How to Care for Your Golden Gecko
Golden geckos (Gekko badenii) are moderately sized (6”-8”), nocturnal, arboreal lizards native to Vietnam, where they prefer a tropical rainforest habitat. Golden geckos get their common name from their greenish-gold body color. They have soft, delicate skin, robust bodies, round eyes, a tapered snout, and sticky toe pads.
Golden geckos are members of the same genus as their larger, more popular cousins, the tokay gecko, and have similar care requirements. Because of their low handleability and sensitivity to poor husbandry, golden geckos are an intermediate-level pet reptile. With good care, they can live 8+ years in captivity.
How much space do golden geckos need?
Golden geckos need an enclosure that accommodates their needs. The absolute minimum enclosure size for appropriately housing a single golden gecko is 18”L x 18”W x 24”H. Of course, larger is always better!
Cohabitation (keeping multiple golden geckos together) is not recommended, as this species is known to be territorial. Fighting and injuries are likely to result if cohabitation is attempted.
Do golden geckos need UVB?
Because golden geckos are nocturnal, they can technically survive without UVB lighting as long as they get vitamin D3 from their food. However, installing appropriate UVB lighting as part of their setup is necessary for them to thrive in captivity, and is highly recommended.
The best UVB bulbs for golden geckos housed in an 18” x 18” x 24” terrarium are:
- Zoo Med T8 Reptisun 10.0, 18”
- Arcadia ShadeDweller Kit
The basking branch should be 8-10” below the UVB lamp for best results. The UVB bulb should be housed in a reflective fixture and placed close to the heat lamp. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so you can’t give your gecko UVB by placing its terrarium in front of an open window. Also make sure that the fixture your UVB bulb is in does not have a clear plastic bulb cover.
Lights should be on for 11 hours/day during winter and 13 hours/day during summer to replicate seasonal cycles. Also don’t forget to change your UVB bulb every 6-12 months according to manufacturer recommendation!
What basking temperatures do golden geckos need?
Golden geckos should have a basking temperature of around 90°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe zip-tied to the basking branch. Average daytime temperatures should be between 75-85°F in the rest of the enclosure. Nighttime temps should be between 70-75°F.
Provide daytime heat for your gecko by imitating the sun with a halogen heat lamp on one side of the enclosure. If the room gets cooler than 70°F at night, low-intensity nighttime heating should be provided with a lightless heat source like a ceramic heat emitter (CHE).
Because golden geckos are known to sometimes climb upside-down on the mesh at the top of their enclosure, it’s best practice not to rest your heat lamp(s) directly on top of the mesh, as this can result in the gecko getting burned. Instead, use a lamp stand to prevent direct contact.
What humidity levels do golden geckos need?
Golden geckos need a high humidity environment for best health. Average humidity should be 60-80%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe in the middle of the terrarium. Humidity will likely fluctuate higher at night and lower during the day.
Misting your gecko’s enclosure with a sprayer first thing in the morning and again at night will help create the right humidity levels. It also provides an important source of drinking water!
If you have difficulty maintaining high humidity levels, running a reptile humidifier intermittently through the night can help.
What substrate is good for golden geckos?
Although golden geckos spend very little time on the ground, substrate helps maintain humidity and also contributes to the enclosure’s overall attractiveness. It’s ideal to use a substrate that imitates the “substrate” that the reptile naturally lives on in the wild. For golden geckos, that means it should resemble tropical soil.
We recommend the following substrates for golden geckos:
Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.
Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
What décor can you use in a golden gecko terrarium?
It’s terribly boring for a reptile to be stuck in an enclosure with nothing in it except dirt. It doesn’t matter how big the enclosure is if you don’t put things in it for your pet to use and interact with. Golden geckos tend to appreciate a fairly densely planted enclosure with either live or artificial plants, which can make their terrarium a great piece of home décor!
Golden geckos are strictly arboreal, so at bare minimum, you will need a couple of branches for your gecko to climb on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:
What do golden geckos eat?
Golden geckos are omnivorous, which means that they need to eat both animal- and plant-based foods to get the nutrition that their bodies need. They mostly eat insects in captivity, with some commercial gecko diet.
Juvenile golden geckos should be fed insects daily, while adults only need to be fed every other day. Offer juveniles as much as they will eat. Adults should be offered as much as they will eat in about 5 minutes. Crested gecko diet can be offered 2x/week for juveniles and 1x/week for adults.
Best crested gecko diets: Pangea, Repashy, Leapin’ Leachie, Zoo Med, Lugarti, Black Panther Zoological, Gecko Pro
Although crested gecko diet doubles as a vitamin supplement, you will need calcium powder to dust on feeder insects. We recommend Repashy Supercal NoD.
Although your gecko will get most of its drinking water from daily mistings, it’s a good idea to also provide a wall-mounted water dish. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
Do golden geckos like to be handled?
Few reptiles actually “like” to be held, and golden geckos aren’t one of them. Instead of interacting with your gecko by holding it, try hand-feeding it instead with a pair of feeding tweezers.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.
(photo credit NMGeckos)