Geckos. The small colorful lizard with thousands of species. But what are they like to keep and care for as pets? Are they considered suitable for most owners, are they friendly, and what species are best to keep? With these questions in mind, I spent an afternoon researching all about them and whether or not they make good pets.
So, are geckos good pets? Geckos are considered to be great pets. They are interesting, friendly, and relatively easy to take care of. They are not overly expensive to own and they are typically open to handling too. However, they do have their own unique set of needs (feeding/housing/lighting/humidity) which any owner must meet.
Geckos are in fact an ideal harmless pet for most new pet owners, particularly those new to reptiles.
It is no surprise that many owners report that they soon become very attached to their gecko.
That being said, while relatively low maintenance, this particular reptile does of course have its own specific requirements.
Besides, they are native to tropical regions in the wild. It goes without saying that you need to set up their environment accordingly.
Beyond this, they are in fact nocturnal (awake during the night) and they do spend the majority of their time on the ground. Just two aspects of care to consider.
Let us now take a closer look at what keeping this intriguing lizard entails.
So, if you are serious about taking one on; be sure to keep reading.
We even cover the best species that new owners should definitely consider; so its in your best interests!
Geckos As Pets
Recent trends have shown, that geckos have been gaining in popularity as pets – and for good reason!
In fact, this is just a simple change of arrangement. Geckos have been living with humans either knowingly or unknowingly for thousands of years.
Nevertheless, owning a gecko is much easier today than ever before.
There are a range of breeders focusing exclusively on producing geckos – and a range of different species for us to choose from.
Including those best to own as pets (leopard, crested, etc.)
Plus, there is a range of products on the market today, along with a number of suppliers willing and able to provide the items we need.
Take for example Amazon; where there is an entire section dedicated to gecko supplies.
This is all great for us prospective owners – knowing that we can everything that is required, even at short notice.
In terms of specifics of what you will need to get started:
- An enclosure; a 20 gallon aquarium is advised to house one gecko,
- Hiding spaces,
- Under-tank heating pad,
- UVB lighting or Vitamin D*,
- Plants; real or fake,
- Water dish
*Among gecko owners, breeders, and even researchers, there seems to be a lack of agreement as to whether geckos need an artificial UV light source within their enclosure. This is something you will want to explore further, perhaps speaking to your vet.
It goes without saying you will also need a food supply. Insects like crickets or mealworms are often and commonly used.
This is of course the basics of what you will need, and will require some further research. But it’s a good simple overview of what you will need to consider.
Why Do Geckos Make Good Pets?
Here are some of the main reasons why they are commonly kept, and why they are often chosen as the first choice of reptilian pet:
While it is true that all reptiles require a certain level of care, geckos rank pretty low on the requirements scale.
In fact, they are far from being demanding or high maintenance.
They do of course require a certain size enclosure with a specific temperature, lighting set up, and humidity.
But, once this is set up, there is relatively little more you need to do.
Regular cleaning and feeding are the only real recurring activities. Yet, their diet consists primarily of insects and they do not make much mess.
All in all, while providing them, in the beginning, is likely to incur a bit of cost and consideration, once you are up and running it soon becomes second nature.
It also means that if you are generally short of time, this shouldn’t need to stop you from getting one.
Suitable For All In The Family
Most species of geckos that are kept as pets, are quiet and easy-going. They are relatively docile in nature.
Plus, they can be easily tamed and become comfortable with being handled, even relatively quickly after being taken in.
This makes them ideal as a family pet; where everyone can get involved with their ownership and care.
This means that even young children can participate.
So long as children can respect their gecko, this means they should be able to pick up and hold them too.
Geckos are generally not aggressive, nor considered to be ‘biters’.
Interesting and Attractive
Your gecko will spend a lot of time in their enclosure; so it helps that they are fascinating to watch and observe.
They are great to show to friends and extended family, and they are a topic of great conversation.
Equally, they possess some really interesting patterns (which vary by the species), big eyes, and even wear a smile on their little faces.
Most gecko species will live up to 20 years in captivity; if they are appropriately taken care of.
This is great for all involved and means that you shouldn’t need to worry about your gecko departing you too soon.
