|Common Name:||Central American Banded Gecko|
|Scientific Name:||Coleonyx mitratus|
|Life Span:||8 to 12 years|
|Size:||190 mm with tail 50 to 54% of its size|
|Habitat:||Woodlands to semi-arid areas|
|Country of Origin:||Guatemala to Costa Rica|
The Central American Banded Gecko is a medium-sized gecko which has a similar appearance and body size like the leopard gecko. However, adult Central American banded Geckos don’t achieve the body size of an adult leopard geckos. During the day, this hardy lizard prefers to hide in its burrow in the soil and will emerge on the ground by the time it is dusk. The nocturnal gecko will then look for prey like small insects, worms, etc.
The Central American Banded Gecko looks impressive despite its medium size thanks to its lovely skin patterns. This gecko can grow up to 190mm, and most of the time, its tail is around 50 to 54% of its total length.
The name “banded gecko” is from its brown, yellow, and black horizontal bands found along its dorsal surface. Its belly is mostly white. The limbs are small, and the gecko’s eyes are huge.
Central American Banded Geckos are very popular pets because these are easy to take care of and are small, easy to keep in a small aquarium/terrarium. The natural habitat of this gecko is the woodlands and the semi-arid areas in Guatemala and Costa Rica.
The three stages of growth of Central American Banded Geckos are as follows:
Hatchlings come out of their eggs after a long incubation period. Hatchlings have very delicate bodies, already with banded colors on its dorsal surface, and their eyes are already big, although not protruding from their heads. A hatchling will already start to eat by the time it can stand and move around.
Central American Banded Geckos will stay as a juvenile gecko only for a short time. During this period, the gecko already looks like an adult, but the size is still smaller. It is now able to hunt its food and will eat almost anything smaller than itself.
Central American Banded Geckos mature after a brief amount of time. Soon, these geckos swill already be looking for a mate. Males should be kept in separate enclosures while females may be kept in pairs. Geckos are highly territorial and may fight for the ownership of a small tank. These fights usually lead to losing a tail or a limb.
During the breeding season, one male can be housed with two or more females. This will increase the chances of successful breeding and will prevent the spent of one female repeatedly laying eggs.
Juvenile geckos should be fed about ¼ inch insects such as crickets, insect larvae, fruit flies, bean beetles, and many more. Food must be given daily to support the gecko’s growth and development. Meanwhile, adult Central American Banded Geckos should be fed ¼ inch crickets, small roaches, waxworms, soldier fly larvae, and mealworms.
Insects must be gut loaded with supplements and placed in a food dish. Food must be given in the evenings when the gecko is up and about. Never leave food inside the tank during the morning or placing the food in a dish during this time.
Central American Banded Geckos are nocturnal creatures, and they sleep in the morning and hunt prey and eat in the evening. In the wild, these geckos prefer burrowing in soil and sleeping till the temperatures are cooler.
When kept at home, you should feed it in the evenings when it is active. Prepare a tank or cage with some soil and rocks where your pet can crawl inside and sleep. Place in a low traffic area or preferably in a separate, spare room where it’s quiet during the day.
Lizards like Central American Banded Geckos prefer shallow water to cool down and drink. When preparing a tank or cage, a small, heavy dish of water should be placed near the basking area where it can drink. You may also spray the tank walls, leaves (if there are any), and rocks so that the gecko may lick this water to drink.
Development and Reproduction
The Central American Banded Gecko reach maturity at an early age. Because of this short developmental cycle, breeders find it very easy to breed this gecko.
As the gecko eggs hatch, the hatchlings come out, and at this early stage, these already look like their parents. After a few days, the hatchlings increase their size and strength, and soon, these become juveniles and soon, adult geckos.
The Central American Banded Gecko is oviparous and has a very breeding season of just a few weeks. Females lay only two eggs in a clutch. Around 2 to 3 clutches are born in the same breeding season. The female safely lays her eggs in a moist burrow or den. In captivity, breeders use an egg box or any kind of small safe area with soft, moist soil. She will lay a pair of eggs side by side. These eggs should be immediately removed and placed in an incubator.
After just two months, the eggs crack, and the small geckos emerge, and the cycle continues.
Common Health Problems
Central American Banded Geckos may suffer from the following health problems
Just like other geckos, the Central American Banded Gecko is prone to developing stomatitis or mouth rot. This condition may be due to several factors like a dirty tank, a dirty enclosure, or due to fighting with another lizard.
Common symptoms of stomatitis include redness and swelling on the mouth, cheese-looking discharge from the mouth affected area, and restlessness. A gecko may not be able to eat properly when the area has severely affected its mouth.
