View Full Version : Lygodactylus kimhowelli care sheet and similar Lygodactylus - picturatus, ect

06-08-2015, 05:36 PM

True geckonidae without eyelids; all Lygodactylus are small, fast, and diurnal, endemic to the Southern half of the African continent for most of them. This care sheet applies to kimhowelli as well as to species which are quite close to them, such as Lygodactylus luteopicturatus, picturatus, capensis, nigropunctatus, scortecci, and many other members of this genus.


Above: adult specimen (WC), click on pic to enlarge.


Above: one day old hatchling, click on pic to enlarge.


Above: clutch of 2 eggs, the perlite granules give the scale. Click on pic to enlarge.

06-08-2015, 06:38 PM
Lygodactylus kimhowelli is a small species, barely reaching 85 mm with tail (3 1/2 inch), the tail being about 55-60% of this total length.

They must never be handled, stress could kill them! They also drop off their tails quite easily.

Males are very territorial, so there's no way 2 males can be housed together. Females are territorial too, one may house 2 females with one male, but then a lot of hides and enough space must be provided.

They are escape artists: escape-proof enclosure required!

Housing: A glass enclosure with enough ventilation of at least 12"x12"x20" high (30x30x50 cm) is adequate for a pair or a small group of 1:2 to 1:3. They are very active and fast, so don't house them in smaller tanks.

I use "live soil", that is, sterilized potting soil (sterilize it with the microwave oven) without any fertilizers, made out of decayed oak leaves with one-half to one-third of peat added to it. I have introduced springtails, eartworms and roaches of the Pycnoscelus genus, the latter can be safely eaten by the geckos, they are decomposers of dead leaves and stay on or into the substrate. It is drained from underneath by a 3 cm (1") layer of vermiculite mixed with small clay balls. Ficus pumila, a bromeliad and a tropical fern are planted inside this soil.

The sides and background of the enclosure are covered with cork bark oak plates which are not only aesthetic, they also help the geckos feel more secure in a closed space.

They need stones as basking areas, natural slate or tiles are perfect for this purpose. These small geckos are tree-dwellers, loving to rest on smooth bark, and rupicolous as well, often found on rocks, cliffs, boulders...They are found in Tanzania.

Hollow, small diameter cork bark tubes are used as hides, as well as a resin hide bought from a pet store:


A shallow water dish with clean water is available at all times. The soil is kept slightly moist but never too humid nor completely dry.

Small diameter bamboo poles both oriented vertically and horizontally will be readily used as well.

Heating and lighting: Lygodactylus kimhowelli must be exposed to high quality UVBs. I use 15" Zoomed 10.0 neon bulbs, which are by far the best ones on the market. Avoid compact bulbs, especially those from Hagen which may cause eye issues and are of really poor quality. I have 2 such neon bulbs for each enclosure. They also help with plant growth.

I use a 40 watts halogen basking spot (simpkly bought from the next door supermarket, the halogen bulbs sold in reptile stores are the same, only the packaging changes and their price is also a lot higher in such shops). This is the main heat source as well as the basking spot. I have also placed a 16 watts heat mat between the glass and the cork background, the latter has small holes in it so as to emit enough heat.

Temperatures can be as high as 40-45C (104-112F) immediately near the basking spot. The cooler end of the enclosure is around 27C/82F. At night, I leave the heat mat on so as to obtain temperatures around 23-25C (75-78F). These guys thrive under warm to very warm conditions! Avoid temps inside the whole enclosure over 95F/35C, they will need cooler areas, or else it could kill them.

Enclosures must be heavily sprayed at least 6 months a year every evening and, if possible, every morning. Never let the enclosure turn into a swamp though. The wet period is also in the upper temperature range and occurs during our summers in the North Hemisphere. The rest of the year is a bit drier - I gradually reduce the temperatures, minus 3C/5F compared to the above values, and spray more lightly, every other evening.

The photoperiod and heating duration is 10.5 to 11 hours in winter, and 14 hours in summer.

Shedding issues are not rare with these geckos, so make sure the humidity is above 50-60% at all times, and if necessary, use an arboreal moist hide.


