How to keep a gecko at home. All About Geckos: Gecko Facts. Nutrition and behavior in nature
Variegated lizard geckos
Exotic animals can change color, adapting to the environment. These bright lizards will not leave indifferent either children or their parents. And if you want to settle this enchanting animal at home, can you do it?
Geckos or chain-fingered (in Latin – Gekkonidae) belong to the large family of lizards. Their habitats are tropics and subtropics in the zones of the Old and New Worlds. They prefer to live and move at a height – trees, rocks, cliffs, caves. People living in the tropics find them on the walls of their homes. Twilight and night love more than daylight. At this time of day, they are more active.
These lizards are rather large (from three to 35 cm) and variegated in color. The body color of a gecko is generally different at different times of the day. The color also depends on the state of the pangolin’s organism. There are small scales on the skin; it even resembles fish with its tile-like appearance in some species. There are very exotic subspecies that have an amazing talent for disguise. So, the Madagascar flat-tailed can easily change color under crumbling leaves, and the mossy flat-tailed disguises itself as a branch covered with moss. The rest of their relatives also do not lag in the skill of acquiring fabulous bright colors. On the main color of blue, dark green, olive, or gray, you can admire the mass of small convex specks of different colors and shades. These spots smoothly turn into bright lines in the tail area or on the body in some individuals.
Geckos have an extraordinary structure of legs, thanks to which these creatures move with ease on vertical surfaces and even head down. These lizards are also talented “singers” – they scream and can display many completely different sounds (they can croak, squeak, chirp). They owe their name to one of their relatives, more precisely from his cry. Another gecko – Toki (tokei), shouts “Ttttoke” or “Ttttokei” during the mating season.
At home, these reptiles are best kept in a special terrarium. It is not recommended to settle a gecko alone, preferably in a pair or a male with few females. It is better to keep them out of the sun – they do not need ultraviolet radiation. The terrarium should be equipped with a drinker and places where the gecko can hide (branches or bark will do). Decorate with green plants if desired.
Remember that overeating is harmful to these lizards. And the larger its size, the less often it should eat. For example, a gecko that is more than 20 centimeters long can be fed twice a week. Their menu includes insects, larvae, and more.
In good conditions of captivity, these reptiles can live up to twenty years.
If you decide to have such an animal in your house, it is better to choose one of the following species: Toki, comb-footed, spotted nuclear, ribbon, half-tanned, chain-tailed, paddle-tailed, skink.
Geckos are a type of lizard. Although there are about 1,500 species of geckos, they all share some similarities, including amazing tails, light eating, and ruffled skin.
Dimensions of geckos
The thing they don’t have in common is size. Geckos come in a wide variety of sizes. The smallest gecko (and the smallest lizard) is a tiny dwarf gecko. It grows up to 1.6 cm in length and weighs about 120 milligrams.
Habitat of geckos
According to National Geographic, geckos are found on every continent except Antarctica and live in virtually every habitat, including rainforests, deserts, and mountains.
Most geckos are nocturnal and prefer to hunt at night. They make sounds when interacting with each other: their call for mating sometimes sounds like a faint song of birds.
They are great climbers, and in many regions, they love to live inside burrows. However, in the event of a threat, the gecko can shed its tail and even all of its skin to protect itself.
All geckos change their skin at regular intervals, but the presence of moisture speeds up the process. When he peels off his old skin, he may be eating it.
Taking a bath is an interesting uncharacteristic trait for geckos. Geckos have hundreds of thousands of hair-thorns on their skin. These spikes trap air and make the water bounce off.
Geckos usually feed on fruits, insects, and flower nectar. The gecko’s tail stores fat, which can be used later when food is scarce.
Food in captivity consists of crickets, cockroaches; in summer, it is useful to give any insects from nature, excluding “hairy” caterpillars and bright butterflies (especially bears). There should be a drinker in the terrarium at all times. For this purpose, it is convenient to use Petri dishes, the shallow depth of which excludes the possibility of drowning. An adult skink gecko’s average weekly food rate is 6-8 medium-sized cockroaches or crickets with calcium and vitamins. Once a week – ultraviolet irradiation and a smear with liquid vitamins.
