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Geckos are quite famous, especially in tropical forests. They are mostly known for their large eyes. Geckos can be good pets to take care of as there is no much demand from them. Maintaining geckos tends to be a breeze when you adhere to all the instructions. That’s why we’re here- to show you the ropes and help take care of your new mate.
The Madagascar Ground Geckos, in particular, is one of the best species to keep as a pet. It’s easy to spot the Madagascar Ground Gecko because of their obvious features. They have beautiful color patterns and their large eyes can easily be noticed. The Madagascar ground geckos are regarded as nocturnal, terrestrial and tropical species. This gecko gets its name from the country itself. It is mostly found in Africa on an island called Madagascar. The island is located in the Indian Ocean which lies to the east side of Africa.
These geckos are quite easy to keep in terms of their feeding habits. They are actually among recommended pets for beginners. They are much easier to take care of than even the other species. If you intend to keep the Madagascar ground geckos, you can purchase them from breeders. You can also go for a wild catch. You will notice their morphs that are banded and striped. There is also the version that has no black pigment.
Their size is quite good in terms of handling. The whole body and the tail are approximately 5 inches. Most Madagascar ground geckos have large heads and wider body sizes. When taken good care of they can live from 6 to 10 years. This lifespan is only for captive-bred Madagascar ground geckos. When in the wild they might have a short lifespan depending on predators.
Madagascar Ground Gecko Care Guide
Madagascar ground gecko enclosure
The enclosure is among the most important things in taking care of captive-bred animals. As far as basic needs go, this ranks amongst the top. The enclosure will become their new environment and should be able to accommodate all requirements. The most important being the temperature and humidity levels. The enclosure should replicate the natural environment. This will require special details.
There is various enclosure one can use. In case you choose glass, it will require you the 10-gallon glass. It should have a screen on the top side. Such an enclosure will be able to house three Madagascar ground geckos. The best suggestion for this setting is one make and two females. It is possible to keep female pairs without experiencing any difficulty. Females are not aggressive as compared to males.
Male Madagascar ground geckos will most of the time end up in fights. Normally, their fights are bigger and may end up in death. However, it’s always important to ensure the top glass has been well sealed. Most of the time geckos climb are in order to escape. Actually most enclosures are recommended to use a top lid. The other method could be the use of Vaseline. You can apply the Vaseline around the glass. Using this method the reptile will slide back whenever they reach close to the top.
The other recommended enclosure type is the Sterlite or plastic sweater box. The satellite should be a 16 quart. In case you use these options ensure you have drilled ventilation holes on the sides.
Although sharing is good most reptiles will be much better in their own enclosure. This actually gives them a state of security. The other recommendation is adding rocks and wood pieces to the enclosure. The best method is to try and create a wild environment. Pieces of wood may be placed to prevent the reptiles from tipping over. It may also be good to add vegetation such as plants to the enclosure. This can be live or even plastic plants. Plants help the Madagascar ground gecko get comfortable in its new environment. This is actually the main purpose of the vegetation.
The enclosure will also have to consist of a substrate. The substrate is actually very important and will greatly influence the growth of the Madagascar ground gecko. During choosing the substrate it’s always important to ensure it is not eaten by the gecko. Some of the substrates include; peat moss, paper towels, and medium grade orchid bark. In case the Madagascar ground gecko eats the substrate it may have indigestion. It may also be important to add leaf litter in the substrate you choose. The same litter is used in their natural environment and is very useful.
Although there are different enclosures type’s wooden vivarium seems to be the best. This will actually work even for Madagascar ground gecko. It’s always important to consider the classification of the animal. Reptiles are cold-blooded and do not store their own heat. This is actually the reason you need an enclosure when you remove them from their natural habitat. Wood seems to work better as it acts as an insulator. The insulation ability helps in the ability to control the level of temperatures in the enclosure.
Although glass terrariums are considered to be perfect you need to do this practically. The heat source will also be determined by the material you use on the enclosure. Some enclosure materials may be releasing heat so often which is not a good thing. For the Madagascar gecko to survive the heat levels must be maintained throughout the year. The wooden vivarium works best however ensure to provide enough space for humidity.
The length of the wooden vivarium and other enclosure is important. Since you can house pairs of Madagascar ground geckos the space in the enclosure should be big enough. The length should at least range at 57.5 cm. The space is also important in terms of meeting the temperature gradient. Consider you need to provide both a warm spot and a cool one. There should be enough distance apart to help facilitate this.
