How to Care* for Your Mourning Gecko
(photo credit DW.com)
Mourning Geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris) are small (3-4”), nocturnal, arboreal geckos native to the Indo-Pacific coast including but not limited to Hawaii, Indonesia, and Australia. Their habitat is the temperate rainforest, featuring high humidity and moderate (65-85F) temperatures. Mourning Geckos have a tan background color with brown markings. They are unusual among geckos in that they are parthenogenetic —they are all female and reproduce without the need for a male. A single mourning gecko is unlikely to lay eggs and reproduce if kept alone. Mourning geckos can be kept in groups, in which case the dominant females will probably lay eggs. Mourning Geckos are generally considered to be a beginner pet, though they cannot be handled, and the presence of eggs and juveniles may complicate the situation somewhat.
Mourning Geckos are very active, arboreal geckos that can be kept in a 5-10 gallon enclosure or a larger one. Since they are so small and quick, keeping them from escaping their enclosure requires some effort. An enclosure that opens from the top is escape-proof until it’s opened, at which time the Mourning Geckos at the top may slip out. Conventional front-opening enclosures often have small holes at the top or where the doors hinge that Mourning Geckos can slip through. The best recommendation is to use a front opening enclosure with the following modifications: Use clear packing tape to tape around the entire top of the enclosure where it meets the sides. Use more packing tape to add layers between the doors and where the doors meet the sides of the enclosure to reduce the gap that exists. Mourning Geckos will appreciate a space with multiple hiding places. Heavily planted enclosures or enclosures with artificial plants as well as perches and bamboo or cork bark pieces work very well. A feeding area with small bowls for food and water should be provided on a commercially available or homemade ledge that is usually attached to the side of the enclosure with suction cups or magnets.
Heating and Lighting
Mourning Geckos do not require additional heat as long as the ambient temperature in the room is usually between 65-80F. Additional heat can be supplied if necessary by placing a heat pad or heat cable on the back wall of the enclosure, or by using a low wattage light to supply some heat. If air conditioning in the summer months is not available, ice packs can be used in the cage to reduce the temperature on very hot days.
Mourning Geckos are nocturnal and do not require lighting beyond the ambient light in the room. Planted enclosures, however, do require light for the plants, and a bulb that promotes plant growth should be chosen and run on a timer to allow 12-14 hours of extra “daylight.”
Humidity of at least 60% in the evenings should be provided by heavily misting each night. Humidity levels can decrease during the day.
Food and Supplementation
Mourning Geckos are frugivorous (fruit-eating) and insectivorous (insect-eating). Their fruit diet is usually purchased as a powdered fruit nectar, which is rehydrated by adding water. There are many brands and flavors of this diet. It’s important to be sure that the specific brand produced states that it is a “complete diet.” The product is generally referred to as “Crested Gecko Diet” or “CGD.” Recently, CGD brands have appeared, which incorporate powdered insects with the fruit. An adult Mourning Gecko is usually fed a small bowl of CGD three times a week and insects, usually crickets or roaches, twice a week. Crickets and roaches for adults should be approximately 1/4” in size. Juveniles, if they remain in the enclosure, will eat newly hatched Dubia Roach nymphs, pinhead crickets, and flightless fruit flies.
Mourning Geckos require calcium, vitamin D3, and other vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development. These supplements are incorporated into the commercially available “complete” CGD diets. In addition, live prey can be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 every other feeding.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Mourning Geckos, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.