If you are looking for a inexpensive, smaller terrestrial gecko, the Madagascan Ground (pictus) gecko (Paroedura pictus) fits the bill. They are hardy making them good for beginners, and stay small, but the endless pattern possibilities will shock and amaze you. Also known as Madagascar ground geckos, the come from the island of Madagascar. This species also has other names commonly used including the panther gecko, ocelot gecko, and the bigheaded gecko.
Unlike many other popular geckos, the pictus gecko has no morph. They are often brown, cream or a darker red with an array of black spots scattered across the body. Hatchling pictus geckos will normally have bands of two separate colors that will break up, and spots will form with each shed.
The pictus gecko has a large head compared to its body, but they stay only 5-6 inches when adults. If cared for these small reptiles can live for over 10 years, so make sure you can provide a home before ever making a purchase.
If you are preparing to handle a juvenile pictus gecko, keep an eye on it at all times. They tend to be jumpy because they consider you a predator. After gentle handling a couple minutes a day, pictus geckos can be taught to stay calm around you and can be held for hours. When holding any reptile, never make sudden or jerky movements because that reptile will both lose its trust in you, and may attempt to jump or run off of your hand.
A simple and affordable diet of crickets is all that is needed as a food source. Mealworms, phoenix worms, and silk worms are also wonderful options, but giving a gecko the chance to chase down prey will keep it both active and fit. A slow obese pictus gecko is not a healthy one.
Gut load any and all insects 24 hours before feeding to your gecko. What they eat is what your gecko eats. Crickets can eat commercially bought food or carrots and lettuce. Silk worms need a special type of food commercially made.
Pictus geckos stay small, meaning their cage does as well. Hatchling pictus geckos can live in five gallon containers but as they grow, they should be moved up to 10 gallons. Providing branches for them to climb around on is a good idea, but no matter what you have in the cage, a secure lid should always be on.
Substrate is the bedding, and with a pictus gecko you have a couple choices. Paper towel works best for all ages because they could accidently ingest loose substrate like soil . Paper towel also makes clean up easier. Dried newspaper and butchers paper are substitutes for paper towel.
If you want a loose substrate because it is more attractive, sand or non-fertilized potting soil will work the best. These substrates need to be replaced every 6 months or sooner while paper substrates should get replaced when soiled.
Three hides should be in the tank. One on the warm side, one on the cool side, and a humid hide where you want. Since pictus geckos are nocturnal they will be using these most of the day. The humid hide should be kept damp but not soaking all the time. To fill it, use either sphagnum moss or paper towels.
Pictus geckos are from Madagascar, and like it warm. Keep the temperatures between 82-90F and dropping 15F at night. Both overhead bulbs or under tank heaters work fine. The under tank heater may be a better option because they are mostly ground dwelling. When using a bulb make sure the gecko canít burn itself on it.
Humidity and hydration are an important part of an animalís life. Pictus geckos should always be provided with a water bowl that is filled with fresh water. Misting the tank can also be done every couple of nights. Keep it a light mist because they will always have their humid hide to run to.
Replace soiled paper towels or newspaper when needed and loose substrates every six months at maximum. Mist the cage every couple of days, and keep the water bowl filled. Cleaning does not take much time, and these geckos are relatively easy to clean up after.
Pictus geckos breed easy, and are unusually fast breeders. When breeding, you have to make sure they do not mate too many times or else the female will get egg bound. Only keep one male per tank so they do not fight and hurt each other. Be sure you read up on breeding before attempting it.
Separate the male from the female(s) when eggs start appearing. Females will lay two eggs at a time, and need a moist egg box to lay eggs in. This box should be filled with 2-3 inches of vermiculite, sphagnum moss, or non-fertilized potting soil. Be sure the female has enough room to move comfortably.
Eggs once laid need to be kept in an incubator until hatching about 80 days later. Temperatures should be about 85F and humidity from 80-90%. Try to keep the temperatures steady along with the humidity for the best chance of a fertile egg.
Before breeding the female should be allowed to eat more than normally, and give them a ton of calcium. Dust all food provided so strong eggshells are present. Breeding a pictus gecko does not take that much money, time, or effort and is a fun experience.
What do you do once you come home with a baby gecko or about 15 eggs just hatched? Baby pictus geckos can be jumpy and fast. Each gecko should have 2 gallons, and as they grow this should move up to 5 gallons and then ten gallons. Once they can be sexed, males will need to be separated from all other geckos or else they will either mate or fight.
Food should not be too big or too small as they grow up. Crickets are a cheap and easy choice for food and they need to be fed daily. Make sure all of the hatchlings get food, and if one is not, separate it and make sure it eats. Once it has caught up with the others in size, it can be introduced back in.
There should be one hide for every 3 geckos, and paper towel or newspaper should be used as a substrate. Plenty of water needs to be in every tank. Hatchlings are fun to care for and watch. They will grow fast, and as they grow, so should their food, space, and hides.
Pictus geckos are the smaller version of the leopard gecko staying at about 6 inches. They do not require much time or space, and are amusing to watch hunt crickets. You will enjoy this species weather you are new to the reptile world, or if you are a dedicated reptile enthusiast.
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