Chinese Cave Gecko – The Ultimate Guide


Chinese Cave Gecko

Origin 

Goniurosaurus hainanensis is commonly known as the Chinese Cave Gecko or cave gecko. This is native to Hainan island, a province located in the Southernmost point of China. They can also be found in nearby countries such as Vietnam and Japan. Chinese Cave geckos are submissive animals. Hence, they can be good pets, especially for beginners. 

Chinese Cave geckos inhabit caves or rocky areas of lowland tropical rainforest. This kind of habitat is considerably humid because of the amount of rain it receives and extensive vegetation. The ecosystem is also abundant with various insects they need. The rocky areas will also give them a suitable place for hiding. 

The species is an endangered animal and is nearly facing extinction due to illegal pet trading. Fortunately, there are local pet traders who successfully breed this type. Captive breed is normally sold from 99 to 289 dollars. 

Identifying Traits 

Chinese cave geckos have beautiful coloration. Its body is covered with colors ranging from black, gray, and lavender. The tail contains white stripes while the base of the tail up to  its head has yellow stripes. They also have several black spots on the back of its body. It has a fat tail and striking red eye coloration. Legs are covered with dark spots.  

Tail dropping is also common to this type of gecko. That is their defense mechanism especially when they are attacked or threatened. This is not a big problem since this phenomenon is natural and they can grow it back in the period of 30 days.

Cave geckos are also resilient animals and they can last for 10 to 12 years if they are properly cared for. Compared to other geckos, they are moderate in size. Adults, usually reach the size of 8 to 9 inches from the tip of the tail until their head. 

They are also territorial so make sure that males are separated from each other. 

Habitation

Chinese cave geckos are terrestrial animals. It means that they prefer to live in the land in contrast to arboreal animals who primarily enjoy staying on branches and trees. Due to this nature, they should be housed in an enclosure with enough space to crawl. 

A terrarium of 10-gallon size is enough to house a single gecko but it is better if you house them in bigger tanks, up to 20-gallon size.

There is no absolute rule in choosing the size of the enclosure but the suggested measurement is 30’’ by 12’’ by 12’’. Enclosures with a wider space are recommended so they can move freely on the ground. If you are planning to house your geckos altogether, double the recommended size.

In setting up the enclosure, remember to place small holes for ventilation. Air circulation inside their habitat is essential for their health. Remember that too much moisture encourages the growth of bacteria!

Substrate

Chemical-free mulch with a combination of sphagnum moss or coco coir and sand is great for these lizards. This is because it retains the humidity inside the tank and enhances its appearance. 

The cleanliness of the substrate must also be maintained. Check for poops and utrates every day and remove them along with the soiled substrate. You should also replace the substrate every 3 to 4 months to keep their environment clean. 

Avoid using gravel and similar material as it may result in impaction once eaten by the geckos. 

Humidity and Temperature

Humidity level from 70 to 80% should be maintained during the daytime and this can reach up to 100% at night. High humidity is required for these animals since they originated from tropical forests. 

Misting can contribute to overall humidity inside the tank. To keep the level high, mist the enclosure during the morning and night. You can also use a reptile humidifier or humid hides.

Temperature, on the other hand, is kept at a lower level since this type of gecko needs cooler conditions. The temperature gradient can be made by using a heat mat or heat emitters, especially during the cold season. A light bulb can also be used to enhance the temperature.

Temperature 

Cool side 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit 
Warm side Not exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit

The temperature should be kept at this level since too much coldness or heat is detrimental to your geckos.

Light Requirement 

These geckos inhabit caves and are nocturnal in nature so they can tolerate less lighting. If their enclosure doesn’t have enough access to natural light, you can add light sources such as  LED or fluorescent. 

For the summer season, the daylight must be for 13 hours but in the winter season, 10 hours is enough.

Decoration

Safety is the primary consideration upon choosing the tank decoration. You should choose chemical or non-toxic materials to keep them away from harm.  

Since they are terrestrial animals, wider enclosures and a lot of hides can be utilized. They also love rocks and plants to climb on. Take note, however, that rocks must not be pointed to prevent injuries. In case you’re planning to use plastic plants and foliage, soak them in warm water to remove the chemical and dye. 

You can also add pothos and other hardy plants to have that natural effect. Before placing it in the enclosure, repot the plants and make sure to pot them in organic soil. Also, wash the plant thoroughly to remove the fertilizers and pesticides. 

Diet and nutrition 

Chinese cave geckos are insectivores. Insect feeders such as crickets and roaches can be used as a staple. This insect, however, is not complete when it comes to nutrient so make sure you sprinkle it with vitamins and minerals to ensure that they are getting the right nutrients for its growth. 

On an occasional basis, you can add a variety of insects like waxworms, butterworms, and hornworms. These are treats they love to eat. At least 7-10 insects of the right size can be given to your geckos and the size must be appropriate to prevent choking.

Gut loading can also be used to ensure the quality of nutrients they get.

Frequency of Feeding 

Hatchling and juveniles  4 to 5 times a week or every other day
Adults  Twice a week

Breeding 

Start breeding your geckos by housing true pairs. Males are easily identified by the bulges at the base of their tails and they can be bred once they are already 6 months old. 

The breeding season for Chinese cave geckos is for around 7 months, that is from February to September. In this period, females usually lay a pair of eggs every other 30-42 days. After the breeding period, the condition of the enclosure must be cooler.

This animal is also eager in breeding so make sure to separate the male from the female to prevent exhaustion. 

Safekeeping for Eggs and Hatchlings    

It takes few weeks of mating to lay egg. You can check on the substrate for eggs and carefully remove it for incubation. Upon checking, gently move the substrate to avoid unnecessary damage of egg. 

Once the eggs are collected,  place it in a container with same ideal condition to increase the chances of survival.   Fill the incubating container with at least 2 inches substrate like perlite or vermiculite because this is efficient in sustaining the humidity.  Make sure the substrate is not too wet nor too dry as it is detrimental to the egg’s development. For successful hatchling, the temperature must be 70-80 degrees Farenheit 

After successful incubation, hatchlings are expected after 60 days although some eggs may need more time. Remember that hatchlings are greatly affected by the temperature. Lower temperature means longer periods of hatching.

Supplement

Calcium and vitamin with minerals with D3 are necessary for the body’s normal functioning. You can add this to their diet by dusting the insects or soaking the feed for a few minutes to absorb the vitamins and minerals.

Gut loading is also a technique in ensuring the balanced-deit, so make sure that the insect feeders are provided enough nutrients by feeding them with vegetables and fruits.

Females in the breeding stage should also be given extra calcium to support egg development.

Common Health issues 

Dysecdysis 

Dysecdysis is a result of improper shedding and it can be observed by stuck skin on the different parts of the body such as the toes, legs, and eyes. This may lead to serious problems if left untreated. To help your geckos shed properly, provide enough humidity to soften their skin making shedding easier.

Gastrointestinal disease 

Parasitic, bacterial, and viral infection are the common reasons of gastrointestinal diseases. Common symptoms may be shown by excessive weight loss, lack of appetite, and bloody droppings. The best way to immediately treat this problem is by proceeding to your vet. 

Final Thoughts 

Chinese cave geckos are good pets because they are low maintenance and resilient. They can survive in simple conditions. You can also enjoy watching their activity and eagerness in eating.

Like other geckos, they are also prone to different health issues, which is why, we should monitor their behavior and give them the proper diet to keep them healthy. Make sure also that you provide them with a lot of hides to make them feel secure and comfortable inside the tank.

Recent Posts