Panther Gecko Care Sheet

Introduction

The panther gecko is one of the most interesting species out there known to many for its many characteristics and distinct unique features that set them apart from other geckos. The panther gecko also has alternate names and is known by many different things. Some people might refer to this species of gecko as the Madagascar Ground Gecko, some people might know it better by the term Ocelot Gecko and some people might even know it better as the Big Head Gecko. There are a lot of different names and some of them are far less common than others but they share a lot of common appearance knacks with their nicknames.

 

The first thing you’ll notice about the panther gecko is that it has a very cat like appearance in the eyes region and doesn’t have eyes like some other species of gecko. Another common feature of the panther gecko is the size of their head because some people have often referred to them as the bobble head species of the gecko or animal kingdom. Their head does seem to be relatively large for the frame they’re working with, which is where they more than likely got that name from.

 

However, despite the large head, the body doesn’t exactly make up for the size because the body of a panther gecko is rather slim and slender. You’ll then more than likely notice that the tail attached to this species is very thick and unique as well. When you take observations from their body, you’re going to notice a mixture of different colors and these can come in a variety of different mixtures. You’ll notice that the majority of them are a very distinct color of brown with some gold on them. The gold part will usually be around their head and it wouldn’t be too surprising to find some white around their head as well.

 

Check the back as well because some of that color may extend down from the head (the starting point) and run down the back but it doesn’t do this on all of them. On some of them, their little stripe or color mixture might actually extend all the way down to their tail which is very thick in nature. However, while the name panther suggest that it’s a black animal due to panthers being black in nature, the panther gecko can come in a variety of different colors which may include seeing them in red, in yellow or even in purple. An adult can grow relatively reasonably sized for a gecko and this may be up to 15cm long, but make sure you’re including the tail in your measurements.

 

Some people have reported that they’ve known panther gecko to live for up to 10 years but you have to understand, this is only under the ideal conditions and there’s no guarantee that a panther gecko will live this long, because most species of gecko only live for half this long and that’s under the right conditions. If you notice that your gecko has outgrown the maximum average length of 15cm, don’t panic because some gecko have been reported to grow up to outwards of over 20cm on rare occasions.

 

Housing

When you’re looking for some enclosure, you want to make sure that you’re following some basic rules for housing panther gecko together and that you’ve appropriately prepared your living situation. First, map out just how many geckos you have and how many you plan on storing in one area. If you’re a new pet owner, then you more than likely will only have one or should at least only start with one until you get the general idea of what you’re doing and how to properly maintain one. One of the very first things that you’re going to want to start out with is an aquarium tank or cage.

 

A lot of people prefer to keep their geckos in general in aquariums because there are quite a different species out there that like to climb on the walls or climb on the doodads that you keep in the enclosure for them. This doesn’t apply to all species but quite a few of them do so this boils down to a personal preference thing and which one you prefer to keep them in. The general size of a healthy enclosure should be a 10 gallon tank at the bare minimum.

 

Be warned: that if you start out with a 10 gallon tank, you’re going to have to upgrade it at some point and you’re to end up spending more money in the long run than you necessarily want to if you have to continuously keep upgrading your aquarium because of a growing gecko. Your gecko is going to grow as long as you continue to feed it and there’s nothing you can really do about it so for this reason and this reason alone, it’s highly recommended that you start out with an enclosure that can hold the adult version of your pet. Panther geckos grow up relatively quick and you want them to be used to that large tank before they grow up.

 

However, some people like to house 3 panther gecko in the same house and have done so with some decent results as well. You shouldn’t expect it to go well if you put males in the same housing unit together but if you plan on housing a male and two females together then there shouldn’t be any issues. Like just about every other type of reptile out there, you’re panther gecko is going to want to hide throughout certain times and you should know that most reptiles only come out at night due to being nocturnal. So that’s why it’s important to have something known as a shelter. During the construction of this shelter, you want to make sure that the gecko can fit and that they’ll be under the shade.

