Golden Gecko - (Gekko ulikovskii)

Written by: Psyco_XY and Joshua Fast

Video of Gold Gecko

Golden Geckos (Gekko ulikovskii) originate in the lush tropical forests of Vietnam. Goldens are commonly found as common residents in peoples homes. They are nocturnal and range in size from six to eight inches total body length. Goldens with the proper care and evironment are very inquisitive, active geckos that make great display animals.
Choosing a golden gecko should not be done under an impulse, they require a lot of space and are not great pets for the beginner gecko keeper. I would highly recommend you buy a captive bred golden from a reputable breeder. This way you are insuring you have purchased the highest quality animal. I do not recommend you buy a golden from a pet store or on a table of a reptile show. These goldens generally are imported and need specific meds to rid them of parasites. If you absolutely want to buy a pet store golden then take the time to examine it first. Ask to pick it up (at your own risk) A healthy golden will struggle when you are holding it. Look for injuries and missing digits, look at the vent to check for smeared feces (a very good sign of parasites). Examine the skin looking for depressed or projecting areas around the torso, indicating broken ribs. Check for protruding hip or back bones, a sign of malnourishment, make sure it has good weight to it and a decent size tail. Make sure there are no signs of external parasites. The golden might gape at you, which is a typical threat display. Use this time to check the inside of the mouth. Make sure there are no white lumpy areas around the gum line, or packets of mucous anywhere in the mouth. If everything checks out and you still would like to make the purchase, make sure you have an enclosure for him already set up. You are going to want to keep him in a separate room away from any other herps in a quarantine setup. Use minimal cage furnishings and butcher paper or paper towels to line the bottom. Any tools used for the care of the reptile should not leave the room until disinfected with a 10% bleach/water solution. Work the quarantine room after you have taken care of all of your other reptiles. Make sure you use latex gloves and practice good hygiene when working in this room. You should establish quarantine for a minimum of 90 days. Use this time for observation, checking for further weight loss and/or runny feces. You should also find a reputable exotic animal veterinarian and get a fecal sample in to be tested for internal parasites. If four consecutive fecals turns out negative and your gecko is eating well, then you may introduce him into his permanent caging in your reptile room.
Goldens are not as big as tokays but are still very active. I recommend, as a minimum, a 30 gallon aquarium for a single golden or a 55 gallon for a pair. You have several different options when searching for an enclosure. Just keep a couple things in mind. The first is that goldens prefer vertical space to horizontal space, as they are arboreal geckos. Next make sure that it has ample ventilation, but enough closure to where it will maintain humidity. This is why using caging such as reptariums and other mesh caging is not recommended due to its inability to hold humidity. Substrate should be something that will hold humidity well such as crushed coconut fiber or pure, clean soil. Please do not confuse this with potting soil, which contains perlite and fertilizers. Do not use substrates such as bark, sand, or gravel, they are dangerous to your golden because of their risk of impaction, not to mention they will not hold humidity as well. Enclosures should be well planted with either live or artificial plants, and have plenty of vertical orientated hiding spots for them to rest in during the day. Vines, for example hung along the top provide something they can get behind during the day but still allowing them to still be high in their enclosure. Wood and rock can also be provided to allow them some climbing furniture although don't be surprised if they prefer to hang out on the glass. As a side note never house golden geckos with any other species of reptile. Mixing species will just result in competition for either territory or food and one or more of the species will inevitably end up being bullied or eaten. On the same lines do not house males together because golden geckos are territorial they will likely fight to the death.
Environmental Requirements  
