Flying geckos are incredibly unique lizards that can make great pets. They are relatively hassle-free, and rather straightforward to care for.
But these little reptiles are definitely different. And that means you need to do your homework before you think about owning one.
This guide will teach you the essential facts you need to know when it comes to flying gecko care. By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be ready to go!
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The flying gecko (Ptychozoon kuhli) is a unique little reptile that you don’t see very often in the pet trade. They are one of the rarer gecko species, making them highly sought-after by serious herp-lovers.
These lizards are native to the jungles of Southeast Asia. But finding them is easier said than done! Flying geckos are masters of camouflage. Not only that, but they are arboreal and spend most of their life in the treetops!
Despite their colorful name, these reptiles don’t really “fly” at all. Instead, they leap from one branch to the next. Thanks to their excess skin flaps, they can control their trajectory and glide to safety!
Of course, flying geckos aren’t going to be doing much of that in captivity. However, you still need to provide a similar environment that caters to their unique lifestyle.
Appearance & Colors
Flying geckos have a muted appearance. Generally, they’re covered in splotches of brown, black, and tan. The coloration is sporadic, giving it a natural appearance.
From afar, these lizards look like a piece of tree bark! They use their appearance to their advantage and blend in with trees in the wild.
You’ll notice that flying geckos also have several flaps of skin on the body. These flaps are visible around the arms, tail, and face. Even the feet are webbed!
As mentioned earlier, these flaps help the gecko control its movement in the air. The tail provides some stability as well. Its tail is flattened, allowing them to use it as a rudder. While they may seem a bit funky when these reptiles are on the ground, they look fantastic when being used in the air!
Expert Tip: Flying geckos also have very neat-looking toe pads. You can see the textured appearance if they climb on the enclosure glass.
The typical lifespan of a flying gecko is between five and eight years when kept in captivity. However, that’s only if you’re providing top-notch care.
Like any other reptile, flying geckos can respond negatively to poor living conditions. You have to create a fine-tuned habitat to keep these critters healthy. Otherwise, they can suffer from disease and a potentially early death.
The average size of a flying gecko is about four to eight inches in length for adults. That makes these reptiles quite small when compared to other species.
The tail of this gecko isn’t as long as you might expect. Not only that, but they often keep it curled up. When you combine this with their already wide appearance, these geckos often look rather short.
Flying Gecko Care
Flying gecko care is a task that’s best suited for herp-lovers with a bit of experience. While not particularly difficult to care for, these reptiles do have some distinct needs in order to thrive.
As an arboreal species, you have to go to greater lengths to ensure that their environment is conducive to their lifestyle. Here are some important care guidelines you need to follow.
First things first, you need to choose the right enclosure! Many reptile enthusiasts will keep these geckos in standard terrariums. While that can work fine, we always recommend using a vivarium-style enclosure.
The reasons for this is that vivariums have front-facing glass doors and adjustable ventilation, which can help create the perfect environment.
For a single adult flying geckos, use an enclosure that’s at least 12 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 24 inches tall. If you’re using a standard terrarium, that would be about 15 to 20 gallons.
Height is the crucial measurement here. These geckos do not spend a ton of time on the ground (it’s not where they feel safe), so you need ample height to accommodate climbing.
Expert Tip: If you plan to keep a pair or trio, use an enclosure that’s at least 18 inches long, 18 inches wide, and 24 inches tall.
Establishing a proper habitat setup is always important when housing reptiles. But with a flying gecko, the decorations you use will have a big impact on the lizard’s well-being!
To replicate their natural habitat, fill the enclosure with climbable branches and vines. To keep things low-maintenance, utilize plastic and silk plants.
Expert Tip: Don’t be afraid to get creative here! Use several branches, vines, and perches to create a network of paths that your gecko can take. The more opportunities to climb, the better!
Just because flying geckos are primarily arboreal doesn’t mean you can neglect the other parts of the enclosure. Choose a simple substrate material for the bottom.
Some owners even use paper towels to keep your maintenance tasks easier, but coconut coir, peat moss, and fertilizer-free potting soil work well too.
Once you have your climbing branches set up, add some additional plants throughout the enclosure. The plants will provide some shelter and give these pet lizards places to hide. Traditional hide boxes at ground level are not necessary since flying geckos won’t be spending time on the ground anyway.
However, we definitely recommend installing several perches and elevated hides around the enclosure. Taller plants with ample foliage do the trick too!
Temperature & Lighting
While they spend a ton of time high off the ground, flying geckos still need a temperature gradient in their habitat.
