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Yucatan Banded Gecko – (Coleonyx elegans)

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Banded Gecko Coleonyx variegatus 1

Yucatan Banded Gecko (Coleonyx elegans)

The Yucatan banded gecko originates from Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. They are a ground dwelling species and are commonly found inhabiting forests and open habitats throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

The Yucatan banded gecko has a slender body and a smooth, soft tail. Their bodies are mainly a mix of chocolate browns with bands of dark brown/black covering their entire length.

They are mostly nocturnal, but will occasionally come out during the day and can reach a length of around 18cm/7 inches in total when fully grown.

Housing

This small gecko can be kept in either glass or wooden vivaria, with a minimum of 60 x 45 x 45cm/24” x 18” x 18” for a single adult, although more space is always appreciated.

Heating

Like all reptiles, banded geckos cannot regulate their body temperatures internally as we do, and so they rely on their environment to provide the temperatures they require. Banded geckos are quite happy with slightly cooler temperatures than many of the more desert based species.

They require a temperature gradient from 32º to 35ºc/89º to 95ºf 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).

Lighting

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 banded geckos. Read our blog – UV lighting for nocturnal geckos, snakes and amphibians 

Water

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.

Feeding

Banded geckos are insectivorous, and eat a variety of insects including crickets, mealworms, wax worms and locusts. They are voracious feeders, and seem to prefer small, fast moving prey.

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.

Maintenance

Unlike leopard geckos (which use one area as a toilet) banded 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.

Shedding

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.

Conclusion

Another less-often seen species, these geckos are easy to maintain to a high standard. They are active and pretty, and although they are not as easy to handle as some of the smaller gecko species, they are bold enough to hand feed with a little patience on the part of the keeper.

If you don’t have a great deal of space and fancy something a little different, these are an excellent species to keep!

 

Natural Habitat: Forests and open habitats throughout the Yucatan Peninsula.

Lifespan: Unknown, but should be 8 – 10 years as a minimum.

Adult Size: Medium. Up to 18cm/7” in total length.

Temperament: Calm and confident once settled, a little shy to begin with.

Housing: 60 x 45 x 45cm/24” x 18” x 18” minimum for a single gecko, although they appreciate extra space, especially if being kept in a group.

Temperature Range: 32º to 35ºc/89º to 95ºf in the warm end, to 20º to 23ºc /68º to 74ºf at the cool end.

Lighting: A small basking light to provide a hot spot, and low to medium levels of UV – a 6% tube or even a compact (changed at the recommended intervals) is absolutely fine.

Feeding: As insectivores, these geckos should be offered suitably sized insects, dusted and gut loaded. A wide variety (locusts, crickets, calci worms, mealworms etc) is ideal.

Substrate: The newer soil based substrates are excellent, but beech chip works just fine as well. Avoid moist substrates, or very fine sand – they’re not a true desert/sand living species, but as a generalist they are very adaptable.

Décor: Plenty of hiding places such as piles of cork bark, resin hides, and low branches to climb on. Plastic plants provide shade and cover, and are visually attractive.

Multiples? This is another gecko that will cheerfully live in a group, although there should never be more than one mature male in the enclosure.

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