Creating A Bioactive Chahoua Gecko Habitat!
Crested geckos and leachianus geckos often steal the spotlight when the average person thinks of geckos from New Caledonia, but chahoua geckos have been increasing in popularity over the past couple of years! Chahoua geckos are an incredibly underrated New Caledonian gecko species; their moderate size, calm demeanor, ease of care, and beautiful patterns make them a phenomenal pet reptile to own!
Our animal care manager Kasey sets out to give our resident chahoua gecko, Ollie, an enclosure makeover! She wants to make his enclosure fully bioactive, with live plants and a cleanup crew.
Chahoua geckos require roughly 18 x 18 x 24 (30 gallons) of space, so the Zen Habitats 2 x 2 x 2 (24” x 24” x 24”) PVC enclosure is a great size to house one of these little lizards. She starts by adding a 2x2x2 BioBasin, which is an enclosure liner designed to hold substrate and eliminate the risk of water leaking from the enclosure. A generous layer of rinsed clay pebbles, also known as LECA or hydroballs, are added into the BioBasin. These will act as a drainage layer to hold any excess water and help the enclosure from potentially becoming a swamp. Kasey adds a substrate barrier over the clay pebbles to prevent substrate from going into the drainage layer. The substrate barrier will allow water to pass through, but ensure the bioactive soil is not able to fall into the drainage layer. Without the barrier, the substrate could fall into the drainage layer and render it useless. Josh’s Frogs Tropical Bioactive substrate mix is added on top of the window screen. This blend contains the necessary components to hold moisture, yet aid in water drainage for our live plants.
Kasey moistens the substrate before adding in our cleanup crew, consisting of tropical springtails and dwarf white isopods! A cleanup crew is a crucial component of a bioactive enclosure. They are responsible for cleaning up both animal and plant waste to keep the enclosure clean. There are many different types of isopods and springtails that you can use for a bioactive terrarium, but tropical white springtails and dwarf white isopods are by far the most popular choice as they are inexpensive and extremely prolific.
Several live plants are planted into the substrate. Kasey chooses a ZZ plant, arrowhead plant (syngonium spp.), dracena compacta, and a Chinese evergreen (aglaonema spp.). Live plants will not only offer Ollie a place to climb and explore, but they will also help filter the waste material produced by both him and the cleanup crew, and convert it into energy to grow. She then adds a layer of sheet moss over the entirety of the base of the enclosure to aid in moisture retention. After giving the plants and moss a quick drink of water, she begins to add the decor into the enclosure. A tiki statue and log hide are added to provide climbing and hiding places for Ollie. A seagrass hammock is hung towards the top of the habitat to give our gecko a place to lounge up high and bask closer to the lights if he prefers! Chahoua geckos are arboreal, so it is important to offer them plenty of vertical climbing and hiding spaces. A fake vine is twirled throughout the top of the enclosure to offer more climbing opportunities. A Zen Habitats bamboo planter with spider plants is hung to the mounting bars inside of the enclosure. His mushroom food ledge is attached to the side wall, and his UVB light is positioned, and the enclosure was ready for our inhabitant! Last, but certainly not least, Kasey places Ollie back into his enclosure, and the habitat is complete!
Check out our YouTube video covering this enclosure build here!
To learn even more about bioactive enclosures and all things reptile, head over to our Care Sheets and Articles section!