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09-21-2008, 10:37 AM #1
Spider Gecko (Agamura persica) Care Sheet
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Agamura persica (Duméril 1856), called Persian or blunt-tailed spider geckos, inhabits rocky and stony terrain close to sandy semi-desert, on hill slopes, and barren plains in regions of Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. They are primarily nocturnal but can be found during the day basking at temperatures of about 17.5°C (air) and 15.5°C (surface), and active at temperatures as high as 44°C (surface). Their long, slender legs and tail give a spider-like impression and make them ideal for climbing the rocky environment they inhabit. Their toes are slender, clawed, and angularly bent and share this feature with other species including Cyrtopodion.
Agamura persica has a light grey upper body with yellow pigment and 5 dark crossbars almost as broad as the interspaces, 9 to 10 on tail and flecked grey belly. Some taxonomists have divided the species into two sub-species:
Agamura p. persica is found in the eastern regions of their range (Eastern Iran, Afghanistan) and is differentiated by "three dark crossbars, first on nape, second behind shoulders, third in front of sacrum".
Agamura p. cruralis is found in the western regions (most of Iran) and is differentiated by five darker brown dorsal crossbars, "first on nape, fifth on sacrum, nine to ten on tail.
Females range in size from 42 to 77 mm (SVL) with a tail of 34 to 59 mm while males range from 35 to 65 mm with a tail of 27 to 59 mm.
Agamura persica spends most of the time fully exposed and occasionally walks around the terrarium during the day. But despite the occasional daytime stroll, Agamura persica is nocturnal. Some sources claim this gecko as diurnal but that is not the case. You will find most of the activity occurs when the lights go out.
You can house a single animal or pair of Agamura persica in a 24” glass aquarium. Housing them in a larger enclosure is always acceptable; try to avoid smaller enclosures. Agamura persica makes good use of 3D space but if you need to make a choice, opt for a longer enclosure rather than a taller one.
A wire lid is a good choice to cover the tank. This allows more light and ventilation than screen tops but screens are also acceptable. If the furnishings do not reach the top of the enclosure, a lid may not be required at all, although a lid is helpful at keeping things out of the enclosure as well as keeping the geckos in. These geckos can and do jump.
Agamura persica likes to have a flat rock in the sand on the hot side of the enclosure, preferably right under the basking lamp. They will spend many hours sleeping on it and if you have a large group of geckos it wouldn’t be uncommon to find the whole group gathered there – and on each other. Stack lengths of driftwood and/or slate to make shelves over the enclosure. Agamura persica likes the caves created by the stacked material. You will notice a considerable difference in behaviour of your geckos if you supply them with liberal amounts of rock and cover for hiding.
The sand debate is long and ongoing. One of many reasons for choosing quartz sand versus playsand include grain shape. Quartz sand is “square” shaped while playsand is jagged. All geckos will inevitably consume sand. Playsand is more likely to stick in the gut and will cause intestinal blockage. Quartz sands will pass more freely. Young and ill geckos should always be housed on paper towel. Although many geckos live quite happily on playsand, Agamura seems not to one of them so this recommendation is specific to Agamura and to this article. A gecko dying from sand impaction is not a nice sight.
Use a 50 to 60 watt halogen lamp over the hot side of the enclosure. The surface temperature on the hot side of the enclosure can reach 100°F and even as high as 120°F. Depending on the room temperature, the lamp can be turned off at night allowing the enclosure to reach room temperature. The cool side of the enclosure should stay at low to mid 70 at night and high 70 to low 80 at day.
Agamura persica can be kept on a diet of meal worms, crickets, silk worms, and the occasional wax worm. I feed adult geckos three times a week. Dust all prey items with calcium every feeding and vitamins once every week. You may also try the traditional 1:3 vitamins/calcium recipe used for other gecko species. There has been some debate whether geckos can be overfed calcium. If this worries you, you can cut calcium supplementation to once a week for males and non-breeding females.
Calcium is very important for your geckos, especially breeding female geckos. Place a dish with high quality calcium in the enclosure. This will ensure your geckos will have enough calcium for bones and eggs without them resorting to eating sand in search of calcium.
Mist your Agamura persica enclosure once a week to supply water for your geckos. Always keep a water dish in the enclosure, as well. It acts as a safety measure in case your geckos want to use it and it provides a little humidity to the enclosure as the water evaporates.
Care of Hatchlings
Care for baby and juvenile spider geckos is very similar to adult care. They can be housed very successfully under the same conditions. However you can reduce a lot of risk by considering a few issues.
