Cat Gecko – The Ultimate Guide


Cat Gecko

Origin

Cath geckos are outstanding animals because of their unique cat-like characteristics! In this article, we will learn how to take care of these animals and how should we keep them healthy and stay longer.

Cat gecko or Aeluroscalabotes  felinus,  is a type of gecko which is native to Southeast Asia. Specifically, it can be located in Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. This animal inhabits forest hills and lowland areas

They can also be found on forest streams and lowland vegetation but they can be hardly noticed because they are excellent in camouflage. This animal adapts very well to the environment and its patterns and coloration resemble nature.

The Cat gecko was first described by Albert Gunther after he discovered a specimen from Singapore in 1864. This species was considered rare since there are no clear records existing during its discovery back then.

These animals can be great pets. However, they are reserved and solitary in nature. Pet owners must have a background on how to handle this fragile and sophisticated animal. Their skin is thin and vulnerable, so this is not advisable for beginners. 

Identifying Traits

One of the unique characteristics of a cat gecko is its ability to curl its tails around its body every time they sleep. This characteristic resembles that of a cat and that’s where it got its name.

Cat geckos have flat-elongated heads with broad bodies. Their eyes are big because they are nocturnals and their limbs are somewhat small. They also have a prehensile tail capable of grasping things!  Its body is covered with brown coloration with orange markings above its head, running along the back of its body. Its lips and throat are pale.

Cath geckos are also capable of dropping their tails whenever they are threatened or stressed. But it is not a big problem since they are capable of growing it back after a few weeks. 

They are also characterized as nocturnal animals which means that they are mainly active during the dark. Basically, they stay active during the night to hunt for insects. They are also semi-arboreal animals and they spend most of their time climbing on trees and avoiding larger animals that will attempt to make them prey.

Normally, adult cat geckos reach the size of 18 cm or 7 inches. Males are usually smaller compared to their female counterparts.

Habitation

Cat geckos live in forests where they find security and sustenance. Rich habitation gives them enough supply of insects and hides which is necessary for their survival. As semi-arboreal geckos, they like cool and humid conditions resembling their natural environment in the forest areas. 

Most animals in captivity are housed in an enclosure with a recommended size of at least 12’’ by’’ 12’’ by 20’’. This can house a single gecko but as suggested, an enclosure with a bigger size is more suitable. Take note also that females, being a larger species, must be placed in a larger enclosure.

Placing a lot of hiding spots is great for this animal. It will provide them with enough security especially when they are stressed or threatened. You can also place live plants to provide extra coolness and humidity inside their tank. Plants like pothos or fiddle leaves can serve as a decoration. This is also hardy and low maintenance.

You can also add dried large leaves on the substrates. They love to hide in these materials.

Substrate

Coco coir with a combination of sand and moss works well for cat geckos. This material will hold enough moisture to keep them comfortable and happy inside their tanks. 

Plants which are added to your tank have to be repotted or be added with sphagnum moss at the top to prevent them from eating the soil which may cause impaction. 

The key to maintaining the substrate is spot-cleaning. Always remove waste so that the substrate remains clean and free from bacteria. Also, the substrate must be replaced every other 3-4 months. 

Humidity and Temperature

At least 66-85 percent humidity is necessary to keep your cat geckos healthy and happy.

Higher humidity is required since they chrome from humid forests. This is also necessary for their healthy shedding and growth.

To improve the humidity, you can mist the enclosure every day. Make sure you fully sprayed the plants to the point where water droplets are formed. Make sure that the water is free from chemicals such as chlorine since this can damage your pets. Distilled water is recommended in misting. 

High humidity attracts the growth of bacteria inside the tank. Hence, proper ventilation must be provided. Make sure the tank has enough holes so that the air easily passes through and extra moisture gets out of the tanks.

Temperature, on the other hand, can be maintained in the range of 72-78 degrees Fahrenheit during day time. The temperature during the night can drop to 66-72 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Light Requirement

Although cat geckos are nocturnal animals, they still need light to keep them healthy. The daylight cycle can be emulated by the use of UVB. This will not only provide their light requirement, but it will also help them process Vitamin D3 which is essential for their overall growth and development. 

The light should be given for at least 12 hours each day. This is the same with the light cycle in their natural environment.

Decoration 

Cat geckos are semi-arboreal which means that they often inhabit trees but not all the time. Therefore, the tank should have materials that they can climb on such as artificial trees, woods or bamboo. There should also be enough space where they can move.

Hides should also be placed inside the tank for their security. It can help them do away with stress whenever they are threatened. 

Plants are also a great addition to your tank. This will add a visual effect that is pleasing and attractive for your geckos. Adding plants such as pothos and sansevieria can make your tank more attractive and look the same as their natural environment.

Diet and Nutrition

Cat geckos are insectivores and they feed on insects for their diet. In their natural habitat, they feed on a variety of insects such as mosquitoes,  flies, roaches, crickets and other insects of relative size.

In captivity, locally bred cat geckos feed on isopods, crickets and dubia roaches. They are normally fed during the night since they are active hunters during this time. Take note that the insects must be of proper size. At least 2-3 insects are enough every meal time but in cases, these insects are not eaten, remove them the next day. This is essential in keeping the tank clean.

Cat geckos can be fed 4-5 times a week.

Sexing

The identity of cat geckos can be characterized by their physical features. Males have a pointed or angular head and remarkable hemipenal bulges when they reach maturity. Females on the other hand doesn’t have hemipenal bulges. However, their head is broader compared to males.

Males are also smaller compared to females. They can reach the size of 10-13 centimetres. Female cat geckos are larger. In fact, they can reach 15 to 20 centimetres.

Breeding

This species is vulnerable and prone to stress and everything must be set properly prior to breeding. A healthy pair should be carefully selected. They can be placed in the same tank once they reach the stage of maturity. 

To begin, place the pair on the same setup for one month. After a month, remove the male from the tank and observe whether the female’s abdominal area is expanding. If there is a bulge, it means the mating has been successful.

Once the females started to lay eggs, make sure to remove the eggs from the tank and transfer the same to the incubator. Substrates such as vermiculite work best for eggs. Moisten the substrate with water for incubation and set it at 23 degrees Celcius or place them under room temperature. Incubation usually ends after 75 to 80 days.

Once the eggs are hatched, transfer the hatchling to a different setup.  The hatchling can be kept in a 20’’ by 20’’ by 20’’ tank. Paper towels should be replaced once soiled. Provide woods, branches and hides with sphagnum moss to help them in shedding. Once these hatchlings reach 8 weeks, they can be placed in a bigger tank.

Supplement

Cat geckos in captivity require vitamins and minerals to compensate for lacking nutrients in their insect feeders. Reptile vitamins and calcium will make them healthier. This is given twice a week.

UVB will also help your gecko process Vitamin D3 but in case UVB is not being used, there are still available vitamins with D3 available in the market.

Common Health Issues

The lifespan of cat geckos is within 10-12 years so proper kind of conditions must be made to make them last long.

A parasite is a common health issue for cat geckos. They are known for sucking out the nutrient from the host animal. They are considered harmful because they can compromise the health of your geckos. Hence, it must be removed.

Common symptoms of parasitic infection are weight loss, vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy. To remove harmful parasites, make use of dewormers specifically designed for geckos.

Final Thoughts

Despite the fact that cat geckos are primitive animals, the fact remains that they are unique and fascinating. They are also rare animals that have to be cherished. 

Handling this animal needs extra care and knowledge as their needs are more demanding compared to other geckos. They are vulnerable and fragile. Therefore, proper care should be observed to keep them healthy and happy. This animal is not also recommended to novice handlers.

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