Are Day Geckos Easy to Care For?
Day geckos are highly beloved in the pet industry, thanks to their astounding variety. These reptiles vary based on size, color, pattern, and even behavior and personality, so the selection pool is vast, to say the least. But are these lizards easy to care for?
Geckos are pretty demanding in terms of environmental parameters, diets, and overall care and maintenance routine.
However, this isn’t universally applicable since some geckos are easier to handle than others. So, where do day geckos sit?
Are Day Geckos Good for Beginners?
I generally wouldn’t recommend day geckos for beginners, but there are a few exceptions. The Giant day gecko is one such exception, as these can be rather easy to please.
The Gold Dust Day gecko also falls into this category, and there are a few others to consider in this sense.
After all, day geckos encompass over 60 species, brought together in an all-encompassing category; you have a variety of gecko options at your disposal.
Overall, though, day geckos aren’t exactly beginner-friendly due to their:
- Immense variety – You need to be a more experienced gecko owner to consider getting a day gecko. That’s because day geckos encompass more than 60 species, so they exhibit immense variety. This can be a good thing for gecko owners interested in certain characteristics, but a bad thing for those looking for consistency. In other words, learning about one species doesn’t guarantee the knowledge of another.
- Precise parameter requirements – Day geckos need a steady temperature, humidity, and lighting gradient and variation based on the time of day and terrarium location. The temperature needs to fluctuate between 72 and 85 F, while humidity levels should vary between 60 and 80%, with some exceptions. UVB lighting is also necessary to provide the gecko with a healthy day/night cycle and ensure optimal D3 synthesis. So, it’s safe to say that day geckos are rather pretentious in this area.
- Predisposition to health issues – Day geckos aren’t more squeamish than other species, but they do have their specific health issues they’re battling. Metabolic Bone Disease due to calcium deficiency is a major one in this sense. We also include parasites, bacterial infections, respiratory infections, and skin problems during shedding. All these are often related to poor maintenance conditions, improper diets, etc. So, you do have a level of control over this matter, fortunately.
These issues explain quite well why day geckos are more fitting for experienced gecko keepers who are more knowledgeable in what the species’ needs are to thrive.
Are Day Geckos Low Maintenance?
Not quite. Day geckos are moderate-to-high maintenance, depending on the species and the gecko specimen in question.
All geckos require some basic environmental parameters, but they also need specific things based on their personalities as well. Some geckos like to climb more than others.
Others tend to be more active and inquisitive, and some eat more often or enjoy taking baths more frequently. It all comes down to learning your gecko’s behavior and predilections and adapting your maintenance routine to their profile.
But, overall, day geckos require a steady care routine to thrive over the years.
If you’re not accustomed to caring for day geckos, I recommend starting your gecko-keeping journey with a more beginner-friendly species.
5 Care Tips for Beginner Day Gecko Owners
If you’ve decided that now the challenge is…challenging enough, you can take on a day gecko, provided you have the fundamentals ready. Here are 5 great gecko tips to help you get started on your first-day gecko terrarium:
1. Day Geckos Require High Humidity
Day geckos require varying levels of humidity based on the species they belong to, time of day, and physiological status (more humidity is necessary during shedding, etc.)
So, day geckos require a humidity level between 60 and 80%, with some variations based on the factors I’ve mentioned.
The problem isn’t necessarily setting up the humidity but maintaining it over long periods of time.
In this sense, consider:
- Investing in the right substrate – The substrate is vital for retaining moisture and considerably boosting the environment’s humidity levels. Based on your preferences and desired outcome, I recommend soil as the base, mixed with peat moss or cork bark. Day geckos also display burrowing behavior when temperatures are suboptimal, when stressed and are in need of hiding, or when breeding. So, the substrate should be soft and safe for them to exhibit that behavior.
- Live plants – These are necessary for any gecko behavior, thanks to their ability to improve the air humidity levels. Plants also serve as climbing supports for geckos and provide the reptiles with water since they love to drink water droplets off of their environmental plants. Make sure you set up the substrate properly to support the rooted plants and prevent unearthing. Especially since day geckos will occasionally dig around for various reasons.
- Spraying the habitat – You should either manually spray the habitat from time to time or rely on an automatic fogger or mister to do the job for you. This is necessary to increase the environmental humidity immediately and create water droplets on the plants’ leaves. You probably need to spray the gecko’s habitat once or twice per day or even more frequently, depending on how large the setup is.
- A hygrometer is necessary – This is a vital piece of equipment because it allows you to monitor environmental humidity.
For geckos, humidity is as important as temperature since it helps the lizard regulate its physiology. Critically-low humidity can cause respiratory problems and skin infections, among other issues.
So, always monitor and adjust humidity levels accordingly to prevent health problems down the line.
2. Day Geckos Need Plenty of Space
We should say – day geckos need plenty of vertical space. These reptiles have no use for a horizontally-oriented terrarium because they are born climbers. Geckos feel safer when elevated since it allows them a birds-eye view of their territory.
This is a pretty good feature when looking to avoid predation and spot any potential meals crawling or flying by.
This can only lead to the obvious conclusion that day geckos are expert climbers and always ready and capable of escaping their habitat. So, always secure the terrarium with an aerated lid to prevent that.