For the purpose of the good health of your golden a few requirements need to be met on a daily basis. Temperature should be between 75 - 86 degrees during the day with up to a 10 degree drop at night. Make sure that bulbs or heat emitters are not exposed or set directly on the screen top of the cage. Geckos can walk on the top and without knowing can give themselves nasty burns. DO NOT USE HEAT ROCKS. They have been known to severely burn reptiles and goldens don't like coming to the floor to warm up anyway. Golden geckos are nocturnal so UV lighting is not required but may be beneficial; as recent studies have found that nocturnal species may bask in the sun in early dawn and late dusk. Humidity should be maintained at 60 - 80% although higher is always better. Humidity is important in their shedding process. Regularly check for unshed skin especially around the toes and tail. If your golden is having problems shedding soak them in lukewarm water and gently remove the skin. If it doesn't come off easily then soak them a little longer. If the problem is around the head or neck use a moistened cotton swab and lightly apply moisture. If this happens periodically chances are you need to increase the relative humidity in the cage. Spray the cage down 2 - 3 times a day with purified water to maintain this. It's important to use purified water for two reasons. Your gecko does not drink out of a bowl, although it is not a bad idea to supply one. They drink by lapping water off of leaves and the glass. Using purified water prevents them from ingesting harmful chemicals or water born parasites and bacteria. The second reason is cosmetic, purified water lacks the minerals that leave spotting on the glass making it easier to view. Make sure you keep the enclosure clean. Spot clean feces every day and thoroughly clean the enclosure once a month, changing out the substrate each time this is done. This is necessary for the health and well being of your animals.
Golden geckos are great eaters and are not usually very picky. They will eat crickets, mealworms, superworms, roaches, and waxworm moths. Fruit flavored baby food should also be offered a couple times a week. Try to vary their diet as much as possible, its important for them to get a well-rounded balance of nutrition. Also try making feeding times unpredictable to keep them interested, for example feed them two days in a row and skip a day, feed them three days in a row and skip a day, feed them for one day and skip two days etc. This always keeps them excited when they see food. Feed them as much as they can eat in 15 minutes. Make sure you dust hatchling's prey with a calcium/D3 supplement such as Repcal every feeding, and a vitamin supplement such as Herptivite once a week. Adult's prey should be dusted with calcium/D3, three times a week and once a week with a vitamin supplement. Remember, what goes into your feeders goes into your geckos so make sure you are gut-loading your feeders 24 hours prior to feeding them to your geckos. To gut-load provide them with a variety of vegetables and fruits to eat as well as oats and bran cereal.
Golden geckos can be handled with care as they are very skittish and can be scared easily. They also have very sensitive skin so care must be taken when handled. They lack the powerful jaws that other members of the Gekko family have, but they can nip if stressed.
There will come a time in a lot of golden owners' lives where breeding is considered. This is fairly easy with the proper conditions. First make sure your geckos meet the following prerequisites. Make sure they have good weight, a breeding season will take a lot out of even the heaviest female. Make sure they have a clean bill of health, in other words do not attempt to breed newly acquired animals. Next you need to determine the sex of your goldens. Male goldens have more pronounced pre-anal pores and are generally larger. Females lack the vivid golden color on the dorsal surface. After verifying the gender of your geckos, all it takes is placing them in the same enclosure together. It is recommended that you put the male into the female's enclosure, or place them both into a neutral enclosure to prevent a possible territorial dispute. Approximately thirty days after courtship the female will lay one or two large white eggs on a chosen surface of the enclosure. This may be a piece of wood, rock, or the wall of the enclosure itself. After the eggs have been laid, do not under any circumstance try to remove the eggs from the wall. Goldens are "egg-gluers" meaning after the eggs are laid, the eggs are permanently attached to whatever they were laid on. If you are worried that the eggs might be damaged by the adults, then a deli-cup with 1/8" holes punched in the side can be cut to fit over them. Duct tape seems to hold best under the humidity requirements. This will make it easier to remove the hatchlings after they are out as well. Hatchlings must be removed as soon as they are hatched as the adults may eat the hatchling. If the eggs were laid on something removable such as a piece of wood then it can be removed and incubated artificially at 80 - 84 degrees. Incubation times can range anywhere from 65 - 200 days if the eggs are fertile. When the hatchling has emerged from the egg remove him and place him in his own separate 10 gallon enclosure. The female will then ingest what is left of the shell and leave no trace of it behind.
Final Note  
Goldens are very rewarding geckos to keep, but you will quickly realize that you will get out of them what you put in. Each individual has a personality all its own and you will never run into two of them who are identical. They are colorful, vocal, and active making them a great animal to observe and study. If you would like to further read on golden geckos and their related species, I suggest you get the book General Care and Maintenance of Tokay Geckos and Related Species by Sean McKeown and Jim Zaworski, the source for quite a few facts from this caresheet