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 Clark the golden gecko


Recently, I got a golden gecko from a friend of mine who had him since January. His name is Clark. He’s been fed primarily on crickets and has never shown any interest in freeze-dried (no surprise there), gecko bites, or baby food. While in her care, he lost his tail, but it has since grown back and there are no open wounds. She was feeding him about 2-3 crickets per night. She had issues keeping the heat up high enough in his tank to create 80% humidity, so she put a heat rock in with him. Her substrate was coco fiber and she has a temperature gauge and a hygrometer suctioned onto the tank walls. His home looks to be about the second-smallest (maybe around 10-gallon) vertical Exo-Terra glass enclosure with the removable top screens and the frontal doors. He has a styrofoam cliff wall that he seems to love climbing on, a fake fern on the ground that he enjoyed hiding under, and some plastic vines hanging over the wall that he can hide behind while climbing around.

Since I’ve taken Clark in, the heat rock was removed stat and his tank was cleaned from top to bottom due to the presence of mold behind the styrofoam wall, some dead crickets buried in the substrate, and a lot of poop. Since I couldn’t find coco fiber at the local pet store, I’ve instead replaced his substrate with forest moss. Clark doesn’t seem to like it. He hasn’t set foot on it since, and it’s been about a week now. He spends all his time climbing the walls, hanging from the roof, and generally being arboreal. This is a problem, because his dish of worms is on the ground, right by his water dish and baby food dish. When he was with my friend, he apparently spent a lot of time on the ground, mostly hiding under his fern there. Now, he spends no time down there, and as a result, I don’t know if he’s eaten or not... when I didn’t have a proper worm dish in his enclosure, there was a mealworm jailbreak, where his butterworm also went missing. The mealworms were all located when I dug through the substrate, but the butterworm was never found, so maybe he ate it.

Other than this, he has not eaten that I can tell. There are little ’holes’ in the baby food every night when I change his water/baby food, but I don’t know if that’s him eating during the day (unlikely) or it just drying out in that pattern. I’m having issues keeping the heat up high enough, but the humidity is always around 75-85%. I have a heat bulb on during the day that brings us up to about 80F at the highest, and it dips down to about 70F at night. I want this warmer, obviously, but when I tried putting on a red heat bulb at night, I find Clark hasn’t moved at all when I check back in on him in the morning, so I’ve taken to leaving him with a very dull night-time reptile bulb that doesn’t give off much light or heat at all. He doesn’t seem to mind this one, but really prefers when it’s completely dark, as that’s when he moves around most often.

So I suppose I have the following few questions... how can I get things warmer in there? What’s a good temperature to aim for at day and at night? Is he not eating his meal/butterworms because they’re on the ground, or because he’s just been used to eating crickets instead? If I get him crickets, what’s the best way to keep them from escaping when I open his tank’s front doors to clean the water/baby food at night? And should I just leave the crickets in there with him all day and night, or if not, how can I possibly recollect them if he doesn’t eat them in a certain period of time? They’re not exactly easy to grab, especially with a skittish golden gecko in the vicinity...

06/24/11  08:45am


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  Message To: Bowsertime   In reference to Message Id: 2226422

 Clark the golden gecko

K, few questions, things to alter, and positive comments I’ll give you after that brilliant post of yours.

First off, did you upgrade his tank? Golden geckos have to be in a tank that’s 20 gallons or more. Otherwise they’ll get skittish, stress out, and - like with what happened to his previous owner - hide towards the bottom of the tank. It’s also very hard to get a consistent temperature in a 10 gallon, which may be contributing to your problems. You can get a 20 or 30 high fish tank for much cheaper than an exoterra, and there are screen/mesh lids in the reptile department of the pet store that will fit the fish tanks perfectly. With this type of tank set up, you’ll have an easier time preventing cricket escapes.

