The Crocodile gecko also known as the Moorish gecko is pretty, but shouldn't be handled as they are nervous. This is a nice, hardy species with very few problems. These geckos will generally live between 6 and 10 years, depending on how they have been cared for. The Crocodile gecko is native to the Mediterranean region and North Africa. The natural settings for Crocodile geckos are dry, rocky areas particularly on cliff faces and large boulders. They may be very common around human settlements, particularly stone walls.
The Crocodile Gecko has a large pointed head and for its size is strong and heavily built. They are usually colored in a mottled light and dark grey or brown pattern, and the most distinguishing characteristics are the rows of keeled, tubercular scales along the back, flanks and tail. A flap of skin runs along the flanks and the limbs are relatively short. The ventral surface is immaculate white. The undersides of the toes are equipped with adhesive toe-pads along their entire length for climbing up rocks. Juveniles are more brightly colored with some transverse striping which fades with growth. The average adult length is 6 inches total length.
While they are primarily nocturnal, they can often also be seen basking during the day. Male Crocodile geckos are very aggressive and territorial when it comes to another male, and therefore they should be kept separately. Male Crocodile geckos will also emit squeaks when defending their territory. This may be a warning sign that you have 2 males and not a true pair. This species of gecko is hyperactive and difficult to hold.
A pair of Crocodile geckos can be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium, but a larger taller tank is better. They are arboreal, meaning they need more height rather than floor space. The vivarium should be vertically oriented with plenty of securely stacked rocks with crevices to hide in, and branches to lounge on. The hides are essential in order to prevent stress. Crocodile Geckos spend a lot of time hidden away in rocky aves/crevices, coming out only to feed or bask. Crocodile geckos are also able to climb on the glass of the tank. Plants can also be placed into the enclosure to add color, and if live plants are placed in the vivarium a full-spectrum fluorescent light will be necessary during the day, this light may also be good for the animals.
Substrate can be as simple as newspaper or a couple inches of Zoo Med’s Eco Earth Compressed Coconut Fiber Expandable Substrate. Vermiculite has also been used as a substrate. Sand has been proven to cause impaction in geckos and should be avoided. All substrates should be cleaned regularly in order to prevent contamination from disease.
A humid shelter needs to be provided to prevent any shedding problems. This can be accomplished in a couple of ways. You can mist one side of the tank every few days to drip off the rocks and branches. This then collects in the substrate creating a humid hide behind a rock (this method will not work if you use newspaper). Another method would be using a plastic food container and cut a hole in the side large enough for them to enter. Fill the container with Vermiculite or moss and keep it moist (not soaking wet).Do not spray the geckos directly.
Temperature & Lighting
Crocodile geckos are primarily nocturnal but sometimes bask during the day. Daytime temperatures should be maintained between 78° – 85° F, and a basking area at the high end of the range is appreciated as they are active during the day too. Night time temperatures should be between 70° - 75° F, or a drop down to room temperature during the night will be fine. A low wattage red incandescent bulb can be used at night to allow observation of your geckos and will provide very little heat.
All your heat sources should be controlled by a thermostat in order to prevent the vivarium from over heating. One thermometer should be placed at each end of the vivarium in order to give an accurate reading of the temperatures within the vivarium. Never go by the temperature on the thermostat as these are often inaccurate.
Some people say that a UV light is not required. However this species is sometimes active during the day and will benefit from the use of a UV light. If left on for 12 hours a day it will give your animal a correct photoperiod, as well as allowing vitamin D3 synthesis.
Humidity and Water
This species requires low to moderate levels of humidity (50-60%), misting the vivarium once a week should suffice. However a shallow bowl of fresh water should always be available for drinking and soaking. You may also witness your geckos licking up the water droplets that run along the décor from misting.
Crocodile geckos will actively hunt down and consume anything that moves. Some of the insects than can be fed include: crickets, mealworms, waxworms, or wax moths. The food should be kept as varied as possible in order to ensure proper nutrition. You can also feed earthworms, but if they don’t eat them right away they may burrow into the substrate. Twice a week a vitamin/calcium supplement should be dusted onto the food items.
For young and juvenile Crocodile geckos, feed every day with the appropriate sized food. Adults can be fed every other day and once a month try feeding a small pinkie.
Crocodile geckos should be kept in true pairs. Unfortunately, even adult animals are difficult to sex. Males are said to be more robust in body size and have a wider head than females. It is also speculated that the females have lots of tubercular scales along the whole body and head, males only have a few along the side of the body.
This species brumates (period of reduced activity) for 6 – 8 weeks in nature, but some breeders have had success with a 2 – 4 week cooling down period with temperatures in the 60s° F in conjunction with a reduced photoperiod to stimulate breeding activity. It is also said that the natural fluctuation in home temperatures seems to slow down activity during the winter.
Two to four clutches of two eggs each are buried in a moist section of the substrate during the spring and summer. Each clutch is laid about 3 weeks apart consisting of 2 hard shelled eggs. Females can lay 4-6 clutches during the breeding season.
Eggs should be incubated in dry sand or vermiculite. Dampen the substrate in one corner of the incubation dish away from the eggs and do not allow them to get wet. The eggs are usually laid in an area that is slightly moist. The eggs should be incubated at 79° F- 86°F, with the eggs hatching in about 70 days.
The young hatch in 2-2 1/2 months, depending on temperature. Hatchlings are about three-quarters of an inch long and feed on pin head crickets, fruit flies or other appropriate sized insects within a week of hatching. This species is cannibalistic so the young should be reared separately from the adults. Communal housing of young is possible but is not recommended and you should be prepared for missing toes and tails. The young are slow to mature, taking up to 2 years.