Heating and lighting
The level of temperature is also very important in the enclosure. The enclosure should replicate the natural condition. This may at times be hard when dealing with the wrong materials. You may be required to go the extra mile in terms of heat. It’s always important to consider enclosure materials that will help you achieve the required heat level.
Normally you will have to add heat source in order to achieve the required level. Heat is so important as it will determine the growth and survival rate of the Madagascar ground gecko. The temperatures are supposed to be kept constant throughout the whole period the gecko is in the enclosure.
Normally the temperature is supposed to range from 77°F to 88°F. During the day time, you should lower the temperature to 88°F. This temperature level is considered the best for the Madagascar ground gecko.
At night time the temperature levels normally drop to about 70°F during the night. In such cases, you may need to introduce an artificial heat source. The heat from the lamps acts in place of the sun. The sun is very important as it is able to fulfill the reptile heat needs. While in their natural environment geckos know the best places for both the hot season and cold season.
Normally the lamps are used as a source of heat. Sometimes people may use heaters. Normally this would include UTH] this is under tank heaters. You could also place a tank of both sides if recommended. A good choice to help raise the temperature includes the use of incandescent light that has low watts.
The light helps the Madagascar ground gecko get UVB. UVB is not a must as most times the food provides vitamin that acts as a supplement. UVB lighting will not have a great impact on your Madagascar ground gecko’s health.
In case you choose to have live plants as vegetation you need to consider their survival. Normally you should implement the use of fluorescent bulbs to help in plants growing in the terrarium. The live plants are important as they help make the environment more conducive and adaptable to the gecko. The light source used should also consider the health needs of the gecko.
The light fixture should provide enough and required reptile heat levels. During the night is it recommended to turn off all the lights? Normally when using a lamp its recommended to use a thermostat. Thermostats are very effective as they are able to monitor the required temperature level. A thermostat is able to regulate the temperature levels and avoid issues of overheating or under heating. A reptile timer is also regarded as efficient in monitor temperature as well.
The environment created at the enclosure should meet every need of the Madagascar ground gecko. While in the wild the Madagascar ground gecko will be at their burrow most of the time. You may not be able to have a burrow but should create the same conditions. The best method is to adjust the enclosure to replicate the burrows condition.
During day time, you are required to lower the level of UV and temperatures. The temperature should range from 90°F to 80°F. You can place a 40 watts bulb to be located on the corner side of the vivarium so as to meet this condition.
During the night the temperatures may have gone low than the recommended level. It’s also important to consider the Madagascar ground gecko needs darkness and heat and the same time. You may need to adjust the warmth to reach the required level. In such a case use of a heater could be important. At night you will need to completely switch off the basking lights. The other option to create an adequate night temperature is by use of a heat mat. It should help attain the 80°F temperature. The temperature levels help in achieving the required warmth in the substrate.
For the heat mat to work effectively it should be placed on the basking light. At this point, it can provide enough heat during the night. It’s important to have a thermostat attached to the heat mat for purposes of regulating the heat. Ensure you have a quality thermostat as overheating will not be good for the Madagascar ground gecko’s health.
The good thing with the thermostat heat mat is you get to observe the temperature. It is able to monitor heat levels and can instantly turn on when the heat levels in the vivariums drop below the recommended level. You can also be able to monitor the temperature levels by use of a thermometer. Although you may use a thermostat is important to manually check the temperature from time to time.
Whether bird, fish, ape or man, the belly needs to be full. It’s the fuel that drives us. The food contains vitamins and nutrients required for the Madagascar ground gecko’s growth. Although temperature and humidity levels are important food is the most important. The Madagascar ground gecko will not survive without having food.
It’s important to consider the change the Madagascar ground gecko is experiencing in its new environment. It will not be able to hunt as effectively as it’s used to while in the wild. In the enclosure, it will most likely rely on you feeding it. These are key points to consider. You need to ensure to provide foods that have all the necessary nutrient levels.
Madagascar ground geckos are insectivorous. They are used to feed on insects while in their natural environment. Most reptiles actually have this adaptation. You have the option of feeding them with commercially available insects. Such insects include; crickets and mealworms. The cricket should be big enough at least 90% the size of the Madagascar ground gecko. An adult Madagascar ground gecko should be fed a full cricket. You can also offer wax worms but not on a daily basis. Waxworms have high-fat content which may not be good for Madagascar ground geckos.
