Chinese Cave Gecko (Goniurosaurus sp.)
Welcome to the ReptiFiles Chinese Cave Gecko Care Sheet! This care sheet was written by a professional reptile husbandry specialist, compiled based on reputable sources such as scientific research papers, natural history data, and the experiences of longtime keepers and breeders of this species. You can find a list of these sources at the bottom of this page.
ReptiFiles care materials contain a variety of links to helpful resources and trusted products, some of which are affiliate links. I rely heavily on affiliate revenue to maintain ReptiFiles.com and further my research. For more information on why I use affiliate links, click here.
Introduction to Chinese Cave Geckos
Chinese cave geckos are a group of 13 species of geckos under the genus Goniurosaurus. All of them are nocturnal, insectivorous, semi-arboreal lizards native to Asian from northeast Vietnam through southwest China to Japan. They prefer primary and secondary forest habitats with small bodies of moving water near rock formations.
These geckos range from as small as 5.5″ to as long as 9.5″ (14-24cm). Although exact appearance varies by species, there are some consistencies across the Goniurosaurus genus:
- orange/red eyes
- vertical pupils
- bumpy skin
- pink-gray belly
- no sticky toes
- subtly segmented tail
Coloring is generally dark brown to black with white and/or yellow markings. Most have a banded pattern on the body, but some have stripes and others are almost completely patternless.
G. hainanensis is the most common Chinese cave gecko species in the pet trade, but there are others available. They tend to be fairly hardy pets, but this is not an excuse to slack on their husbandry. If you pay attention to providing high-quality Chinese cave gecko care, you may expect your pet to enjoy a lifespan of 10-12+ years.
Chinese Cave Gecko Shopping List
These are products I personally recommend for setting up a functional Chinese cave gecko terrarium. Some of the links in this care sheet are paid links — if you’d like to know why ReptiFiles uses paid links, visit this page.
- Front-opening 24”L x 18”W x 18”H terrarium, preferably larger
- 40w Exo Terra Daytime Heat Lamp
- Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium Hood, 12″
- Zoo Med ReptiTherm UTH, small
- Inkbird Temperature Controller
- Arcadia ShadeDweller UVB kit
- Zilla 24/7 Digital Power Center
- Zoo Med Digital Thermometer/Hygrometer Combo
- Exo Terra Mister
- Zoo Med Eco Earth, 15+ quarts
- Leaf litter
- Hides/caves, x2
- Pangea Cork Background, Rough (24×18), x1
- Pangea Cork Background, Rough (18×18), x2
- Environmental enrichment
- Food and water dishes
- Repashy Calcium Plus LoD supplement
- Rescue RTU veterinary disinfectant
Chinese Cave Gecko Enclosure Size
Chinese cave geckos need an enclosure that is large enough to give them adequate opportunity to explore, hunt, and generally exercise natural behaviors. Considering that a Chinese cave gecko can grow up to 9.5″/24cm long, the minimum recommended enclosure size for housing a single animal is 24”L x 18”W x 18”H / 60 x 45 x 45cm or similar. However, larger is always better!
ReptiFiles recommends the following enclosures for Chinese cave geckos:
- Zen Habitats 2’x2’x2′ Meridian PVC Reptile Enclosure
- Toad Ranch BC24 2’x2’x2′ Luxury Reptile Enclosure
- REPTI ZOO Reptile Terrarium, 24″ x 18″ x 18″
- REPTI ZOO Reptile Terrarium 36″ x 18″ x 18″
Can multiple Chinese cave geckos be housed in the same enclosure?
Yes, but it’s not required for their wellbeing. Females can be successfully housed in groups, although you should have a spare enclosure on hand in case separation becomes necessary due to severe conflict. Males don’t get along as a rule, so it’s best never to house them together. Females should not be housed with a male unless you intend to breed.
A 24x18x18 enclosure can house a pair of geckos, while a 36x18x18 (90 x 45 x 45cm) enclosure can house up to 4.
Lighting & UVB for Chinese Cave Gecko
Chinese cave geckos are nocturnal, which means that they are primarily active at night. However, they still need a light on during the day to help regulate their day/night cycle. Lights should be left on for 12 hours/day.
