How to Raise Geckos

By Carlye Jones

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A gecko's needs may be simple, but if they aren't met he can quickly become an unhealthy, unhappy pet. Set up his home to mimic his natural environment as closely as possible, complete with plants and rocks; keep his cage and water clean; and give him the right nutrition, and your gecko can provide you with entertaining company for as long as 20 years.

Housing

Geckos don't need a large amount of space, and a 10- to 20-gallon aquarium is large enough to make a home for a single lizard. Two geckos can be kept in a 10-gallon aquarium, as long as they are not two males, who might fight over territory. Provide plenty of hiding places for your gecko, including at least one on the cooler end of the tank, and one on the warmer end. Plants, either real or silk, as well as rocks, hollow half-logs and even small plastic containers make good hiding places that help your gecko feel safe and secure. Place a few rocks with fairly flat tops throughout the enclosure to give your gecko a place to bask.

Light and Heat

Your gecko needs 12-14 hours of light each day, but since his tank will overheat if placed in the sun, use an overhead bulb. Make sure it is far enough away from the top of the enclosure, usually at least 18 inches, so that he won't get overheated if he basks in the light. Keep the overall tank temperature between about 75 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but no lower than 70 or higher than 90 degrees. You can use a combination of light and heating pads to regulate the temperature, and it may be helpful to allow one end of the tank to be warmer than the other so your gecko can move around his home to regulate his body temperature. Use a quality thermometer to monitor the temperature.

Food and Water

Crickets are a popular food for geckos, but should be either fed or dusted with calcium and vitamin D powder before you offer them to your pet to make sure he gets the vitamins he needs. Feed juvenile geckos daily and adult geckos two to four times per week. Substitute the calcium and vitamin D powder with a multivitamin two to four times per month. As an alternative to crickets, offer your gecko meal worms, earthworms, slugs, silk worms, moths, grasshoppers and even baby mice. Give him only as much as he'll eat in about 15 minutes. Keep a shallow bowl of clean water in the tank at all times.

Substrate

Choose bedding or flooring material that is easy to clean and won't harm your gecko if he eats some of it, like paper products, such as paper towels, newspaper and pulp litter. You also can use artificial turf, aquarium gravel and synthetic sand designed for use in reptile habitats. Place moistened vermiculite under enclosed hiding spots to boost humidity and encourage proper shedding. This also is a good place for females to lay eggs, if necessary.

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