Geckos breed by laying eggs. The female can be pregnant with eggs for many years before she lays them. For example, a Harlequin gecko’s pregnancy lasts three to four years. When the eggs are ready, the gecko lays the eggs in the leaves and bark.
Newborn geckos are called chicks. Some are quite large for lizards. For example, leopard gecko chicks can be 8 to 10 cm long.
In captivity, for successful breeding, it is good for skink geckos to arrange winter cooling when the heating is turned off for 1-2 winter months, and the temperature in the terrarium drops to 12-18 ° C.
According to the IUCN Red Data Book, geckos are listed according to species. For example, Bavaria goroensis is endangered. It is found in only two locations in New Caledonia, an archipelago in the South Pacific, and its population is declining as increased mining activity reduces habitat.
Geckos have lines on their tails that allow them to break away if a predator grabs them quickly. They then regenerate their tail.
These lizards have sticky legs that allow them to climb over smooth surfaces. Their fingers have microscopic hairs called bristles, which give them this sticky ability.
The gecko (from the Latin Gekkonidae) or chain-fingered family of medium and small vertebrates, numerous in species. The length of the body depends on its age and species, so the size of the dwarf gecko is no more than 5 centimeters, and the length of one of the largest species of the current gecko can reach up to 35 centimeters.
This family is pervasive and comprises more than 900 known species combined into 52 genera. Distinctive features of geckos are the structure of their vertebrae; namely, they are biconcave.
Individuals have large eyes, covered with a transparent immovable shell, without eyelids. The tongue of this family is wide with a slight bifurcation in the front and has many nipples on its surface.
The color of various gecko species is very diverse, bright with pigmentation in stripes and dots. Still, at the same time, it has an excellent camouflage effect in the habitat of a particular gecko lizard.
The skin’s brightness is very diverse and attractive, so industrialists began making toy geckos for children. In our country, the most common are collections of maxi gecko toy figures.
The structure of the paws of the entire family of geckos deserves special attention. The extremities of these reptiles end is evenly spread feet, which have five toes. The fingers on the inner side are small ridges covered with the finest bristles with a diameter of about 100 nm.
The tops of these bristles (hairs) have the shape of a triangle, something like a plunger. Due to the van der Waals forces, intermolecular interaction attaches to any surface, including a completely flat one.
To put it simply, these hairs are skinny, elastic, and grow like a dense palisade, so they can easily bend, adapting to the relief of a hard surface and even the evenest surface when examined in more detail with multiple electron microscopes, has its own roughness.
In this regard, the gecko can easily move on a vertical surface and even on a ceiling. This individual can change the angle between the hairs and the surface while detaching from a solid body (up to fifteen times per second), thus moving very quickly. Another feature of the structure of the gecko’s legs is their ability to self-cleaning, which allows the sticking effect to work without much difficulty.
The habitat of gecko lizards is distributed almost all over the world. Still, most species prefer to live in our planet’s subtropical and tropical zones because they are very thermophilic reptiles, and their normal habitat is + 20-30 ° C.
Although some species prefer to live in mountain ranges and even hot deserts, so, for example, the Madagascar gecko lives nearby on the fourth largest island in the world, where the daytime air temperature never drops below + 25 ° C throughout the year.
Geckos have perfectly adapted to live at home in ordinary apartments. They are quite unpretentious and do not require any specific conditions and expensive equipment for their maintenance.
In the simplest version, to keep a gecko in an apartment, you need a terrarium (possibly a simple aquarium), preferably with lighting, soil (depending on the type of gecko, there may be stones, pebbles, sawdust, moss, etc.), for forest species – plants.
In the global network, there are many tips and articles with attached videos and photos of geckos of various species, with the help of which it is quite easy to understand the simple intricacies of keeping these reptiles in an apartment. Also, many books and manuals have been written about geckos.
In nutrition, most species of geckos are rather unpretentious. Their diet is based on insects, small invertebrates, and small vertebrates. Some species consume plants and fruits.
For example, the leopard gecko eats only live food: insects, worms, small vertebrates (small mice), and does not like to eat fruits and vegetables.
In any type of gecko diet, an essential component is the balance of food and moderate content of vitamins and minerals. At home, geckos need to be fed no more than twice a week, and at the same time, they must have a constant supply of water, which they doze into drinking on their own.