 

That’s really only the main two things you have to look for and any pet store that sells pet reptiles will more than likely have some cheap shelters that you can purchase. So what can you do if you’re on a shoe string budget and don’t want to a buy a shelter? You can easily make one by cutting open a cereal box or butter tub and laying it down inside the aquarium. Make sure there’s a hole to get in and out that’s at least bigger than the animal’s head and you should be alright. Now, the next thing you’re going to want to worry about is something called substrate and you have quite a few different options here.

 

The first rule of thumb when using any kind of substrate is never to use any kind of fine grain sand because this may have lethal consequences on any kind of gecko you house in an aquarium with the substance. They’ve been known to choke on the sand or get the sand stuck in their throats from time to time, so it’s best to avoid this altogether. So what you’re ideally going to want to use for substrate is something known as moist moss or dirt. Dirt ideally may not be the easiest thing to see in the world when there’s fecal matter or there’s something that needs cleaned up but this is highly efficient.

 

Not only is there no risk of your panther gecko eating the substrate, but however, this is what kind of substrate they’re used to walking on in their natural habitat. So, moist moss will be your first and number one go to substrate while you have something known as light vermiculite to be your second. It’s not as cost effective as moss but it gets the job done and it’s great to look at as well. Substrate is also going to aid a great deal when it comes to start the shedding process which is also something that every reptile does. You’ll know when this process starts and it’s important that your housing unit helps assist the gecko in this process.

 

Some people have even gone as far to put a kind of Astroturf down in their enclosure to give it a better look but this really isn’t necessary and is completely up to you if this is something you want to do. However, you want to make sure your substrate can support items like rocks, some trees, shrubbery or any other items that you may be placing in the enclosure and that they naturally fit in with the ground as well, because you don’t want it to look out of place. Another problem with some of the dusty type substrates is that it may create breathing problems for yourself or your pet.

 

Now, when your pet is a baby, you’re only going to be using one specific and particular type of substrate, and that is newspaper. Until your pet is at least six months of age, you’re going to want to use newspaper and break it into the new environment. Babies are too small to navigate regular terrain and to tell the difference between food and innocent looking sand like substance on the ground which is why it’s recommended that you use newspaper at first.

 

Temperature

A common overlooked items for brand new pet owners is that they need to keep a very strict and close eye on the temperature of the enclosure. How do you do this and what are the tools required? First, you’re going to want to take measurements of your enclosure and set the entire landscape up. It’s highly important that you know where you want the cool spot of your aquarium to be and where you want the warm spot to be first before you go out and buy random items to help regulate the temperature of your enclosure.

 

The panther gecko will rely a lot on its owner to help regulate and digest food properly and making sure the enclosure is the proper temperature is the one of the best ways to do this. First, you’ll want to make sure that you have a digital thermometer and not one of those cheap one that you can pick up for a mere dollar, make sure you get one that is dead accurate and has a digital display. These are far better and will give you a better reading the temperature to help determine that the cold side is working as intended and that the heat side is at the best basking temperature possible.

 

Now, the temperatures at night shouldn’t cause too much alarm if they tend to drop down into some low digits because it’s not uncommon for temperatures to dip down to 70 degrees or a little lower depending on the season that it is and where the geckos are in the enclosure. Especially at night if they’re hiding under their shelter, they aren’t going to want to be under a basking light and won’t mind the 70 degree weather. However, once the temperature starts to drop below dangerous levels such as 60 degrees, then it’s time to re-examine your heating setup or test it out with a different thermometer just to be safe.

 

Now, it’s going to be essential to keep a fair amount of humidity in the tank as well and while many other owners don’t own a tool for this purpose, it’s recommended that you get one if you want to make sure that your pet is living in the most ideal conditions and temperatures. If you do have a decide to help you measure and monitor the humidity in the cage or enclosure, then you should be shooting for a solid 70% and if you need help with raising the humidity, then do a little misting at least once a day to assist in the process. Misting is simply the process of filling up a clean water bottle with a spray nozzle and spraying around the enclosure and your gecko.

