Native to Indonesia, white-lined geckos' bodies are brown, green, or tan. But their namesake comes from the white stripe that starts on each side of the head, converges on the back, and runs down to the tail, which has broad white bands. These geckos also have specialized toe pads that allow them to move effortlessly along vertical surfaces. They're not as temperamental as some other gecko species, so they can be good pets for less-experienced owners who can meet their care needs. However, don't expect a cuddly pet, as handling these nimble animals can be difficult. But once you get their housing set up, their care is fairly simple and straightforward.
Common Names: White-lined gecko, white-striped gecko, Indonesian skunk gecko, skunk gecko
Scientific Name: Gekko vittatus
Adult Size: 9 to 10 inches long
Life Expectancy: 10 to 20 years
White-Lined Gecko Behavior and Temperament
White-lined geckos tend to be less aggressive than their close relative, the tokay gecko. However, they still will bite if they feel threatened, and they're quite fast and delicate. Thus, handling them usually isn't recommended unless it's absolutely necessary. These geckos are nocturnal, meaning they're most active at night, and they love to climb. They can be kept with other geckos, but you should never keep two males together. They typically will fight over territory—potentially to the death.
Housing the White-Lined Gecko
A 20-gallon terrarium is sufficient for a couple of white-lined geckos, but bigger is better because these 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. Provide a mix of branches, driftwood, cork bark, bamboo, and vines at varying heights and orientations for climbing. And add a variety of silk and/or sturdy live plants, as the geckos will enjoy hiding in them. In addition, use caves, bark, or other items suitable for hiding spots. Finally, include a small, shallow water dish that you clean and fill with fresh water daily.
Create a daytime temperature gradient between roughly 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit for your white-lined gecko. The temperature at night should be between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat lamps or ceramic heat emitters make good heat sources for daytime. At night, red nighttime bulbs or ceramic heat emitters are good options. You can also use under-tank heating.
Never rest a heat source right on the top of the tank, as these climbing geckos might get too close and burn themselves.
White-lined geckos are nocturnal, so they don't need special UV lighting. However, many experts believe providing low levels of UV lighting can be beneficial to their overall health. Ensure that the gecko can hide from the light if desired. A red nighttime bulb will allow you to view your gecko when it's most active.
White-lined geckos need a moderately high humidity level of around 65% to 75%. You should regularly monitor the enclosure's humidity with a hygrometer. Mist the gecko's enclosure a few times a day with warm, filtered water, and make sure the enclosure is well-misted at night when the gecko's activity is highest. White-lined geckos often will drink from water droplets left from the mist.
The substrate is the material that lines the bottom of your animal's enclosure. It can provide the look and feel of the gecko's natural environment, and it also should be something that retains moisture to help maintain adequate humidity levels. Some options include coconut fiber bedding, cypress mulch, moss, and peat. You also can use paper or paper towels.
Food and Water
Feed white-lined geckos a diet mainly of crickets. Other insects can be added for variety, including 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.
Feed your gecko in the evening. Any prey should be gut-loaded (fed nutritious foods) prior to feeding it to your gecko, as well as dusted with a calcium supplement two to three times a week. Also, consider adding a multivitamin once a week, but be sure to consult your veterinarian when adding any supplements to your animal's diet.
Juveniles should be fed daily, but every other day should suffice for adults. Feed as much prey at one time that the gecko will eagerly eat, and don't leave uneaten crickets roaming around the tank.
Common Health and Behavior Problems
White-lined geckos are prone to stomatitis, or mouth rot, a disease common among gecko species. If infected, they'll likely have a cheese-like ooze (which is actually pus) around their mouth, along with redness. Moreover, if you notice your gecko is drooling, this might be a sign of another common ailment among geckos: a respiratory infection.
Plus, like other gecko species, white-lined geckos are susceptible to parasitic infections. On the skin, such an infection can 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're caught early enough. Do not attempt to treat these ailments with home remedies; always consult a veterinarian who specializes in lizards.
Choosing Your White-Lined Gecko
Captive-bred geckos are ideal as pets because they're much less likely to have parasites or other health conditions like wild geckos often do. So select a gecko from a reputable breeder or rescue organization that can tell you about the animal's health history, and expect to pay around $15 to $50.
Look for a gecko with skin that's smooth and free of any bumps (which could indicate an infection or a broken bone). The gecko should have clear eyes and should readily accept food when it is offered. Plus, a healthy white-lined gecko will likely react with displeasure when handled and possibly try to bite you. A gecko that's very lethargic and docile might be sick.
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