Geckos cannot be overfed because they become large and move hard and reluctantly, leading to the development of various diseases, loss of reproductive functions, and often to the reptile’s death.
Reproduction and life expectancy of the gecko
Geckos are generally oviparous reptiles, except a few species, such as banana-eating geckos, New Zealand green geckos, and viviparous New Zealand geckos, which are ovoviviparous.
In most cases, the opportunity for fertilization in geckos occurs from the year of life. The mating season for most species falls in late winter and early spring.
The mating process is as follows: the female, ready for fertilization, makes soft sounds as if inviting the male; when the male responds, the female begins to run away from him slowly, the lizard catches up with her, grabbing her neck with her jaws, and then the fertilization stage takes place, after which the male gecko is removed …
Females lay eggs. Usually, 3-5 eggs are laid. Small geckos hatch, depending on the surrounding climate and temperature, within 50-100 days.
The above numbers can vary greatly depending on the genus of geckos.
Depending on the species, size, environment, and habitat, the life span of geckos varies from 5 to 25 years. An interesting fact in the lifespan of these lizards is that more centenarians have been recorded from individuals living in captivity in terrariums, including domestic geckos.
Habitat of geckos
Many species live in regions with subtropical and tropical climates. A total of 56 genera of geckos have been registered – this is 1103 different species. Some of them inhabit the territory up to the western part of the United States. Huge populations can be found on oceanic islands. Some are common in Kazakhstan, the Caucasus, and the Crimean peninsula.
The diversity of the species is currently observed in the jungles of Madagascar and tropical Asia and Australia, and arid Africa. A feature of geckos is their geographic variability. They are quite strongly tied to the conditions in which they live, to the types of stones, soil, and trees.
Classification and characterization
Geckos are eukaryotes (organisms that have a nucleus in their cells). They belong to the order of scaly and the class of reptiles. In natural conditions, they live on average 15 years, and in captivity, life expectancy reaches 20 years.
Geckos are many-sided animals. Due to the diverse habitat throughout the planet, their features have taken on a unique look. There are also champions in the family. The body length of the smallest reptile on earth is 18 cm. Moreover, it has all the organs and skeletal elements that are characteristic of the larger representatives of this family. The largest gecko is 35 cm.
Absolutely all reptiles, despite their size and habitat, have the following anatomical features:
– large head;
– flattened dense body;
– thick tail of medium length;
– short legs.
The gecko looks different. The color depends on the living environment. Its skin is covered with small scales, among which there are larger rows of plates. There are varieties of rather bright colors: yellow, red, blue, green. It is believed that some lizards have the inherent ability to change their shade during protection from predators. The color of the skin of the desert species is brown-orange, making them difficult to see when stationary.
A gray shade with dark dots is characteristic of the gecko species that live among the stones. Amazing those individuals that can imitate leaves, moss, or tree bark. They simply cannot be seen in the natural environment. A cat gecko, for example, looks like a dry leaf, black is active at night, so this color is an excellent disguise for it.
The body and the animal’s eyes can have a characteristic camouflage color, which complements the image. The organ of vision stands out for its size against the background of the head. It is believed that the vision of gecko lizards is full-color. This allows both prey and predators to be seen from a distance. They have no eyelids; they have a shell to replace them to cleanse the eyes; if this is not enough, the animal can remove dust or dirt with a long tongue. This organ is quite remarkable, it is wide, and at the end, it is bifurcated. It has a lot of suction cups to hold the victim.
The limbs of reptiles differ depending on the living environment. But absolutely all individuals have five toes on each foot. They are spaced widely apart. On the inside, there are ridges with bristles. They work like a plunger with which the gecko is attached to the surface. The bristles cling to roughness, so the animal does not risk falling, even if it hangs on one paw.
The gecko is a cold-blooded animal and chooses the area where the temperature does not drop below 24 degrees, which allows it to be active at night. You can judge the health of an individual by the tail. Fat is collected in it, which allows it to survive the cold. A thin tail indicates that the animal has not received sufficient food and water for a long time. And also, a reptile can throw off this part of the body in times of danger; in the future, it will grow back, but it will no longer become as attractive.
Nutrition and behavior in nature
The creatures have an excellent appetite. If possible, they will eat a large amount of food in a day, while part of the energy will be deposited in the fat layer on the tail.
