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Gecko Care Mistakes
April 15, 2023

Geckos are one of the most popular types of reptiles, and are often suggested as a great option for first-time reptile owners. That makes perfect sense: these guys are pretty easy keepers. However, they do need proper care, and do have some specific needs.It’s important to do plenty of research before adopting a gecko. Part of that includes avoiding the common mistakes many newbies may make. A Las Vegas, NV vet lists some of them below.

Incorrect Environmental Parameters

With cats and dogs, you don’t have to worry too much about minor fluctuations in temperature. With reptiles, however, a less-than-ideal environment can make your pet very sick, and can even lead to life-threatening illnesses. One thing many first-timers get wrong is not using the proper type of heating. Under-tank pads are the best option, as this will allow your pet to absorb heat through their belly, as they would in the wild.

Poor Substrate

Choosing the right substrate is also crucial. In general, it’s best to avoid loose substrates, such as sand or shavings. This is especially important with young lizards, as they can get life-threatening blockages by accidentally ingesting these materials. Good options include butcher paper, reptile carpet, and even

Improper Hides

Your tiny reptile really needs at least two separate hides. One of these should be on the warmer end of the tank, and the other should be in the cooler section. It’s also crucial that one of these hides be what is considered a moist hide, which will help with shedding. This should contain something such as sphagnum moss or vermiculite.

Poor Diet

Geckos typically eat live insects, such as silkworms, roaches, mealworms, superworms, waxworms, supplemented with fresh, safe fruit. Your gecko’s diet will change over time. Juveniles need to eat smaller amounts, but more frequently, than adult geckos do. It’s also important to dust your pet’s dinner with the proper supplements. This is known as gut-loading. Ask your vet for advice.

Bad Handling

Another thing that many inexperienced reptile owners don’t know is how dangerous it can be to hold a lizard by the tail. Geckos have evolved a self-defense mechanism: they will actually detach their tails, and grow new ones. However, this isn’t exactly pleasant for your pet, and can actually lead to infections.

Our Advice on Gecko Care Mistakes in 2024

What vital environmental parameters need to be correctly maintained for geckos?

For geckos, key environmental parameters include maintaining the correct temperature gradient, humidity levels, and lighting. The temperature should have a warmer basking area and a more relaxed zone, mimicking their natural habitat. Humidity levels must be appropriate for their species, as some require more moisture than others. Proper UVB lighting is essential for their overall health, aiding in vitamin D3 synthesis. Cleanliness and ventilation of the habitat are also crucial. Regular monitoring and adjustments are necessary to keep these parameters within the ideal range for the gecko’s well-being.

What are the risks associated with using loose substrates for geckos?

Using loose substrates for geckos poses significant risks, particularly impaction, where ingested substrate material obstructs the digestive tract. This can lead to serious health issues, including blockages, constipation, and even life-threatening complications. Young geckos are especially prone to accidentally ingesting loose substrates like sand or small shavings while feeding. Specific loose substrates can also harbor bacteria and parasites, potentially leading to infections. Therefore, it’s advisable to use safer alternatives like reptile carpets or butcher paper to minimize these risks.

How does a moist hide benefit a gecko, and what materials can it use?

A moist hide is crucial for a gecko as it aids in shedding. Geckos need a humid microclimate to help loosen and remove old skin effectively. Without it, they may suffer from incomplete shedding, leading to skin irritation or constriction, especially around the toes and the tail. Materials like sphagnum moss or vermiculite are ideal for creating a moist hide. These substrates hold moisture well and create a humid environment within the hide. The moist hide should be placed on the cooler side of the enclosure to maintain the necessary temperature gradient. Regular monitoring and misting to maintain humidity levels are essential for the gecko’s health.

What is a proper diet for geckos, and how does it vary with age?

A proper diet for geckos mainly consists of live insects like crickets, mealworms, and roaches, supplemented occasionally with fresh, safe fruits. Smaller and more frequent feedings are necessary for juveniles, tailored to their rapid growth and high energy needs. Adult geckos require less frequent feedings with appropriately sized insects to prevent obesity. To ensure balanced nutrition, all food items should be dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements. The diet varies with age in portion size and frequency to match growing and adult geckos’ changing metabolic and nutritional requirements. Regular veterinary consultation is recommended to fine-tune the diet for individual health needs.

What should new gecko owners know about safely handling their pets?

New gecko owners should know safe handling is crucial in preventing stress and injury. Approach your gecko calmly and gently; sudden movements can startle them. Support their body fully, avoiding grabbing or holding by the tail, as they may detach it as a defense mechanism. Let the gecko walk onto your hand rather than picking them up forcibly. Handling should be limited in duration, especially initially, to avoid over-stressing the gecko. Always wash your hands before and after handling to prevent the spread of germs. Increasing handling time can help build trust between the gecko and its owner.

Do you have questions about gecko care? Contact us, your local Las Vegas, NV animal clinic, today!