Carrot-Tailed Viper Gecko

(Teratolepis fasciata)

Native Range:

The Carrot-Tailed Viper Geckos (Teratolepis fasciata) inhabits arid rocky regions of a small area in southeastern Pakistan. There they can be found taking refuge under rocks under rocks during the day. Their distinctive pattern, consisting of dark stripes on a light gray-brown background overlaid with thin white crossbars, provides excellent camouflage amongst stony pebbles.

Size:

Only about an inch in length at hatching, adult reach a total length of about three and one-half inches. Don't let that small size fool you, these little geckos are strong survivors and very easy to keep.

Handling:

These lizards almost never attempt to bite. Handle gently, without pinching or squeezing, allowing for the small size and delicacy of the lizards limbs.

Caging:

Almost anything can be used, with a standard plastic shoebox being large enough to maintain an adult pair. Due their secretive nature, be sure to provide adequate hiding areas. Rock cracks and crevices are preferred over larger, more spacious hide houses. Many keepers use small shallow pottery (plant pot drainage saucers) successfully.

Substrate:

A variety of substrates can be used. We maintain our specimens on paper toweling or newspaper, although other keepers have reported using fine sand or calcium carbonate sand successfully. Keep the substrate clean and dry at all times.

Food:

Hatchlings feed readily upon wingless fruit-flies or 'pin-head' crickets. They grow quickly, adding larger and larger prey items to their menu. In spite of their small size, they can handle relatively large prey items with ease, and I recently watched an adult consume a nearly full-grown cricket without pause!

Humidity & Water:

Provide clean water in a small dish. Humidity should be kept low, although most keepers provide a higher humidity hiding spot. We recommend providing a small plastic container with lid (cut an access hole in the side) filled with damp sphagnum moss. Place the cup in a suitable location in the cage to provide a secure retreat similar to the damp soil these geckos would find under rocks in their native habitat.

Heating & Lighting:

Provide a thermal gradient by placing a heat pad under one end of the cage. This should allow the geckos to choose from higher temperatures (about 85-90F) at the warm end, and cooler temperatures (about 75-80F) at the cooler end. Provide suitable hiding areas at both warm and cool areas, so the geckos can feel secure at any temperature. Temperatures at night can be allowed to drop several degrees without concern. Some keepers provide a cooler winter rest period to initiate breeding - although this is by no means required as this species is extremely prolific and will reproduce readily under the worst conditions. No special lighting is required for these nocturnal animals.

Reproduction:

Examining the shape of the tail base can usually determine sex, as most adult males have very prominent hemipenile bulges. Adults have a tendency to become obese in captivity, and overweight females can often give the appearance of being male. This is caused by fat deposits located in the cloacal region. However, once a sexual pair is in hand, there will be no doubt. Typical clutches consist of one or two eggs and are produced every two to three weeks for as many as twelve clutches per year. Incubation takes from 50 to 60 days, at temperatures of 81 to 86F.

Color and Pattern Phases:

Thus far, hypomelanism is the only mutation of this specie reported. With their hardy and prolific nature, this is almost sure to change soon. Perhaps you could be the first to hatch an amelanistic example of this fascinating little gecko!

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