Geckos are not your every day cuddly pet. If you own one, or you’re thinking about getting one, a key thing you’ll notice is that this particular species of reptile prefers to be on their own most of the time. They like their own space a lot. But are they in any way social?
Geckos are solitary animals, and are not social. It is recommended that geckos have an enclosure all to themselves and do not share it with other geckos. If forced to share, this could lead to discontent, hiding and even fighting. The only time they are more sociable is when they mate.
For mating, this will be the only time when you can introduce a male gecko into a female’s tank. [Source]
They are not cuddly, but they certainly do bond with their human owners more than they bond with other geckos, and for this reason, they are a delight to own and train. They also live long lives too, so will be a companion to you for a decade at the very least.
I owned a gecko for a little over a decade, and in this post I’m going to give you the full lowdown on everything you need to know about geckos, sociability, and everything in between.
You Can Have As Many Geckos As You Want
If you are intent on having more than one gecko, consider buying two tanks instead of one. The starting tank size for a gecko would be 20 gallons, although loads of gecko owners will argue this and go larger.
It is better to err on the size of larger than smaller. If you buy a tank that is too small, you will end up with several tanks over the years as your gecko grows into an adult. If you do want more than one gecko, it is probably better to house them separately or at least have a spare tank in case you have to separate them later if it does not work out.
Certain Combinations Work Better Than Others
A gecko loves his own space, he does not mind humans as much as he minds other geckos, which is great for us owners who like them so much.
He might tolerate another female, and two females might live together peacefully if the tank is very large and they can withdraw from one another, but never place two males together.
If you do, there will be daily fights and gecko arguments over territory. Geckos are very territorial. It’s better not to stress our pets out, so consider all of these factors before getting your pet gecko.
If you have a very large tank sometimes you can house more than one gecko. If you do decide to do so ensure that there is loads of space for each gecko and that they can get away from one another if need be. This could include hiding places where they can be alone, but keep an eye on them, some geckos will never get along.
Another thing to watch out for is feeding, don’t make the tank too large because often a gecko cannot find their food. It is all a fine balancing act.
Geckos Live Long and Happy Lives If You Care For Them
Creating a safe space for a gecko that likes to be alone often drives its owners to spend a lot of time ensuring that their pet gecko’s home is up to a good standard. The thing is, most reptile owners understand and appreciate that their gecko prefers the quietness and peace of having their own space.
Geckos live for a very long time, some live up to nearly 20 years old if well cared for. So, having a gecko is a massive commitment, like any other pet.
During those years, geckos probably need less care than say, for example, cats and dogs. They eat a lot less, they love their own company, but they do need their tank cleaned well, and they do need to be looked after in their own special ways. Like being fed live feed, for example.
They will bond with their owner, and many gecko owners report a sense of satisfaction from owning this particular type of reptile. There are loads of gecko enthusiasts since there is a huge number of species of gecko. Their markings are quite individualist and this in itself is all rather intriguing.
Getting the Groundwork Done to House Your Unsociable Gecko
Part of the choosing of your gecko includes making sure you can look after them, meaning heating, size of the tank, as well as the breed of gecko you are getting and their own special needs. There are so many breeds of this type of reptile, and although there are similarities, there are very important differences.
By nature, geckos hate to be handled, but they will enjoy spending time with you if you learn how to handle them correctly.
Because They are Not Social, Here is the Best Environment for a Gecko
You might look at your very loved pet gecko, and feel sorry for him as he sits on a branch all alone for days, or hides away with just an eye peeking out. The truth is, this is him basking in the heavenly domain of a happy tank.
Knowing this, one should make the best choices when purchasing their gecko’s tank. Start larger rather than smaller. It might be easy to think one can buy a ‘kit’ for geckos, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The more a gecko grows, the more space he uses, this is assuming he will be on his own for his lifetime. Most geckos will fare very well with a 20-gallon tank, or a tank that measures around 60 cm x 40 cm and 30 cm deep.
Gecko tanks can be called various things, like vivarium, terrarium, enclosure or tank. So to keep things simple we will call their homes a tank!
