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Care Sheet: Lepidodactylus lugubris

Basic information:

  • TL: 3.94″ (100 mm)
  • POTZ: 75°F – 86°F (24°C – 30°C)
  • RH: 40% – 80%
  • Egg gluing: yes
  • Frugivory: yes
  • Flock breeding: yes (animals of all ages are compatible)
  • Harem breeding: no (reproduction is via parthenogenesis)


Basic care for these small geckos is quite simple: they are nocturnal, arboreal, omnivorous, and parthenogenetic. This last character is especially convenient from the perspective of captive husbandry; all animals are female, females begin to reproduce themselves clonally upon maturation, and typically a single animal is sufficient to found a colony.

A tank of at least 10 gallons (38 liters) is recommended for a 0.3 breeding group (a tank of this size can also support a number of juveniles), and vertical orientation is preferable but not critical. Branches, cork bark, and plants should be arranged in a way that creates environmental heterogeneity: thermal and moisture gradients, hiding places, egg-laying sites, and feeding stations. This species does not bask. While these geckos have adhesive lamellae and are excellent climbers, they also make extensive use of cover objects and will occasionally bury themselves. Provide substrate that facilitates this behavior, such as sandy loam or coco chips covered with leaf litter.

A 12-hour photoperiod is recommended. The tank should be misted regularly to maintain humidity, but allowed to dry nearly completely in the interval. The geckos will drink the accumulated mist from the surface of cage furniture, and will also drink from dishes of water. Dehydration can quickly overcome very small geckos.

The recommended staple diet is small live foods (such as fruit flies, crickets, or bean beetles) and a meal replacement powder made for frugivorous geckos (such as Crested Gecko Diet). Wax moth larvae and adults, terrestrial isopods, mashed banana or mango, and peach or banana baby foods are all suitable on a supplemental basis. Offer live food and fruit meals at an approximate 1:1 ratio (for instance, by alternating). Offer food at least twice per week. Dust all live foods with vitamin and mineral supplements. The geckos will also take powdered calcium carbonate from a small dish.

Clutch size is two eggs, which the female typically glues in a high corner. Communal deposition sites may develop in the terrarium. Eggs can be sometimes be carefully removed with a razor for controlled incubation on damp vermiculite or similar media. However, removal of glued eggs is not without risk, and as neither sex determination not hatch rate are issues with this species, ex-situ incubation may be unnecessary. Eggs should be kept humid but protected from contact with water (for instance by elevating them above incubation media with a plastic mesh, or protecting clutches when spraying terraria). Incubation takes 60 to 80 days. Hatchlings may be raised in small groups until sexual maturity, which is reached in approximately one year.