A basic requirement for keeping a pet gecko is a cage! Cages are referred to by different words by different people. Enclosure and terrarium are common among them.
A perfect, clean cage will keep your gecko happy, healthy and also increases its life span. A cage is not just a glass box; your gecko requires many things like personal space, perfect temperature, and so on.
Size of the cage
An adult gecko needs a tank at least 60cm long, 40 cm high, and 30cm deep. Geckos must be housed in glass terrariums for their safety and to prevent them from escaping. Unlike some other lizards, geckos cannot climb glass well. The terrarium should have a wire web lid that provides proper ventilation and allows light through it.
Types of cages
The best material for a terrarium is glass. There are four types of gecko tanks you can house your gecko in:
Glass gecko enclosures are more popular and easier to find in a variety of sizes. You can use wood if you really like the appearance. However, wood is a possible fire hazard and can be difficult for beginners to maintain humidity levels.
Accessories geckos require in the enclosure
Geckos are ectothermic, meaning they cannot produce their own body heat, so they need supplemental heat sources. Their tank should be approximately 80-85F during the day, and the basking area should be about 88-90F. The nighttime temperature should be in the 70s.
To ensure that your gecko’s enclosure is at the proper temperature, use a thermometer. The basking area should remain between 28 and 30 degrees C during the day, and the cool end 24 to 26 degrees C. At night turn off the heat lamp but ensure the temperature doesn’t dip below 18 degrees C with a heat mat or ceramic heat lamp.
Geckos need a relatively dry environment. Measure the humidity at the cool end of the tank with a hygrometer – it should be between 30 and 40 percent. Primary heat sources are used to maintain the overall temperature throughout the cage, and they can include heat tapes, under-tank heaters, and overhead heat sources.
Secondary heat sources are used to create hot spots (basking areas) within the cage, and they can include red or black basking lights.
It is important to recreate natural light cycles when setting up your gecko’s habitat. During the summer, they should have approximately 14 hours of light following by 10 hours of darkness. During the winter, they need shorter daytime periods of about 12 hours of light followed by 12 hours of darkness.
To achieve the desired photoperiods, use automatic timers. Changes between summer and winter photoperiods should be made gradually. Lights that you can use include black heat lamps and red lamps. Since geckos are nocturnal and dislike bright light, the use of UV bulbs is not necessary.
The substrate that you use should be non-abrasive and non-irritating to your gecko’s sensitive skin. It should be something that you can easily clean and replace, and it should not create any type of dust. Improper use of substrate can result in infection, respiratory problems, and toxic reactions.
Substrates to avoid include cedar, pine, hardwood chips, gravel, cat litter, sawdust, and corncob bedding. The safe substrate that you can use in your gecko’s enclosure includes artificial turf, paper toweling, and newspaper.
Many people use sand as well, but there have been some instances of problems, including ingestion of the sand and sand in stools. If you are using sand and you see any problems developing, switch substrates immediately.
The items you put in your gecko’s cage will help make his environment as natural as possible. The more elaborate the setup, the more you will encourage your gecko’s natural behaviors. Things like rocks and logs will create a natural living space as well as provide him with places to climb and exercise.
Live or artificial plants can be used to provide more hiding areas and a more natural feel, but they are not necessary. If you wish to use a live plant, choose carefully by researching the plant or consulting a veterinarian, as some plants can be toxic to your gecko.
Special and essential spots
Every gecko enclosure needs areas for three things: hiding, activity, and basking. Hiding areas consist of commercial hide boxes, overlapping rocks, inverted clay pots and sections of curved bark, and any other shelter that supplies your gecko with a place to sleep and conceal himself.
There should be at least two hiding areas, and the more geckos you house in one terrarium, the more hiding spots you will need. You can place smooth rocks and wood in these areas to facilitate climbing. Basking areas can be a flat, smooth rock or wood under a light, and there should be at least one spot per gecko.
Avoid using sharp or abrasive rocks, as they can injure your gecko’s skin if he rubs against it during shedding. Cedar and other resinous woods should also be avoided, as they are toxic to geckos.
Geckos have very specific humidity requirements to encourage proper shedding cycles and prevent dehydration. A high humidity level can leave your gecko more susceptible to infections. The ideal humidity level should be 40% or lower, and you should monitor it using a hygrometer.
