. Super worms, butter worms, silkworms, and pinkies can also be used feed the gecko every other day to every day. Dubia Roaches work great too. I like them because they don’t stink as bad as a cricket does, and don’t make a lot of noise at night. Start the food in a dish; they can also learn to take the prey right from your fingers. Remove the prey from the cage after about thirty minutes. The prey could harm your gecko. Fill a sanitized jar lid with calcium/vitamin-mineral powder for your pet gecko.

I highly recommend raising your own prey. You have no idea if the prey you purchased has had a healthy diet. What your prey eats, is what your gecko eats; plain and simple.

Provide a shallow dish for fresh water (make sure the gecko can see and reach the water). Change water frequently. Take good care of your gecko they are capable of living a long life; known to live up to 20-30 years.

Geckos come in a wide variety of beautiful patterns and colors. Each has needs slightly or considerably different from others. Educate yourself; know all there is to know about geckos before bringing one home. Have everything ready for your pet gecko before he or she arrives. Buy only captive bred geckos for your own safety and the protection of our environment. Above all else enjoy your pet gecko!

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