Gecko Bytes: Gecko Care

PetMD Editorial
Updated: March 22, 2016
Published: September 04, 2009
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Gecko Care 101

If you’re thinking about getting yourself a gecko for company, congratulations! They make great pets. However, there is more to gecko care than putting it in a tank and feeding it a grape and a cricket every now and then.

The Setup: Building a Home

Geckos need a home that will suit the size they will grow into, and that suits their particular species. Begin by researching the type of gecko you want. Once you have decided, you will be able to pick out a proper tank; something with enough room for your gecko to grow and have plenty of space to move about in.

Once you have chosen the right sized tank, you will want to fill it with hiding places, such as boxes with a hole cut in the side. Geckos also like having a good, moist substrate (floor covering) to rest on. Your gecko will be content with both real and fake plants, so do a little of both, and leave room for a pieces of driftwood for your gecko to play on and use as cover (for the times it wants to be alone).

The tank will need to be kept at a certain temperature and humidity, with the right amount of light for the particular species. There are specially made lamps and bulbs that can do both warming and lighting, but you will need to take care to position the lamp so that your gecko is not too close to the heat, and you will need to set a light schedule so that your gecko also has sleep time. If you are in a dry climate, a humidifier placed close to the tank will help to create a moist environment for your little reptilian friend.

Water is important for your gecko's health. Change the drinking reservoir daily. If you are using a bowl, make sure to use one that it shallow, to prevent accidental drowning.

Don't Lose It, Stay Chill

Everyone knows that geckos can ‘drop’ their tails and grow them back. It's common enough, but they typically only do this when they are frightened or threatened. It is a fascinating process to observe, but a conscientious gecko parent will protect his or her gecko from this type of event. It is a survival technique for them, done under stressful circumstances, and not one that should be forced on the gecko. Imagine how you would feel if you were so scared that you had to drop your butt? Point made?

If your gecko does lose its tail, it is important to isolate it from any other geckos you have (they may bully him and feed off the wound). Place the tail-less gecko in a separate tank until a suitable tail has grown back. Make sure to give it plenty of food and fresh water, and a lot of hiding places to give him both the nutrients he needs and a sense of security.

You should see about finding what caused the gecko to drop its tail. A one-off stressor is okay, but if it looks as though this one is being picked on by the other geckos, you may have to give it its own tank. Often, bullying is over food, so you may also want to try placing extra food and water bowls in the main tank to help minimize any need for competition.

Caring for a gecko isn’t difficult, but as with any pet, research into the best care and environment can make all the difference. Give your gecko your best efforts, and you’ll have a happy and healthy little reptile companion that’s a lot of fun.