Gehyra marginata care sheet (Halmahera Giant Gecko)

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Moderator/The French Viking Moderathorr

Gehyra marginata (Halmahera Giant Gecko) is a very large gecko species, reaching total length of nearly one foot (usually between 25 and 30 cm or a little more/10-12"). Due to some vague similarities, they are sometimes called the "leachianus of the poor". This is no longer true, as Gehyra marginata are becoming very difficult to obtain in Europe, and the prices are rising a lot on the European side. It seems they are easier to get for reasonable prices in the US, but how long will that be true? Better anticipate on the future and start soon breeding this amazing species!

These geckos are stout-bodied, with smooth skin covered with tiny granular scales. The skin tears of easily in large patches as a defense means, leaving pink flesh exposed, just like in Phelsuma or Teratoscincus species; such wounds are spectacular but heal quickly, provided the humidity is raised in their enclosure.

They have strong limbs, rather short, the digits are enlarged at their end and each digit has a very sharp and long claw. Injuries happen easily with these, anyway, this species must not be handled, it is for display only! On top of that, they are very fast despite their size and have tokay-like characters, they readily bite with their sharp teeth as well, and this may cause some bleeding for inexperienced keepers or when into not careful enough hands.


The pic above is there just to show their teeth and aggressive dispositions. Unlike tokays, they don't particularly vocalize. The tail is dorsoventrally flattened, original tails are serrated. Tails drop off easily but do regrow...slowly. It takes 3-4 years for this species to reach an adult, breedable size. Males have a row of waxy pores and prominent bulges, though not as prominent as in leachianus, for example. Females just have a flat area instead. The eyes are lidless and large, bright green marbled with some black, sometimes deep blue (juveniles often have deep blue eyes which turn to green towards adulthood).

They inhabit the jungles of Sulawesi, and adjacent islands in Indonesia. Imports will carry internal parasites 100% of the time and must be rehydrated, dewormed through a fecal sample (never give treatments "just in case" as no treatment is efficient against all types of worms, better know what worm(s) is there to treat the animals properly).

They can change color depending on stress, lighting, temperature...from a dark mottled brown, sometimes with some yellowish hues, quite like a dark Gargoyle gecko in a larger version, or a large, dark leachie. On the opposite side, they can appear pale grey with some nice darker grey patches. Folds of skin on the sides are normal. They are really beautiful and hardy animals, and are well worth a try if one likes such geckos. Their eyes are particularly attractive, and can be compared to those of Gekko smithi, another large gecko species from Indonesia. The belly is creamy white with tiny dark spots, sometimes with some light purple or brick red.

CITES: not listed. Thus, no CITES paperwork needed for imports or shipments from or to other countries. In the EU, owners don't have to keep paperwork for them.

They are mainly nocturnal, being often active from the early evening on, arboreal, hardly venturing on the ground, and omnivorous.


Moderator/The French Viking Moderathorr
Housing, heating and humidity:

I keep mine in pairs only; keeping trios together would result in one of the females being the dominant one and the second female would then be attacked and deprived of food. If that doesn't happen at once, it WILL happen on the long run.

A pair can be housed in a glass, well-ventilated enclosure, at least 90cm/3' high. I use 60x60x100 cm enclosures (2'x2'x3'4") for my own animals.

The substrate is a 50/50 mix of sterilized soil made out of decayed oak leaves and coconut chips, topped with a layer of sphagnum moss. It is kept constantly moist. Its depth is at least 7cm (3"), 10cm is better if possible (4").

Provide them with a very large and heavy water dish, constantly filled with clean, fresh water.

The decoration may include stout live plants, fake plants, they will need hides too: I use cork bark oak half-trunks to provide them with enough hiding places. The background and sides are covered with cork bark oak plates so as to make the geckos feel secure in a closed environment, it does reduce stress and it is very aesthetic at the same time.

These animals stay away from bright lights and shun light sources, so the setup has to be somehow dark.

I also use natural lianas (not the ExoTerra cardboard ones which rot in no time!), stout fruit tree branches as perches, these geckos love to climb both horizontally and vertically.

Too high temps are to be avoided, 30-32°C (86-88°F) is an absolute maximum for this species. Humidity shall always be medium to high.

