A Potpourri of Readers’ Questions Answered

We asked readers to submit questions for this week’s Readers’  Questions Answered and received quite a variety of responses.  We’ve also received some good answers from gecko experts.  We hope this is helpful and educational.


 Question 1:

I am uncertain about caring for Cresteds and Gargoyle babies after they just hatch. I have heard not to feed them for a week?? Then I heard that for baby gargoyles you have to hand feed them? I am confused. I just had a gargoyle hatch and I am nervous as how to take care of it.

Paul Morlock responds: The best advice I can give is to be patient. It may take a week or so before for newly hatched babies are ready to be fed. Any yolk reserves and the skin from their first shed will easily sustain them during that time.
 I begin leaving food in the enclosure right after their first shed. They will usually eat on their own a day or so later. In the beginning babies sometimes eat such small amounts it can be difficult to tell if they’re eating at all, so watch for poop. Keep food available at all times changing it out every two or three days. Oh, and be patient.
 Temperature and humidity are the keys to a speedy acclimation and good feeding behavior. I recommend keeping babies warm, temperatures of 75-80°F and consistent humidity levels around 70%. Hide spots are very important too: they should be places that are small and dark, ideally something that the gecko can crawl into or under. Handling should also be kept to a minimum for the first few weeks or until the gecko is feeding regularly.

Question 2:
I’d like to know if leos are imported anymore and if there are people looking out for the hot new morph like is the case with Ball pythons.

Jeff Galewood Jr. responds: leopard geckos are illegal to import into the US because they closed down importation of animals from Pakistan. However people in Germany are able to get wild caughts from time to time but usually invest in new species or subspecies. I believe they are smuggled over from there because they are limited on how many wild caught they get. The wild caught leopard geckos are in rough shape when they catch them and I know of one Country that can get wild caught leopard geckos shipped in and the quality is supposed to be similar to wild caught fat tail geckos which is very poor. They don’t have anybody looking for new morphs. I actually looked into this two years ago and was discouraged and disappointed by what I found out.

Pat Kline responds:Importing is a multi million dollar business in the reptile industry in the current day, but leopard geckos are not a major part of the importing/exporting industry.  Leopard geckos have not be directly imported to the United States, legally, for a very long time.  A lot of the animals we have today are from a small source of leopard geckos which were once imported to the states many years ago.  But there are other ways around this lack of “new blood” problem.

Subspecies can be imported to the United States from overseas’ captive bred programs.  Many of the subspecies can now be purchased through breeders here in the United States; these breeder acquired the animals from overseas.   There are very few breeders in the states that have ‘pure’ subspecies, which can be a bit pricey.  The pure blood from these animals is very important to strengthening blood lines or working on new morphs.  Using subspecies can unlock a whole new world of crosses and possibly new mutations.

So why are the subspecies expensive, but appear to be a normal looking leopard gecko?  Well the work has all been done for you before you made your purchase.  First the original breeders have to be lucky enough to acquire the animals, and then they have to be dewormed and vet checked for multiple other medical related issues.  Now this is not to say you should not quarantine your animals when they arrive, but the risk of a new devastating disease is minimal compared to the risk to the original breeder.

I also think the need for importing/exporting Leopard Geckos is not very high.   Exporting wild caught animals can decimate the wild population and has to managed very closely.  With the subspecies now available, the need to get wild caught geckos will only hurt the wild population.

Question 3:

My vet told me that crested (and gargoyle) geckos are lactose intolerant. Is this true?  Why?

Dr. Ivan Alfonso responds: Your vet is likely correct in the statement of lactose intolerance mainly because reptiles do not consume milk or milk products in the wild. An animal that is not exposed to a particular food item, likely will not develop the needed enzymes to digest such an item. Geckos are insect eaters and nectar/fruit eaters so it is
unlikely they will be able to digest yogurt properly. I am not sure if it would be lethal but I would expect some diarrhea and other intestinal issues associated with the consumption of dairy products. With the widely available gecko diets and good variety of feeder insects, I would not be looking at dairy products to supplement my gecko’s diet. Hope this helps explain your question a bit.

Aliza Arzt responds:  I agree entirely with Dr. Alfonso’s response.  I do want to point out, though, that some people advocate adding small amounts of yogurt or other dairy products to fruit nectar when feeding day geckos to aid in calcium supplementation.  I also see no need to provide dairy products to Rhacodactylus geckos.

Question 4: 

I’d like to know what Phelsuma standingi’s natural environment is like, as there isn’t much information available online about the actual natural habitat.

Leann Christenson responds: The day gecko known as the Standings Day Gecko, Phelsuma standingi, is from  Southern Western Madagascar’s dry thorn forest area known for its odd thorny succulent plants and massive boabob trees.  The climate is characterized as  sub-arid  where temperatures rarely drop below 68º at night and days are known for intense sunlight, high heat and low humidity.  During the short “wet” season, humidity can rise to over 90%.

Our Experts:

Dr. Ivan Alfonso received his Veterinary Degree at the Tuskegee School of Veterinary Medicine in 2000.  He provides veterinary care in the Orlando area with his new mobile service.  He also does Reptile Health seminars as well as offering limited consultations at many Florida Repticon shows.  Dr Alfonso has traveled and filmed with the Python Hunters for NatGeo Wild.  His hobbies include freshwater and saltwater fish, reptile keeping and breeding, video games and just relaxing while watching his animals. He and his wife are owners of a pet pug, tortoiseshell cat, Eclectus parrot, and various reptiles and fishes.

Leann Christenson specializes in Phelsuma species of geckos, co-authored
Day Geckos In Captivity, and writes the popular Frankie Tortoise Tails, .  Her website is

Jeff Galewood Jr. is one of the owners of JMG Reptiles ( primarily producing high quality leopard and African fat tail geckos.

Patrick Kline: Luxurious Leopard was started in 2001 with a small colony of leopard geckos, and is still breeding today with dozens of high quality morphs.  Pat Kline, Owner/operator, has built the business around great customer service and high quality animals.  The business also works with ball pythons and bearded dragons.  Stop by and see us, we are dedicated to breeding excellence!

 Paul Morlock has had a life long love of reptiles. He has been keeping and breeding various geckos, lizards and snakes for over twenty years. He first became interested in Rhacodactylus in 2003 and it wasn’t long before he became hooked on the gargoyles and has concentrating on selective breeding them since 2008.  His website will be coming soon.

What do you think?

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Written by Aliza

Aliza is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area. She successfully bred a variety of gecko species between 2005 and 2017. She currently cares for a large number of geckos as well as a few frogs and bearded dragons. Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing aikido and surfing the internet.

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