These geckos eat some fruit, but insects must represent at least 80% of their food intake for proper growth, health and breeding.

Avoid Repashy and other ready-made diets, they are not suitable for them.

Personal recipe: in a small deli cup, mix crushed fresh papaya, crushed fresh banana, 3 teaspoons of liquid honey, half a teaspoon of bee pollen granulates (in organic food shops) and homemade lychee juice.

Insects: they eat about anything: baby roaches, small crickets, firebrats, bean weevils, flies, baby locusts, with a huge appetite. Feed juveniles every day, adults must be fed 3-4 times weekly with as many prey items as they are able to engulf within a couple of hours. Feeding time is always during day hours, at least 4 hours after the lights and heating are on, so that they have time to warm up their bodies. I dust prey insects with Miner-All Indoors on every feeding. All prey insects must of course be properly gutloaded at least 24 hours prior to be used as feeders, see in the Nutrition suboforum methods to gutload prey insects. Never use too large crickets which could attack the geckos, never use mealworms, waxmoths or butter worms which are all inadequate, nutritionally speaking, and which could lead to metabolic diseases.

Vitamins are scarcely used to avoid any overdose. Twice a month, I add to the dusting of prey insect small quantities of Nekton Rep or Virbac's Vita Reptiles.


Lygodactylus kimhowelli and related species readily breed if kept under proper conditions, and they breed a lot! A group of 1:3 has produced about 35 healthy babies in one year. If they are kept according to what I have said above, particularly about feeding and the warm/humid season alterned with the relatively dry and a bit cooler one.

Eggs are tiny, round, hard-shelled with extremely thin walls, and must be removed with care. They can be either buried into the substrate or stuck on about anything- glass panes, bamboos...They are between 3 and 4 mm in diameter.

Under a constant temperature of 30.5C, they will hatch in 41-49 days. Juveniles are tiny (23mm, hardly 1", with tail). I have not particularly noticed any TSD phenomenon, though it demands to be discussed with other breeders and their records.

Juveniles are so small they may find it hard to eat even fruitflies. I keep them during their first 2-3 weeks on a diet of springtails and the smaller, non-flying species of fruitflies. Then, as soon as possible, I skip to pinhead crickets which ensure a much faster growth. They can also be given the fruit/honey recipe mentionned above, or honey only, or fruit mash only (papaya, mango, lychees, figs...but no acidic fruit as they will shun away from these).

They must be kept individually and under UVB. I use glass enclosures of 15x15x15 cm (6" cubic ones). These enclosures are arranged exactly in the same way than the ones for adults, with a bit cooler temperatures (maximum of 32C/90F) and a bit less heavy mistings, too much sprayed water would be counterproductive with them or could even cause some losses.

This species and other Lygodactylus from Eastern and Southern Africa are often imported for very low prices lately. I have never bothered with deworming mine and they are doing absolutely fine. When buying them, just make sure they are active, not skinny, without skin folds. Rehydrating them will often be necessary and they must undergo some quarantine, but as long as they eat on a regular basis and are enough hydrated, that will work. Their fastness could surprise beginners with geckos, but they are not difficult to keep with a bit of experience. Those with experience on other diurnal genuses such as Phelsuma will have no trouble breeding them, they are hardier and easier than many Phelsuma species.

For people with less experience, I would advise to buy CBB adults only. Juveniles may be too delicate for them. Note that both sexes display the same colors in this species.

CITES: not included, so they are not under any paperwork if you buy from another country. They are still exported in numbers, but as with many species, this will stop sooner or later, hence the importance to establish enough captive-bred lines.

Remember they are display animals only, follow the simple guidelines given above and you will really enjoy them. The UVB lighting alone represents a certain investment - around $ 100/€ 90- but WC specimens are not expensive, and can easily be found in classifieds, shops or shows. For 250€/$ 280 you can start with everything they need, the price of 1:1 or 1:2 being included.

Herv SAINT DIZIER - THORR GECKOS, June 2015, all rights reserved, no pasting, displaying on other sites, forums or written materials without permission.