Parasitic infections are also common in geckos, and you can tell that the lizard has a skin infection when you see a rash or inflamed skin. Geckos shed regularly, and if your pet has difficulty shedding, then this is another condition. The usual cause for parasitic infections is a dirty tank or enclosure.
Bites And Other Injuries
After a fight with another gecko, a Central American Banded Gecko may suffer from severe injuries such as the loss of a tail or limb. The lost tail will grow back, but it can take up to a year to fully achieve its original size and length. The area may have cuts, marks, and severe injuries that need immediate treatment.
To avoid illness, take your Central American Banded Gecko to an exotics vet for check-ups and treatments. An exotics vet can help you better than regular vets because they are more able to diagnose medical conditions of reptiles such as your pet gecko.
Always separate males from each other. If you have more than one male, use separate tanks for each and if possible. Also, place their tanks or cages away from each other. This will avoid territorial fights that often lead to injuries.
For healthy geckos, use the best organic pet food. Pet owners must use fresh food or organic food only. Always clean your Central American Banded Gecko’s tank or cage. A dirty cage can lead to bacterial infections, parasites, and sickness. Maintain good humidity inside the tank as well.
To fully understand a Central American Banded Gecko, you must learn its many unique behaviors and traits like the following:
Never mix a male with another male because the Central American Banded Gecko is very territorial. A male can fight to the death for his territory, or it can severely injure another male or a threat. Geckos bite each other until one loses a limb or a tail.
Will Lose its Tail
The most prominent part of a Central American Gecko is its tail, and this is where fat stores are kept, which are important when the gecko is hibernating. But in case of a threat or when it feels that it is threatened, it will lose its tail and run. The tail can take almost a year to grow, and usually, the new tail is shorter and does not look like the original tail anymore.
Most geckos are nocturnal, and therefore, these will remain active at night and will hide and sleep in the morning time. This is why you must feed it when it’s active at night and choose a quiet, dark area to keep the tank.
Geckos will squeak to signal that he is claiming his territory. It will also emit this chirping and clicking sound to communicate with other geckos, especially at night. Different types of geckos come with different sounds.
Will Not Bite Handler
As much as this gecko is territorial, it won’t be aggressive to its handler for as long as you handle it early. Start holding and handling your gecko during the hatching phase. Frequent handling will make the gecko calmer and easier to introduce to other people.
Central American Banded Geckos shed their skin several times in a year. Juvenile geckos will shed more frequently than adult lizards. This is because younger geckos can easily outgrow their skin while adults have ceased growing. Under good environmental conditions, a healthy adult may shed their skins at least every month.
Shedding is over in just 24 hours. Usually, shedding is stressful and painful for geckos, especially when the tank temperature is too warm or too cold. Watch out for signs that a gecko is about to shed its skin, such as restless and its eyes are white.
If you see this, leave your gecko alone so it can shed properly. Don’t handle it or attempt to feed it because it won’t. Don’t get worried because these are normal shedding behaviors. Everything will return to normal once it has finished shedding.
Usually, the skin will shed in fragments, and the gecko may eat their old skin. Make sure that there is enough food after it has shed. Leave food such as mealworms, crickets, and other insects to build their energies post shedding.
Habitat and Substrate
Pairs of Central American Banded Geckos may be kept in a 12 x 12 x 12-inch enclosure or tank. Males should be separated from each other. The best substrate is peat moss or coco fiber mixed with sand. Keep the substrate slightly moist.
Several hides must be placed all over the tank. Place a few under the reptile lamp so that your pet can have space where it can bask and rest. You can use just about anything as hiding. Place low-climbing materials such as driftwood, cork, rocks, and manzanita branches. You can add succulents and wild plants, or you can use artificial plants.
Temperature and Humidity
Central American Banded Geckos need temperatures between 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The area where it basks should be from 90 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an under tank heater or a special basking bulb. Use a digital thermometer and hygrometer to measure temperatures and humidity accurately. For a more accurate reading, use an infrared thermometer or a thermometer gun to measure the temperature inside the tank, especially the basking area. And during nighttime, temperatures should not fall below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s no need to use a UV light.
When it comes to humidity, keep your pets at 50 to 60% humidity. Measure ambient humidity using a digital hygrometer. Make the hide slightly humid. You can use a mister to daily spray water on the substrate or the tank walls. You may also use a shallow water dish, but if you spray daily, then this is not necessary.
Place a heavy shallow dish of water inside its tank so that your Central American Banded Geckos may drink. A wide heavy bowl made of clay or porcelain is the best material because this won’t be knocked over by your pet. Change this water daily to prevent the growth of bacteria that can cause illness.
