Hainan Cave Gecko Care Sheet

Natural History

Hainan cave geckos are a small terrestrial gecko in the same genus as some ground, tiger and leopard geckos. This genus is mostly located in China, Japan and Vietnam so they are often just referred to as Asian geckos. The hainan cave gecko are normally grey or brown with black spots and white or yellow bands. They have fairly long claws compared to other geckos allowing them to climb rocky areas with ease. Unlike other terrestrial geckos they are kept cooler and more humid.

They are most often found in caves or burrows in the day time. At night they come out to hunt crickets, cockroaches and other insects.

China

Housing

Hainan cavegeckos come from a relatively warm environment so they struggle with the cold of the UK. To insulate this we recommend keeping the gecko in a wooden vivarium. Due to the temperature gradient required we would normally select an enclosure a minimum of 3 x 2 x 2ft with large vents and glass sliding front doors.

All of this ventilation should ensure that heat and humidity is lost from one side of the enclosure to the other while keeping the basking spot itself at a consistent temperature.

Hainan cave geckos can be a little shy compared to some other species. We still use the full size vivarium, we would just provide more decorations to make sure there are full and partial

Heating

Naturally, Hainan cave geckos would experience temperatures of around 80of in the sun. We try to provide this heat over 1/3 of the enclosure while letting the rest of the enclosure cool to 70of on the opposite side. To achieve this we attach a basking lamp to the ceiling of the enclosure on one side. This is controlled by a dimming thermostat to make sure that the temperature is kept correct throughout the day.

At night, all of the lights should go off and the enclosure should be completely dark. This should make sure that the gecko has a clear day night cycle.

Though at this point the sun has gone down, there would still be rocks, paths and roads that have warmed up in the day and that will radiate heat for much of the night. To provide this warmth throughout the night without introducing light to the enclosure we lay a heat mat under the basking area. The heat mat will warm objects around it providing a warm patch of ground for the cave gecko to rest on. To make sure that the heat mat remains the correct temperature it is controlled by a simple on/off thermostat set to 75of. The heat mat is buried under around an inch of bedding, the sensor for the thermostat is then rested on the bedding covering the heat mat so that it can track the surface temperature of that patch of floor.

During the day your temperatures will be much too warm and the heat mat thermostat should keep it off automatically. The heat mat will only begin to heat once the temperatures have dropped below 75of at night time.

Though the thermostats we sell are very reliable it is always best practice to monitor your temperatures with a thermometer. A 5of variance on the basking spot is nothing to worry about as long as your cool side is still cool. A simple dial thermometer on each side should be sufficient but digital probe thermometers are much more accurate.

Baby Hainan Cave Gecko
Adult Hainan Cave Gecko

UVB Lighting

Hainan cave geckos are not a full time basking species by nature so they don't need an intense UVB source. We recommend somewhere between 2-7% over a small portion of the enclosure depending on the gecko. Albinos or any gecko with reduced pigmentation would be on the lower end of that spectrum while a common cave gecko could have a wide 5% tube or a short 7% tube

UV tubes are currently available in 2 sizes, T8 and T5. The T8 lamps are around 1 inch in diameter, they must be replaced every 6 months or so and they have an effective range of 9-12 inches. T5 lamps are the newer iteration. They are around half an inch in diameter, last 12 months and have an effective range of 18-24 inches.

Whichever lamp you choose we would advise mounting it to the back of the ceiling, close to the warm end. This should provide a nice UV gradient from the back of the enclosure towards the front. In this configuration we achieve a temperature gradient along the length and a UV gradient along the width meaning that whatever the dragons requirements they can find the perfect position within the enclosure.

At times the gecko may desire some time in an area with no light. To achieve this we would provide partial and full hiding spots throughout the enclosure.

