Common house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) reach an adult length of 3-5 inches (including the tail) and live five to ten years as pets. Their colors can vary the from a yellowish tan color with darker spots or blotches in the light to a pale, grey-white and they often appear more pale at night. They also have specialized toe pads that allow them to effortlessly move along vertical surfaces and can even stick upside down making them very unique pets.
Common House Geckos in the Wild
Common house geckos (also known as Pacific house geckos, Asian house geckos, house lizards, and moon lizards) are native to much of southern Asia but they've established breeding populations in many other warm areas of the world. They are thought to have become such a successful invasive species largely by hitchhiking on ships and other transportation so owners of pet common house geckos should be careful not to contribute to the problem by releasing them into the wild.
While common house geckos can live in less inhabited areas, they are commonly found around human habitation, including the walls and ceilings of houses, which is how they got their name. They are good at keeping insect populations in check so many people welcome their cohabitation on their homes.
Housing Common House Geckos
A 20-gallon tall terrarium is sufficient for a couple of common house geckos but bigger is better when it comes to their housing. Keep in mind that house geckos need vertical space for climbing so you should use a tall tank rather than a long tank.
Males are territorial so keep them one to a cage. Females get along with others so if you want a group of geckos , make sure you only have one male in your enclosure to avoid fighting.
House geckos need room to climb in their tall cage so you should provide branches, driftwood, and silk or live plants. They also need hiding spots such as reptile caves or small clay plant pots placed on their sides. Be sure to provide enough hides to give multiple geckos space to hide from each other if you are housing more than one gecko in a cage. Provide a small shallow water dish with fresh water daily even though common house geckos may prefer to drink from water droplets on leaves like chameleons.
Substrate for Common House Geckos
Common house geckos should have substrate (bedding) that retains moisture, such as reptile bark or shredded coconut fiber bedding. Sand and reptile carpeting are not ideal for house geckos as they do not aid in creating a humid environment.
Lighting and Humidity for Common House Geckos
Common house geckos are from a humid subtropical climate, therefore, you need to do your best to mimic this in their enclosures. Try to maintain a daytime temperature gradient of 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit with a nighttime low of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat can be provided by utilizing ceramic heat elements or reptile bulbs in a reflector lighting fixture. A heat mat may also be useful for supplemental heat but it will not be very useful in heating the ambient air since it is located under the terrarium. Use white reptile heat bulbs during daytime hours. At night utilize a red or purple night time bulb for heat. These bulbs can be purchased in any reptile section of the pet store or online.
Common house geckos are nocturnal so they do not need special UVB lighting like many reptiles. However, many experts feel providing UV lighting is still beneficial to the overall health of nocturnal animals, therefore, it is still recommended to use a UVA/UVB light bulb during the daytime.
House geckos need a moderate to high humidity level in their enclosure so you should aim for 60-75 percent relative humidity which you can measure with a hygrometer. Provide humidity with regular misting, bowls of water, or a fogger and you will find that your geckos will likely drink from water droplets left from the mist.
Feeding Common House Geckos
House geckos should be fed a variety of small prey items. Crickets can make up the main part of their diet with the addition of fruit flies and other small flies, silkworms, the occasional mealworm, and other insects. Gut load prey prior to feeding them to your geckos, dust them with a calcium supplement two to three times a week, and a dusting of a multivitamin once a week. Feed your common house geckos in the evening since they are nocturnal. Juveniles should be fed daily but adults can be fed every other day. Feed as much prey as your house gecko will eagerly consume.
Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT