21 Things to Know Before Getting the Giant Day Gecko
By Sviat Oleksiv | Updated on July 24, 2021
Giant day geckos sound like a lot of work but they are actually one of the most popular and rookie-friendly geckos out there. Yes, they are big which can be both intimidating and resource-consuming. But, if you can afford them you’ll very likely fall in love with them very quickly.
So, let’s start with a bit of research – here are the 21 most important things to know about the giant day gecko.
13 main things to know before getting a Giant Day Gecko pet
Giant day geckos come from the tropical forests of Madagascar. This is key to note as means that they require a hot and humid climate to thrive. We’ll touch more on how you should prepare your gecko’s terrarium below. Also, note that most giant day geckos today are captive-bred. And that’s great as they are even healthier and more social than wild-caught ones.
These big beauties come in a lot of color patterns and variations. This is great as it means you can always find one that fits your preferences. Crimson and blue blood day geckos are widely regarded as the most gorgeous variant – here’s a video of a young crimson blue blood that’s still developing its beautiful colors.
Giant day geckos do live up to their size! Male adults reach up to a foot long (30 cm) and females are just an inch or two shorter (25-27 cm). Both are also pretty muscly and thick.
The life expectancy of these lizards is unfortunately somewhat average – about 6-8 years. There are multiple confirmed records of 20-year-old giant day geckos but that requires excellent care and quite a bit of luck.
The handleability of these reptiles is moderate – they can be handled when they grow to trust their owners but even then they prefer to not be touched too much. They are not aggressive which is awesome but they’ll shy away from contact. When you do want/need to handle your gecko just remember not to pick it up – let it crawl onto you. That’s done because their skin can slough easily. Here’s a good video on handling giant day geckos.
Despite their medium lifespan, giant day geckos are actually very healthy. That’s largely due to their innate resistance to diseases and very strong immune system. Finding a vet in your area who specializes in exotic pets is still important just to be safe, of course. But, if you take good care of your gecko, you shouldn’t need the vet’s services.
Giant day geckos will shed every other month when they are older and more often when they are younger. Shedding geckos won’t need your help most of the time and you should never try to assist them manually as you can harm their skin. However, problems can arise if the humidity in the terrarium isn’t high enough – we’ll touch more on that below. Here’s an awesome video of a day gecko shedding.
The prices of these geckos depend a lot on their size and color variation. The most expensive ones are usually up to $250 but you can find a lot of affordable and beautiful giant day geckos for as little as $40-45.
Despite their large size, giant day geckos are actually arboreal. This means that they are excellent climbers and love to spend most of their time on tree branches above ground.
As their name implies, these geckos are not nocturnal and are active during the day instead. This is great as it means that they won’t keep you up at night.
Like most other geckos, these daytime giants can detach their tails when in danger. They can regrow their tails too although such situations shouldn’t arise often with a domesticated gecko. Here’s a cool video of a gecko’s tail mid-regrowth.
Pairing giant day geckos is possible but tricky. Males will always fight each other so pairing two females or male/female couples is the way to go. These too will sometimes fight but it’s possible to find a working duo. A male/female couple will often bond for life and should be kept together – separating them can mean that they refuse to mate with other geckos ever again.
Is the giant day gecko the right pet for you? As you can see, these giant beauties aren’t that difficult to look after. They do need a bit of space as we’ll mention in a bit but aside from that, they are an excellent option for many reptile fans even if they are novices.
5 important tips on how to prepare for a Giant Day Gecko pet
A 24 by 24 by 12-inch tank (60x60x30 cm) can safely house a pair of geckos or a single gecko. However, do note that these lizards are arboreal so the tank needs to be 24 inches tall and 12 inches wide not vice versa. Also – this is the bare minimum for these large lizards – ideally, the tank should be an additional 50% larger or 36x36x18 inches big (90x90x45 cm) if you want your geckos to be comfortable. A glass and mesh combination is usually fine for the tank’s materials.
Standard pesticide-free soil is usually a good enough substrate for a day gecko’s tank as these lizards are arboreal and most of their time up on branches anyway. Other good substrate choices include peat moss, bark chips, and coconut fiber. Speaking of those branches, bamboo is the preferred choice for a day gecko’s terrarium vegetation. You can plant other live plants too and put in the occasional tree branch but the geckos will likely prefer the bamboo.
The right temperature ranges for these lizards are 82 to 86o F (28 to 30o C) during the day and 75 to 82o F (24 to 28o C) during nighttime. You’d also do well to add a 95o F (35o C) basking spot in one corner of the terrarium. You can achieve all of that with standard white heating bulbs and/or ceramic heaters. Remember to use a thermometer to monitor the precise temperature ranges.
Get a UVB light as it can be very helpful for these geckos and their Vitamin D3 requirements.
A 50 to 70% humidity is the right range for these animals. If your gecko is shedding – and especially if you notice problems shedding – try to get the humidity closer to 70% by misting the terrarium. Put a hygrometer in the terrarium to always have accurate humidity readings.
The 3 key points of looking after a Giant Day Gecko pet
- Giant day geckos love to eat anything from insects and fruits to other small lizards and even some mammals. This makes feeding your gecko quite easy but there are two options we’d recommend above all others:
Commercially sold feeding insects such as wax-worms, crickets, cockroaches, and mealworms.
Commercial nutritional balanced diets for frugivore lizards like the day gecko.
Ideally, you’ll feed your giant day gecko with insects twice a week and with a fruit diet – once a week. Also, it’s important to dust the insects with a calcium & vitamin D3 powder before giving them to your gecko. You can/should also add multimineral supplements to the fruit diet once a week. If you’re curious about a giant day gecko feeding video, here’s a good one.
Giant day geckos aren’t actually big fans of drinking water from bowls. Instead, they prefer to satisfy their thirst by drinking water droplets from the branches and leaves around them. To help with that you should mist your geckos’ terrarium daily. This is a must anyway to maintain good relative humidity so you can achieve two things at once.
Another cool thing you can do for your gecko is to put a humidity hide in the terrarium. These can be done as a DIY project – here’s a good instructional video – and they give your gecko an extra place with high humidity in their terrarium. This can be especially useful when your gecko is shedding its skin.
As you can see, giant day geckos can easily bring a giant dose of fun into your home. They do have their care requirements and need a bit of research. However, once you’ve set up their terrarium properly and you’ve gotten the hang of their feeding schedule, the rest is usually simple.
So, are giant day geckos actually the right pet for you? And, if so – what color pattern would you like to get? Here’s a great gallery with some of the most gorgeous giant day gecko morphs, for example.
Hopefully, we’ve given you a good bit of insight into what you need to take care of your giant day gecko. If you think we’ve missed something, do let us know!