But the main point of discussion here is the available space. How much space do day geckos actually need? I recommend a 20-gallon terrarium for a 6-8-inch gecko, but you can and will go bigger for larger species.
A 12-inch gecko will probably do better in a 30-gallon terrarium. You should also consider the lizards’ territorial tendencies.
Geckos aren’t exactly your typical social animal. So, they aren’t fond of any tankmates, including those belonging to the same species. They will tolerate each other, but don’t expect them to form poetry clubs anytime soon.
Geckos can engage in some territorial violence occasionally, so you need to make sure there’s enough space for all of them. The habitat should also be plant-rich and well-decorated to provide the geckos with a variety of hiding and climbing areas.
These will keep them safe, comfy, and capable of avoiding conflict should they wish to.
3. Feed Your Day Geckos Various Food
The good thing is that geckos only eat 3-4 times per week at most. They have relatively low metabolic rates, so they need time to digest their food. The not-so-good news is that feeding the gecko requires some planning in advance.
These reptiles enjoy an omnivorous diet, consisting of insects and fruits, depending on the species.
You need to figure out what your specific gecko needs, so dieting takes some planning and personalization at first.
Once you figure things out, the feeding pattern will stabilize, allowing you to prepare your gecko’s meals easier.
However, we have a handful of basic concepts to follow in relation to gecko feeding.
- Store-bought food may not cut it – There are plenty of gecko-specific foods available to purchase. High nutritional value, tasty, safe, optimized. The problem is that not all geckos will eat this type of food. Some are more pretentious, at which point you’ll need to improvise. So, be ready to try out different gecko foods to see which appease your pet the most. If the gecko refuses all commercial foods, you’ll need a different approach.
- Avoid wild-caught insects and fruits – The problem with insects and fruits collected from the wild or even your backyard is that they can contain various contaminants and pollutants. These are virtually impossible to detect with the naked eye, but they can be embedded in the insects’ tissue or the fruit’s pulp. The fruits may be good for you, but they can poison the gecko. Wild insects may also contain parasites and bacteria that can pass onto your gecko with unpleasant outcomes.
- Consider homemade foods – Store-bought fruits should do since not everybody has mango, papaya, or banana cultures at home. When it comes to insects, I recommend growing them at home. It’s easier than it sounds since insects don’t need much to thrive and multiply. This will provide geckos with their own safe, tasty, and nutritious supply of live insects, which they can actively hunt in their natural-like habitat. Can’t get any better than that.
- Proper supplementation – Day geckos are predisposed to calcium and vitamin D3 deficiencies which have been linked to Metabolic Bone Disease. There are other health issues to consider here as well, many of which relate to various nutritional deficiencies. To prevent that, I recommend dousing the insects in some vitamin D3 or calcium powder before feeding them to your gecko. You can also use other vitamins based on your vet’s suggestions.
All these recommendations may seem like a handful, but they’re not. They will turn into a familiar routine with enough practice.
4. House Day Geckos Separately
I know the appeal of having several geckos and multiple species in the same environment. It makes for a diverse and lively setting.
Unfortunately, that’s the best recipe for disaster because geckos are not used to sharing their space with other geckos.
They will tolerate members of their own species, to a point, but will not befriend other gecko species.
Their territorial behavior will get in the way of their good intentions, not that there’s any anyway. As a result, geckos will fight, bully, harass, and even kill each other, depending on the circumstances.
Geckos aren’t designed to kill since their offensive capabilities are limited. But they can get the job done given enough time.
However, the risk of killing each other directly is minimal, especially if the geckos are of similar sizes. What should concern you is the stress coming with the constant tensions in the tank.
Stressed geckos are more prone to health problems, parasites, and bacterial infections due to a weaker immune system.
To prevent these issues, house your geckos separately based on species and gender. The latter is just as important because gecko males are always in a fighting mood when in proximity of other males of the same species.
They will display aggressive behavior linked to their territorial tendencies and will fight over females, food, and, sometimes, just over pure dominance.
So, you should never have 2 or more gecko males in the same terrarium, not even when you have sufficient space for all of them.
5. UVB Light is Important for Day Geckos
UVB is a light wavelength present in sunlight and is critical to your gecko’s health. That’s because the UVB lighting promotes D3 and calcium synthesis, keeping geckos safe from Metabolic Bone Disease.
An important point here – sunlight may not replace the necessary UVB lamp. That’s because, while sunlight can penetrate the window glass, UVB can’t.
So, even if your gecko is theoretically getting sufficient sunlight, it won’t get any UVB, and that’s what actually matters.
Another point – ensure a healthy lighting cycle based on your geckos’ day/night cycle. Geckos need resting time, so you need to cut the light during nighttime to provide them with the ideal sleeping setup.
You can invest in a good UVB lamp and set it up according to your geckos’ habitat layout.
These lamps usually need replacement 6-8 months down the line. So, you’re getting plenty of benefits out of one.
Day geckos aren’t exactly fitting for beginners, but you can make it work. Learn everything you can about your favorite gecko species and refer to this article for vital points on maintenance and long-term care routine.
I’ve also written several gecko articles you can dive into, touching upon other key points like breeding, diets, terrarium setup, health issues, etc. Make sure you check those too.