How to Care for Your House Gecko
The Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) is a small, nocturnal, arboreal lizard native to the Mediterranean, but it has established populations in many other locales in the Americas, Canary Islands, Caribbean, and Hawaii due to its penchant for stowing away in produce shipments.
Mediterranean house geckos are typically 4-5” long, with large lidless eyes, vertical pupils, a relatively large head, bumpy skin, sticky toe pads, and a tapered tail. They generally have a beige to pale pink base color with dark spots/blotches on the back and banding on the tail. Their belly is often semi translucent.
House geckos are extremely adaptable and hardy, which makes them fairly easy to care for. However, it’s important to keep them in a particularly secure enclosure so they can’t escape and potentially invade your local ecosystem. With good care, they can be expected to live up to 9 years.
This care sheet can be applied to H. frenatus, the common house gecko, as well as H. turcicus.
How much space do house geckos need?
House geckos are active lizards who need plenty of space for running around and climbing. A single gecko should be housed in absolutely no smaller than a 12” x 12” x 18” terrarium, but larger is always better!
Cohabitation (keeping multiple house geckos together) tends to work well for this species, however, it is not required for their wellbeing. Do not house males and females together without the intent to breed, and note that males are likely to fight if kept together. If you want to have a group of females, you will need a significantly larger enclosure than the minimum.
Do house geckos need UVB?
House geckos don’t require exposure to UVB light for their survival, but it is highly likely to be beneficial to their long-term health and wellbeing. We recommend the 26w Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0 Compact Fluorescent UVB bulb for house geckos housed in a 12” x 12” x 18” terrarium. Using a larger enclosure will require a larger bulb to provide adequate coverage.
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. UVB bulbs decay over time, so expect to replace your bulb every 12 months.
Lights should be on for 14 hours/day during summer and 10 hours/day during winter to simulate natural seasonal patterns.
What basking temperatures do house geckos need?
House geckos should have a basking temperature of around 90°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking surface. There should be a cooler area on the opposite side of the enclosure that stays between 75-85°F.
Provide heat for your gecko by imitating the sun with a halogen heat lamp placed on one side of the enclosure. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. The basking surface should be a sturdy branch.
The heat source should be turned off at night. Nighttime temperatures can drop as low as 72°F.
What humidity levels do house geckos need?
House geckos need a moderately high humidity environment for best health. Average humidity should be between 60-75%. You can monitor humidity levels with a digital probe hygrometer with the probe in the middle of the terrarium.
Misting your gecko’s enclosure with a sprayer every evening and morning to create the right humidity levels. It also provides an important source of drinking water!
What substrate is good for house geckos?
Substrate covers the floor of your gecko’s terrarium and helps make the enclosure more attractive, but it also helps maintain humidity. We recommend the following substrates for house 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 house gecko terrarium?
It’s terribly boring (and usually stressful) for a lizard to be stuck in an enclosure with nothing in it except substrate and maybe a single climbing branch. 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. Here are some ideas:
Make sure your gecko has 1) things to hide in/behind and 2) things to climb on!
What do house geckos eat?
House geckos are primarily insectivorous, which means that they need to eat insects (preferably live) in order to get the nutrition that their bodies need. How often they need to eat depends on age: Juveniles should be fed daily but fully-grown adults can be fed three to four times/week.
Offer four to five appropriately-sized insects per gecko, with each insect being slightly smaller than the gecko’s head. If using smaller feeders, increase the number of insects offered.
You will also need calcium and vitamin supplements to prevent your gecko from developing a deficiency. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on all of your pet’s feeder insects.
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 house geckos like to be handled?
Not at all, and they are too small and fast to be safely handled anyway. These are a look-but-don’t-touch kind of pet!
*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.