How to care for your Australian Barking Gecko
A small, hardy gecko that originally hails from Australia, the barking gecko is a delightful little creature that is as simple to keep as any of the arid habitat geckos.
Populations of barking geckos are found in a range of habitats, including wet coastal low-woody vegetation; shrubby, sclerophyll (leather-leaf) forests; rocky arid scrubland; and hills in eucalyptus woodland in the southern coastal regions of eastern New South Wales, and throughout southern Australia to western Australia.
Smaller than a leopard gecko, 120 to 140mm in length, these geckos are often found crowded together in quite large groups during the day. It’s thought that this is to slow down the heating and cooling process, and conserve energy.
Glass terrariums or wooden vivariums are both fine to use for these little geckos, although a minimum length of 60cm/24” is advisable. As they are active and can live in groups, they will tend to use as much space as they are given – so bigger is always better.
Like all reptiles, barking geckos cannot regulate their body temperatures internally as we do, and so they rely on their environment to provide the temperatures they require. Barking geckos are quite happy with slightly cooler temperatures than many of the more desert based species.
They require a temperature gradient from 30º to 32ºc/86º to 89ºf in the warm end, to 20º to 23ºc /68º to 74ºf at the cool end. They do appreciate a slight temperature drop at night, and in most centrally heated homes they will need no additional heating at night.
It is very important to know what the temperature is, so check regularly with an accurate thermometer. Do not guess or take temperature by hand (if it feels warm or cold).
A simple 12 hour day/night cycle is absolutely fine for this species. UV lighting is essential, although this does not need to be as strong as the UV provided for any of the diurnal (day active) species. Lower levels of UV and lots of cover are ideal for barking geckos. Read our blog on UV lighting for nocturnal geckos, snakes and amphibians
It is important to provide your gecko with fresh water daily, in a shallow bowl to enable livefoods – and geckos – to climb out should they fall in.
Hides and Décor
The gecko will require a few hides in the vivarium so that it can feel secure. By having 3 or more (preferably more) in different areas of the vivarium the gecko will be able to choose the one that is at the best temperature. A humid hide is also recommended. These are hollow hides with damp moss inside; geckos will often use these when they are shedding their skin.
Plastic plants are also good to use, as these look very attractive in the vivarium as well as offering privacy.
Barking geckos are insectivorous, and eat a variety of insects including crickets, mealworms, wax worms and locusts.
It is important to feed your gecko the appropriate sized foods, roughly half the width of their head. Crickets and locusts are to be used as the main foods as they are lower in fat than wax worms and easier to digest than mealworms. Vitamin powders are very important to prevent problems such as Metabolic Bone Disease, which is a calcium deficiency, and can be a serious problem and happen very quickly with young geckos that are growing quickly. It is easy to prevent with the regular use of vitamin powders.
Don’t forget to feed your livefood, this will extend the life and nutritional value
Unlike leopard geckos (which use one area as a toilet) barking geckos will toilet wherever they happen to be when they need to go, so the habitat must be spot cleaned daily.
Clean and disinfect the water bowl on a weekly basis. Depending on cage conditions, remove all substrate & cage furniture and completely disinfect using safe disinfectant. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly and allow to dry before replacing cage furniture and your gecko.
Geckos shed their skin as they grow, they generally shed at night and eat the skin. If the gecko has trouble removing the skin it is usually because in the vivarium they don’t have access to a humid hide, or it may be a vitamin deficiency. Try putting a humid hide in the vivarium, if this doesn’t solve the problem call us or a reptile vet for assistance.
As easy to keep as the more popular leopard gecko, these little guys are an absolute delight. Their appearance is endearing – their big eyes and calm temperaments make them an excellent pet species, and they appear to be just as happy in a group as they are living alone. If you would like a terrestrial gecko like the leopard but fancy something a little bit different, give this species a try – you won’t regret it!