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Caring for Cave Geckos

Updated on October 4, 2010
Whitney05 profile image

Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises, and other exotics since 2003.

G. luii
G. luii

Cave Geckos

The Cave gecko (Goniurosaurus) is not as popular of a pet gecko when compared to leopard geckos and African fat tail geckos, but this species is one of the eyelid geckos, too. They range from different locations and areas of the world, but you'll find that the more popular cave geckos come from China, Japan, Vietnam, and other East Asian countries.

The cave gecko species include the following:

  • Goniurosaurus Araneus
  • Goniurosaurus Bawanglingensis
  • Goniurosaurus Hainanensis
  • Goniurosaurus Kuroiwae
  • Goniurosaurus Lichtenfelderi
  • Goniurosaurus Luii
  • Goniurosaurus Orientalis
  • Goniurosaurus Splendens
  • Goniurosaurus Toyamai
  • Goniurosaurus Yamashinae

The more popular of these species include the G. araneus (from Vietnam), G. Kuroiwae (from Japan), G. Lichtenfelderi (from Vietnam), and the G. Luii (from China). The G. Hainanensis (from Vietnam) is pretty popular as well. You'll find that many people actually mis-identify the G. Lichtenfelderi and the G. Hainanensis; the main difference is that the orange neck band of the G. Hainanensis goes all the way to the mouth, whereas the Lichtenfelderi neck band is thinner and only on the neck.

In many cases, there are mixed Hainanensis and Lichtenfelderi geckos on the market today, and it can be quite hard to distinguish between the two.

Goniurosaurus Kuroiwae
Goniurosaurus Kuroiwae | Source

The Goniurosaurus is not the most handleable. They will tolerate being handled for short periods of time, like when removing to clean the enclosure, but they generally won't just sit and hang out. Some may, but on average cave geckos, and other cave gecko species, aren't the best "play with pets." If your cave gecko is captive bred, it may accept handling a little more, but generally, the less handling the better as you'll be able to reduce the amount of stress on the gecko. The main times, you'll find that you need to handle the gecko is to check for illness and when moving to another enclosure to clean out the tank.

Appearance: These geckos range from a shades of brown and black. They have yellow or orange bands with darker spots. They have a similar build to leopard geckos, but they are slimmer. The tail is a fat reserve, meaning healthy geckos will have a decently plump tail, but it will break off if scared (the tail will regenerate, but not as pretty as the original). Depending on the species, the number of bands and the thickness of the bands will vary.

Size: An adult Cave Gecko is about 6 to 9 inches in length depending on the species. They will range from about 30 to 55 grams.


Goniurosaurus Lichtenfelderi
Goniurosaurus Lichtenfelderi

Reptile Humidifier

Housing a Cave Gecko:  When housing a cave gecko, you can use a storage container or a glass aquarium. You just want to make sure that it's at least a 20 gallon long. Some will say that you can house one adult in a 10 gallon tank, but it'll be pretty cramped. Try to stick with an enclosure that has a base of about 30"L x 12"W. The height isn't as much of a concern, but if you're trying to figure out what gallon size your tank is, a 20 gallon is 30"L x 12"W x 12"T.

You can use just about any type of enclosure, as long as you can provide proper heat, humidity, and ventilation.

Cave geckos will climb more than leopard geckos and AFTs, so you'll want to make sure that you have a secure lid. You may also want to provide some sort of climbing area, such as a rock wall. You can consider using cork bark for climbing, as well as any material that can securely stand without the gecko knocking it over while climbing and hunting.

When choosing a substrate, you'll want to be careful because the gecko can ingest loose substrates, like dirt and bark, while hunting, which can potentially cause impaction, which can be deadly if not noticed early enough. You do want to use a substrate that will hold humidity though.

It's best to keep babies and juvenile geckos on paper towels, and mist the tank twice a day or enough to keep the humidity level right. You can keep adults on paper towels as well, which is much easier to clean, but you may also want to consider coconut coir (compressed dirt brick), which will create a more natural look (just be careful of impaction).

  • Temperature should be around 68F to 77F. You don't want the temperature to range too low or too high for long periods of time. Some say depending on the species, you may not want the temperature below 75F for too long or above 82F before you start to see health problems and death. In many cases, you can keep a good enclosure temperature without using any additional heat, but you may want to consider a small watt bulb for night.
  • Lighting is not a big concern because cave geckos are nocturnal. You do not need any UV lighting. If you want, you can offer a day/night scenario by using a timer and regular bulb.
  • Humidity is going to be the biggest concern. You want to be able to keep the humidity up. Each species will be a little different, but for the most part you'll find that they'll need a humidity range somewhere between 50% and 90%. You can achieve this by misting the enclosure several times a day. You may consider a humidifier or fogger and setting it on a timer. Even with a reptile humidifier, it is still going to be good to spray the cage down so that the reptile can drink the water droplets in addition to a shallow water dish.

Goniurosaurus hainanensis
Goniurosaurus hainanensis | Source
Jungle Patterned G. araneus
Jungle Patterned G. araneus | Source

Feeding and Diet: Cave geckos eat small invertebrates, such as various insects. It's always good to offer a variety of food to keep your gecko healthy. You can offer any of the below feeder insects to a cave gecko. Just make sure that they are appropriately sized, keeping small geckos eating small insects. It's best to offer insects smaller than the space between the geckos eyes.

  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Superworms
  • Silk worms
  • Small Goliath worms
  • Roaches (Dubia, Discoid, Latteralis)

You want to make sure that the insects are properly gutloaded so that they are healthy.

Offer food every other day for adults; some adults will be fine feeding just a few times a week. You will find that babies and juveniles grow the best when offered food daily.

Make sure that you properly supplement the insects with a multi-vitamin ever 3rd or 4th meal, and calcium powder for those meals in-between.

G. luii is on the left, G. hainanensis on the right
G. luii is on the left, G. hainanensis on the right | Source

Difference Between G. Luii and G. Hainanensis

G. Luii
G. Hainanensis/Lichtenfelderi
Extra body band
3 body bands, and 1 at the base of the tail
Long and lanky
Short and a tad stout
Less intense red eyes
Deeper red eyes


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    • Resolver2009 profile image


      10 years ago from Bournemouth, UK / Oslo, Norway

      Great article Whitney05! A friend of mine has a wave gecko similar to this one, and I will be sure to forward this informative hub to her. Thank you! //Alex


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