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Golden Gecko

Sarah Psaradelis

Golden geckos are intriguing and attractive pet lizards. These arboreal species are native to Southeast Asia and Vietnam. Golden geckos are nocturnal and spend most of the day sleeping. They are generally undemanding and offer many benefits as a pet lizard. The golden gecko is not as popular as other types of lizards in the pet trade, but they are rapidly gaining attention due to their docile personality and striking colors.

This article will inform you of everything you need to know when it comes to effectively caring for a golden gecko.

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Quick Facts about Golden Geckos

Species Name: Gekko ulikovskii
Common Name: Baden’s Pacific gecko
Care Level: Moderately easy
Lifespan: 8–12 years
Adult Size: 5–8 inches (13–15 cm)
Diet: Carnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons (80 liters)
Temperature & Humidity 75°F–85°F

60%–75% Humidity

Do Golden Geckos Make Good Pets?

Golden geckos make good pets for owners who have experience keeping lizards. Their care is straightforward, but due to the golden gecko being nocturnal, there is a limited amount of interaction available. These geckos have an aversion to being handled and are better suited as a ‘watch only’ pet rather than an interactive pet gecko. They are not aggressive or demanding and can tolerate being handled from a young age. This will eventually lead them to become tamer and they can regularly interact with their owner, but not as much as other pet geckos will allow.

Golden gecko
Image Credit: Valt Ahyppo, Shutterstock

Appearance

Golden geckos get their name from the gold-colored scales that cover their body. Male and females have noticeable differences in appearance. The male golden gecko grows to an adult size between 7 to 8 inches. Females are smaller and grow to a maximum size of 6 inches. The males have a thicker tail base. The thick knobs surrounding the base of their tail appear as two lumps behind their hind legs. They have a soft and scaly body with a narrow head that supports two eyes that sit on either side.

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How to Take Care of Golden Geckos

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup 

Tank

A single adult golden gecko should be kept in a minimum tank size of 20 gallons. Height is more important than length as they enjoy climbing branches and platforms in their cage. The cage should have plenty of enrichment in the form of large branches with different leaves and coverage branching out. These geckos enjoy hiding amongst vegetation and will sleep on branches that are surrounded by leaves. A 29-gallon tall tank can work for a pair of adult golden geckos.

Lighting

Golden geckos do not require UVB lighting like other types of pet geckos. They are nocturnal and should get Vitamin D3 from a high-quality diet. Most owners will install infrared lights so that they can view these geckos at night. The light can be kept on for the duration of the night, but not during the day. Experts do recommend using a UV light in the habitat to ensure that Vitamin D3 can easily be taken in if the diet is lacking it.

Heating (Temperature & Humidity)

Golden geckos should have a daytime temperature gradient between 75°F to 85°F. The temperature should drop down to a nighttime temperature between 71°F to 76°F depending on the daytime temperature. The temperature should gradually drop down by a few degrees in the evening to replicate the temperature difference in nature. The humidity should be kept up by using a spray bottle with fresh water in and spritzing the tank every few hours. Humidity between 60% to 75% is optimal. You need a humidity gauge and a thermometer to ensure that the levels are kept constant.

Substrate

The substrate should be able to retain moisture well and rarely dry out. This will help keep the humidity up in the tank. The ideal types of substrates for golden geckos are coconut fiber, reptile bark, or soil. These beddings can be found in the reptile section in the pet store. Avoid using potting solid because it contains inorganic materials that are sharp.

Tank Recommendations
Tank Type 20-gallon glass vivarium
Lighting Infrared bulb (optional), UV bulb
Heating The ceramic heating element or reptile bulb in a reflector
Best Substrate Coconut fiber

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Feeding Your Golden Gecko

Golden geckos are carnivores and eat a variety of live prey. This prey mainly consists of insects like crickets which should make up most of their diet. They should also be fed waxworms, mealworms, roaches, or butter worms. The worms should be bred in a pet store environment and not caught in the wild. Wild-caught insects may contain pesticides or parasites. Golden geckos should also be fed small amounts of fruit or flower nectar so that they can easily retain valuable sugars.

