Viper Geckos: The Ultimate Guide

Viper Geckos

The Viper gecko, otherwise known as  the Carrot-tailed Viper Gecko or Turnip-Tailed Viper Gecko, is originally found in some areas of  Southeastern Pakistan. This small desert lizard gets its nickname thanks to the unique shape of its tail.

In 2008, it was reclassified by Bauer with the scientific name Hemidactylus imbricatus. However, most gecko enthusiasts still refer to it as Teratolepis fasciata. Viper geckos are nocturnal animals which hunt for food during the night. They are terrestrial animals too, who rely on running to move around the arid desert.

Appearance And Size of Viper Geckos

Viper geckos are called carrot-tailed or turnip-tailed because the shape of their fat tails resembles carrot or turnip. However, the color of its tail is not orange but brown-grey. 

Viper geckos are known for their keeled or rigid and uneven scales which make them look sophisticated. They can stay low to the ground because of their small legs. They also have big-golden-eyes which help them hunt for insects during the night. 

This species is very small and adults normally reach a mere 3 to 4 inches. Hatchlings, on the other hand, start at just  2.5 centimeters. As a result, special care should be taken when handling them as they are very delicate. 

Habitat of Viper Geckos

Viper geckos live in the desert and rocky areas of Southeastern Pakistan. Due to its natural habitat, this land-dwelling animal is hardy and can tolerate arid conditions. 

In their natural habitat, they commonly live between rocks and narrow spaces for security. But due to the destruction of their natural home, they can also be found in inhabited places. 

Temperature Requirements For Viper Geckos

Viper geckos are found in the arid desert where the climate is warm and dry throughout the year. Usually, the temperature of their habitat ranges from 75°F to 85°F. 

When kept in captivity, it is necessary to monitor the temperature of the enclosure to keep them comfortable and at ease. Using a heat pad or overhead lamp is essential for the gecko’s thermoregulation. 

Give your gecko a temperature gradient to imitate their natural environment. The temperature in the cold end should be 75°-79° F while the hot spots should range from  82° to 85° F. You can use a thermometer gun to monitor the temperature and ensure that it meets the requirements of your gecko. 

Humidity Requirement for Viper Geckos

Due to the arid conditions they are used to, humidity and moisture content should be kept on the low side at around 20 to 30%. This is possible by misting 3 times a week or by using a water dish. However, make sure the air circulation is good to prevent the moisture from accumulating inside. 

During shedding, give your geckos extra humidity to help them shed easily. 

Diet Requirement For Viper Geckos

Viper geckos are insectivores and generally feed on insects such as crickets, dubia roaches, waxworms and mealworms. These insects contain high amounts of protein, vitamins and amino acids but like all captive kept reptiles, you should also sprinkle the insects with calcium to help them to keep strong bones. 

Pro Tip: The rule of thumb in feeding your gecko is to make sure that the size of the insect does not exceed the size of the space between the gecko’s eyes. Since the adult gecko reaches the size of 3.5 to 4 inches, you can feed them with small insects which are ¼ inch size. For the juvenile stage, feed them with extra small insects or insects not exceeding ⅛ inch. 

Adult viper geckos are fed every other day while the hatchlings and juveniles are fed once every day. 

When feeding waxworms or mealworms it is best to place them in a small and deep food dish. This will prevent them from escaping and hiding on the substrate. It also makes life easier to clean the enclosure. 

How Long Do Viper Geckos Live?

Viper geckos have a long life span and are easy pets to keep. With proper nutrition and handling, they can reach up to 10-15 years. 

Pro Tip: To keep them staying healthy and live longer, avoid feeding wild insects because they can carry parasites and other harmful elements which may cause health problems for your geckos. 

Remember to keep your geckos as stress free as possible by giving them hides and a clean environment. 

Viper geckos also drop their tail when threatened. This is a defense mechanism which allows them to distract their predator when they are being attacked. This phenomenon is common to geckos. You don’t have to worry because they will regenerate their tails and form a new one, however they are rarely as attractive as the original.