To create your gradient, you can use a basking lamp or heat emitter. The basking lamp should warm up one side of the enclosure to about 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the lamp is not too close to the case or any of the climbing branches.
The rest of the enclosure can remain at room temperature. Just make sure that temperatures don’t dip below 76 degrees. If they do, you might need to install an under-tank heating pad or emitter.
Expert Tip: Flying geckos are nocturnal creatures. As a result, UVB lamps are not necessary! You will, however, have to put your standard and basking lights on a timer to ensure that your lizard is getting a proper night cycle.
Proper humidity levels are a must for any jungle-dwelling reptile. Invest in a high-quality hygrometer and check it regularly to ensure that levels are just right.
Flying geckos prefer steady humidity levels of around 80 percent at night. During the day, the humidity can drop to 60 percent, but no lower.
Mist the enclosure every night to raise the levels just before your gecko becomes active. You can also install an automatic mister or drip system if you wish.
Flying geckos do not drink water from bowls or dishes. Instead, they will lap droplets off plant leaves and the glass of the enclosure (which makes sense since they spend so much time in the trees).
That said, it’s still good to have a small water dish in their home. They may use it to soak or cool off on occasion
We recommend installing a shallow soaking dish at the bottom of the enclosure. Another more elaborate option is to opt for an elevated dish that secures to the glass.
Either way, make sure the dish is always clean and filled with fresh water.
Food & Diet
Insects are the food of choice for flying geckos. In the wild, they hunt a wide range of different insects to meet their nutritional needs. In captivity, they do just fine with crickets, roaches, mealworms, waxworms, and sliced earthworms.
A variety of food sources is always welcome. Make sure that the insects are no bigger than the width of the gecko’s head!
Young flying geckos will need to eat every day until they are full. Typically, this will be around five to 10 insects. Adults do best with large meals every two or three days. They may need up to 15 insects for each feeding.
Expert Tip: To be on the safe side, you can dust feeder insects with supplement powders. Multivitamin and calcium powders are great for avoiding potential health issues. Dust the insects every other feeding for young geckos and two or three times a week for adults.
Possible Health Issues
Flying geckos are susceptible to all of the usual health conditions that geckos and other reptiles encounter in captivity.
Some of the most common ailments are respiratory infections, bacterial infections, and parasites. Most of these issues are avoidable with proper tank maintenance.
Stay on top of humidity and temperature levels to avoid respiratory infections. This should be rather easy if you have an accurate hygrometer.
To ensure that your lizard is living in a hygienic environment, spot clean the enclosure daily. Then, do a full sanitization about once a month. This involves cleaning every surface with a reptile-safe disinfectant.
Flying geckos can also suffer from physical injuries. They have very sensitive skin, so cuts are common. Do your best to remove any sharp or rough surfaces in the enclosure to prevent this from becoming a problem.
Behavior & Temperament
Don’t expect to see much of your flying gecko throughout the day! Most will find a cozy hiding spot to sleep in until the sun goes down.
At night, these creatures are quite active. They’ll move from branch to branch as they explore and regulate their temperature.
Flying geckos can cohabitate with others, but you need to plan your group accordingly. One male and two females or a group of all females are best.
Males get very territorial with one another and will fight constantly. You should never house two males together. It’s also a good idea to avoid housing larger geckos with smaller ones. Geckos that are the same age and size are best.
Expert Tip: Whether you keep a single gecko or a small group, don’t expect much interaction. These guys are notoriously skittish. While they get comfortable with time, they will always remain flighty.
Flying geckos are not a pet reptile that you want to handle. There are a couple of reasons for this:
First, these reptiles are far too timid for handling. The moment you try to grab them, they will flee!
Even if you’re lucky enough to get ahold of one, it will do everything it can to jump from your hand and get away from you. It’s just their nature! They don’t like being handled at all.
Another reason to avoid handling flying geckos is their skin. The reptiles have very thin skin that will easily tear. It doesn’t take much to injure these lizards, so they’re best enjoyed from the other side of a glass enclosure.
We think this reptile is unique enough that you can get plenty of enjoyment from observing them. However, if you’re adamant about getting a pet you can handle frequently, this isn’t the one for you.
Even though these lizards are a bit out of the ordinary, they’re actually fairly simple to keep. While we don’t recommend them for beginners, owners with a little bit of experience shouldn’t have trouble meeting the care requirements of a flying gecko
And trust us, it’s worth it! These reptiles are extremely rewarding to keep, and even more fun to observe. You’ll find yourself pushing back your bedtime just to squeeze in some extra time watching them!
Let us know if you still have questions after reading this care sheet. We know flying geckos are a little unusual, so there’s plenty to consider!