Chinese Leopard and Tiger Gecko

(Goniurosaurus luii & Goniurosaurus araneus)

Native Range:

Unknown in captive collections until 1996 when specimens of G. luii were imported from Hainan Island China and G. araneus was found in adjacent mainland China. Little information is available on their natural habitat, although it is suspected to be rocky forested and scrubland areas. These geckos are welcomed by the pet trade as a fantastic new addition to the eublepharid gecko family, which contains such popular species as the Pakistan Leopard Gecko (Eublepharis macularius) and the African Fat-Tailed Gecko (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus).

Size:

Approximately four inches long at birth, they average about eight to nine inches in length as adults. Juveniles of both subspecies are dark purplish black with thin white to pale orange bands. Chinese Tiger Geckos are attractively banded in browns and golden tans, while Chinese Leopards are clad in purplish gray with numerous tiny dark spots and bands of yellow or orange. Both are built similar to Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius), although slimmer and more ‘spidery’ in appearance. Both have startling reddish-brown eyes.

Handling:

These geckos rarely attempt to bite, although they may do so if restrained. Handle gently, without pinching or squeezing. Remember that the tail may break off if handled roughly, and although it will regenerate, it will not appear original. Until accustomed to handling; the gecko should be handled inside the cage or while sitting on the floor. A frightened gecko may leap out of the keepers’ hand and take a fatal fall if held while standing.

Caging:

Just about anything can be used, with a ten gallon aquarium being adequate for a pair. When selecting a cage, pay special attention to the humidity needs of these lizards. Screen covers provide too much air flow and should be avoided. While they cannot climb smooth surfaces, these geckos have sharp little claws and can climb branches with ease. They are also strong jumpers, and cages should be equipped with a secure cover.

Substrate:

These geckos will ingest particles of substrate to use as grit, similar to birds. Therefore, use caution in choosing a substrate or impaction may result. Some breeders prefer to maintain their specimens on plain paper flooring, while others suggest use of cypress mulch to aid in increasing humidity.

Food:

A variety of small insects and arthropods are eagerly accepted by these geckos. Hatchlings will feed on two to three week crickets and wax-worms. As they grow, provide larger crickets, wax-worms, and mealworms. Adult specimens will take an occasional pinkie mouse. Dust food with a calcium powder about twice a week to provide additional calcium for growing bones. Adults may be supplemented once weekly, unless females are producing eggs. This uses huge amounts of calcium, and supplements should be made daily.

Humidity & Water:

Provide clean water in a shallow dish. Humidity should be moderate, and these geckos seem to enjoy occasional misting. If kept too dry, these geckos often experience shedding problems, particularly the toes. Providing a small plastic container with lid (cut an access hole in the side) filled with damp sphagnum moss will allow the animal to shed properly. Stuck sheds on toes may harden and constrict the blood flow to the toes, causing loss of the toes. It may be necessary to reduce ventilation of the cage to increase humidity within.

Heating & Lighting:

Provide a thermal gradient by placing a heat pad under one end of the cage. This should allow the gecko to choose from higher temperatures (about 82F) at the warm end, and cooler temperatures (about 72F) at the cooler end. Provide suitable hiding areas at both warm and cool areas, so the lizards can feel secure at any temperature. Prolonged temperatures below 75F should be avoided. No special lighting is required for these nocturnal animals.

Reproduction:

Males are slightly larger than females, and can be distinguished by the presence a V-shaped row of pre-anal pores and a pair of prominent hemipene bulges. Do not keep more than one male per cage as they will fight. Eggs are laid in pairs, usually every three to four weeks. This will continue until the females’ fat and calcium reserves are depleted. Incubation can take from 45 to 65 days, depending on temperature. It is suspected that sex of the hatchlings is temperature dependent, although more data is needed in this area.

© 2000 VMS Professional Herpetoculture (http://www.vmsherp.com)