Dwarf geckos – Amazing lizard for beginners

Dwarf geckos are often recommended to newcomers to terrariums, and in fact, the tiny lizards immediately inspire every halfway interested reptile lover.

Their variety of colours, their behaviour and the simple way of just standing still magically attract looks.

One could wait hours for the next movement, but geckos don’t strain their observers’ patience that much. Rather, they are considered lively and active.

The dwarf geckos, in particular, convince as pretty terrarium dwellers who look good and are also easy to care for. But is it really that easy to keep dwarf geckos?

Dwarf geckos in detail

Curiously, almost all dwarf variants of an animal species are considered easy to care for due to the assumption that small bodies would also require less space.

It is often the smallest representatives of a species that even take up more space.

They are usually more agile, more active and faster on the go.

They are also usually more sensitive, especially to stress.

Also, they have no place in the human hand. The small beings are too fragile.

Dwarf geckos are no exception.

Although geckos are generally relatively robust and “only” need a species-appropriate terrarium with optimal climatic conditions and the right feeding, the small dwarf geckos are not necessarily even less demanding just because they are small.

Their height is not evidencing that they only have minor needs.

A few essential tips on keeping the dwarf gecko should also be taken into account by beginners to give themselves and the animals a long time to enjoy each other.

Systematics of the Lygodactylus

The scientifically described genus Lygodactylus comprises around 60 species of dwarf geckos, all considered diurnal.

In a broader sense, they are representatives of the Gekkonidae (family of geckos).

All geckos, big or small, count to the scale creeps and turn to the scale lizards.

Consequently, they are also cold-blooded animals.

The special thing about the Lygodactylus is its maximum body size of approx. 4 to 9 cm and adult specimens.

Most of the species come from tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and Madagascar. Only two are also found in South America.

They are all characterized by round pupils, orient themselves visually, are diurnal and have adhesive lamellas on the toes and the underside of the tip of the tail.

This special feature enables the lizards to find perfect hold with their feet and use the tip of their tail for climbing.

Furthermore, like many geckos, the tail is regrowing.

In the event of danger, the lizards can repel their tail, for example, because they are held on to it and thus escape from an emergency.

Regrowing tails, however, have a different shape, do not reach the original length, but form adhesive lamellae again.

This shows how important climbing is to the survival of the animals.

In fact, most of the dwarf geckos can be found in trees, where they even spend most of their lives. In other words, they live arboricolously.

Only a few species inhabit the ground. Most prefer tree trunks, walls and rock faces.

There they find perfect support, lots of hiding spots and even food in the form of smaller insects.

Since geckos are becoming increasingly popular as pets, the little lizards can now be found in terrariums worldwide.

The best-known domesticated species is undoubtedly the white-headed dwarf gecko. Also, yellow-headed gecko or dwarf gecko strips called.

Its yellow-coloured head can easily be recognized, which contrasts with the rest of the blue-grey body.

However, many breeders (and keepers) place increasing value on colour diversity.

And so, among other things, tabby, blue shimmering and aquamarine-coloured dwarf geckos are becoming more popular.

Colour effects and patterns are so diverse that they can hardly be summarized.

This makes the little geckos look particularly pretty in the terrarium.

Gecko behavior

While many hunters are crepuscular or nocturnal, dwarf geckos delight their owners with a predominantly diurnal lifestyle.

This allows their hunting and their typical behaviour to be observed very well.

In the terrarium, they like to climb from one level to another, explore hiding spots and look for live food.

For the terrarium enthusiast, species-appropriate keeping also means keeping a harem, i.e., several females and one male.

In nature, young animals are driven from the territory when they reach sexual maturity.

When keeping pets, the owner moves the offspring into their own terrarium in good time.

However, if reproduction is undesirable, a same-sex group of only 2 to a maximum of 3 animals is recommended.

The right terrarium for dwarf geckos

If you want to buy dwarf geckos as pets, you should, of course, ensure that keeping conditions are as appropriate as possible.

Above all, this includes a sufficiently large terrarium, technical accessories to meet the climatic requirements, knowledge of nutrition or feeding of the animals and any diseases that can occur.


Space requirements

Since dwarf geckos should not be kept alone, the minimum size for a terrarium is based on the space required for two adults. 40 x 40 x 60 cm (L x W x H) is the lower limit – the more, the better.

The height is striking in this regard.

While other terrariums tend to be built lengthways, the container for dwarf geckos must be vertical.

This results from their preference for climbing.

First and foremost, the little lizards are drawn high up.

Your territory is distributed more from top to bottom than from left to right.

The floor serves as an alternative area, but most of the time is spent vertically.

Air conditioning and lighting technology

Speaking of temperatures: the terrarium should be between 25 and 32 ° C during the day, depending on the location.