Recommended Enclosure For Viper Geckos

Viper geckos in captivity can be housed in shallow vivariums. Regardless of the enclosure, remember that the most important factor to consider is the temperature, substrate, ventilation and hides. 

As used by most hobbyists, a 10-gallon tank is enough to house one Viper gecko, 15-gallon tank for two and 20-galloon tanks for 3-4 adults however you should never keep two males in the same enclosure – they will fight, often to the death.

The most preferable tanks for geckos are long and shallow enclosures as they are terrestrial animals. 

There are three types of tanks which are used to house viper geckos. These are the glass tanks, wooden tanks and plastic enclosures. 

Glass Tanks 

Glass tanks are the most highly recommended enclosures for geckos and this is because of their visibility. By using glass tanks, you can easily monitor your geckos and observe their behavior. 

Using glass tanks has advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of using them is that they are durable and retain humidity well, although they are at risk of breakage. They also look brand new after cleaning. The downside is that they can be more expensive than their wooden or plastic counterparts.

Wooden Tanks 

Wooden tanks can be a great habitat for your geckos because they are classic and naturally beautiful.  They are also a good option if you’re planning to make your own DIY enclosure since it helps you save money. 

The problem with wooden enclosures is that they are easily damaged by moisture and heat. Too much moisture or humidity in the wooden tanks results in molds that attract flies and other insects. Mold can also trigger the production of bacterias in the enclosure which is harmful to the geckos. 

Plastic Enclosure

Plastic tank enclosures are made of synthetic resin and are considered a great option because of their durability and adaptability. They are also cheaper compared to wood and glass tanks. They are also easy to set up and light.

When choosing plastic tanks, make sure that they are made from non-toxic materials and are free from hazardous chemicals. 

How To Set Up Your Enclosure For Viper Geckos

When setting up your enclosure, you can make use of sand as your substrate. This is a good option if you’re trying to imitate the natural habitat of your viper geckos. The only disadvantage of using sand is the fact that it can be swallowed by the gecko. We do not recommend using sand however, some keepers like to imitate their natural environments. 

Using paper towels and newspaper is a much safer option for your enclosure. These are inexpensive and easy to remove or replace when soiled but obviously do not look very nice in a display setup.

Viper geckos love to go out of sight during the day since they are nocturnal. As Viper geckos easily get stressed in captivity, placing hides in the enclosure  is extremely important  This provides them a safe sanctuary and makes feel secured while they take rest. 

Breeding Viper Geckos

Breeding Viper geckos is fairly easy since adults male and female can be housed together. Once they reach adult size or at least 1 year of age, they are ready for breeding.

You can start breeding your male viper geckos when the femoral spores and the bulges at the base of the tail start to appear. For adult females, provide them with extra calcium for egg production. 

Viper geckos are very active in breeding once they mature or reach adult stage.  They will keep on mating unless they are separated.  To prevent their exhaustion, separate them after the female has laid five clutches of eggs. 

Safekeeping For Eggs And Hatchlings

Like most geckos, Viper geckos lay their eggs in humid areas in the substrate or in a humid hide every 2-3 weeks. For purposes of incubation,carefully remove the eggs and place them into a new container filled with sphagnum moss, soil or vermiculite. Place the eggs into an incubator at around 80f. monitor the incubator and wait 60 to 80 days for the eggs to hatch

Hatchlings survive the first few days by absorbing the yolk from their egg and will eat after the first shed. Give them extra small insects and they will grow very fast. As hatchlings are very small and delicate, they need extra care in handling – if possible, try to avoid it altogether.

Final Thoughts

Viper geckos are tiny wonders of nature.  Although they are small, this animal is exciting and fun to keep at home. This pet is also excellent especially for first-time keepers since the level of care is lower compared to other species.

To keep them healthy and happy, make sure that the enclosure is clean, at the appropriate temperature and they have enough hides to choose.

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