Geckos require humidified shelters or a moist box to help facilitate shedding. These moist hideaways can be created by lining a shelter or box with moist substrates, such as sphagnum moss, peat moss, damp soil, or other products.
Geckos need constant access to clean water. Provide water in a flat, shallow bowl, and change it daily. If there is a fecal matter or drowned feeder insects in the water, change it immediately.
Avoid using deep bowls, as this will limit your gecko’s access to his water as well as present a drowning hazard to both your gecko and the feeder insects you give him.
Sunlight for geckos
Geckos are crepuscular and nocturnal pets. They are awake during the night, with peaks of activity at dawn and dusk. In captivity, geckos will use the light in the room as a guide for their sleeping habits.
Place the enclosure in a location where the gecko experiences a normal day/night light cycle. Never put the enclosure in direct sunlight! Direct sunlight can heat up the enclosure fast, and your gecko might suffer heatstroke.
Geckos hate trees and plants.
Plants with a strong odor repel geckos.
There are plants that geckos will avoid at all costs because of how they smell. These plants are very fragrant and even soothing to humans but don’t appeal to insects and bugs. These plants confuse geckos. In some places in the world, they are used as a repellent.
- camphor tree
- Japanese Mint
Plants that can kill geckos
- Pencil Tree
Plants that geckos love
- Bird’s Nest Fern
- Pink Quill
- Dwarf Umbrella Tree
- Chinese Evergreen
- Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria laurentii)
- Jade Jewel
- Elephant Ear (Alocasia Polly)
- Lemon Button Fern
- Musa Little Prince Banana Tree
Cleaning the enclosure
Keeping your gecko’s habitat clean is an important part of maintaining a healthy habitat. Daily chores include:
- Remove waste, debris, dead feeder insects, and shed skin.
- Remove and clean any objects that have fecal matter on them.
- Clean and disinfect water bowls.
- Remove and replace the soiled substrate.
Weekly chores include:
- Clean and disinfect the enclosure thoroughly.
- Clean and disinfect interior items such as decorations, feeding, and watering items, and any other items in the terrarium.
- Replace soiled substrate.
Avoid using cleaners that contain phenols or pine scents, as these are toxic to your gecko. If you are unsure of what products to use or how to use them, consult your veterinarian.
As geckos are nocturnal, the best time to clean the enclosure is at dusk or during the early morning hours. This will prevent you from disturbing their natural sleep cycles and causing unnecessary stress.
Selecting the proper disinfectant for cages must be done carefully. The disinfectant must be strong enough to kill disease-causing viruses, bacteria, and fungi yet not cause harm to the herp. Geckos are sensitive to toxic fumes, so care must be taken to move them to another room while using most disinfectants.
Although there are many disinfectants on the market, the most readily available disinfectant for cleaning a cage is household bleach. Use bleach at a dilution of approximately 1 part bleach to 32 parts water (1/2 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water). Other disinfectants safe for herps may be available from your veterinarian.
Assemble a cleaning kit expressly for cleaning the cage. Store these items separately from your other household cleaning supplies. To prevent cross-contamination, never use sinks or tubs that are used for human bathing or food preparation.
- Back-up cage
- Paper towels
- Q-tips, toothpicks, putty knives, and razor blades
- Rubber gloves and goggles
- Sand-sifter – removes feces and other debris from sand and other fine-particulate substrates.
- Soap or dishwashing detergent
Advantages of the cage
- Saves space
- Easier to maintain proper heat and humidity
- Requires very little maintenance
- Easy to clean
- Provides your gecko with privacy and security
Tricks for choosing the correct enclosure
- Don’t get acrylic enclosures: acrylic enclosures, such as an aquarium or terrarium that’s made of acrylic will get scratched more easily, and the scratches will be more visible.
- Secure the vivarium doors: Geckos are fast creatures and can escape when the cage door isn’t secured. Also, young children can be tempted to open the door and handle your gecko. So, it’s best to use a lock to secure the cage doors.
- Double doors: an enclosure with double doors makes life a lot easier. It’s a lot easier to feed your gecko and to clean the cage.