In other words, “places in the sun” maybe a little warmer, whereas caves must be able to offer to cool.

At night, however, it can generally be a little cooler. 18 to 22 ° C is completely OK.

Timers serve as a helpful support to automate the day and night rhythm.

Both the air conditioning and the lighting can thus be optimally regulated.

For the latter, intensity and duration apply that would also prevail in the natural environment.

It can get hot under the spots as long as the lizards have a free choice of place and can retreat again if necessary.

It is important that you cannot burn yourself on the lamps.

Outdoor installations are usually the best solution.

In the summer months, the time of day is around 12 hours. In winter, it is just under 6 hours.

The geckos do not need transitional seasons as we know them, although the seasonal change should not be too abrupt.

The humidity, in turn, can easily be maintained manually using a water spray bottle.

The goal here is 60 to 80% humidity.

Dwarf geckos also love to lick drops of water from the plant leaves, but this does not replace the freshwater supply.

Design options

In fact, lighting and heating don’t take up too much space.

Modern concepts can even be included in the design.

There are, for example, heated stone slabs and slate slabs on which the lizards can warm themselves.

UV light lamps stimulate the metabolism and thus support the production of vitamins but should be out of reach for climbers to not get burned by the hot lamps.

Protective grids may help if outdoor installations are not possible.

In principle, the dwarf geckos move back and forth between everything that is within their reach.

A back wall made of cork, studded with branches, is very suitable, for example.

If you don’t like to do handicrafts yourself, you can also use a preformed terrarium back wall for dwarf geckos.

Often the first hiding places and caves are already incorporated.

Large-leaved plants, lianas and roots offer further retreat options.

The dense vegetation mimics the natural habitat while at the same time providing fresh oxygen and pleasant humidity.

This means that natural plants are clearly preferable to artificial plants.

As a result, the floor itself will be almost blocked.

A layer of sand and earth insulates the rest of the terrarium from below and completes the design.

It is important that the food animals cannot hide too well to be captured by the dwarf geckos.

Loose bark and the like should therefore be avoided.

Otherwise, the terrarium can realize the individual ideas of a tropical tree according to your mood.

A glass plate on the front is recommended, which means that life in the house’s own biotope can be wonderfully observed.

Diet of dwarf geckos

It is fascinating to watch dwarf geckos hunt and eat.

Thanks to their adhesive lamellas, the tiny reptiles move surprisingly quickly and are truly successful in their search for prey.

As ambulance hunters, they patiently wait until the object of desire comes near them. At that moment, they react with lightning speed.

A short sprint, stretch your tongue, and the prey is already with a bite in your mouth.

Since this behaviour improves their physical and mental fitness, dwarf geckos should be fed live food.

The menu includes:

  • Crickets
  • Bean beetle
  • Wax moths
  • Grasshoppers

Both crawling and flying prey are welcome.

Due to the minimal size of the dwarf geckos, the food animals themselves should not be larger than 1 cm.

A cycle of 2 to 3 times a week is sufficient. Otherwise, the geckos will get fat too quickly. The feeding itself should also be monitored if possible.

Does every animal get enough food?

Are there any behavioural problems that indicate illness?

Such a short, regular health check on the dwarf gecko can never hurt.

If food supplements are needed, the feed animals can also be sprayed with vitamin preparations, optionally with calcium.

It is also important to have a varied diet and freshly provided drinking water every day, for example, in a shallow bowl.

Not to be forgotten is the fruit content:

  • overripe bananas
  • Fruit nectar
  • Fruit puree and puree
  • Passion fruit
  • Peaches

In the case of finished products, it is essential to pay attention to sugar-free ingredients.

However, if you are unsure, you can also ask a trusted pet shop directly.

Socialize dwarf geckos

Since the dwarf geckos are so small and peaceful, it occurs to many beginners to want to socialize them with other reptiles.

What may work to a certain extent in the aquarium should be avoided in the terrarium:

The socialization of different species.

On the one hand, dwarf geckos are seen as prey by numerous larger lizards and snakes and are quickly devoured.

On the other hand, the geckos themselves have distinct territorial behaviour.

When cooped up in the terrarium, species-appropriate keeping quickly reaches its limits.

And the stress would significantly endanger the health of the animals.

So if you want to keep different animal species, you should consider a second terrarium.

The redesigns of the equipment are usually unnecessary and also causes unnecessary stress.

Once the dwarf geckos have settled in, they don’t like any changes in the area.

Exception: Until now, there was a lack of opportunities to retreat, or the design was not ideal.

In any case, the colourful lizards per se offer a wonderful view that can be marvelled at anew every day.

Their scales shine in different facets depending on the light irradiation, and the terrarium comes to life at the latest when feeding.

With dedication and patience, beginners can learn a lot from the little dwarf geckos and quickly find an appealing company themselves.