- It is very wise to keep young geckos without substrate until they have reached adult size (12 to 18 months). Sand impactions can be deadly to these young geckos.
- Feed the geckos daily with pinhead crickets dusted with the 1:3 vitamin:calcium recipe. Always dust the crickets with calcium at every feeding. Metabolic bone disease (MBD) can be very dangerous for young spider geckos because of their long bones. These geckos are very tough but once their calcium levels drop, their bones become quite brittle. The legs are usually the first to break.
- Lightly mist the young geckos every day. Keeping a dish of standing water in the enclosure could result in drowned geckos. I have also never seen a baby gecko drink from a dish.
- A smaller enclosure with few obstructions will make it easier for young geckos to find food. Use very few "decorations" in the enclosure. I use bathroom rolls which are easy to replace.
You will find that growth is relatively slow for the first 8 to 12 weeks but once the geckos reach this age their growth is almost explosive.
In the natural environment breeding occurs from March to May, eggs are laid in June and juveniles appear in September.
Agamura persica reaches breeding size at 18 to 24 months. At sexual maturity Agamura persica develops fatty patches at the arm pits. They are a good indication that the gecko is ready to breed. Keep in mind that sexually mature females may still be too small for proper egg laying.
Male and female Agamura persica may be housed separately until breeding is desired. Although captive geckos may breed any time in the year, a good strategy is to begin a programme in the late winter or early spring so the geckos can acclimate to the weather.
As winter approaches, slowly lower the temperature of the enclosure and decrease the photoperiod over the course of several weeks. Cool the animals to a day-time temperature in the range of 78°C to 84°F (26°C to 29°C) at the hot end of the enclosure. This should leave the cool side at the mid to low 60s (16°C to 19°C). Keep this temperature for five weeks or longer.
During this cooling, gradually reduce the amount of protein in the diet. When the enclosure reaches the desired winter-temperature the geckos will be very lethargic. Calcium/vitamin dusted mealworms make a good food choice because of their slow movement. It is not uncommon for the geckos to fast for a couple of weeks at a time, but do remember to attempt feeding on a regular schedule.
Always provide water for the geckos, even when they are lethargic. Dehydration occurs very rapidly since the geckos are taking in very little moisture; moisture they would normally get from prey items. Mist the geckos during the hottest part of the day to minimise the amount of heat lost.
When the cooling period is coming to an end, start to increase the photoperiod and the heat in the enclosure over several weeks. Slowly begin to increase the number of feedings. Also begin to add more protein to the diet. But as the temperature increases during warming, you may switch to calcium/vitamin dusted crickets. It is also good to use some wax worms to let the geckos gain energy and develop much needed fat. Do not forget the calcium. Calcium is especially important for female geckos. They use more of their body’s calcium in egg production than it might appear!
Introduce the male gecko to the female’s enclosure. The female should be comfortable in her environment to reduce the amount of stress occurring during breeding. If the female is uncomfortable, she may take longer to breed or may be unable to find a suitable laying site; she may lose her first or second clutch. The male will attempt copulation almost immediately.
Continue to feed the geckos a diet heavy in protein and calcium, especially the female. It takes about 30 days for the female to produce the first clutch after insemination but the female will continue to produce eggs every 20 days or so for five to six clutches. Copulation and egg-laying are very stressful for any female gecko so you may remove the male after copulation to let the female relax. She will probably have another clutch or two in his absence. If the male is kept with multiple females, you may leave the male with the females all summer. He will have his choice of females so the stress is distributed among multiple mothers.
When the fifth clutch is laid, remove the male from the enclosure. The female should still have her sixth clutch. Maintain the breeding environment in the enclosure until the winter cool down. Then, gradually reduce the temperature and feedings to begin the cooling period once again for both the male and the female.
As long as the female is not disturbed and her enclosure is kept relatively undisturbed, the female will choose the same laying spot every time. The gravid female begins to dig several pits in the sand of the enclosure before she chooses one to lay in. There are two thoughts regarding why she digs several holes. One is that she digs “false” sites to confuse predators. The other, and more realistic, is that she digs holes until she finds one that feels “right”. Regardless, there will be several pits around the enclosure. Keep an eye on these pits. Within a week after she begins digging, one morning, one of these pits will be filled and covered by a mound of sand. The eggs are buried here. The eggs are approximately 2 cm long
The most difficult part of the process is handling the eggs. Spider gecko eggs are very fragile; the shells are extremely thin.
If the eggs are collected before they have had time to harden they will be extremely fragile. If you know the female has laid her eggs, wait about an hour before uncovering them. This will ensure the eggs have hardened. They are impossible to collect if they are not hard. Also, if the eggs are attached, DO NOT separate them. This often happens when one of the eggs is infertile. The attached infertile egg will have no effect on the development of the viable egg.
Carefully brush the sand from the top of the egg and daub the top with a felt-tipped pen or marker to mark the “up” position. Apply a tiny dot of non-toxic children’s paint with a brush. Carefully uncover all the sand around the eggs.
You will find that only the tips of the eggs are sticky and these will be covered by sand. DO NOT attempt to remove this sand.
Move the eggs to a small, preferably clear, deli cup with about ½” of soft sand. A clear cup is preferable to an opaque one since this will allow you to monitor the eggs without touching them. Place the eggs in the proper orientation into the cup. You do not need to bury the eggs again.
Spider gecko eggs can be incubated at temperatures between 84°F and 86°F. The eggs will tolerate temperatures as high as 88°F and as low as 82°F. The hatchlings will hatch close to 70 days after being laid which is a very good approximation at the 84°F to 86°F range.
If you use a clear deli cup it is easy to view the eggs by holding the cup up to a light bulb. If you choose not to candle the eggs (thereby removing the risk of breaking them), a fertile egg will appear pink after about 2 weeks when viewed from overhead.
When your new hatchlings arrive, let them stay in the incubator for a couple of hours to get accustomed to life outside the egg.
Some people find the first few weeks the toughest for keeping the hatchlings alive. If you remember to keep them hydrated and warm, there shouldn’t be any problem. House the hatchlings on paper towels and keep the baby geckos separate from the parents for the first 4 to 8 weeks.
Agamura persica is easy for adults but a little more difficult for juveniles.
Male Agamura persica have an obvious hemipenal bulge that you can see from a side profile. The thin morphology of the spider gecko makes the bulge even more noticeable. Male Agamura persica also have 2 to 4 pre-anal pores.
Female Agamura persica lack a bulge and pre-anal pores entirely.
Juveniles also lack this bulge. However by about the 8th to 12th week (roughly 7-8 cm SVL) male juveniles will begin to show slight bulging although it may happen as late as the 4th to 6th month.
Spidergecko.com – Care and Husbandry of Agamura persica
The Reptile Database (THE TIGR REPTILE DATABASE)
Anderson, S. C. (1999). The Lizards of Iran. Ithaca, New York: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles.
Szczerbak, N.N., Golubev, M.L. (1986). Gecko Fauna of the USSR and Contiguous Regions. Kiev: Naukova Dumka.
Khan, M. S. (2005). An Overview of the Angular-toed Geckos of Pakistan (Squamata: Gekkonidae). Gekko, 4.2. 20-30).
Meyer, Michael (2004). Agamura persica - der Spinnengecko aus dem Mittleren Osten. Draco, 18, 59-63.
Khan, M. S. (2006). Amphibians and Reptiles of Pakistan. Malabar, Florida: Krieger Publishing.
Last edited by spidergecko; 09-21-2008 at 10:40 AM.
09-22-2008, 09:11 AM #2
Woah, never seen one of them before. I see why they call them spider geckos, lol
xxxXXX[0.4.0] E.Macularius (SHTCT, High yellowLavender, Blazing Blizzard, Bell Albino Bold Stripe)
[1.0.0] Chamaeleo Calyptratus
01-07-2009, 06:11 PM #3
Heh, glad I picked up his last 2, plus another 2 from him earlier.
You are going to have poor luck finding any, let alone adults. But who knows. I think there are some kicking around, but I don't think any of them are breeding.
MattOnce a passion; always a passion
06-10-2009, 10:00 AM #4Newbie
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We got an EGG
Matt, just wanted to let you know we got an EGG last night! I am So excited that I have everything right for laying. Plus have 3 girls and one Guy. They must be Happy to Lay an Egg. Unfortunately I don't have an incubator yet, so HAVE to get one asap, because I have another chubby girl! Plus I'm sure the newest girl is bred. I am just SO excited! Now for an incubator!!!! Later. Kathy.
12-24-2010, 03:09 AM #5
one egg? hmm...
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i am very happy to tell you that at the moment i have 12 juveniles,
the oldest ones are quite tall now.
i try to create a new groupe to breed so i have two breeding groups.
they are really nice animals, nearly my favorites.
they are visible the whole day and they are very interested in all what happens outside the tank!!lot of fun.