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Captive Care & Breeding of the Chinese Leopard Gecko(Goniurosaurus luii )

The geckos of the genus Goniurosaurus are relatively new in the world of herpetoculture, but are quickly becoming very popular for several reasons. One is their obvious beauty. The Chinese Leopard(Goniurosaurus luii ) is clad in hues of brown or purple broken by black spots and yellow or bright orange bands. The Chinese Tiger Gecko(Goniurosaurus araneus ) is clad in golden brown or yellow with black spotting and banding. These are the two most commonly available species, but all species of the Goniurosaurus complex are incredibly beautiful animals. Another reason for their increasing popularity is their relative ease of care. They require more specialized care than the Leopard Gecko(Eublepharis macularius ), but are not too difficult for those keepers who have experience with geckos. The species that I am going to focus on is the Chinese Leopard Gecko(Goniurosaurus luii ).

Description: This gecko can attain lengths of nearly 10 inches in total length, but most average somewhere between 7-9 inches in total length. They have striking orange eyes with vertical pupils. Background color can range from a light lavender or purple, to varying shades of brown. Black spotting is prevalent in adults, but juveniles are banded in black and white or orange. The spots come with age. They have banding that can be either yellow, peach, or bright orange in color. The tail is black and white at all ages.

They have an interesting defense display when bothered. They will raise up on all four legs and wave the tail in the air. This is sometimes accompanied by a hissing sound.

Selection: Although wild caught specimens of G. luii are commonly available, I highly recommend seeking captively bred animals instead. Wild caught specimens require somewhat more specialized care since they will probably be carrying a large parasite load, are usually very dehydrated, and can be suffering from various other ailments. I have also found it sometimes hard to get wild caught animals to start feeding for several weeks. These problems generally don't pop up with captive bred animals.

Housing: One of the most important factors when keeping these animals successfully is to keep temperatures relatively low. Daytime highs up to 80 degrees Farenheit are more than adequate. If it gets much above 80 for long periods, the animals tend to stress, stop eating, and lose weight in my experience.

They also prefer somewhat higher humidity levels than Leopard Geckos(E. macularius ). Mine stay between 60-80 percent at all times.

I keep all of my breeder G. luii separately in 12 qt. Rubbermaid shoe boxes. I only introduce them to each other for short breeding periods. They can be fairly intolerant of each other.

For substrate, I have found cypress mulch to be the best and easiest substrate. It maintains humidity and is easy for the geckos to burrow in. I also include a small pile of moss in one corner of the box sometimes on top of the hide box. It is also pretty easy to spot clean.

A hide box of some sort must be included in all cages. I have found broken clay potters to be wonderful, but anything that affords the animal(s ) cover from prying eyes is adequate.

Diet: I feed all of my G. luii adult crickets two or three times per week. I also offer mealworms or waxworms in a dish of calcium supplement once every two weeks. Be sure not to introduce too many food items into the cage at one time. If there are too many crickets roaming the cage, the geckos will stress out easily. They should be supplemented at each feeding with a good calcium supplement.

Breeding: Breeding these geckos is fairly easy if certain criteria are met. The most important is a winter cooling period. I cool mine starting in late October or late November. I first cut back feeding to once or twice per week and slowly lower temps into the low 70s or low 60s. This lasts roughly until March when the temperatures are slowly warmed back to the 80 degree range and feeding is increased. Then about a month later after all have bulked up, the male is introduced into each females' box for two to three weeks at a time with a two week break after being with all the females at least once. Within a couple weeks, you should begin to notice two small pinkish circles in the abdomen of the female. These are the beginning of the eggs. They will become whitish later on as the calcium layer is added. Within 4-6 weeks, I start to inspect cages for eggs. Up to six clutches can be laid by each female per season. I do not use any special lay box for these geckos since the cypress holds enough humidity most of the time for the eggs to survive about 24 hours after laying without drying up. The eggs are removed and placed into a container with moist vermiculite and set up in an incubator set for 78-80 degrees Farenheit. At these temperatures, incubation time for me has ranged from 55-80 days. The babies will shed within 24 hours of hatching. I set mine up like my adults, except that I use smaller shoeboxes. Babies are raised individually to avoid any stress from cage mates. The babies are fed inch crickets four times per week. Supplement as for adults.

I hope that you will give these geckos a try. Although Chinese Leopard Geckos may not be the easiest of geckos to work with, they have enough beauty and personality to be well worth the extra effort of keeping them.

Robert Hill

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