The mossy or Chahoua gecko is a great exotic pet for all ages. These little critters come in different colors and have low maintenance requirements for reptiles. However, finding information on how to care for them can be a challenge. Hopefully, this Chahoua gecko care sheet will help you with what you need to know before owning a mossy gecko.
Chahoua gecko care all starts with a large enough enclosure that mimics the semi-arboreal native habitat of these nocturnal lizards. You then follow through with an appropriate diet and supplements.
By reading further, you will learn the critical details you need to establish the perfect enclosure for your lizard. You will also learn how to handle and care for the little critter.
Chahoua Gecko Size and Appearance
Weighing in around 45 to 75 grams, the Chahoua gecko is the third-largest gecko from New Caledonia, coming in around 5.5 to 5.7 inches from snout to vent. However, you can find a few of them over 10 inches long, especially if they come from Pine Island.
Their common name, Mossy Prehensile-Tailed Gecko, derives from moss-like patterns on their backs. The patterns are usually green and reddish-brown with white highlights around the neck and pelvis, but you can also find them in rusty red or gray. These patterns let the lizards blend into their environment with ease.
Besides their mossy backs, these lizards also have one of the most versatile tails in the reptile world. They can completely coil the tail and use it as an extra limb. This tail lets the creatures climb and grip branches and other objects native to their high-altitude home range. They can drop and regrow their tails like any other New Caledonia gecko, but the regenerated tail will look different than the original.
Chahoua Gecko Care and Lifespan
Due to their small population in captivity, the lifespan of a Chahoua gecko is largely unknown. However, most gecko keepers estimate it to be around 20 years, given the lifespan of other New Caledonian geckos.
It takes 120 to 200 days for the eggs to hatch to reveal baby geckos that look like miniature adults. They are also as strong as adults due to their highly calcified eggshells. They remain delicate until adulthood, which takes about 10 months.
At 5 months, the geckos develop sex markings. Males gain a very noticeable hemipenile bulge just below their vent, which can take 5 months to fully develop. Meanwhile, female geckos never develop a bulge, retaining all the marking they had at birth.
It takes about 2 to 3 years before a new hatchling becomes fully mature and starts mating. Geckos can mate earlier than this, but the process may kill the females. Either way, female Chahoua geckos gravid for 35 days before laying their eggs in pairs. They usually lay three pairs at a time, but some geckos will lay as many as six.
Chahoua Gecko Temperament
Chahoua geckos are nocturnal, preferring to feed and mate at night, but they become tame once in captivity. They remain calm and composed when handled once they trust you. Therefore, you want to start handling your new pet slowly. You can then gradually increase your playtime as they grow accustomed to your presence.
Just note that baby geckos like to jump around a lot with little bursts of energy. You can get them to calm down by using your hands like a treadmill by putting one hand in front of the other as they move from one hand to the next. Your pet will calm down and tire after a few minutes.
Handling Your Chahoua Gecko
Chahoua gecko owners love them because of how docile they are when you hold them, but that does not mean you can be rough with them. Chahouas can get aggressive when provoked or protecting their young. Therefore, you never want to spook them.
To that end, you never want to hold geckos that are less than two weeks old or were recently purchased or moved. You always want to give the critters a two-week grace period to get used to their new place before you do anything to them.
Once the initial two-week period ends, you can begin playing with your gecko, but you want to start slowly. Most professional gecko breeders recommend that you keep playing time to about 5 minutes per day for the first few weeks to allow your pet to recognize you as not a threat. You can then add more time in 5-minute intervals until you reach 20 minutes per day.
However, you want to avoid going over 20 minutes, as that can stress out your gecko. A stressed gecko is very jumpy and prone to running. If your pet exhibits these symptoms, you can soothe him or her by using the “hand walking” method mentioned earlier. Be patient with your gecko when doing this, as it can take several sessions before your gecko calms down.
Chahoua Gecko Care: Proper Diet and Hydration
Proper diet is an essential aspect of Chahoua gecko care. The Chahoua diet is similar to the fruit and insect diets of other New Caledonian geckos, but with more insects.
Because of this, most owners can just feed their mossy gecko any standard prepared crested gecko food. Except that they will need a high amount of meal made with insects.