Second, what type of thermometer are you using to measure the temps? The ’dial’ or ’fish tank sticker’ thermometers can be terribly inconsistent and up to 20 F off what it actually is. If you’re using one of these, I suggest putting in the 10 dollars to get a small cheap digital thermometer.

It’s good you got rid of the heat rock.

It’s also good that he’s up moving around the tank instead of always hiding under the fern. Goldies are arboreal. If they’re on the ground all the time they’re stressed out or unhappy. The more items you put up high in the tank, like sticks or hammocks, the happier he’ll be.

The temps should be between 86 and 89 degrees on the hot side during the day. I can accomplish this with a 60 to 75 watt bulb. (Wattage of bulb depends on time of year and over all temp of the house). Once again, the hard time you’re having with temps may easily be fixed by upgrading the tank size or getting the better thermometer.

Some geckos just like crickets more than mealworms. They like the movement, really. It’s okay if you switch back over to crix if the goldie doesn’t like the mealworms. You can also try out superworms, which are bigger than mealies and move more. That and you only have to give one or two supers every other day. Instead of just any old cup, you can use a see-through plastic party cup with slick sides. The mealies/butters/supers will not escape. Put the cup in the area of the tank that’s hidden by plantlife or put in the furthest back corner of the tank. That way Clark will feel no threat by coming out and eating them.

You can additionally promote seclusion by taping a cut up grocery bag or cardboard on three outside walls of the tank.

Outside of all that, what type of calcium/vitamin supplements are you dusting on the bugs?

... And sorry about the wait. I was off on vacation when you made the thread.

06/27/11  11:00am


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  Message To: KrazyKelli   In reference to Message Id: 2226800

 Clark the golden gecko

Hi Kelli, thanks for the informative reply.

I’m definitely getting a larger tank for Clark. I understand tall tanks are best for goldies, but would a horizontal be fine if I just put a lot of foliage up high for him to hang around in? He’s been hanging around the top of the tank constantly lately, so I guess that’s a good thing. I changed his forest moss to plantation soil (the Exo-Terra brand, without any additives or anything in it) and he seems to be a lot happier coming down onto the ground to play in his bath and baby food. He kept knocking his worm dish over, so I found a metal cup with slick sides that they can’t get out of either and he’s never knocked that one over yet.

I’ve been raising some crickets for the past few days to give Clark, because I guess that’s just what he’s used to. I’ll hide his worm dish in a more secluded part of his tank when I change him over, so he can decide if he’d like worms instead some nights. Because he won’t get away from the top of the tank, I haven’t been able to drop his crix in when I’d like to for fear of spooking him and having him escape, so that’s another thing I’ll have to get going once he goes into his 20g.

Again, thanks for the reply... seems like it’s pretty hard to get any advice on goldies on the net. I had a much easier time getting help with my leo when I had her, so it’s nice to see someone’s looking out for the goldens too. :)

06/30/11  10:57am


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  Message To: Bowsertime   In reference to Message Id: 2227151

 Clark the golden gecko

Oh, and I forgot to answer - I have calcium w/ D3 to dust the insects with, but I haven’t been lately because he just hasn’t been eating them. I get the feeling offering him baby food every night is too much and I’m going to be taking it out tonight, but I hope he doesn’t just decide to starve himself because of it. He’s quite fat, so I’m not too worried and I hope he reacts better in a larger tank.

06/30/11  11:14am


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  Message To: Bowsertime   In reference to Message Id: 2227152

 Clark the golden gecko

There are 20 H’s and 20 L’s. I normally get the longs for the leos and the highs for the arboreals. You can also put in more cash and get a 30, which has much better space over all and isn’t that much more expensive. Will look something like this (’cept without the fish and water.. and fish tank top): Link

I ended up buying two 10 gallons, popping out the bottom of one (messy business) and screwing them together. Seen here:

He gets around okay, but I always get this inkling feeling that I should just upgrade to a bigger tank size when I compile the funds.

