Flying Geckos (Ptychozoon Kuhli): Care and Breeding
I have kept Flying Geckos on and off over the years and am very excited to be working with them again. I am going to go over some details on how I care for these unusual and underrated geckos. They are very fun to watch, but they do not like to be handled. Flying geckos are interested in what goes on outside the cage and will watch you from concealed perches. It is neat to notice a little gecko staring at you from around a stick or a rock. They also like to hide in plain sight relying on their camouflage to keep them safe. They will hunt in the daylight if the prey item is something they really enjoy: my big female will come out and get Phoenix worms anytime. Although they are known as “flying geckos”, you will never see them glide unless placed into about a 40g tank or larger. Even then it is rare to catch them at it. If I could make room for a 4’x4’x4′ enclosure that is where they would be living.
Planning for a Flying Gecko
Flying Geckos are about 6” long. Wild Caught (WC) animals live 3-5 years. Captive Born & Bred (CBB) flying geckos have been known to live to almost 10 years. Males have a pronounced row of pre-anal pores. Females lack these pronounced pores. Flying geckos have a wide range of vocalizations and occasionally can be rather talkative. Males will make a series of chirps when they are trying to attract a female. Both sexes make alarm calls when grasped.
Flying geckos are definitely not for the beginner gecko keeper. They need high humidity, day/ night cycles and a well set up vivarium. Wild Caught animals often have high parasite loads in the form of tiny red mites and occasionally worms. Consequently, many imported geckos die of stress and disease. Wild Caught geckos are aggressive, and will bite, squeak and thrash if grasped. Captive Born & Bred animals do not normally suffer from parasite problems and with some work can even be tame. On a scale of 1-5 (1 being easy, 5 being master gecko keeper), I would give these animals a 3 for a WC and a 2 for a CBB.
If you get a WC animal, it will have mites. These parasites love flying geckos; the skin flaps are ideal mite homes. To remove these blood sucking fiends, take a Q-tip dipped lightly in vegetable oil and gently rub off the mites. Your gecko will not be happy and you will be bitten. I find letting the gecko bite me makes it easier to de-mite it. Check the geckos every few days for more mites for at least 3 weeks, then check every week for 3 more weeks. Remove mites as needed.
These geckos are arboreal. Cages that are tall rather than wide are best suited to keeping this species. Males can not be kept together as they will fight. Females get along with other females pretty well if there is enough space for them all. I recommend a 20 Tall style tank (24”x13”x17” or 61x33x43.2 cm) for 1-2 flying geckos and increasing size by 10 gallons for each flying gecko added. Many decorations are preferred, and dense foliage is something any flier will enjoy. Another cage decoration that I find to be instrumental to keeping these animals is cork bark backgrounds. They will simulate the tree trunks they inhabit in the wild. A shallow water dish is also needed, though you must add rocks or something they can climb onto as they are not good at swimming. Eco Earth, Bed-A-Beast and Coco Fiber all work well as substrates.
Humidity should be maintained at 70-85%. Daytime temps of 90°, no higher than 95°, are best. Night temperatures can be into the 70’s. Do not let the night temperatures get below 70°. If needed use a night light to provide additional heat. For lighting I use a full spectrum UVB/UVA light and a 75-100w heating bulb. Lights should vary seasonally: 10 hours of light during the winter, 12 hours during the spring and fall, and 14 hours in the summer
Feeding and Supplementation
I find that flying geckos will eat most anything that skitters, jumps or crawls. I offer mine Blatta Lateralis (Turkistan) roaches, crickets, and phoenix worms. My animals have shown no interest in mealworms. I feed them every other day, 4-6 prey items per gecko. Occasionally some individual animals may eat sweet fruit or nectar, so I give mine Crested Gecko Diet (CGD) every now and then as a treat. They seem to prefer Fig and Mango flavored CGD. Some flying geckos will eat insects from feeding dishes. I dust their food with Calcium with D3 every other feeding and use a multivitamin dust once a week. Phoenix worms do not need to be dusted.
Mist the cage 3 times a day and leave a water dish in the tank. The water in the dish should be changed daily. Some animals will drink from water dishes, but not all will do this.
In captivity flying geckos may breed year round. Mine tend to start breeding in mid summer. I have noticed that weather plays a role as well; every time it rains my pair goes into mating mode. About 2-3 weeks after mating the female will lay 2 eggs glued to something, usually the worst place for you. They like to find what they think are secure areas, and often that is just under the lid of the tank or other area where you are likely to accidentally crunch them. To help them find areas that are secure, place cork bark tubes or bamboo in the tank with holes big enough for them to enter. Eggs take 60-90 days to hatch. If possible remove them from the enclosure and incubate at 78°. Eggs can be left in the enclosure if you cannot remove them. If they are glued to the tank or large piece of cage furniture, do not try to remove them, since they are very fragile. I do not know if flying geckos will eat their offspring or not, so I take no chances and set up the babies in their own enclosure. I use a 12”x12”x18” Exo-Terra vivarium for them.
Hatchlings are very small, about 1.5” in total length. They usually go through their first shed within 8-12 hours of hatching and will then begin feeding. Offer them Fruit Flies (Hydei), week-old crickets, small roach nymphs, and small phoenix worms. Rear them in the same conditions as adults. Be sure to feed them every day.
There are no known morphs at this time. Flying geckos do have a wide range of natural wood colors and even blacks. They can alter color depending on their mood and can camouflage themselves.
I find they are a very underrated gecko and deserve more of our attention in the hobby. I hope that this guide to their care inspires you to get a flying gecko or 2 of your own.
Daniel MartindaleVisit Website
Dan Martindale has been keeping herps since he was 8 and loved working with various lizards, geckos, skink, frogs and toads and many others. Currently he has a small business and hopes to offer a wide variety of captive bred reptiles. He does not raise his animals on a simple diet of just 1 bug; his critters enjoy a varied diet of about 5 regular prey types and a few extras like Silkworms now and then. He is currently working with Leopard geckos(Eublepharis macularius), crested geckos(Rhacodactylus ciliatus), flying geckos (Ptychozoon kuhli) and mourning geckos (Lepidodactylus lugubris). He is a co-owner of Chaotic Nights Reptiles. One day he hopes to be able to do what he loves for a living and a hobby.