There is a various variety of food to feed the geckos. The food especially insects are very important. However, you may need to add supplement. Ensure the food is gut loaded with enough nutrients. It’s always advisable to dust the food with nutrients. This could include reptile specific supplements that have required nutrient levels. Recommended supplements include Repashy that has the essential vitamin and nutrients. Rapashy has Vitamin A, Vitamin D3, calcium and phosphorus. These vitamins play an important role in the gecko’s health. Ensure the supplement you choose has vitamins and minerals.
The Madagascar ground geckos have their nature as being insectivores. They are used to hunt for live foods. This being the case you will need to provide live foods for the Madagascar ground gecko. The live food should be dusted in calcium and vitamins. The most recommended food is locusts and crickets. The brown crickets, black crickets, and locusts are readily available and this makes them the best food. You should be able to offer food variation from time to time. You can include bugs in the diet such as worms. Worms can include; Wax worms, Calci worms, and Mealworms.
Water and Humidity
Without proper hydration, any animal will perish. Water and food are very essential. The Madagascar ground gecko should be able to have an adequate supply of water. The Madagascar ground gecko is used to find water for itself. While in the wild the Madagascar ground gecko is used to finding water for itself. Actually most animals are able to find their own water from plants and prey.
In the enclosure, you may have to provide a water dish. However, it may be difficult to spot the Madagascar ground gecko drink water. Most captive bred reptiles will rarely drink from the water dish. Actually most of the bath in the water for humidity purposes. The water dish will help the Madagascar ground gecko achieve its humid level.
The humidity levels are also as important as temperature and food. When it comes to maintaining humidity levels, you can mist the terrarium of the gecko daily. This will only work for terrarium kept Madagascar ground geckos. You should be able to achieve the 60%-70% humidity levels required by the gecko. The droplets of water will also be important.
In the natural environment reptiles normally depend on water droplets that fall as a result of rain. You are required to constantly monitor the humidity levels of enclosure. You can use the reptile hydrometer to measure the humidity.
Handling and Temperament
Different reptiles have ranging temperaments- just like people with their mood swings. While others are very aggressive others will seem calmer. However, any animal can turn aggressive when not carefully or well handled. The way you hold an animal can cause its aggressive nature. Normally aggression is a response to the feeling of not being secure. Most animals have a defensive mechanism and they will use it in case they sense danger. Some will even bite.
The Madagascar ground geckos are very aggressive. They do not appreciate handling- so don’t be too touchy-touchy with them. They like their personal space. In case you choose Madagascar ground geckos as a pet you may have to avoid constant handling. In case you handle them, they will tend to nip at you. They will constantly bite you although it may not hurt you so much.
When you handle them, do it gently to avoid causing stress on them. Madagascar ground geckos will normally drop their tails when they feel stressed. The tail usually grows back eventually. Most times when reptiles are mishandled they tend to bite. The best way to handle any animal is by being gentle. You need to provide a secure and friendlier environment for the gecko. When it feels secure around you it will be friendlier.
The enclosure should at least try to replicate the gecko’s natural environment. This can be done by adding plants and vegetation to the enclosure. Decorations help a lot in terms of the enclosure. They will help the reptiles climb on top while giving the animals nature feels.
When adding decorations you may need to consider the substrate. The substrate is supposed to remain dry at all times. In case it turns wet it may increase the humidity levels in the vivarium. This is not what you want in the enclosure. Be careful with the vegetation you use so as not to make the substrate wet or loose. The loose substance is very dangerous in terms of the Madagascar ground gecko’s health. At times the gecko may east the substrate and could lead to ingestion. However, there are substrates that work best such as coarse beechwood chips.
The substrate is recommended due to its ability to remain within the required humidity levels. It is also easy to clean the substrate. Most of the times Madagascar ground geckos will hide. They can be noticed under hides and decorations. This is among the reason you should put enough decorations in the enclosure. Cork bark pieces and tubes work very well in the enclosure.
The decorations actually play a role during geckos shedding. During shedding, the gecko may require higher humidity levels. It may help to use a cave or moss box that will help increase the humidity levels. The moss box should have a damp substrate in order to achieve the required humidity levels.
Decorations may vary from plants to cork bark and tubes. The best decorations for the Madagascar ground gecko vivarium can include artificial plants that appear to be natural. Among recorded plants in the desert that seems to be more effective and provides enough perches. The other option is the use of trailing plants. In case you have used wires in the enclosure trailing plants will actually work well as a disguise.
Breeding will normally vary with different animals. While some animals can be bred normally, others may need to have the necessary conditions. There are other animals that will only breed when their season arrives. Sometimes you may need to encourage breeding to take place.