Because they are nocturnal, technically Chinese cave geckos can survive without UVB lighting as long as they get plenty of supplemented vitamin D3. However, you are still going to get the best results from using UVB lighting rather than relying on supplements.
UVB lighting can be tricky, because in order to get the right strength of UVB (measured by UV Index, or UVI), distance must be considered. As a rough estimate, to provide appropriate UVB to a Chinese cave gecko in an 18” tall enclosure, you will need one of the following:
The recommended distances listed above are to be measured from the gecko’s back to the UVB lamp. The bulb itself should be roughly 1/2 of the enclosure’s length, no more than 2/3. These UVB bulbs must be replaced every 12 months in order to remain effective.
(These recommendations are approximations. It is strongly recommended to use a Solarmeter 6.5 to determine the best placement to achieve a UVI of 1.0-2.0 in the basking area at the top of the enclosure.)
Chinese Cave Gecko Temperature Requirements
Humans are warm-blooded, which means that our body temperature is automatically regulated. Chinese cave geckos, however, are cold-blooded, and they need to move between areas of different temperatures in order to regulate their body temperature. In the wild, Chinese cave geckos generally warm up by resting inside a warm burrow or under a sun-warmed piece of fallen wood. However, occasional exposure to a gentle sunbeam is not out of the question.
- Warm hide/basking temperature: 80-82°F (27-28°C)
- Cool zone temperature: 72-77°F (22-25°C)
- Nighttime temperature: 68-72°F (20-22°C)
In captivity, sunlight can be replicated with a “white” incandescent heat lamp. You will need one or two ~40w heat bulbs for basking, such as the Exo Terra Daytime Heat Lamp bulb in a small hood fixture such as the Zoo Med Naturalistic Hood. This wattage should be plenty, but results will vary based on your room temperature. If you notice that the warm side is too warm, dial down the heat down with a lamp dimmer or switch to a lower wattage bulb. If your basking area is too cool, you will need a higher wattage bulb. The warm hide should be placed directly under the heat lamp, with the lamp placed on the extreme right or left of the setup.
A small heat pad may be needed to maintain the temperature of the warm hide independent of the warm side of the enclosure. A Zoo Med Reptitherm UTH (Small) plus an Inkbird Temperature Controller will work well to prevent it from getting too warm or cool. To track warm hide temperature, place the thermostat probe inside the hide. To track ambient temperature, use a digital probe thermometer.
Make sure to be extra careful to prevent the enclosure from getting too hot, as Chinese cave geckos are very vulnerable to heat stress above ambient temperatures of 82°F / 28°C!
Chinese Cave Gecko Humidity Requirements
Chinese cave gecko humidity levels should be maintained between 50-90%, being lower during the day and higher at night. Ambient humidity should be tracked via digital probe hygrometer with the probe placed in the middle of the setup.
To raise the humidity in your enclosure, you can use a pressure sprayer like the Exo Terra Mister to mist the habitat every evening and morning, as well as possibly in the middle of the day. Alternatively you can install a Mistking automatic misting system. The enclosure should be well ventilated enough to dry out a bit between mistings.
It’s good practice to use a reptile humidifier/fogger at night to help maintain high nightly humidity levels. Make sure to use reverse-osmosis or distilled water, and thoroughly clean out and sanitize the humidifier with veterinary-grade disinfectant like Rescue or F10SC weekly to prevent illness.
A “humid hide” containing moistened substrate should be available in the middle to cool end of the enclosure at all times. Check this hide daily for mold and clean/replace substrate material/remoisten as needed.
Chinese Cave Gecko Substrate Options
Substrate is an important part of a Chinese cave gecko terrarium because it helps maintain humidity. It’s best to use a moisture-retentive substrate that is similar to the soil in the gecko’s natural habitat. Here are some reliable options:
- DIY tropical mix: 60% organic topsoil, 40% coconut fiber
- Zoo Med Reptisoil
- Zoo Med Eco Earth
- Exo Terra Plantation Soil
- The Bio Dude Terra Firma bioactive kit
Only 2-3″ / 5-7cm should be needed, unless you are planting live plants directly into the substrate. Then add a generous layer of leaf litter on top.
Feces and urates should be removed daily, and contaminated substrate should be scooped out and replaced. Substrate should be completely replaced once every 3-4 months, depending on your needs.