It does mean that you do need to consider the financials involved, along with whether you can commit to this time of care. But for the most part, its means for a long-term and rewarding ownership.
While geckos are nocturnal, they are not noisy like a lot of other pets can be.
While it is true you may not want to keep them in the bedroom due to lighting, in terms of noise they are unlikely to keep you awake.
Plus, you should not need to get up in the night to check up on them so long as you prepare everything ready for them, before you go to bed.
Are Geckos Friendly?
Geckos are generally friendly, docile, and submissive in nature and rarely display signs of aggression.
So much so, that geckos can often be held by their owners.
It will require a little bit of trust on the behalf of your lizard, but in time and as their trust and confidence builds it should become easier to do.
Nevertheless, children do need to be careful. Ranging from 1- 24″ in size, these are not very big at all and can easily be harmed. Even if unintentionnaly.
Another aspect of handling that you will need to consider is washing your hands before and after.
When doing so, you need to be careful about any products (like soaps) you use as the chemicals can transfer and begin to harm their sensitive skin.
Are Geckos Easy To Care For?
In general, geckos are considered easy to care for. They do not require much to meet their needs, and they do not need a lot of enclosure maintenance.
Besides this, they are quite adept at living in an environment that is sub-optimal. Although of course, any responsible owner should do all they can to make it as comfortable and beneficial as possible.
They are also able to go without food for quite a while; with the average species being able to survive for two weeks.
So, if you did ever forget to feed them on the off chance, your gecko should be okay.
It comes strongly advised that soon after bringing your gecko home, you start socializing and taming them.
All that is required here is gentle touching over their body. This will help them to get familiar with your touch.
Just be careful of their eyes!
Its also good to know that geckos will communicate with you via their tail. They will move it around to get your attention.
But the waging of the tail can mean two things, both positive and negative.
It can be a show of excitement, but it can also be a sign that they feel threatened.
You need to therefore assess the circumstances. Be mindful of what you are doing, along with other behaviors that may be being displayed (such as coming closer or hiding).
Consider your gecko’s age, size, how long you have had them, whether they have eaten, etc.
Let us now look a little more closely at the two most important aspects of their care.
Overview of Gecko Care
As previously mentioned, geckos can live up to 20 years.
So, it does make sense that multiple members of the family learn to care for them and be able to step in as and when required.
It also means that you need to be able to commit to taking care of them for their full lives duration.
Just consider that a younger child who gets a gecko or a pet may need to keep them up until their mid-twenties!
One popular question that new gecko owners are how many can they keep?
Well, geckos can live in groups or alone.
However, if you do intend to keep more in an enclosure, you must consider the dynamics.
For example, having two males is not likely to end very well. Male geckos can become very aggressive with another as they will try to control the territory.
Instead, some owners opt for a male and two females, or a male and a singular female.
Although again if you consider this particular setup, you have to consider potential breeding.
If you decide you do want to own two male geckos, it is best to split them up and house them in two separate enclosures.
The size and type of enclosure that you get for your gecko will depend on the species. Some have a higher preference to climb than others.
That being said you need to ensure the enclosure is adequately large; in length and width. A 15-20 gallon enclosure is advised to house one gecko.
Of course, you would need a bigger enclosure if you intend to keep more than one gecko. 30-40 gallon enclosures are typically best for 2.
Most species of geckos are insectivores. That is, they feed exclusively on the likes of waxworms, crickets, mealworms, and flies.
Insects should be routinely changed and mixed up to offer dietary variety.
Some gecko species are frugivores (meaning they can eat some fruit such as grapes, apricots, and apples).
So, it’s important you learn about your specific species’ dietary needs.
Either way, geckos should be fed daily, each night.
Sprinkling their food with calcium supplements is also something you will need to consider.
Equally, you also need to make water available for them; not just for drinking purposes but to help humidify the atmosphere.
Geckos soon learn to enjoy being handled; so long as it is calm and gentle.
So much so that they are likely to be relatively docile and still in one’s hands.
When handling, consider this is an ideal opportunity to inspect them and to ensure they are not suffering from any injuries or displaying any general signs of sickness.
