White-lined geckos' bodies are brown, green or tan, and have a white stripe on each side of the head that converges on the back and runs down to the tail base which has broad white bands. They have specialized toe pads that allow them to effortlessly move along vertical surfaces.
White-lined geckos reach an adult length of around 9 to 10 inches, including their tails. They can live 10 to 20 years or so; however, they are relatively new to reptile hobbyists, so their lifespan is a bit uncertain. They're not as aggressive as some other gecko breeds, so they may be good pets for the less-experienced owner (but probably not quite beginner-level).
Scientific Name: Gekko vittatus
Common Names: White-lined gecko, white-striped gecko, Indonesian skunk gecko or skunk gecko
Adult Size: Between 9 and 10 inches long
Life Expectancy: 10 to 20 years
Behavior and Temperament of White-Lined Geckos
White-lined geckos tend to be less aggressive than their close relative, the tokay gecko. These geckos are fast, delicate and will bite if feeling threatened, so care is required when handling.
Housing White-Lined Geckos
A 20-gallon tall terrarium is sufficient for a couple of white-lined geckos, but bigger is better as white-lined geckos are active lizards. White-lined geckos need vertical space for climbing, so use a tall tank. A glass terrarium with a screened top or side for ventilation works well. Males are territorial so should only be kept one to a cage; never house males together.
White-lined geckos need room to climb—provide a mix of branches, driftwood, cork bark, bamboo, and vines at a variety of heights and orientations. Add a variety of silk and/or sturdy live plants, as the geckos will hide in the plants for cover. Use caves, bark or other items suitable for hides. Provide a small shallow water dish with fresh water daily, though they will likely prefer to drink water droplets from leaves.
The substrate for white-lined geckos should be something that retains moisture to aid in humidity levels such as coconut fiber bedding, cypress mulch, moss or peat, though you can use paper or paper towels as well.
Provide a daytime temperature gradient between 82 and 85 degrees for white-lined geckos. The temperature at night should be between 70 and 75 degrees.
A heat lamp or ceramic heat emitter makes a good heat source for daytime; at night, a red night time bulb or ceramic heat emitter is a good choice. You can also use under tank heat. Do not rest a heat source right the top of the tank as these climbing geckos could get too close and burn themselves.
White-lined geckos are nocturnal, so do not need special UV lighting. However, many experts believe providing low levels of UV lighting is still beneficial to their overall health. Ensure that geckos can hide from the light if desired. A red night time bulb allows viewing when they are most active.
White-lined geckos need a moderately high humidity level; aim for 65 to 75 percent relative humidity which you can measure and monitor with a hygrometer. Mist the gecko's enclosure a few times a day with warm filtered water, and make sure the cage is well-misted at night when their activity is highest. White-lined geckos will drink from water droplets left from the mist.
Food and Water
Feed white-lined geckos a diet mainly of crickets. A variety of other insects can be added for variety: roaches, locusts, cutworms and silkworms (only feed waxworms and mealworms occasionally). Prey should be about the size of the space between the gecko's eyes.
Any prey fed to your gecko should be gut-loaded prior to feeding and dusted with a calcium supplement two to three times a week. You also should consider adding a multivitamin once a week. Feed your gecko in the evening.
Juveniles should be fed daily but adults do not need to be fed every day; every other day should suffice. Feed as much prey at one time as the gecko eagerly eats, and don't leave uneaten crickets roaming around the tank.
Common Health Problems
White-lined geckos are prone to stomatitis, or mouth rot, a disease common among gecko species. If infected, they'll have a cheeselike ooze (which is actually pus) which may appear around the mouth, along with redness.
If you notice your gecko is drooling, this may be a sign of another common ailment; excess saliva usually indicates a respiratory infection.
Like other gecko breeds, white-lined geckos are susceptible to parasitic infections. On the skin, such an infection may look similar to a rash; another symptom is a failure to shed its skin properly.
Internal parasites can cause lethargy, changes in appetite, and unusual fecal deposits.
All of these conditions can be treated if they caught early enough. Don't attempt to treat these ailments with home remedies; always consult a veterinarian who specializes in lizards.
Choosing Your White-Lined Gecko
White-lined geckos can be tame and docile pets if treated properly. You should select a gecko whose skin is smooth and free of any bumps (which could indicate a skin infection or a broken bone). Although they're more delicate than some of their cousins, a healthy white-lined gecko will likely react with displeasure if handled, and possibly try to bite you.
A gecko should have clear eyes and should readily accept food when it is offered. Always seek a reputable breeder when purchasing a gecko or any other exotic pet. They'll be able to tell you about any health issues the animal may have.
Captive-bred geckos are ideal as pets since they're much less likely to have parasites or other health conditions wild geckos tend to suffer.
Similar Species to the White-Lined Gecko
If you're interested in taking on other geckos, here are a few other breeds like the white-lined gecko that you may want to consider:
For a look at the gecko breeds that make good pets, check out our other gecko profiles.