Thursday, November 13, 2008

Keeping & Breeding House Geckos




The Tropical House Gecko is in an interesting species to observe. They are quite abundant in many areas and have traveled outside of there native habitat to completely different continents. These creatures have the ability to multiply rapidily so anyone keeping them in a year round warm enviroment should take caution to prevent escape of these lizards into non-native habitats. They are mainly active by night but many specimans will also come out into the open provided they do not detect anyone nearby(and there pretty at knowing when your near)! These lizards are very quick and are capable of running across smooth surfaces such as glass or even running upside down, if one of these lizards were to escape, a tropical fish net sold at pet supply stores will be required to capture the lizard without injuring it(there skin tears VERY easily).

Housing for the geckos can be provided by means of a 20 gallon on larger all glass aquarium. Groups of juvinilles may be housed in small 10 gallon tanks, however when groups of adults are crammed into such small quarters fights will ensue and the injures can be directly fatal or secondary infections may occur. These fights ussually will be noticed as torn skin on one or more of the geckos, if you see this happening remove the injured gecko for treatment and rest immediatly or it will continue to be attacked. Screened lids are available through mail order dealers and these are ideal for the gecko habitat as they allow ventilation which is especially critical in times when the humidity is already very high. The best housing I have found for newborns consists of a tall(6") circular plastic container with a few small holes drilled in the top with an ice pick(be very careful or you'll make too big a whole or crack the lid), the bottom is covered with a neatly cut piece of newspaper and one side of the container can be misted dialy to ensure adequte water is available.
Decorations can be eloborate or kept to a minimun. For permanent sub adult and adult cages I prefer a well dressed soil layer with one side heavily planted and the other covered with brick slabs to ensure the lizards have egg laying sites and can keep there bodies off the moist earth. I use a mixture of humus, organic top soil, and sand to form a 2" layer or so with another inch layer of pure humus on top. Underneath of this layer is a peice of fine mosquito mesh which keeps the soil from sinking down into the pea gravel layer(pea gravel is well rinsed in a strainer before being used), this pea gravel layer keeps the soil from ever standing in water an souring. Plants such as philodenrions are easy to grow in this enviroment and may be started from cuttings off of a mother plant, however it is important to plant only about one half of the tank and leave the other end as a "dry" end with pilled brick tiles ensuring the lizards can stay dry enough to not develop skin problems -- I have also noticed that the lizards will often successfully use the crevises inbetween piles of brick tiles for egg laying sites. For juvinille setups I use a more sterile approach so that I can monitor there food consumption more closly. A flourescent light will allow for plant growth and easy viewing of the terrarium by day however such lights should be set on a timer to reflect the lizard's natural life cycle and keeping the lights on continuesly would likely stress these lizards.

Feeding these lizards, especailly a breeding colony, can be considered a full time job -- possibly with overtime involved. For newborns the best food items are probably flightless fruit flies (D. Melanogastor), this is one of the reasons I use the tall plastic food container for the young is that it is more difficult for the flies to escape in this manner and even if they do by setting this plastic food container inside the adult breeders cage any "loose" newborns can devour them off. For 3 weeks old to sub-adult geckos D. Hydei is the most practical food source, although a good supply of very small crickets and Red Flour Beetle larva will also be needed.. The adults may or may not take mealworms from an old peanut butter container lid(such as the deeper ones like Jiff) but they will not hesitate to take small crickets. All in all to raise these creatures you will probably need to breed either large numbers or crickets, fruit flies, and flour beetle larva or be prepared to at least raise the fruit flies and purchase bi-weekly shipments of 500 1/8" crickets. The fruit flies are most easily raised by purchasing a "growers kit" that comes with the flies, medium, and foam plugged glass jars.

Egg laying will often not be noticed until one day a baby gecko is found hanging underneath the rim of the aquarium's lid(this seems to be a favorite hiding spot of mine), although for some reason they may at times lay a series of eggs out in the open along the warmest end of the terrarium. In my experience egg laying often occurs in difficult to access locations such as underneath brick piles. The eggs are small but noticable, white, and do not seem to desicate easily. If you have a group of four to five lizards and are patiant enough and feed the lizards well you should have baby geckos within 6 months. I am unsure if the eggs require any given temperature ranges to hatch as my terrariums have an ultratherm heater attached to the back wall with Tommy Tape to allow themoregulation and selection of temperature ranges for egg laying sites.






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