A good example would be Repashy Grubs N Fruit or the Pangea Fruit Mix With Insects. You can also customize your gecko’s diet as well, letting you work with what is available to you.
However, newly born geckos will not eat for a couple of days, as they are still absorbing the yolk from their eggs. Just make sure you remove any incubation substrate, as the lizards can easily swallow and choke on it.
Mossy geckos are not picky eaters usually. As such, there is no shortage of fruit diets available. Most stores carry several gecko diet powders that cover every fruit:
Imaginable. Some varieties even mix in a few insects.
Any one of them will work with most geckos. You can even mix a few to create your own blend. However, individual lizards can have their tastes. Some geckos prefer fresh fruit, while others prefer a more fermented flavor. So, you may want to shop around to find the premade formula that your gecko prefers.
While Chahoua geckos will eat fruit, they prefer an insect-rich diet. They prefer it so much that they thrive with insects in every meal, unlike other New Caledonian species. Geckos younger than two years old will even gorge themselves on insects to power their rapidly growing bodies. While adults significantly slow down their insect-eating, females can eat as much as the babies while breeding and laying eggs. Even then, you want to give your gecko a plate full of insects two to three times a week.
Luckily, as with fruit, Chahoua geckos will eat any type of insect, though you will get the most mileage from:
- Wax worms
- Dubia or discoid roaches
Still, you want to keep the roaches under 25 grams. Geckos have no taste for roaches bigger than 25 grams. They may attack and eat them but will usually spit them out. They have no issues with crickets, however. They can easily down 15 crickets in a single feeding session. Of course, you will only want to feed them appropriate-sized insects. Aim for insects equal to or smaller than the space between their eyes.
Feeding Your Chahoua Gecko
The best way to feed a Chahoua gecko is to rotate between an insect-heavy and a fruit-heavy meal. You can even dust the food with a multi-vitamin for extra calcium and vitamins. The easiest thing to do is use premade gecko diet formulas or make your own. Though, you want to give a young gecko a more insect-rich diet while they are still growing.
Either way, you want to feed your pet using magnetic feeding ledges. These ledges keep the food cups off the ground while mimicking how geckos normally eat in the wild.
Just remember that each gecko has its preferred meal style. Some geckos will eat the food immediately. Others will let the food ferment for 48 hours before taking a bite. So, you should leave each food cup out for at least two days. After which, you can remove the food once it starts to sour. This does not apply however if you feed them live insects. When feed them live insects you want to give them some time to eat but do not leave the insects in the enclosure.
While Chahoua geckos do not have specific watering needs, they do drink water almost constantly. Usually, they take in any moisture found on the side of their enclosure, plants, and any other vivarium accessories nearby.
Therefore, you must moisten your gecko’s vivarium daily. Use a spray bottle to mimic the dew droplets geckos usually drink in the wild.
You can also leave out a small dish of clean non-chlorinated water inside the enclosure. It is not unusual for a pet gecko to take a sip now and then to supplement its regular water intake.
Vitamins and Supplements
Unlike some other types of geckos, Chahoua geckos need a steady supply of calcium. This is especially true for breeding females and juveniles. Calcium deficiency can kill geckos or leave them with kinked tails or underbites. You can tell if your gecko needs more calcium if he or she develops a wavy tail.
The easiest and best way to give Chahoua geckos enough calcium is to add calcium-rich fruits to their diet. You can also sprinkle calcium supplements on their feeder insects to give an extra boost to their health.
Chahoua Gecko Care: Enclosure Size Requirements
Chahoua geckos are:
As such, they usually stay off the ground in low-lying shrubbery and mid-sized trees, rarely going to the upper canopy. Therefore, your gecko enclosure needs tall structures with numerous hiding places that simulate tree hollows.
You also must give your gecko enough room to move about and thermoregulate. The age and size of your gecko will determine the type of enclosure and substrate you need. Just make sure you keep adult geckos in separate enclosures unless you are breeding them.
Juvenile geckos require smaller 12-cubic-inch enclosures. The smaller size with a simple faunarium substrate makes them feel safe while making it easy for them to find food and water. As they grow older, you can switch them to vivarium substrates and taller enclosures.
