How to Care for Your New Golden Gecko
Aqualand's inside scoop on Gekko ulikovski or Gekko auratus
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Gold gecko. Very mellow lizard. Smiling at us?
Name: “Gold gecko” sort of describes these little guys. They have a gold tinge if you look at them just right. But as you’ll see in the pictures, they’re not really “golden” -- in spite of the fact that they are known in some circles as Gekko auratus.
Origin: Golden geckos come from the rain forests of Vietnam. This means they like warm and humid surroundings. Think lots of foliage (hold the Agent Orange, please) and vines. Their greenish-brownish colors help them blend into vegetation and wood. If you want yours to show up better, add some contrasting colors.
Temperament: Golden geckos are not nasty or dedicated biters (like tokays). All gold geckos (and most other lizards) try to avoid grabbing hands. About a third will try to bite you when you grab them. If you go slow and handle yours carefully, it will let you pick him up without running like a scalded dog. He will trundle up your arm to get to the top of this strange hairy tree.
Phew Warning: Some startled golden geckos will emit a foul-smelling excrement (like new garter snakes). Even when you wipe it off your shirt, you will still want to change your shirt. Golden geckos also “decorate” your front glass. You’ll need to clean it often.
Tail Warning: Not as droppable as some lizard tails, you can still break off a golden gecko tail if you grab it. It will grow back but will never look quite right.
Size: Way smaller than bearded dragons and slightly larger than leopard geckos, goldies stay a nice handleable size -- also affordable. You don’t need to worry about your golden gecko growing so large it eats you out of house and garage.
Cage: You can keep your new gold gecko in a 10-gallon critter cage with a sliding screen top. He will be so much happier in a larger and taller container. Two should do well in a 29 or 30. You may want to use a solid top to help hold in the heat and humidity.
Mixers? You can mix tokay geckos with golden geckos (carefully). You’d think the bitier tokays would dominate. Not necessarily so. Goldens seem to out compete the tokays for food. If your tokays start getting too skinny, you may need to separate them. You’d probably have the opposite problem with skinks. The skinks would stay below on the substrate, but they are very efficient hunters also.
We’ve been working with the little dudes for only three or four years,
so we don’t know exactly how long they live. They’re about a
10-year looking lizard. However, we’ve seen some reports of golden
geckos living 15 to 20 years. We don’t know.
Substrate: We’re currently using shredded cypress. Vermiculite, coconut fiber, and peat moss all ought to work just fine. You want a cage floor that will absorb moisture without making a mess. Even carpet works well -- although some people will disagree. Others use potting soil which ranks very low on my preference list. Way too messy. Sand just seems like it would torture geckos. They would probably avoid it. Golden geckos spend more time off the ground, except when chasing crickets. They are excellent hunters of all things small and tasty.
Humidity: Most critters that live in rain forests need high humidity. A moist substrate helps. A good cover also helps. Regular mistings always help. Misting also provides drinkable water. Not every golden gecko learns to drink from a water bowl.
Water Bowl: A large water bowl will increase your humidity. If you add a bubbling airstone, it will increase your humidity level and add to the drinkable water supply. Most lizards like to defecate in the water. Change your water as needed.
Feeding: Toss some crickets in a cage of golden geckos and watch the troops drop from above and start chasing crickets. The temptation is to lock onto an easy-to-feed food. Careful. No single food fills all their needs. If you can catch house flies, they have lots of nutrition. Mealworms give some variety too (but the superworms are probably a little too super). Wax worms and moths are also appreciated. Like many geckos, the golden geckos have a sweet tooth. They like ripe, soft fruits. They will, of course, bounce off an apple. Applesauce is another story. And be sure to give yours baby food fruit occasionally.
Supplements? Better to gut load your crickets rather than dust them. Crickets with dust on them don’t taste nearly as good as unmessed-up crickets. If you vary their diet, you probably don’t need supplements. If you lock onto a mono-food, give your golden gecko a weekly shot of crickets dusted with calcium and vitamin D powder.
Breeding. We’ve not seen them breed yet. But because golden geckos are so similar to tokays, they probably breed about the same way (two eggs at a time in crevices). Momma tokays use super glue (or a very similar product) to glue their eggs in place. They stay there until they hatch. Do not tempt adults with bite-size babies. Move your breeders. Have small crickets available when the eggs hatch.
Special Lighting: Like most geckos (that are not day geckos), golden geckos do not need special UVB lighting. All you need is your very warm basking bulb to run your temp up to 85 F at one end of his cage. 80 F will also work -- no hind-gut fermentation going on here -- just regular digestion requiring warmth.
Last Words: If you like lizards, you’ll enjoy the golden gecko. Budget not the largest? You’ll like goldies even better. LA
© 2005 LA Productions
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