Dixonius siamensis care sheet


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Care and breeding of the Leaf-toed gecko, Dixonius siamensis from South-east Asia

By Sebastian Wolf

Geckos from the genus Dixonius (4 species, D. hangseesom, melanostictus, siamensis and vietnamensis) belong to a group of geckos called leaf-toed geckos. They are nocturnal, slender geckos that lay hard-shelled eggs. Males have preanal pores and white claocal spurs that are vivisble laterally. Dorsal scales are keeled. Described in 1889, they were first member of the genus Phyllodactylus, a genus many geckos (those who have leaf-like toes, i.e. toes that are distally enlarged) were put in (e.g. Paroedura). They are all native to South-east Asia, with D. siamensis having the greatest distribution (Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, maybe Cambodia). However, this species maybe consist of several species. My animals which originally come from western Thailand show some differences to other forms described as siamensis, hence they have the name Dixonius cf. siamensis. Total length is around 12 cm (nearly 5”). Body colour is brown to grey with varying degrees of a pattern consisting of brown spots or lines. Iris is brown/golden. Like some other gecko species, juveniles have a different appearance than adults. They are more darker in colour, with some specimens being totally black. On each side of the back, a line of several very small, white to yellow spots is running over the body length (but they are not always present). It’s a highly adaptable species, they occur in different ecoregions, from forests to shore lines. According to literature, they have a solitary lifestyle.
It’s a species that is not common in the hobby, even many people who keep geckos haven’t ever heard of them. But captive bred individuals make nice pets as they are easy to keep and breed, and they don’t require lots of space compared to some other geckos that come in from South-east Asia (like Gekko, some Cyrtodactylus). Given the right conditions, it’s a species suitable for beginners, too.

Adult specimen

Care is easy as these animals are hardy and do not have any special requirements. As said above, no big cages are required – I keep the adults (1,2) in a self-made cage with the dimensions of 40x30x30 cm (16”x12”x12”). More room has no advantages, and they can be easily overseen.
Furniture consist of a plant in a pot, some hiding places under bark and some sphagnum in a box. If sprayed slightly every other night, no water bowl is necessary. If kept dryer, a small plastic box filled with moistened spagnum or other moss plus a small water bowl is sufficient. The substrate consists of a mix of peat and sand. This layer is partially moist in the evening after the misting. Background can be installed, but it is safer to keep the cage simple to have maximum control of the animals. They are shy and relusive and fast, often trying to escape if the cage is opened. As they often choose the way ‘upstairs’, a cage that can be opened from the front side is better than an aquarium that can only be opened from top. This species can deal with a wide variety of temperatures, varying from 20-30° C. In winter, temperature drops belwo 20° C at night without problems. Heating is also possible by heat cable, but make sure to offer not only warm, but also cool shelters.

Adults are able to seize even big prey. Its not a picky feeder, they consume everything that is put in the cage (if its not too big). Roaches and crickets makes up the biggest part of their diet, occasionally I give some firebrats (Thermobia domestica) a very mobile feeder insect that seems to be very attractive for Dixonius (they definitely show a preference for fast.moving prey). Adults are fed two times a week. Unlike many other geckos, they eat a lot without becoming fat, and females will lay many eggs, so make sure to give enouugh food. Food is always dusted with a supplementation powder. Additionally, a fluid vitamin solution is given via the misting water.

I got my first eggs when the breeding trio was 7-8 months old. Despite this young age, no negative affects on the female’s condition appeared. They lay many eggs, from spring to autumn (one female even laid a clutch in december) every 3-5 weeks. Eggs are glued together in most cases, and are always buried in the substrate. Sometimes they are glued on the roof of the cage, too. Even done so, they can be removed with careful handling. Incubation ‘ex situ’ (in an incubator, for example) is not necessary, but adults may eat their offspring. Given the proper temperatures, one can leave them where they were laid, and secure them by a small plastic cup. Incubation temperature can be around 24-28° C, although I’m sure they can deal with a broader range. Whether they have TDSD or GSD cannot be said by the moment. Incubation time off my eggs varied between 72-105 days, depending on temperature.


Hatchling care
Hatchlings are small and appear fragile, but they are hardy, too.They start feeding 2 or 3 days after hatching. Make sure to give enough well-dusted food in the right size (small crickets and firebrats are the best food at the beginning) at least every other day. I don’t offer water dishes, but the cages are misted 5 or 6 times a week. I keep the juveniles in pairs or trios (size difference should not be too big) in 3-4 liter plastic boxes with the same substrate as the adults. One corner contains some sphagnum. When misting the boxes, only the moss is sprayed – so they have a moist place, but the rest of the cage stays dry. I use plastic plants as interior, that’s it. You need a constant source of small food, therefore running a feeder culture (firebrats, crickets) is recommended. Juveniles grow fast, sex can be determined after about 6 months.

Pale juvenile

The geckos of the genus Dixonius deserve more attention from breeders and keepers. Generally speaking, geckos from Asia don’t get as much attention as taxa from other places. Nonetheless, they are an interesting, affordable addition to anyone interested in geckos.


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new pictures added!

Juvenile with white-golden spots

Two adult females to show the variation in dorsal pattern