Chahoua Gecko General Reptile Care Guide
|(Mniarogekko chahoua) Difficulty: Easy
Chahoua geckos are a nocturnal, omnivorous, arboreal lizard native to the islands of Grande Terre and Isle of Pines in New Caledonia. Although they are arboreal, chahoua geckos tend to spend more time in the shaded understory of the forest rather than up in the canopy.
Chahoua geckos are among the larger New Caledonian geckos, reaching 10-12”/25-31cm long. They have a large triangular head, blunt snout, large lidless eyes, vertical pupils, velvety skin, sticky toe pads with claws, and a muscular prehensile tail. Coloring is generally mottled with various shades of green, brown, and pink, with some darker markings, giving the impression of moss or lichen.
Like other New Caledonian geckos, chahoua geckos are fairly easy to care for as far as reptiles go. When appropriate chahoua gecko care is provided, you may expect a lifespan of 15-20 years.
Chahoua Gecko Shopping List
- 2’x2’x2’ Meridian PVC Panel Reptile Enclosure or 2’x2’x4’ Meridian PVC Panel Reptile Enclosure
- 5.5” dome heat lamp
- 1x 40w incandescent heat bulb (white)
- plug-in lamp dimmer
- infrared thermometer
- digital thermometer/hygrometer with a probe
- 18” UVB bulb and fixture
- LED plant grow light(s)
- live or artificial plants
- climbing vines
- magnetic feeding ledge
- zip ties
- plug-in outlet timer
- pressure sprayer
- calcium supplement
- crested gecko diet
Chahoua geckos need an enclosure that is large enough to give them adequate opportunity to explore, hunt, and generally exercise natural behaviors. They are also arboreal, which means that they are a tree-dwelling species and need a terrarium that provides a generous amount of climbing space.
Can multiple chahoua geckos be housed in the same enclosure?
It’s best not to house multiple chahoua geckos together.
Lighting, Temperatures, and Humidity
Chahoua geckos are nocturnal, which means that they are primarily active at night. This means that they are likely to prefer cooler temperatures, are exposed to low levels of indirect UVB during the day and have exceptional night vision.
Chahoua geckos are capable of surviving without UVB lighting as long as they get a certain amount of dietary vitamin D3, but they can’t thrive unless it is provided. UVB lighting can be tricky, because in order to get the right strength of UVB (measured by UV Index, or UVI), distance must be considered.
Humans are warm-blooded, which means that our body temperature is automatically regulated. Chahoua geckos, however, are cold-blooded, and they need to move between areas of different temperatures in order to regulate their body temperature. In the wild, chahoua geckos warm up during the day by sleeping in a warm patch of sunlight. In captivity, sunlight can be replicated with a white incandescent heat lamp..
- Basking area temperature (top of enclosure): 82-85°F (28-29°C)
- Cool area temperature (bottom of enclosure): 72-75°F (22-24°C)
- Nighttime temperature: 65-72°F (18-22°C)
Generally speaking, it doesn’t take much to achieve such a low basking temperature. A cluster of two 40w white incandescent bulbs should be plenty, but results will vary based on your room temperature. If you notice that the basking area is too warm, dial down the heat down with a lamp dimmer or switch to a lower wattage bulb. If your basking area is too cool, you will need a higher wattage bulb.
The basking area should be a vine or branch directly under the heat lamp. Because your chahoua gecko is arboreal and will be living in a tall enclosure, the warmest temperatures will be at the top (near the heat lamp), and the coolest temperatures will be toward the bottom. You will need vines, branches, and foliage at all levels to allow for proper thermoregulation.
To track basking temperature, use a digital probe thermometer, with the probe zip-tied to the basking surface under the heat source. Most reptile-brand digital probe thermometers function well.
Chahoua geckos do best in a high-humidity environment, with an average humidity of 60-80% as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe placed in the middle of the enclosure. Humidity levels that are consistently too high or low can cause health problems for your gecko. However, it is natural for humidity to be lower in the warm area and higher in the cool area. It is also normal and healthy for humidity levels to rise at night and fall during the day.
To raise the humidity in your gecko’s enclosure (and provide an extra source of drinking water), use a pump-style pressure sprayer to wet down the enclosure every evening, and again in the morning if needed.
Because chahoua geckos are arboreal (tree-dwelling), they don’t spend much time on the ground. Although it’s not necessary to use bedding for them, it’s very useful for helping to stabilize humidity. It also acts as a cushion if they fall from their perch, which does happen occasionally.
It’s best to use a moisture-retentive substrate that is similar to the soil in a chahoua gecko’s natural habitat.
Decorating the Terrarium
Decorations play a vital role in your gecko’s enclosure as environmental enrichment. Enrichment items encourage exercise, stimulate your pet’s natural instincts, and help promote overall wellbeing. And, of course, they make the enclosure look nicer! Without décor, your terrarium is just a glass box with dirt and a feeding ledge. Just because chahoua geckos can climb up glass doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have other climbing materials available. They also need places to hide that are not on the ground.
Branches, vines, magnetic ledges, cork hollows, and live or artificial foliage work well as décor in a chahoua gecko terrarium. Arrange these items in a way that encourages your gecko to climb and explore and provides a variety of options for places to sleep during the day.
Feeding Your Chahoua Gecko
Chahoua geckos are omnivores, which means that they need a balanced diet of both plant- and animal-based foods to get the nutrition that they need. In the wild, they eat mostly fruit and insects. As pets, this diet can be re-created with a balance of 50% meal replacement powder and 50% live insects.
Crested gecko diet (CGD) must be offered via a wall-mounted feeding ledge, not placed on the ground.
The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for your pet is VARIETY. Provide as varied of a diet as you possibly can, and you will be rewarded with a healthier pet that always looks forward to mealtime. I prefer to use a rotation of at least 3 different kinds/flavors of CGD.
Best feeder insects for chahoua geckos include:
- Dubia roaches
- Discoid roaches
- Red head roaches
- Grasshoppers / Locusts
How often chahoua geckos need to eat depends on age:
- Juveniles (0-12 months old) — Crested gecko diet daily, insects every other day
- Adults — Crested gecko diet every every other day, insects every other day
Once you’ve brought your gecko home, it’s tempting to start playing with them right away. But wait 2 weeks after buying before beginning handling — your gecko needs time to settle into their new home, and handling on top of that can cause additional stress. If your gecko hasn’t eaten by the time the 2 weeks are over, do not handle and make an appointment with an experienced reptile vet.
After the 2 week waiting period is over, introduce yourself to your gecko by putting your hand in its enclosure every night for a few minutes so it can get used to your scent and presence. They should already be relatively familiar with you, since you’ve been in their space replacing water, offering food, cleaning up, etc. Let it come to you! (Food bribes with a pair of soft-tipped feeding tongs can be helpful here.)
When you begin handling, start with 5 minute sessions every other day, gradually increasing the length of the sessions and escalating to daily. Support the feet, body, and tail and keep your movements slow. If the gecko is acting flighty or spastic, “treadmill” it from one hand to the other to wear it out a bit. Never grab the tail, as it is detachable! Consistency is key to successful taming.
Stay close to the ground or a soft surface (ex: bed, couch) in case the gecko jumps. You want handling to be a positive experience, and injury is not a positive experience. It’s best to handle your gecko in the evening rather than during the day so you don’t disturb its rest.
Care information courtesy of ReptiFiles.
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