gecko-care

House Gecko Care Sheet

July 01, 2021

Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus)

Mediterranean house geckos (Hemidactylus turcicus) are 4-5” long, nocturnal, arboreal lizards native to the Mediterranean region. However, they are extremely adaptable and have established populations all over the world, including the Americas, Canary Islands, Caribbean, and Hawaii. They are named for their tendency to live in human habitations, picking off insect pests.

Mediterranean house geckos have large lidless eyes, vertical pupils, a triangular head, bumpy skin, sticky toe pads, and a tapered tail. Their base color is typically beige to pale pink, with dark brown spots/blotches on the dorsal surface and dark banding down the tail. The belly may be semi-translucent.

House geckos are generally hardy and easy to care for. With good care, they may have a lifespan of 9 years or longer.

Minimum terrarium size for house geckos

The absolute minimum terrarium size for a single house gecko is 12”L x 12”W x 18”H. Of course, larger is always better! These geckos like being up high and having plenty of vertical space.

This enclosure should be front-opening and very well secured against escape, as house geckos are escape artists. When they escape, they can potentially create an invasive population in your local ecosystem.

Housing multiple house geckos in the same terrarium is not required for their wellbeing, but if you wish to keep a group of them, they generally get along well. However, do not house males and females together unless you plan to breed, and males tend to fight each other.

Do house geckos need UVB?

Technically they can live without it, but we still recommend using it for house geckos. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits. 

The best UVB bulb for a house gecko housed in a 12” x 12” x 18” terrarium is the 26w Zoo Med Reptisun 5.0 Compact Coil bulb. However, you will need a larger UVB bulb for a larger enclosure.

For best results, house the UVB bulb in a horizontal, reflective fixture such as the Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium Hood. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

Lights should be on for 14 hours/day during summer and 10 hours/day during winter, with gradual adjustments in-between.

Best temperature for house geckos

House geckos should have a basking temperature of around 90°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking surface. In order to allow for proper thermoregulation, the enclosure should also have a cool area that stays between 75-85°F. Nighttime temps can drop as low as 72°F.

Provide heat for your gecko with a halogen heat bulb. Halogen bulbs are the best way to imitate the warmth of sunlight indoors, and considered to be a superior form of reptile heating by experts. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. 

Heat sources should be turned off at night.

Best humidity levels for house geckos

House geckos like to live in a moderately high humidity environment of 60-75% humidity. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

Increase humidity by misting your gecko’s enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle. Mist in the evening and then again in the morning if needed. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your pet with an important source of drinking water!

Best substrate for house geckos

Providing a layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for house geckos:

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.

Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.

How to decorate a house gecko terrarium

An empty terrarium makes for a bored gecko, reducing their quality of life. You will also see fewer natural behaviors from them, which makes them less interesting to watch. Keep your pets entertained and stress-free with the strategic use of décor items.

Since house geckos are arboreal, at bare minimum you will need a branch for your geckos to climb and bask on and some live or artificial foliage for them to hide in. However, it’s best to include plenty of other items, such as:

What to feed to a house gecko

House geckos are insectivores, which means that they need to get the majority of their nutrition from insects. Juveniles should be fed daily but fully-grown adults can be fed three to four times/week. Offer four to five appropriately-sized insects per gecko, with each insect being slightly smaller than the gecko’s head. If using smaller feeders, increase the number of insects offered.

Feeder insects for house geckos: dubia roaches, discoid roaches, crickets, hornworms, mealworms, mealworm beetles, flightless fruit flies, bean beetles

Supplements

You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to help keep your gecko healthy. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all feeder insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.

Water

Of course, don’t forget a small water bowl and feeding ledge for your gecko to drink from! Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly.

How to handle your house gecko

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do, and when it comes to house geckos, it’s best not to attempt to handle them at all. They are very small and fast, which means that if they escape from you, they will be very difficult to catch again.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!


"Hemidactylus Turcicus" by sirvonrohr is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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