The basic things you will need for your tank are:
- A heater
- Substrate and decorations
- Feeding areas and bowls
- A good-sized tank
Geckos mostly hail from warmer countries and continents. Many of the domesticated breeds come from the Island off Africa, some from Australia and also many from Asia. This means heat and humidity is the order of the day. So if you are caring for a gecko, bear this in mind.
Heating is very important and should be purchased along with your tank.
Before you go off to the store to get your gecko’s tank, perhaps hang around some forums for a while and ask about different heaters, but the most agreed-upon methods include a heating pad.
As a rule of thumb, the area of a tank that should be heated is around 70%, with 30% being left unheated. Being cold-blooded, reptiles use the environment to either warm up or cool down, so here they have a choice are areas to go to. If they overheat, they can simply walk to the cooler area of the tank.
There are many substrates for gecko tanks from large smooth pebbles, to tiles, paper towels and even carpets, you can decide which is best for your reptile. One thing to be wary of is choking. If your gecko chews on various objects it can cause obstructions in its gut.
Decorations will include places for them to sit on, walk on and hide. These can be larger stones, tree bark and an array of natural materials that try and mimic their natural environment as much as possible. Make sure there are places your gecko can hide, this is often a split log that they can dart under for cover, they do need alone time.
Feeding Areas and Bowls
Feeding a gecko is quite a lot of fun. This can include worms and crickets, for example, and leaving them around the tank is the best route to go, as this mimics their natural environment and eating pattern. This is where substrate becomes important.
You wouldn’t want a worm to become encrusted with the substrate and cause a blockage in the gecko’s gut. Some owners set aside an area for this and keep it clear of substrate for this reason.
Some feeds will require bowls, but not live food for obvious reasons. The live feed, like crickets, will hop around the tank. Bowls can be used for fresh water.
Get to Know Your Gecko
If you are wanting your gecko to be a bit more sociable with you, you can begin a slow process of training them, which involves getting them used to you being around. It is a bad idea to just pick them up as soon as you get them home.
The shock of this could cause them to drop their tail, a method they use to escape predators. Exposure should be gradual. Try not to move too fast or startle them. Be patient, in time your gecko will be quite comfortable around you. This is when you know you have built some trust with them, and this can be very satisfying.
Some will even eat from your hands, but be careful, they grab the food quickly and can even startle you!
Mating is a Very Sociable Thing for Geckos to do
If you want your geckos to mate, then placing the male into a female’s tank is the best route to go. Placing a female into a male’s tank will end up in a fight for territory. As mentioned earlier, a gecko is very homely and enjoys its territory. Placing a male into a female enclosure might avoid this.
There is nothing special about getting your geckos to mate, just ensure that they are both mature enough to do so. If they are not, the eggs might be broken, eaten or abandoned. The female needs to be a little older than the male, around 10 months old. Males can start earlier at 6 months old. [Source]
Just be sure to place them together during the breeding season, which changes depending on where you are in the world. North of the Equator, breeding time for geckos is from January to September, a fairly long period for breeding.
When you place the male into the female’s tank, he might do a tail rattle, which is when he flicks it back and forth, and at this point, you will know by this if they will hit it off.
Some gecko owners do house several geckos together. When they do this, they will ensure that the enclosure or tank is large enough to accommodate their not-so-social behavior, which will include hiding and finding the space to be alone. Making sure their decorations cover this need is important.
Geckos are quite content to just be on their own, and once they know you, they will manage being handled by you. Some will even eat from your hand.
There are times when geckos have to be very sociable and that is during the mating season if they are to mate.
It is always better to place the male into the female’s tank to avoid issues of territory and fighting.
If you wish to house more than one gecko, keep either a male and a female, or two females, never two males, as that would cause territorial arguments.
If you have decided to own more than one gecko, ensure that you have spare tanks in case they do not get along. This way you can remove a gecko and keep them separate. A geckos home is their castle so ensure you have all the necessary things to build a positive environment for your pet.
Geckos are just not that sociable with other geckos. They prefer the company of humans at a push. Over time geckos will get to know you and accept you and this is the real reward of gecko ownership. They are so easy to care for in a general sense that they are ever becoming more and more popular pets.