The Geckos exhibit has caused a lot of excitement around the museum, and many of you have had questions about how to keep geckos as pets. Luckily we have Anna Simpson here to answer those questions! Anna is a zookeeper and lecturer at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, an AZA accredited zoological facility in Pennsylvania. Anna has been in Indianapolis caring for the geckos while they're here at the museum.
So you think you might like a pet gecko? Reptiles like geckos can be fascinating, educational pets for older children and adults. Of course, when considering any new pet you have to remember—pets are a lot of work and responsibility. Many reptiles have very specialized needs when it comes to lighting, temperature, humidity, and diet. Also, grownups need to keep in mind that any pet a child gets could end up becoming YOUR pet if they lose interest. But if you have the interest and motivation, a gecko can be a unique and wonderful pet.
There are two gecko species you can see here at the museum that I would recommend as good "beginner geckos" for a budding gecko-enthusiast; the leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularis) and the crested gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus). While I'll tell you a little about each gecko, make sure you do your research as well… there is much more to the care of these animals than I can cover in a single blog post!
Leopard geckos are desert animals, and they like it HOT (around 90 degrees in the hottest spot and as low as 75 in the coolest spot). A 10 gallon aquarium tank is large enough for a juvenile, but a single adult would do best in a 20 gallon long tank. Juveniles can be kept on paper towels, and adults can be kept on paper towels or sand. They should have a water dish, rocks to climb on, and a cave to hide in. Leopard geckos are insectivores, so you need to be willing to deal with things like crickets, superworms and mealworms. Insects need to be dusted with calcium with vitamin D3 and a reptile multivitamin about once a week or more, depending on the age and health of the animal.
Crested geckos, or ‘cresties’, as they are often called, like a cooler habitat (around 72 to 82 degrees). As with leopard geckos, a 10 gallon aquarium tank is large enough for a juvenile. In this case, a single adult would do best in a 20 gallon tall tank. They will appreciate the extra height to climb around in! Juveniles or adults can be kept on paper towels, or adults can have a coco fiber substrate. Cresties like it humid, so the enclosure needs to be heavily misted twice a day. They will also need a water dish and plenty of branches and plants to climb in their exhibit. The bulk of a crestie’s diet should consist of a ‘crested gecko diet’ which is available as a dry powder that is mixed with water. Once a week or so, they can be fed insects (like crickets, mealworms and superworms) dusted in calcium with vitamin D3.
Leopard geckos and crested geckos can be handled gently. However, keep in mind that rough handling could cause them to drop their tails or deliver a painful bite! Also, both of these species have the potential to live 15 years or more.
Keep in mind, local reptile shows and breeders are often the best sources for reasonably priced, healthy animals. If you go to a reptile show, you will have the chance to see the many color and pattern morphs of both leopard and crested geckos. With the right research and preparation, a pet gecko could be a rewarding experience for everyone!
Geckos: Tails to Toepads was created by Peeling Productions at Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland.
You can see Geckos at the museum through May 15!