Mourning Gecko Care

Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)

Difficulty: Low

Published: November 7, 2017

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

mourning gecko natural distribution map

Mourning geckos (aka smooth-scaled geckos) are among the most widely distributed reptiles in the world. Simply put, they can be found in the South Pacific islands, in Central and South America, and Hawaii.

Mourning geckos are TINY — just 3.5” to 4” (8.5-10 cm) long, half of that length being a relatively thick tail used for fat storage. Despite their small size, however, they can live for as long as 10 years, and there have been some claims of 15 years.

Like many other gecko species, mourning geckos “fire up/down,” varying in color from brown to light tan, respectively. Discerning markings include a stripe from nostril to ear on both sides, light cream belly, and a zigzag or chevron-like dark pattern on their backs.

Mourning geckos are cathemeral, meaning they are irregularly active during both the day and night. They are primarily active at night, when they socialize with other geckos in the colony, hunt, and eat. In the wild, mourning geckos enjoy an omnivorous diet of nectar, fruit, fruit flies, and other small insects.

Mourning geckos are known for a very special characteristic: the entire species is female! How can this be? Parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is a type of asexual reproduction, which means they don’t need males to reproduce. Offspring, then, are essentially clones of their mothers. This adaptation is likely one of the reasons why mourning geckos have such a large native range.

Due to their ready breeding habits, mourning geckos are frequently kept as feeders for snakes, amphibians, invertebrates, and larger lizards. However, they can make fun, easy-to-maintain pets as well.

The Ultimate Mourning Gecko Care Guide - mourning gecko basking in terrarium

Photo used with permission from my.little.creatures

Fun Facts:

  • All mourning geckos are female. In fact, the name “mourning gecko” comes from the assumption that they were “in mourning” over the loss of their mates when they were first discovered.
  • Mourning gecko eggs are saltwater tolerant. This helps explain how widespread they are.
  • Mourning geckos don’t all look the same. Despite the fact that mourning geckos are essentially clones of one another, they do demonstrate some genetic diversity. Patterns tend to vary based on locale (for example, a Hawaiian mourning gecko will look different from a South American mourning gecko).
  • Mourning geckos do not have eyelids, so they clean and moisten their eyes with their tongue.
  • Mourning geckos can climb vertical surfaces. Like most geckos, this is thanks to thousands of tiny “hairs” on their toe pads called setae.
  • A mourning gecko can regrow her tail if it gets cut/bitten off.

Can you tell that I love this species? <3

The Ultimate Mourning Gecko Care Guide

Photo used with permission from Woodland Manor Darts and Dragons @WMD_n_D

Mourning Gecko Care — Table of Contents

  1. Shopping List
  2. Terrarium Size Requirements
  3. Temperature & Humidity Needs
  4. Substrate Options
  5. Decorating a Mourning Gecko Terrarium
  6. Feeding Your Mourning Geckos
  7. Handling & Body Language Info
  8. Common Health Problems
  9. Additional Resources

Special thanks to Woodland Manor Darts and Dragons, my.little.creatures, ReptilesRuS, and Helen Keeling of Blackwater Exotics for contributing photos and assisting with the creation of this mourning gecko care guide!

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