Diet Summary
Fruits 20% of the diet
Insects 80% of the diet
Meat N/A
Supplements Required Vitamin D3 powder sprinkled over food

Keeping Your Golden Geckos Healthy

You should first ensure that the habitat is large enough to comfortably house the golden gecko. Ensure that all the electrical equipment is working and that it is regulated. The most important aspect to keeping your golden gecko healthy is providing them with a healthy diet and the correct amount of Vitamin D3 according to their age and overall health. Provide them with fresh water every day so that they can stay hydrated.

Common Health Issues

  • Metabolic bone disease (MBD): This is caused by a lack of vitamin D in the gecko’s diet and causes tremors, loss of appetite, and body deformities.
  • Impaction: If the gecko eats substrate or other foreign objects it is at risk of gastrointestinal impaction.
  • Internal parasites: Some food sources contain parasites that can enter the gecko’s body after the infected food has been consumed.
  • Respiratory infections: This is a common problem in habitats that are too cold and damp. Nasal discharge and lethargy are the main symptoms.
  • Shedding: Sometimes geckos can have issues shedding if the environment is not humid enough.
  • Prolapse: The lower organs fail and stick out of the gecko’s anus or female genitalia.

Lifespan

These geckos are relatively hardy and can live between 8 to 12 years of age. They can live till 12 years if they are cared for properly. It is not uncommon for golden geckos to live under 8 years, mainly if their diet is poor or if they have an underlying illness or injury.

Breeding

Female golden geckos will lay one or two eggs at a time after a successful mating. The eggs are difficult to remove because golden geckos are egg gluers. The eggs can stick to different surfaces in the habitat and will break and become inviable if they are removed. They will mate at night and should only be mated once both parents are sexually mature, typically over 1 year of age. Females should be fully grown before breeding so that there is less risk of complications during the egg-laying process.

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Are Golden Geckos Friendly? Our Handling Advice

Golden geckos are not overly friendly. They are quite shy and do not like being handled. They can be tamed if they receive regular interaction from a young age. You should avoid forcing your golden gecko to be held as this can cause unnecessary stress and geckos are known to jump and injure themselves. Golden geckos are much less friendly than other types of geckos which is another reason they are not the best for beginner reptile owners.

Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect

Golden geckos brumate (which is the same as mammalian hibernation) over a year of age. This occurs when they experience a slowed metabolism. This mainly occurs during the winter months from December to February in their biological clock. Brumation is a natural part of your gecko’s annual cycle, and it is healthy. They will shed more often during their first years of growing, and from there it will become less frequent.

How Much Do Golden Geckos Cost?

Golden geckos can be found in exotic pet shops or from a qualified gecko breeder. Although these are somewhat rare pet lizards, they are not overly expensive. An average golden gecko can cost anywhere between $40 to $150. This is cheap for a reptilian pet and the initial setup cost is affordable for many people in comparison to other pet geckos.

Care Guide Summary

Pros
  • Can be housed in pairs or trios
  • Exploratory
  • Simple diet
Cons
  • Nocturnal
  • Aversion to human handling
  • Shy

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Conclusion

Golden geckos are the perfect pets for people who want an affordable pet that requires less maintenance and costs than other pet reptiles. If you keep your golden gecko in the right conditions and you provide them with the right equipment and diet, then you can expect to have a healthy golden gecko for more than a decade.


Featured Image Credit: Dan Olsen, Shutterstock

Sarah Psaradelis

Sarah Psaradelis is an avid young writer with dual passions for literature and animals. She enjoys sharing knowledge of animal care and helping others. Sarah has over 8 years of writing experience and is currently studying veterinary science. She resides in South Africa with her supportive partner who shares the same love for animals. She takes care of 25 fish, aquarium snails, dogs, and rodents. When she is not writing, she is researching animalsl or instructing a sports pole dance class. Sarah is a passionate vegan activist and animal rescuer pursuing her path to make the world a better place.