Most of us are living in climates that are different than the native environments of many of the geckos we keep.   When we set up our geckos in their homes we all face certain challenges particularly in providing the appropriate heat and humidity.  In this article, Gecko Time looks at the even greater challenges facing keepers who live in extreme climates: very cold climates with dry heat that significantly reduces humidity, and very hot and humid climates.

The contributors who described their experiences responded to some or all of the following questions;

  1. Where do you live and what is the climate like during the year?  What do you do in your home to make the environment comfortable for humans?
  2. What kind of geckos do you keep and how do you keep them (i.e. racks, cages, what kind of cages)?
  3. What kind of challenges do you find keeping your reptiles comfortable in terms of temperature, humidity or anything else?
  4. As you’ve gained experience keeping geckos, have you had to make any adjustments to insure that the climate in their enclosures is comfortable for them?
  5. Is there anything else that you feel is unique to your environment that you need to take into account or that affects your geckos?

David Marshall, Alaska

We live on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, known for the world class fishing. The summers are nice and rarely ever spike over 75 degrees F. Our summers generally run for 3 months with winter consuming 6 months and fall and spring lasting a total of the other 3 months. Anything above 40F degrees is shorts and tee shirt weather for us up here. The winter-time can dip to a chilly -20F easily,  To make the house a bit warmer during those chilly days and nights we try to keep our heater turned full blast; having large windows and a vaulted ceiling we seem to lose heat somewhat quickly. When the wind chill nips at your heels we turn on the oven from time to time and leave it open for awhile. I know that it’s not how most heat their home but when you need heat you need heat. There is no way a small space heater can do the job.

We only have our one gecko. I wasn’t sure what type he was nor was I sure of his appropriate habitat so I had some reading to do when we bought him second-hand.  I was pleased to learn ours is a Blizzard morph of a leopard gecko.  We keep him in what was initially a  fish tank type aquarium. He came in a 10 gallon tank and was way too large for it. Then he was moved to a 50 gallon tank which was too tall with not enough square feet of floor room. Now he is happy in a 30 gallon tank, which is perfect for him to have some hunting and stretching room.

To keep it as little challenging as possible I actually take time and watch our gecko.  Up here in Alaska where we live the humidity levels are very very low, so his moist hide is often dry in a matter of less then a week. And his water bowl can dry quickly if not watched closely, for that reason of watching him and his temperature carefully, I have his tank in the  middle of the house, towards the living room.  To help with the drastic temperature change I didn’t place his enclosure near doors or windows just for the chill factor and drafts, in hopes of keeping a good ambient temperature for him.  I also have the enclosure at waist level to help with air temperature. A few times we have lost power due to a large amount of snow or downed line for some reason another so I keep a single leather mitten with sheep fur handy in case the power doesn’t come back on quickly. I can place it in his cage for a place to hide and keep warm. I assume it would hold heat better than his hide for the long term. On that note I do have a power supply that stores power just in case all goes black; at least his heat mat can run for about an hour.   The only other issue I have is that being in Alaska we face many problems with shipping and weather.  Once we had a bad storm for a few days and couldn’t get a shipment of crickets to the local pet store.  Several days later they arrived. During that time of fasting my gecko was on a meal worm only diet.  Now I make sure I have a few backups just in case. The worms store well long term far better than the crickets but I’m also in the process of learning how to breed my own crickets, just to err on the side of caution.

We first got our gecko from an online ad from a family who was moving. They had him posted for 40 bucks and if he wasn’t sold they were going to let him go into the wild. Shocked by the fact they actually thought he could survive on his own, I figured we could spare his life for a small fee.  I never thought we’d love the little guy like we do. He came in a ten gallon tank which I learned was too small for his size, and also had sand which I learned was not the best for him.  Then the first owners told me he only ate meal worms, and didn’t have a moist hide. They had a heat lamp, etc..etc…. So after I did some reading on online forums and magazines and such I was amazed that everything he had was pretty much wrong. Wanting to offer him the right environment I set out to make it the best I could.  I’ve added a small fan that blows down gently to move the air if it gets too humid in his tank. Since he is close to the kitchen sometimes it can get warm with water boiling and the oven going.  The fan’s not always on but can be if needed. I’ve added plant life to his tank and to make sure all humidity levels and temperatures are correct I check them often.