Decoration

Hainan cave geckos thrive in a moderate humidity environment with hard decorations to climb over and bask on. When selecting a bedding we try to ensure that the pieces that will absorb moisture to reduce humidity spikes and release it slowly. In store we normally use a coarse bark woodchip as it is clean, cheap, easy to spot clean and dust free. If you prefer a more natural looking decoration a soil / clay mix would be perfect. If you plan to keep the gecko in a bio-active enclosure a nutrient rich soil mix with a small amount of sand for aeration would be perfect.

Hainan cave geckos love the warmth coming from their basking lamp but they also appreciate secondary belly heat which will radiate from warm objects. Natural rocks like slate are perfect for this, so are heavy artificial ornaments. These decorations can be placed under and around the basking area and should warm up nicely. If the lamp is too low there is a chance that natural rocks could get too hot so you are best to check the surface temperature to avoid burns.

As discussed in the lighting section there will be times when the gecko does not want any UV and needs a bit of shade. To ensure that the gecko can get away from the light whenever necessary we advise spreading full and partial cover throughout the enclosure. Examples of full cover decorations would be caves, flat cork pieces or any other ornament that provides a shady spot to rest. Examples of partial cover would include tall plants, trailing plants.

Diet & Water

Hainan cave geckos are carnivorous meaning that they can eat a varied diet insects. For this species we would recommend brown crickets. They are very nutritious, fairly easy for the chameleon to hunt, widely available and great value for money. If your chameleon will not take them, black crickets and locust are also a brilliant alternative. Every now and again you might want to provide your chameleon a treat, for this purpose you could feed: waxworms, calciworms, cockroaches, mealworms or beetle grubs. The grubs and worms tend to be quite fatty so we normally offer these a maximum of once or twice a week. Mealworms, morio worms and cockroaches can be difficult to digest so we would normally only provide these to mature geckos (12-18 months or older) and only once or twice a week.

We always include a small or medium sized water bowl in the chameleons enclosure. You might never see the gecko drink from it but it should be there as a back-up. You might notice the gecko use it for bathing, this is usually to cool down or to help loosen it's shedding skin. The water bowl should be kept on the cool end of the vivarium to make sure that the water doesn't evaporate too quickly.

Breeding

If you keep a male and female together, they may breed. You do not need to do anything to encourage this. As long as they are healthy and the conditions are good, it will happen naturally. You need to consider whether you want this to happen before introducing the pair. What will you do with the babies if you incubate the eggs?

A gravid female should have access to a nesting box to lay her eggs. The box should be large enough that she can fully turn-around inside it. Inside the nesting box we use a soil mix that is kept humid enough to hold its shape but not so wet that it will saturate any eggs. We have found that ProRep spider life is perfect for this.

Once laid, the eggs should be incubated in an incubator at 84oF. We incubate our eggs in sealed boxes on a moisture rich substrate (such as Hatchrite) to trap the humidity around the eggs. After approximately 60 days the eggs will start to hatch, the first babies to emerge will encourage the rest of the eggs to hatch.

Cleaning

Hainan cave geckos, as with most pets, require a clean environment to thrive. We recommend a spot clean as often as possible (every day) and a full clean every 4 weeks or so. If you are keeping the gecko in a bio-active enclosure you can spot clean and monitor the enclosure. It may still be a good item to change out the bedding a few times per year.

When cleaning the enclosure you should remove your animal, all decorations and all of the bedding. Once the enclosure is clear you can spray it all over with a reptile friendly disinfectant. These usually work very quickly and only need to be left for around 30 seconds, instructions can normally be found on the disinfectants packaging. Once the disinfectant has done its work it can be wiped away from the surfaces with a paper towel. In some cases you might want to repeat this process a second time to ensure that the enclosure is thoroughly cleaned.

Your decorations can be cleaned in a similar method, simply spray them down with the disinfectant and rinse thoroughly with water before drying them off and putting them back into the enclosure. We recommend this process is done during the day time to make sure that the gecko will be going back to a warm vivarium for at least an hour before the basking lamps are turned off for the night.