One other thing to consider is that geckos, like most reptiles, will shed their skin. This happens once every 4-8 weeks, and you need to not handle them during this time and consider the humidity of the enclosure.
Do Geckos Bond With Their Owners?
Geckos can bond with their owners. They are intelligent for their size, and can learn to recognize particular people and how they generally behave towards them.
In fact, geckos can differentiate between a stranger and their owner. This can be observed in their behavior; as they are more likely to retreat to a hide or scuffle away around new and unfamiliar people.
At the same time, they can come closer towards their owners, almost in anticipation of handling.
It does take time to gain a gecko’s trust and their enclosure and habitat are important to ensure they are calm and relaxed.
For example, enclosures that only open up from the top can cause stress whenever you attempt to pick them up from above.
This is why enclosures that open from the front are commonly recommended and advised.
Generally, geckos respond best with positive affirmation and reputation.
Unfortunately, a relationship between a gecko and its owner can soon break down.
Remember their size and that you are a significant threat to their life. They will respond as such if they feel the need to.
That being said, geckos can learn to recognize your scent and with regular calm and relaxed handling, should respond to you in favorable ways.
What Types Of Geckos Make Good Pets?
There are various different species of geckos that are commonly kept as pets. Each of these will require a different level of care and will come with its own unique considerations.
Let us now take a closer look at the best options for owners below:
These are the most commonly owned geckos and are kept by reptile enthusiasts all around the world.
In the wild, they usually live in burrows and only come out for relaxation during the day. As the sun sets and it gets dark, they’ll get ready to hunt insects to fill their stomachs.
Leopard geckos are more active between dusk and dawn but in captivity, they prefer to come out in the day.
People get attracted to them because of their fascinating pattern and pretty colors, ease of care, and personality.
Perhaps the second most commonly kept is the crested gecko.
They are generally very small and do not require a lot of additional heating which allows them to be kept in elegant bio-active terrariums.
They are also typically less aggressive and easy to tame.
You can find them in many colors like beige, orange, red and yellow.
The fat-tailed gecko is a popular breed to own, but not commonly found.
They are a good choice for those looking for something similar to the leopard gecko. They look very similar but they have bigger eyes, a shorter snout, and a larger tail.
Fat-tailed geckos are mostly brown. They are not as active as some other gecko species but they make up for this shortcoming with their huge level of intelligence and interesting features.
The Gargoyle Gecko is a great choice for anyone looking for a slightly larger gecko that also has a great temperament.
The Gargoyle Gecko loves attention and is known for the bumps that they have on their head which look like horns.
They usually come in brown, bright yellow, pale pink, red, orange, or grey colors.
Giant Day Geckos
Another gecko species is popularly known for its amazingly bright colors. They usually come in bright green with a shade of blue and yellow.
They also have red markings or bright orange on their face and along their spine and they also have a white or beige belly.
They are typically very active, and a lot faster than some of the other main gecko species listed here.
Yet with some patience and experience, they can be tamed with ease.
Frog Eyed Geckos
These types of geckos are usually found around Asia. They can live in low temperatures and higher humidity compared to the leopard gecko or the fat tail gecko.
The frog-eyed gecko is a very beautiful reptile to behold. However, they are not considered as robust as some of the other species.
They are quite fragile and they do not do very well with frequent handling.
Perhaps the most naturally aggressive species to own. They are also from Asia but have a reputation for making a lot of noise.
They can be difficult to own and tame and are not commonly recommended to first-time gecko owners.
Nevertheless, with the right care and with an experienced owner, they can be a great choice.
Besides, they have amazing grey/blue colors along with brown/orange spots on their back.
Geckos make great pets and are in fact one of the best to consider if you are new to reptiles.
They are not the most expensive of pets to own, they are generally easy to care for and they are fascinating to watch, interact with and talk about with your friends and family.
Nevertheless, the choice of species that you opt for is going to make a difference.
One of the best things you can do is to thoroughly research each species and what is entailed with owning each one.
From there, do your best to educate yourself with the specific species you want to own.
Learn about their needs, requirements, and what will be involved.
Leopard and Crested geckos are perhaps the most commonly owned, easiest to find, and best to start out with.
But the decision is ultimately, all yours.
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.