In nature, the diet of animals is very diverse:
– different caterpillars and cockroaches.
Large species prefer scorpions, even frogs, small snakes and mice, and chicks and bird eggs in small numbers. Plant food is not for them, as geckos are predators. They have adapted well to different habitats. For example, in cities located in tropical regions, there is a population of animals in every house. Geckos have long figured out that artificial lighting attracts insects and moths. And all the lizard needs is to climb the wall with the lamp element and wait for the victim.
In the caves of America, reptiles got along well with bats. There is a lot of droppings on the floor of such niches, which cockroaches feed on. Namely, they attract lizards. The tiniest geckos can only live on the forest floor. Their diet consists of creatures that cannot be seen without a magnifying glass.
When arranging a house for an animal that loves trees, you need to put thick branches in it. And put stones and small plants in a terrarium for geckos that prefer the plains. Any house should have a container with water.
In captivity, geckos are fed:
The daily amount of food depends on the type of reptile. They must be taken into their hands very carefully, without touching the tail and head; otherwise, the animal will grab onto the hand and have to wait for the weakening of the grip. If you touch the tail, the pet will throw it away from fear and become less attractive.
Most geckos are oviparous. Breeding season is not affected. Females become sexually mature after a year of life. The offspring are born in a soft and hard shell. Usually, there are two eggs in a clutch, but there are also three-five. The incubation period lasts 50-200 days, depending on the ambient temperature.
An interesting fact is that the female has no maternal feelings. As soon as she has laid eggs, she immediately forgets about them. Lizards do not find fault with the place of laying. Quite often, several females lay eggs in one place. And only a few individuals return to warm the future offspring. It is also rare to see a windy mother with her children.
Due to its beauty, the gecko can become a home decoration. Even though its content has many nuances, it will be an excellent choice for exotic lovers.
Gecko: general description
The length of the gecko can be from 3.5 to 30 centimeters, and with proper care, geckos can live up to 25 years. In some species, body color can change depending on the animal’s physiological state or the time of day.
Geckos have large, slightly protruding eyes without eyelids, and the eyes of a reptile are covered with a transparent shell and have vertical pupils that dilate at night. Interestingly, the gecko has very delicate skin that can be easily damaged. Usually, the skin of the gecko is covered with fine grainy scales. Most gecko species are nocturnal.
A feature of geckos is extended fingers, which are covered with horny plates from below, which allows the reptile to move along a vertical surface. The gecko also has a thin and brittle tail, but it can regenerate quickly. In addition, the gecko can make a fairly large number of different sounds, accompanying its life activity.
For example, the very word “gecko” comes from the cry of one of the African species of these lizards. Toki geckos make the sounds “Ttt-t-tto-ke!” or “Ttt-tt-to-kkei!”
The gecko is quite easy to keep in captivity; the main thing is to provide the reptiles with the correct detention conditions and proper care. Since the gecko very rarely descends to the ground, mainly only for food, the terrarium also needs a vertical one, but not too large. Geckos live in small colonies in the wild, but they are best kept in pairs in captivity.
Do not forget that the male gecko will always jealously guard its territory, especially during the mating season: at that time, the geckos’ fight to the death or until one of the males is very seriously injured. But females in the terrarium can be from one to three individuals.
In the terrarium where the gecko will live, you need to cover the floor with peat, gravel, or coconut; the soil should be constantly moist. But sand for these purposes should not be used since it can enter the reptile’s body along with food and cause various diseases.
The temperature in the terrarium should be set between 28 and 35 degrees during the day and at least 5-8 degrees at night. For daytime geckos, an ultraviolet lamp should be installed in the terrarium. In addition, the terrarium should have a drinker, some branches, and hiding places for the gecko; these can be pieces of bark and shards from pots. You can also place several pots of plants in the terrarium to maintain the microclimate, for example, dwarf creeping ficus, philodendrons, arrowroot.
Remember that the more different plants and decorations there are in the terrarium, the more comfortable the gecko will feel in it. The terrarium should have constant humidity; for this, it is necessary to spray the terrarium with warm boiled water once or twice a day, but do not allow the soil to become waterlogged. If the humidity is high enough, the terrarium should be well ventilated. For example, you can tighten the cutouts in the ceiling and one of the end walls with a fine mesh.