Day Gecko Size and Growth Chart
Day geckos belong to a category of geckos containing over 70 species. The exact number is somewhat disputed, but there are a lot, that’s for sure. This many species guarantee one thing if nothing else: immense variety.
And, with geckos, immense variety is what you’ll get. In terms of size, for instance, you will get anything from small, 4-inch geckos to 10-11-inch giants with vastly different needs and requirements.
So, today we will discuss how big day geckos can get and how to harness their growth potential at home.
How Big do Day Geckos Get?
Meet the Madagascar Giant Day Gecko. This species delivers specimens up to 10 and even 11 inches in some cases. The Giant gecko is highly prized among gecko keepers thanks to its size, coloring, and gentle demeanor.
This is among the few day geckos that don’t mind handling as much and can live up to 15 years in captivity.
Naturally, the gecko’s size isn’t strictly dependent on its genetic pool. This means that you could have a Madagascar Giant gecko that remains stuck at 6-7 inches. This is where you come in.
In today’s article, we’ll discuss how you can optimize your reptile’s growth rate and maximum size, and more.
How Fast do Day Geckos Grow?
Geckos put on approximately 5 to 10 grams per month until they reach their adult size. This will take quite a while, based on your gecko’s quality of care, environmental setup, quality of food, stress levels, etc.
We will dissect all these factors, later on, to explain how they can dramatically influence your gecko’s health, growth rate, and maximum size.
When do Day Geckos Reach Full Size?
The timeframe necessary for a day gecko to achieve its full size varies drastically. You should expect your gecko to reach its maximum adult size during its first 18-24 months of life.
But this is just a general timeframe since geckos can easily go outside of it.
So, whatever applies to one species of day geckos, may not apply to your gecko.
Factors That Affect the Size of Day Geckos
As you may suspect, quite a few factors are responsible for boosting or inhibiting a day gecko’s growth rate and size. Many novice gecko keepers think it all comes down to food, but that’s false.
Food plays an important role but is not the only factor worth mentioning. In some cases, food may have the least effect in this sense.
That being said, let’s look at the primary factors that influence a gecko’s growth and size:
The Profile of the Species
This seems like a braindead statement, but it’s worth mentioning due to many people’s unrealistic expectations. In other words, you can’t expect your gecko to reach 10 inches if the species it belongs to cannot produce those sizes.
For instance, the Blue-Tailed day gecko will only grow up to 5.5 inches or even 6 inches in some rare cases. Not knowing that may cause you to grow concerned regarding its maximum size.
Why is my gecko only 5 inches in size? Well, because that’s its maximum size determined by its genetic pool.
Where You’re Sourcing the Gecko
This point creates a lot of confusion among novice gecko owners. Getting your gecko from trustworthy sources will make all the difference in the gecko’s overall health, maximum size, etc.
Pet shops are typically suboptimal in this sense. They keep pets in less-than-ideal conditions, feed them poorly, and don’t guarantee the animal’s genetic prowess.
As you know, geckos are subjected to heavy selective breeding, as humans seek to prioritize some features over others. Improper or unguided breeding can lead promote undesirable features like the suboptimal size.
So, your gecko may have a faulty genetic pool which will prevent it from achieving its maximum size potential.
I recommend only acquiring your gecko from reputed gecko breeders who can vouch for the gecko’s health and genetic background. This may take more work, time, and money, but it will be worth it.
Quality of Food
You’ve probably seen this coming a mile away. Geckos require a varied and nutritious diet consisting of insects and fruits. Each species has certain preferences in this sense since some geckos prefer more insects than others.
However, the goal remains the same – provide your gecko with a fulfilling and nutritious diet in the long run.
In this sense, consider the following:
- Learn your gecko’s preferences – Some geckos will simply ignore commercial gecko food. It doesn’t matter how nutritious and optimized the food is if your gecko doesn’t eat it.
- Learn your gecko’s feeding pattern – Geckos only eat once every 2-3 days, but this can vary. This comes down to learning your gecko’s feeding frequency and how much it likes to eat in one sitting. Make sure you don’t overfeed or underfeed the lizard since each of these comes with different problems.
- Supplementation – Day geckos are prone to MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) in typical gecko fashion. This condition is the result of calcium and vitamin D3 deficiency which has many causes, including the lack of adequate UVB lighting. However, the lighting can’t fix anything. Sure, it will ease the absorption of calcium by promoting the synthesis of D3, but your gecko still requires an optimized diet to aid in this sense. So, I recommend supplementing your gecko’s diet with calcium and D3 powder, according to your vet’s recommendations.
- Avoid wild insects and fruits – I understand the temptation of giving your gecko wild insects and fruits. They are readily available, seemingly nutritious, and easy to gather and process. The problem is that these can contain environmental contaminants like pesticides and herbicides, which can hurt your gecko. Air pollutants resulting from human activity are also possible, carrying similar health risks. In addition to that, insects can carry a variety of pathogens, viruses, and bacteria that can transmit to your gecko.
This list explains pretty well what ‘quality of food’ means in relation to geckos.
Day geckos require specific temperature, humidity, and lighting, depending on the species. Typically, the temperature should vary between 72 and 85 F, humidity needs to sit at 60-80%, and the lighting needs to follow a strict day/night cycle.