Adult geckos need vivarium enclosures that are 18 cubic inches or larger. You can use any type of gecko enclosure, provided you maintain high humidity inside them. That includes the numerous glass and wooden reptile vivariums and terrariums available on the market. You can even use a fish aquarium if nothing else is available.
Best Substrate For The Mossy Gecko
Adult gecko substrate is the personal choice of the owner as long as you choose something safe. You can get as creative as you want here. Some owners use coco fiber, while others use kitchen rolls or safe live plants.
You will find a few enclosures that mix fiber with peat moss to get a more natural look. You can then complement the substrate with lots of branches and vines for climbing and sleeping. You can easily make these structures out of cork tubes and platforms.
Regardless of the substrate you use, it must fill up the enclosure. Most gecko breeders recommend substrate vivariums that are at least 17 cubic inches for adult geckos, but you should use larger ones if they are available. Remember, Chahouas will use all the space you give them. Nothing will be wasted.
However, you should use a paper towel substrate for young geckos under 10 grams. The paper will keep your little lizard safe while they learn to hunt insects. They may accidentally swallow other types of substrate, leading to impaction or death.
The only décor your Chahoua needs is stuff to climb. We already gave you an example of using cork to simulate the small trees and shrubs native to New Caledonia. Cork is:
- Easy to clean
- Withstands humidity well
- Dries quickly
Making it the perfect gecko amenity.
To truly deck out your Chahoua enclosure, you will want one or two tall, vertical cork slabs along with a cork hollow. Make sure your gecko can hide inside or behind them to feel safe and secure. You can then add sticks or vines around the enclosure to make your gecko feel like it is back in the jungle while he or she uses them for hunting or basking.
You can even include real ( make sure they are safe ) or fake potted plants and other features to create a more natural look. Go wild and place them where you see fit or where your gecko prefers them.
Chahoua Gecko Care: Temperature and Humidity
New Caledonia has a cool and humid climate, and you want to mimic that climate in your Chahoua gecko enclosure. That means keeping the place between 71 degrees and 79 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the year.
Luckily, average room temperature should suffice in most cases. You may also want to provide an 86-degree warm spot, but this is not required if the room is already warm enough.
While geckos love basking in the heat, they also need somewhere to cool off, rest, and regain energy and weight. You can incorporate this area into the enclosure, or you can just lower the ambient temperature to about 64 to 70 degrees.
A good rule of thumb for this is to keep the enclosure on the warm side during the day and cool at night.
If the room temperature is not enough to maintain these temperature ranges, you can use a ceramic heater or nocturnal heat lamp. You can secure these lamps to the top of the cage to mimic the light and heat from the sun.
Nocturnal lamps offer nighttime viewing without disturbing your gecko. Just make sure you monitor the temperature with a thermostat. A good digital thermometer will help as well.
As for humidity, your daily misting should be enough to keep your gecko happy. Most of the time, you only need to mist the cage twice a day. Though, you can do it more often if the humidity drops below 50 percent. A good hygrometer will help you know when to mist, so you do not drown your gecko.
While Chahoua geckos require a few hours near 100 percent humidity to shed, too much moisture can lead to bacterial and fungal infections. This is also why you never want to spray your gecko directly, as that also makes them vulnerable to infections.
Chahoua Gecko Care: Uvb Lighting Requirments
As nocturnal creatures, Chahoua geckos are active at night and sleep during the day. Even then, they prefer sleeping in foliage and other hiding spots.
As such, you do not need UVB lighting in their enclosure, but you do want to turn off any daylight at night. This way, your gecko will have some sense of day and night. That said, some keeps still prefer to provide some light UVB light during the day.
A good light will also let you see inside the enclosure and give any live plants in the vivarium the light they need to grow. There are no hard rules you should follow through, but you can use light to mimic the seasons.
For instance, you can give your gecko 12 to 14 hours of light during the summer, autumn, and spring and only 10 hours during winter.
Chahoua geckos are docile and friendly creatures that will give you years of enjoyment with the proper care. Fortunately, these critters are low-maintenance pets that require little more than food and places to hide.
The only real high-maintenance job is the daily misting of their enclosure which can be very difficult for some people.