The calcium is okay. Just try to dust it on 3 or so large crickets once a week and, provided he eats them, he’ll be fine. You could put it on the babyfood as well. Outside of that, just feed him daily or every other day until he gets over himself and starts eating again.

Golden geckos are absolutely renown for being stubborn and going on food strikes because they’re stressed out over something. The entire move may have upset him. When you get him the larger tank, try to put it in as secluded a place as you can find, and tape a cover over the three outer tank sides. When I first got Sade, he wouldn’t eat for the first two to three months. I had to force-feed him at a point, but I don’t think it’s that bad with Clark. I mean, Sade was swarming with parasites at the time. So long as Clark is fat, he could go quite a while without food until he’s okay with his living situation.

06/30/11  01:40pm


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  Message To: KrazyKelli   In reference to Message Id: 2227173

 Clark the golden gecko

Hi again. Thanks for the reply.

I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a 20H at the pet store on Saturday (tomorrow being a holiday, they’re closed unfortunately). If I can’t find one, I guess a 20L will have to do - I’ll just compensate by giving him plenty of climbing places, plants, and shelter. He has a large styrofoam wall that covers the entire back of his 10H tank and he spends the majority of his time on it, hidden behind the plants that hang down in front. He’s still quite fat, but I haven’t seen much poop lately.

His tank is just so small that it’s awkward to get crix in without having to worry they might escape... I’m definitely looking forward to upgrading Clark’s housing conditions so we can get his show on the road. If I drop about 2-3 crix in there when the lights go out, how long should I wait until removing them again? Should I just leave them in until he eats them? I’ll be leaving a potato slice or two chilling inside the tank so they don’t nibble the lizard. Any tips for retrieving wayward crix from the tank if necessary? They’re not exactly as easy as mealies to catch... :(

His tank is in the quietest room in the house. I’ve now covered his tank’s two side walls with black garbage bag pieces (the third wall, at the back, being covered by the styrofoam in his tank) so he can feel more comfortable. I think he’s parasite-free, but I’d like to take in a nice poo to the vet once he starts eating again to be sure. My friend had said she’s had him since January and, other than the tail drop, he’s been a picture of health. Very active (if fairly skittish counts as active), very plump, and eating/pooping like a champ. I hope his discontent is just due to moving stress.

I’ve since removed his baby food, figuring it’s probably not a good idea to offer it to him nightly even if he’s not eating insects.

I think the goldie stubbornness and ’look don’t touch’ reputation is part of why my friend didn’t really want poor Clark anymore. He’s not a very ’fun’ gecko, but I’ve kept a lot of ’look don’t touch’ pets - newts for over a decade now, to name one - and I find them just as rewarding, so I hope Clark warms up to his new situation soon so I’ll be able to enjoy him the way he should be.

06/30/11  11:49pm


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  Message To: Bowsertime   In reference to Message Id: 2227248

 Clark the golden gecko

Couldn’t find a 20 high at any pet store around me... the biggest chain store had 20 longs, but only those designer reptile types which are upwards of $80, so I took a trip to a smaller store to get a 20 extra long, thinking I’d put it vertically for him. Didn’t work out so well... so I took my leo girl, Stella’s, 20G long and decked it out in more climbing walls and foliage than it’s ever seen in its entire career. The hard part... was getting Clark out of his old tank. He was the most stubborn I’ve ever seen him. Usually, you can catch him on the wall, close your hand around him, and he’s yours. This time? No dice. He sticks himself to the top corner, where if I open the lid, he’s gone, and if I open the front doors, he’s outta’ there. After about two hours of this epic conflict (much to my leo’s annoyance; she kept coming out of her hide like ’can I come out now? Is it dark yet? No? Meh...’), I finally had enough, grabbed Clark, and got my just rewards for it:

But in the end, Clark is in his new enclosure and that’s that. Pics up tomorrow.

07/02/11  09:38pm

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