Day geckos are diurnal animals, which means that they need low-lighting/darkness during nighttime to rest.
But knowing the optimal temperature values won’t help you understand how to achieve them. And won’t teach you the details that could make or break your gecko’s lifestyle quality.
Here’s what you should need when creating the ideal gecko setup:
- Temperature gradient – The temperature should be unequally distributed throughout the gecko’s habitat. So, the terrarium needs to have a warm area, a cold area, and a basking area. The latter refers to a portion with higher temperatures, somewhere around 90 or even 90 F. To goal of the temperature gradient is to allow geckos to migrate between different zones, depending on their physiological needs.
- Humidity is a must – Most day geckos require high humidity, especially during the shedding process. I recommend going for 70-75% humidity levels and up those values to 80-85% for short periods during shedding. You can achieve and maintain these humidity values by regularly spraying the gecko’s habitat, adding live plants to their terrarium, and relying on a humidity-retaining soil mix.
- UVB lighting is necessary – Placing the terrarium in a room with direct access to sunlight may not suffice. Geckos require UVB lighting, which is, indeed, a wavelength of sunlight. The problem is that the terrarium’s glass walls will prevent the UVB from entering the reptile’s habitat. So, the light source needs to be inside the habitat. The intensity of the light varies depending on the gecko’s needs and the tank’s size. What doesn’t vary is the need for a steady day/night cycle to allow the reptile to rest properly.
All these factors are crucial in boosting your gecko’s growth rate and keeping it healthy and comfortable over the years.
This is among the most important growth-related factors to consider. Geckos can get stressed for a variety of reasons, including poor diets, poor lighting, improper temperature and humidity, high tensions due to unfitting tankmates, etc.
A stressed gecko will display a poor appetite and remain in hiding for longer.
The gecko will also display lethargy and will experience a weaker immune system, making it prone to health problems in the long run. Plus, stressed geckos will remain smaller and grow slower than happier ones.
To prevent your gecko from getting stressed out:
- Don’t handle the lizard too often, especially if it has an aversion to the act
- Keep geckos alone if they belong to a non-social species
- Don’t overcrowd social geckos since this is enough to overwrite their social behavior and lead to territorial fights
- Don’t keep 2 males in the same enclosure, no matter how big; gecko males are notoriously aggressive towards one another
- Always monitor the terrarium’s parameters to prevent unwanted fluctuations that could stress the animal
In short, keep your gecko happy, and it will thrive.
The Shedding Aspect
Geckos shed at regular intervals at a frequency that tends to stretch out as the gecko matures. Healthy adult geckos will shed every 4 weeks, on average.
The shedding process is nothing more than a growth milestone since the gecko’s skin doesn’t expand and stretch along with the reptile’s body.
So, the gecko’s biology has come up with a way to circumvent that. The gecko will grow its new skin under the old one and shed the old one as it grows. This allows the gecko’s body to grow despite the skin’s evolutionary imperfections.
The shedding process is a sensitive one, during which the gecko requires specific environmental parameters to prevent any incidents. If humidity is too low, the outer skin may dry out, causing the gecko problems with getting out.
If it’s too high, it might stick to the gecko’s body, constricting blood flow and causing gangrene and limb loss.
Temperature is also essential, as is the peacefulness necessary for the gecko to complete the act. Geckos require from several hours to 2 days to complete the shedding process, depending on how it goes.
Most geckos will also consume their old skin during the process for a quick boost of nutrients.
So, the shedding process is a critical milestone in the gecko’s growth phase, which you will need to supervise closely. That’s because the gecko may run into difficulties sometimes, at which point you can intervene.
How you can do that is a topic for another article which I’ve already written, in fact. So, feel free to check that one as well.
I would say that this is a pretty comprehensive list of factors contributing to your gecko’s growth rate and overall size.
Follow it, adapt it to your situation, and come back with feedback to share your experience.
What Tank Size Does a Day Gecko Need?
Generally, a 20-gallon terrarium should be enough for an 8-10-inch gecko.
When determining your gecko’s habitat parameters, consider the following:
- More isn’t always better – Geckos are naturally sluggish animals. They don’t like moving too much. This means that an overly large habitat may also cause more harm than good since the animal will have to work to find food and water. Stick to 20 gallons, and your gecko should be just fine.
- Go vertical instead of horizontal – All day, geckos are arboreal animals. In other words, they need to climb and will spend all of their time elevated. This allows them better view other their habitat, which is very useful in detecting predators and prey in time. The day gecko’s habitat should emulate the reptile’s natural environment. So, invest in a vertical tank since geckos don’t have much use for their horizontal space.
To consider another general rule, you can most likely house a pair of day geckos in a 30-gallon setup, depending on your gecko’s size and personality.
If they tend to be more jittery towards one another, consider a larger tank and decorate it with more hiding areas and climbing spots.
Day geckos can grow to respectable sizes, especially when kept in good conditions and receiving adequate food.
- Get your geckos from a respected and experienced breeder
- Consider the gecko species you’re getting carefully
- Ensure stable and optimal living conditions
- Avoid gecko stress by cleaning its habitat regularly, avoiding tensions in the case of gecko communities, and minimizing handling circumstances
- Monitor and assist during the shedding process, if needed
Do all these things, and your day gecko will achieve its growth rate and size potential sooner.