When dealing with Madagascar ground geckos they will breed without much hassle. You just need to keep both make and female in one enclosure and they will get it on, so to speak. The good thing when dealing with the Madagascar ground gecko is their ability to breed naturally.
However, in order for the breeding to take place effectively, you may have to provide good conditions and ensure the geckos are healthy. In the conditions are perfect the female and male Madagascar ground geckos will breed normally. When you start the breeding process ensure you have prepared the right place for incubation of eggs.
You may be required to create a nesting box that will be very essential for the female Madagascar ground geckos to lay eggs. It’s important to have a large enough nesting box that will be able to accommodate the female Madagascar ground geckos. Most especially it should have space to turn around. When making the nesting box you may be required to have added substrate. For the purpose of clumping, you can use a mixture of soil that’s wet.
The best and recommended substrate for the besting box is spider life. It is able to accommodate the required conditions in terms of humidity and temperature. When the eggs are finally hatched you will need to transfer them to the necessary conditions. You should put them in an incubator at a temperature of 84°F.
It is also recommended to use sealed boxes for the eggs. The sealed boxes will require to have the hatch rite substrate for purposes of having the required humidity levels. Use the sealed box when placing the eggs in the incubator. The eggs normally take a period of 60 days in order to start hatching. Normally when the first eggs hatch the rest will automatically starting hatching as well.
Supplements are very important especially if you keep captive-bred animals. Captive-bred animals normally lack very important nutrients they get in their natural environment. While in the wild they feed on live foods that contain all the necessary vitamins and nutrients. They also get the right weather conditions that support their growth.
Choosing to care for Madagascar ground gecko in an enclosure will be accompanied by responsibilities. You will be required to provide foods that have all the required nutrients. You will need to provide optimal nutrition to the Madagascar ground geckos. The supplements should be rich in minerals, calcium, and vitamins.
To provide these requirements you will have to provide commercially available powders. You should ensure every time you feed the Madagascar ground gecko it is dusted in the supplements. There are various practices to help feed the Madagascar ground gecko with the right nutrients. You can choose to provide nourishment of live prey. Afterward, you can offer commercial products to the gecko. It will be well-nourished with the right nutrient. However, powdering is the best option.
What do Madagascar ground geckos eat?
Food is of great importance to any animal. Especially for ones that are captive bred. It’s important to ensure you provide the right food. Animals kept in enclosures should not just be fed any food. Actually they require food that is rich in vitamins and nutrients. You should consider their change from the natural environment. Madagascar ground geckos are insectivorous and will feed on food along that line.
Since you may not be in a situation to get the natural insects you can purchase. There are commercially available insects that can as well be fed to the geckos. Worms also act as good food and have the right nutrients. Such worms include mealworms. Crickets are among the favorite food for more reptiles. Most reptiles feed on cricket while in their natural environment. Crickets also seem to have all the necessary nutrients. When feeding the geckos ensure you carefully observe the cricket’s head size. Feeding habits should also be well coordinated. Normally you should not feed crickets to Madagascar ground geckos daily. It will be important to feed them may once or twice per week.
The food size will also matter. If you are feeding an adult Madagascar ground gecko it can eat a full cricket or three weeks old. If you are feeding small geckos you may have to feed them with much smaller pieces. Waxworms also work perfectly with Madagascar ground geckos. It’s always important to ensure any food you give to the gecko has sufficient nutrients.
In case you are feeding them live insects you may have to add supplements. This also goes for commercially purchased insects. Supplements that are normally in powder form act as a substitute for nutrients. The supplements contain nutrients such as calcium, vitamins and phosphorus mineral.
Madagascar ground geckos can, however, survive on any insect diet. You can feed them on wax worms, roaches, silkworms, mealworms, and even crickets. You can have a sequence of feeding the gecko these insects. Some of the worms and roaches have too much fat which is not healthy for the gecko. You should provide your gecko with at least five feedings with the worms and roaches per week. Avoid exceeding this as not to experience a negative effect.
Crickets are considering the best food for Madagascar ground geckos. However, do not allow live crickets to roam around. Crickets will end up chewing the gecko’s skin if left to wander. Ensure the insects you feed to the Madagascar ground gecko do not exceed the gecko’s size.
Whenever you feed the Madagascar ground gecko with insects ensure it is accompanied with supplements. You are required to dust the insects with supplements such as minerals and vitamins. This is recommended to happen either once or twice per week. Supplements may vary but ensure you get the recommended one. You should maybe check on one that offers minerals, vitamins, and nutrients.
How do you take care of Madagascar ground gecko’s hatchlings?