 

One of the great things about this particular gecko is that they’re not going to require any kind of UVB light since they’re nocturnal. Most people prefer the red bulb lights but you can ideally use red or blue (it all comes down to a color preference at that point and whatever you want to use). You have to think back, because panther geckos are native to the land of Madagascar and they only come out at night, so that kind of lighting really isn’t necessary. Unlike some other species of geckos, they’re not very good at climbing so they’re spending a lot of their time in the sunlight and under leaves hiding from the sunlight. They try to use natural resources or nature to hide themselves from the glaring heat sometimes when it becomes too much.

 

Food

Much like just about every other reptile on the planet, they’re mostly meat eaters and will eat just about anything that they see as edible food. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just feed them anything and everything because different owners have proven different success with certain kinds of food. The first and foremost effective food is easily the crickets. Not only are crickets extremely easy to find at pet shops, they’re relatively easy to buy in bulk as well and cost effective.

 

Some people have reported that they’ve fed their geckos locusts but this isn’t really a common thing and it’s not something I can personally recommend you do because I’m not sure if a gecko will really even eat a locust or what kind of nutritional value that It provides for the gecko. Panther gecko like all the other geckos are going to require some vitamins from their meals so that’s why crickets tend to be the number one go to source.

 

However, if you’re looking to try something different, you may even want to try out waxworms. Some people have said that they may be delicious as a snack to gecko but they’re extremely high in fat so they should be used sparingly. Now, some people believe in and live by dusting or what’s known as gut loading but it’s really not necessary and it’s not something that you absolutely have to do. If you want to do this, then more power to you and that’s completely up to you, but no one’s going to force you or tell you that you HAVE to in order to have a healthy pet.

 

If you suspect your pet isn’t easting as much due to a vitamin deficiency, then it might be time to help assist your pet in the digestion of these vitamins to see if it’ll retain normal eating habits again. Sometimes you’ll get stuck with hard feeders that refuse to eat and the majority of the time this is usually caused by horrible environment conditions. Then you want to make sure that you ALWAYS have a fresh water bowl in the enclosure that’s constantly filled with water.

 

Some species of gecko won’t even use the bowl but they’ll rather just lick the droplets and while that may be enough for some species, it’s not for the panther gecko. Just make sure that you’re giving it a bowl of fresh water that’s clean and looks like something you wouldn’t mind drinking out of yourself. If you happen to notice any fecal matter or dead meals floating around in the bowl, then simply dump it out, clean it, wash it, fill it and place it back in the enclosure. That’s really all there is to taking care of a panther gecko.

 

Handling

Now, we know how anxious you might be to hold and to play with a panther gecko, but these geckos really aren’t particularly for holding. The reasoning behind this is because they have extremely small bodies and they’re very fragile. We’re not saying that you’re going to kill your pet if you try to pick it up but if for whatever reason you absolutely just can’t resist the urge of not handling them, you’re going to have to be extremely careful.

 

Not only are their bodies very gentle, but you also have to be careful and firm so that they don’t escape out of your grasp. What can happen is, while they’re squirming or trying to escape, you might panic and let go and letting them go in the process. Panther gecko at first will be very skittish and aren’t exactly going to be friendly towards the idea of being picked up by a stranger that they’ve never seen before. However, if you start with them while they’re young then you might be alright as they might get used to you with time. They tend to be very jumpy as babies and juveniles.

 

If you really want to get your panther gecko used to your touch and used to you, then what you’re going to want to do is regularly handle it but make sure to follow some ground rules. First, always handle it from the ground and don’t do it over a high surface or up on a bunk bed or something like that. Also, don’t handle it too much or you might stress it out (at least at first), it’s going to need time to adapt and to get used to you. They can be very tame and calm creatures once they’ve gotten used to you but it’s just something you have to work on.

 

Also when you’re handling your gecko or attempting to grab it, a common mistake that some people make is that they like to go under the gecko or try to grab the underbelly and this can commonly end up being a pretty big mistake if you’re not careful. Sometimes, (while this happens rarely), what happens is, the gecko is going to confuse you with a predator and attack you. The last and final thing you need to remember about handling a gecko is that you never ever want to pick up a gecko or at least a panther gecko by the tail because they easily come off and we can only imagine that it causes excruciating pain for the gecko.