Pictus Gecko (Paroedura pictus) Care Sheet
Pictus geckos are native to southern Madagascar, and its surrounding islands. They are generally found 0n the forest floor, hidden in leaf litter. The Pictus gecko has several, different, common names and are often referred to as Madagascar Ground Geckos, Ocelot Geckos, Malagasy Fat Tailed Geckos, Panther Geckos, Painted Ground Geckos, or Big Head Geckos. Any of these names will often yield results for the Pictus gecko when an online search is run.
Pictus geckos are a nocturnal, terrestrial (ground dwelling) species. They are one of the smallest geckos in the world. Most Pictus geckos only reach 4-6 inches in length, although some males can reach up to 8 inches. These geckos are most commonly found stripped and banded, with shades of brown, gold tint, and some white coloration.
For these small geckos, you can use a shoebox tote, 10-gallon tank, or a large Pictus Gecko keeper. An enclosure can be made out of wood or glass vivaria as well. An adequate size enclosure would be 18-24 inches long, 12 inches wide, by 10 inches tall. Pictus geckos do not require the height of arboreal species as they are small, terrestrial, and may fall. A 10-gallon tank could house 3-4 pictus geckos.
There are several types of substrates that can be used. Paper towel, shelf liner, slate, or bed-a-beast are good examples. Using Calci-sand or any calcium carbonate based substrate is discouraged. Please read the following article to learn more about why you should avoid calcium carbonate based substrates: Calcium Sand Substrates - Dangers
Heating - Lighting - Humidity
Daytime temperature should be no greater than 85 F, with a basking spot of 88 F. Adequate nighttime temperatures can be maintained around 78 F but should not drop lower than 75 F.
There are a couple different options for heating the tank. Though using an Under Tank Heating (UTH) is suggested, a 40-watt light bulb can also be used. DO NOT use a heat rock with any reptile, as they can cause severe abdominal burns when the rocks get too hot.
Pictus geckos are nocturnal, and do not require any special UV lighting. Some people have noticed changes in their animals with a low level UVB bulb however.
The humidity in the enclosure should be kept between 50-80%, which can be achieved by lightly misting the cage daily. Always keep a bowl of fresh water in the enclosure, and supply a moist hide to help with shedding or as a retreat for times when the ambient humidity isn't high enough.
You should supply several hides for your gecko. Pictus gecko can get stressed out if they don't feel secure in their surroundings. By offering several hides, placed throughout the enclosure, you can help them feel secure. Coconut hides, or overturned plant dishes (The shallow dish the plant pot rests in for gathering water that has run through the plant.) make good, inexpensive hides. Plant dishes can be decorated to make your enclosure more appealing.
Low lying climbing material such as cork bark or rock make for a great exercise area. Sine the pictus gecko is terrestrial, and could fall, these items should not be stacked extremely high making a fall dangerous.
Food - Water
The Pictus geckos diet should primarily consist of crickets. To add diversity to the diet, you add additional insects such as mealworms (only to geckos over 6 months of age), locusts, silkworms, roaches, and waxworms. Waxworms should be fed as a treat or during breeding season as they are high in fat. Remember to always gut load your crickets with a high calcium diet 24-48 hours before feeding.
Make sure that fresh water is available at all times and that it is changed daily.
Sexing your pictus gecko is a good way to ensure you don't have two males housed together as this will result in unnecessary fighting. Sexing can be done as early as 2 to 3 months of age. Male Pictus geckos have very predominant bulges at the base of their tail and are generally longer and bulkier than females. Sexual maturity for this species is reached at 7 months.
Breeding should be prolonged until your pictus has exceeded 1 year of age. Breeding these geckos too young can cause unneeded stress and egg development problems in females.
Before breeding, make sure your breeders are in optimal health. Males and females can be house year round in the same enclosure. For the health of your female, it is recommended that after the female lay 3 clutches, she is removed. Not removing the female can cause over breeding and may result in the death of the female.
Males should be housed separate from the females. When ready to breed, introduce the females to the males cage, and copulation will take place.
During egg laying, supply the females with extra calcium and vitamin supplements. Make sure your have the moist hide in the tank during egg laying. This will also double as the egg-laying box.
Females may lay a pair or just a single egg. The egg(s) will be small and hard-shelled. Once the eggs have been laid, they will need to be moved to the incubator. When moving the eggs, be very careful not to roll them as it will drown the embryo. (It is best to make a small mark on the top of the egg with a sharpie so that you always know what side is "up".) Place the eggs in a container in the incubator with damp vermiculite. Incubate the eggs at 83-85 F for 50-60 days. Pictus geckos are not temperature sexed.
Hatchling care is close to the same as an adult pictus, but a bit more care is needed. After they have hatched, the hatchlings should be left in the egg container till the egg sac is absorbed. Once the egg sack has been absorbed, they can be moved into a small cage. A small Pictus Gecko Keeper would be adequate at this point. An enclosure that is too big will stress out the little ones. Substrate for the new cage should be paper towel to avoid impaction and to monitor defecation.
Make sure that the enclosure includes plenty of hides for them. Hatchling Pictus geckos are fragile and can easily become stressed out easy at this stage. Feeding should include a few small crickets. Pinhead crickets measuring 1/8-1/4 inch would be sufficient. Clean fresh water should be available at all times.
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Author: Nathan Janney
Pictus Gecko - © Nathan Janney