Availability – Where to Get One?
Central American Banded Geckos are very popular pets, and you can buy this from a local pet store or from an online pet shop. Central American Banded Geckos cost around $70 or more depending on size, gender, and age. The color and the designs on the skin can also affect its price. You should only buy your pet gecko from a reputable pet shop or local dealer.
How to Care for a Central American Banded Gecko?
Here are some tips on how to care for a Central American Banded Gecko
- Monitor your pet’s development by creating a diary of its growth and development. A measuring tape or ruler can easily measurer your pet’s length. A small weighing scale can check its weight. Be on the lookout for changes in the skin, eye and mouth color, and overall temperament. Any changes can be due to sickness or shedding.
- Always keep the gecko tank heated because Central American Banded Geckos cannot regulate body heat on their own. Use a heating mat and an efficient reptile or basking lamp to provide heat inside the tank.
- Keep the gecko tank humid with a water sprayer and mist the inside of the tank, including the substrate and any accessories inside the tank. Use a digital hygrometer to check for humidity levels.
- Always keep the gecko tank clean. Cleaning the tank regularly will prevent these by keeping the enclosure clean. Use natural cleaners to clean the tank, or you may use commercial cleaners as long as you follow the instructions closely. Rinse the tank completely to make sure that there’s no residue.
- Keep your gecko healthy by providing high protein food. Geckos need protein-rich food during the juvenile phase and a healthy combination of insects during the adult phase. Sneak in supplements by dusting insects and pinkie mice with a calcium supplement.
- Avoid placing the gecko tank in a high traffic area like your living room, kitchen, or family room. Geckos are nocturnal, and therefore, you must place it in a quiet area where it can sleep and recuperate in the morning.
- During the breeding season, remove males to save females once the two have successfully mated. This is because females will continuously lay eggs, and this can put a burden on her health. She could end up dying if you don’t separate them. So after laying two or three clutches, remove the male and put this in a separate tank or cage.
- Don’t provoke your pet, or you can end up with a nasty bite. Handle it with care while wearing a glove. Use a comfortable hold, and don’t squeeze the body so it won’t feel nervous and threatened. Keep in mind that the more you handle your gecko and pick it up, the more it will trust you. You may also teach other people to handle your pet.
- During shedding time, don’t bother your gecko. Shedding happens every few weeks, and this can be painful. Shedding is a natural process, so don’t be worried about anything. After shedding, your gecko will be very hungry, and this is the right time to feed it a bowl of crickets or mealworms.
- Take your gecko to a reptile specialist or an exotics vet for any emergency. Any medical problem should be consulted ASAP.
- Always wash your hands after handling a Central American Banded Gecko because it can carry parasites and bacteria, which can cause disease in humans. Wash your hands using warm water and soap before and after handling your gecko. Washing will also reduce the spread of disease that your pet may have to other geckos.
What do Central American Banded Geckos eat?
Central American Banded Geckos will eat small insects like crickets, roaches, and mosquito larvae. It will also eat mealworms and small pinkie mice, which may be dusted with supplements to enhance your gecko’s health.
Do geckos eat scorpions?
Yes, geckos can prey on small scorpions in the wild. It will eat anything smaller than its body, and experts suggest not killing geckos in your home or yard if you want to kill scorpions.
Are Central American Banded Geckos good pets?
Yes, Central American Banded Geckos make excellent pets; this is because these geckos are easy to care for, won’t require much experience in caring for reptiles and lizards and are easy to handle.
Can a Central American Banded Gecko recognize its owner?
Some gecko owners believe that their pets can recognize their appearance and call. This was evidenced by the geckos climbing up the tank as soon as their owners are in the room.
Is the bite of a Central American Banded Gecko poisonous?
No, the bite of a gecko is not poisonous but can be too powerful to cause a large wound. Geckos are not known to bite their owners unless these are provoked.
What material can I use to make a gecko hide?
You can use any kind of material as a hide. A small cardboard box, a plastic container, or an inverted clay pot would do. Fill the hide with moist soil so it would be more comfortable for your pet.
Can I use an ordinary fluorescent lamp for the gecko tank?
No, geckos need a heating lamp or a reptile lamp. This will provide ample heating and light plus won’t be too costly to use.
How many geckos can I place in a terrarium?
You can only place one male inside a terrarium because males are very territorial. You can’t place a male with a female unless it’s time to breed. During the breeding season, you must place a male with two or three females for successful breeding.
Can you take a gecko for a swim?
Yes, geckos are known as good swimmers, but the Central American Banded Gecko would prefer to stay on land. The shallow dish of water can be used as drinking water and also as a shallow pool where your gecko can wade in.