Housing is one of the most crucial basic issues to consider when keeping geckos. That’s why most of our Prose and Controversies installments to date have been about housing (Glass or Racks, Housing Multi-species Enclosures). This month we consider the question of whether geckos should be housed individually or in groups. Opinions tend to range from “never” to “any species in certain circumstances” to “certain species only”.
Those who feel that geckos should never be housed together make the point that most, if not all, geckos are solitary creatures in the wild who encounter each other only briefly to mate. In order to best reproduce the geckos’ native habitats, they should be housed in a way where they only encounter other geckos for mating. Housing geckos individually eliminates the possibility that any geckos would be stressed, bullied or infected by a cagemate. In addition, housing geckos individually makes it much easier to determine how much each gecko is eating, whether their poop looks normal etc. Strong proponents of separate housing may also go so far as to say that keepers who house their geckos together are doing so for their own convenience and not for the health of the gecko.
Housing in Groups
At the other end of the spectrum are those who feel that, as long as the enclosure is big enough and the geckos are thriving together, there is nothing wrong with housing them together. An adequate enclosure size with multiple choice of hides and feeding spots, careful monitoring and willingness to separate geckos at any hint of failure to get along should result in comfortable, healthy geckos. Keeping breeding colonies together, usually a single male with multiple females, takes the guesswork out of when and how often to introduce males and females for breeding purposes. Reducing the number of enclosures required to house a large collection is considered to be a side benefit to housing in groups and not the primary motivation. Although most gecko species are solitary in the wild, gecko lines that have been bred in captivity and kept in groups for many generations may have also been bred to increase their tolerance for sharing space with other geckos. Some keepers also claim to be witnessing some limited social behaviors in small groups of geckos housed together.
There is some evidence that, even in the wild, some gecko species are found in aggregate groups, either under circumstances where sharing a resource is beneficial or as a matter of course. Although most gecko species do not tolerate multiple males in the same enclosure, some keepers have successfully housed P. rangei in small groups of males and (separate) small groups of females. Careful research may allow certain species of geckos to be kept permanently in social groups that is actually a positive rather than simply a “tolerable” situation.
We Want to Hear from You
What are your beliefs about keeping geckos individually or in groups?
Are your decisions in this area based on research, observation or personal preference?
Are there gecko species that are more conducive to being kept in groups? Less conducive?
What type of enclosure parameters are best for keeping geckos in groups?
What has your personal experience been?
Please let us know your thoughts and opinions by filling out the Response Box below. Feel free to address the following questions or to bring up other issues not yet raised. We will be publishing all the comments on August 13, so we need your responses by August 11. In addition, we hope to have someone representing each side of the controversy provide a more substantial response:
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