Decorating Your Chinese Cave Gecko Terrarium
Decorations play a vital role in your gecko’s enclosure as environmental enrichment. Enrichment items encourage exercise, stimulate your pet’s natural instincts, and help promote overall wellbeing. And, of course, they make the enclosure look nicer!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- cork hollows
- cork flats
- commercial hides/caves
- flat rocks
- low sturdy branches
- live tropical plants
- bark background panels
Arrange these items in a way that encourages your gecko to climb and explore, and offers plenty of shade/hiding opportunities.
A bioactive setup with live plants is a good way to help maintain healthy humidity levels, but keep in mind that this also requires specialized substrate, CUC microfauna, and ~6500K LED plant lighting, as well as unique maintenance requirements.
Feeding Your Chinese Cave Gecko
Chinese cave geckos are insectivores, which means that they need a varied diet of insects to get the right nutrition. Juvenile cave geckos should be fed daily, and full-grown adults should be fed every other day. Offer as many insects as the gecko is capable of eating in a 15-minute period, with each feeder being no larger than the gecko’s head.
Best feeder insects for Chinese cave geckos: crickets, dubia roaches, discoid roaches, mealworms, hornworms, silkworms, black soldier fly larvae
The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for your pet is VARIETY. Provide as varied of a diet as you possibly can, and you will be rewarded with a healthier pet that always looks forward to mealtime.
Feeder insects need to be “dusted” with a light coating of calcium powder before every feeding to balance their calcium-phosphorus ratio, and adding a multivitamin to the routine helps prevent deficiencies from developing.
There are many options, but Repashy CalciumPlus LoD is a solid all-in-one supplement for getting started. For best results, use as directed by the label.
Although your gecko will likely get drinking water from routine mistings, make sure to always keep a bowl of clean water available. This bowl should be scrubbed out with veterinary disinfectant such as Rescue or F10SC weekly for good hygiene.
Handling Your Chinese Cave Gecko
Chinese cave geckos are more of a look-but-don’t-touch display animal rather than a pet that you can handle regularly. However, although they don’t do well with handling, they can be acclimated to taking food from feeding tongs or even fingers!
Wait at least 2 weeks for the gecko to settle into its new home before trying to introduce yourself beyond daily enclosure maintenance.
Aliza. (2013, August 27). Three to Get Ready: Goniurosaurus. Gecko Time. https://geckotime.com/three-to-get-ready-goniurosaurus/
Baines, F. M., Chattell, J., Dale, J., Garrick, D., Gill, I., Goetz, M., Skelton, T., & Swatman, M. (2016). How much UVB does my reptile need? The UV-Tool, a guide to the selection of UV lighting for reptiles and amphibians in captivity. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 1, 56. https://doi.org/10.19227/jzar.v4i1.150
Crepuscular Species. (n.d.). Arcadia Reptile. Retrieved January 10, 2022, from https://www.arcadiareptile.com/lighting/crepuscular-species/
Edenfield, C. (n.d.). Chinese Cave Gecko. The Reptiles of Eden. https://thereptilesofeden.com/pages/chinese-cave-gecko
Hoke, R. (2020, February 25). Goniurosaurus hainanensis Care By Rob Hoke. The Herpetoculture Network. https://herpetoculturenetwork.com/goniurosaurus-hainanensis-care-by-rob-hoke/
Kirschner, A., Seufer, H., & Kaverkin, Y. (2005). The Eyelash Geckos, Care, Breeding and Natural History (pp. 133–175). Kirschner & Seufer Verlag.
Wintjen, R. (Ed.). (2014). Herpetoculture House Magazine, 3.4. http://reptileapartment.com/interviews/HHM%20Singles/Volume-3-Issue-4_Cave-Geckos-Care-and-Breeding_Rachel-Wintjen.pdf
The ReptiFiles Chinese Cave Gecko Care Sheet is a simplified care summary, not a full ReptiFiles care guide. While I have done my best to ensure that the information contained is accurate, due to time constraints, the research behind ReptiFiles care sheets is not as thorough as the research involved with my full-length care guides. I strongly encourage readers to do their own research from high-quality, reputable sources outside of just this care sheet as part of preparing for your new pet reptile.