Hatchlings will require much more special care that one offered to the Madagascar ground geckos. They are young so they may need adjustments to various areas. Among the adjustment you may need to make is in temperature and humidity. Hatchlings are not able to withstand the very hot or too cold environment.
They have obviously not been in the wild. This is actually more reason to accord the most special care. Also, consider the fact that too much heat may lead to their death. You may have to adjust the heat levels. Feeding may also need to be changed. Hatchlings will not have the same eating habits as Madagascar ground geckos.
You will need to have a well figured out plan from the process of breeding. When you start the breeding process ensure you have the necessary care set up for the hatchlings. The setup could include the nesting box. The nestling box is key as it is used by the female Madagascar ground geckos. When the eggs are finally hatched you may have to move a number of things around.
Madagascar ground geckos may sometimes be referred to as picture geckos. For the hatchlings, they are more active and will tend to be jumpy. The hatchling can survive in a 2 gallon. They will, however, need to be moved to a larger gallon of up to 5 then to a 10 gallon. When the geckos have grown enough they and can mate they will have to be put in separate enclosures. In case you are handling make you may have to separate them as they may keep fighting. If males and females stay together they will normally end up mating.
When feeding the hatchlings you need to consider the size of the food. You want the hatchling to grow but the food size should not exceed their size. The best food suggestion may include cricket. Cricket is good for their health and if possible feeds the hatchling daily. Some hatchlings tend to drag behind in terms of the eating pattern. You will easily notice the size of the body. When you notice a hatchling is smaller than the others you can separate it to feed it more effectively. When it catches up with the others you can introduce it back.
It’s also important to consider the substrate for hatchlings. It’s recommended providing a hide for the geckos. In terms of substrate, you can use a newspaper or a paper towel. Hatchlings will normally require plenty of water. Consider pitting water dish in every hatchling tank. When feed correctly and with the right health conditions hatchlings will grow fast.
How should you handle the Madagascar ground gecko?
The handling of wild animals should always be done in a gentle manner. The most important factor is to provide an atmosphere that’s comfortable for the animals. Most animals including geckos will normally react to situations of uncertainty. Whenever they feel threatened they will apply their defense mechanisms.
Different animals have various ways of defense. Madagascar ground geckos are regarded to be docile and are considered to be easy to care for. They are actually just the same as when handling lizards with no major differences. You will, however, notice Madagascar ground geckos not be very accommodative to handling. Whenever they have too much contact around them they tend to go into stress mode. They actually do not appreciate too much contact.
Madagascar’s ground geckos need to be handled with care. They do not like being frightened. By simply feeling in comfortable they could lose their tail. It’s also important to handle them with gentleness and rough handling could lead to their tail cut off.
When handling the Madagascar ground gecko avoid holding it by the tail. Some people may grab the gecko by the tail and this tends to frighten it. When dealing with the hatchling you may have to extra gentle and careful. Most of them are very delicate and any stressful situation could affect their health. To make it more comfortable let it get enough space to walk on your hand without being strained.
Since their size is small if possible do not handle them with your hands at first. They may try to run and while you hold them you can strain them unintentionally. The best-recommended method is handling using its container. You can start by holding them while in their cage or plastic shoebox at first. This gives them an opportunity to get used to you as their owner.
Madagascar ground geckos are normally very calm as compared to other species. They are not regarded to be aggressive at all. They will actually remain calm unless they feel unsecured. Rough handling is something to always avoid. In such times of security, they will often use the biting mechanism as a defense system.
Sometimes when feeding the geckos your hand may be bitten. However, the bites are not that severe as to injure you. They hardly even break the skin. The other good is the bites are not poisonous. When feeding them you could apply the use of tweezers. It’s actually important to always consider using tools as opposed to feeding and handling them with bare hands. Especially when they are not comfortable around you.
Which substrate work best for the Madagascar ground gecko?
Substrate plays an important role in terms of humidity. The humidity levels are required for the best survival environment for geckos. The substrate should remain dry as to accommodate the required levels. However, some of the substrates may end up being wet. In such a state they end up increasing humidity levels. Currently, there is a wide variety of substrates you can work with. Some of them include peat’s moss, bark chips, newspapers among many others.
Although most may not be useful to geckos they will function effectively with other reptiles. The best-recommended substrate that’s tested is the grade coconut fiber. It performs well even in terms of holding water. It has completely no problem with impaction as other substrates do. You may choose to add dried leaves and scatter them as it will act as aesthetic provided. Other substrates may also work well but avoid ones you will not be able to clean and could lead to impaction.