Are you looking for a unique and fascinating new pet? Geckos are an adorable group of lizards with unique features, brilliant colors and calm temperaments. They make excellent reptile pets with proper care and can be rewarding to interact with. Let us discuss 6 excellent gecko pets that you could find in your local pet shop or at your local reptile show!
Picking out your pet gecko
Geckos have several unique features that make them interesting pets. Geckos can be vocal, making sounds when nervous. This is where the word “gecko” comes from. Most species lack eyelids, instead having a large scale covering and protecting their eyes. When the eye is dirty, they lick them clean! Most geckos are also popular for their ability to climb smooth surfaces such as walls, tree trunks, and even glass. This is achieved through tiny hairs on their feet called setae.
Most geckos boast a lifespan of 10+ years under proper care and with a healthy, nutritious diet. Proper caging, lighting and heat, and veterinary care will ensure your gecko’s long and happy life.
When choosing a gecko at a pet shop or local show, choose a gecko that appears healthy. Avoid geckos that appear too thin, have stuck shed, visible injuries or are acting lethargic. Always consult with a salesperson or breeder and never hesitate to ask questions!
While most geckos are best viewed through glass as display pets, some of the species highlighted below are species that do tolerate regular interaction with humans and show little to no signs of stress when being held. When you first bring home your new pet, it is a good practice to leave them be for several days and allow them to acclimate to their new cage. Once they are comfortably exploring their forever home, start with brief, limited interactions. Petting the animal while in the cage or allowing it to climb into your hand is a great start. Once comfortable, more prolonged interactions can occur. It is always best to supervise young children while they are interacting with their pet gecko.
6 Types of Pet Geckos
These geckos have become one of the most popular gecko pets currently in captivity. Their playful demeanor, and simple care requirements make them very accessible captive pet geckos. Crested geckos are endemic to the islands of New Caledonia, meaning they are found nowhere else on Earth. They benefit from a vertical oriented tank such as the Zilla Vertical Tropical kit, with branches and fake plants to climb on and feel at home. These geckos are omnivores, dining on both insects and arthropods as well as rotting fruits and nectars in the wild. In captivity they can be offered crickets or meal worms occasionally, but do well on a complete meal replacement powder, such as the Zilla Gecko Gold, which offers all necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients they require.
Leopard geckos have long been the most well-known of the pet geckos. Wild type leopard geckos are yellow with black spots, but captive breeding efforts have yielded geckos lacking black spots or even having orange coloration. Leopard geckos are native to the Middle East and are found in arid rocky environments. As pets, they require basking areas in the mid-90s as well as several caves to hide in and feel safe. Always provide your leopard gecko a dish of fresh water. A humid hide, such as the Zilla Rock Lair, with damp moss is beneficial to aid in shedding.
Also endemic to New Caledonia, the gargoyle gecko is a stunning species of gecko, with similar care requirements as the crested gecko mentioned above. Gargoyle geckos are becoming more available and can be found at local pet shops. Captive breeding efforts have produced very vibrantly colored geckos showing bright orange and red stripes. Nightly misting and Zilla Gecko Gold fed regularly will ensure a healthy pet.
Madagascar Day Gecko
Day gecko is a common name given to a group of brightly colored diurnal geckos found in East Africa and Madagascar. The Madagascar day gecko is the largest species within this group and are a brilliant green color often with red stripes by their eyes and red spots down their back. Smaller species of day gecko are found with vibrant gold speckles (gold dust day gecko) and aqua blue stripes (peacock day gecko). Madagascar day geckos are a fast and timid species that have a defense mechanism of shedding their skin when threatened. If you decide on this species of gecko as a pet it is best to remember that they are more of an ornamental species and prefer to be appreciated through the glass and not handled. They are omnivores who will also enjoy the Zilla Gecko Gold as well as occasional crickets and superworms.
These robust geckos are found in East Asia, and are a beautiful species of gecko, boasting bright orange spots over gray or aqua scales. The name comes from the sound males make then attracting a mate. Tokay geckos have a reputation in the pet trade for being aggressive and having very strong bites. They are a larger species of gecko, with some specimens measuring up to 13" in total length as adults. These are a predominantly nocturnal gecko who dine on insects and arthropods. Although there are individuals who have raised tame tokay geckos, it is common practice to avoid handling when possible.
African Fat Tail Gecko
These geckos come from Africa and visually appear similar to the leopard gecko, as both species have functional eyelids and lack the toe pads commonly found in most geckos. African fat tail geckos are kept similarly to leopard geckos although require an increase in humidity. They are avid insectivores and are becoming increasingly available at local pet shops as well as reptile expos. Efforts in captive breeding have led to albino African fat tail geckos as well as other unique colors and patterns that are available to the reptile keeper.
There are over 1500 different species of gecko on the planet Earth and they are found on most continents. The smaller size and adaptability to captive environments make them excellent reptile pets. Many species have been captively bred within the United States for decades making them easily accessible to the first time gecko keeper. Combining a healthy gecko with Zilla husbandry products will ensure that your pet will live a long and happy life and you will be a successful gecko keeper.