I use green-colored halogen spots as the main heat source, the green light gives the enclosure a forest-like appearence and is also less aggressive for them than the usual yellow or white lights. For such an enclosure, 60 to 75 watts bulbs are adequate. Day temperatures vary from 22 (76°F) at the cool end to 28-30°C (84-86°F) under the basking spot. I have added a small 14 watts Zoomed neon bulb with UVB 5.0 (5%), I have noticed gravid females love to bask under them. Avoid at all costs compact bulbs from Hagen/ExoTerra as they areof poor quality and may emit very harmful UVC. I do not use any reflector though, so as to avoid too bright lights from the UVB source. Heating and ligthing are on for 13 hours/day in summer, 11 hours/day in winter.

They need high humidity at night, so spray the enclosure (and the animals if they are out) heavily every evening, and in early morning hours as well. It is not a problem if the humidity level drops during the day to 50-65%, but in no way they should be exposed to a drier atmosphere. Automatic misting systems can be used, but not foggers, the latter emit a too warm mist and the ultrasounds may generate pain (just put your hand about 15 cm/6" on top of a fogger and one will feel what I mean!).


Adults can easily resist several weeks without food, and they will hardly lose weight, but it should be avoided in captivity.

The adults can be fed large brown crickets (NOT black crickets aka Gryllus bimaculatus, which may wound the geckos!), adult dubia roaches, Pachnoda larvae and an occasional live pinkie mice, not more than twice a month to avoid gout issues. They have to be fed in generous quantities, but for adults, once a week is enough. Juveniles will have to be fed with appropriate sized prey 3 times a week. I always dust prey with Miner-All I (Indoors) and use twice a month Virbac Vita Reptiles or Nekton Rep multivitamin powder added to the Miner-All I dusting. In the wild, these geckos are omnivorous and opportunistic predators, they will eat insects, spiders, baby rodents, nesting birds, smaller lizards, as well as pollen, fruit and honey.

In captivity, insects should represent 80% of their diet. The rest will be pinkie mice, honey, bee pollen and fruit. CGD and other ready-made food for day geckos or New Caledonian geckos is not a good idea and should be avoided. Rather make your own fresh fruit mashes, choosing as a priority non-acidic fruit, rich in calcium and poor in phosphorous, such as mango, papaya, figs... Such preparations can be left in the enclosure in a small deli cup; one can use deli cups as well for liquid honey and bee pollen granulates (the latter are sold in supermarkets or in organic food shops). Fruit, honey and pollen can be given 3-4 days after the latest insects meal. Do not offer them mealworms, superworms or waxmoths for nutritional reasons and make sure the prey insects are properly gutloaded at least 24 hours prior to be used as feeders for the geckos (see the Nutrition subforum here for more information about do's and don'ts).


Mating rituals are rather simple and are the same than most other gecko species, yet the males can be particularly brutal and may sometimes injure the females. If you notice it, separate them at once! Females may not be ready so it's wiser to wait for a couple of months to introduce the female again to the male.

Once gravid, egg-laying occurs about 4 weeks after fecundation. The eggs are rounded and very large (nearly 40 mm in diameter), white and calcified. They are buried in the substrate so one will need to search for them as females leave little, if no, evidence about when and where the eggs were laid. It is also very difficult to see if a female is gravid or not, it cannot be seen through the belly skin, this skin is too thick to see anything.

Incubation can take ages as eggs may go into a diapause for reasons yet to be clarified, such diapauses can last for months. If no diapause occurs, they hatch in 4 to 6 months, depending on temperatures. Incubate the eggs on dry perlite, each egg is placed on such a substrate in a plastic cap, and the plastic cap is itself placed inside a closed box with air holes (usually a cricket box), half-filled with wet perlite (1:3 perlite/water weight ratio). The air has to be nearly saturated with humidity but no drops of water should fall on the eggs, which is the most difficult part of incubation. TSD has yet to be proven in this species. I incubate clutches at 27-28°C (82-83°F) with a night time drop down to 22°C. These temperatures usually make incubation last from 22 to 25 WEEKS.

Hatchlings are surprisingly large and not less aggressive as their parents. Rear them individually in 25cm (10") high glass tanks, with the same temperatures, sprayings and type of decoration than for the parents. They grow very slowly, whatever their diet is. They are not clearly sexable before their second year, often near 2 years old, and are too young to be safely bred until they are at least 3 years old, 4 being preferrable.

This species is very hardy and, provided the owner does not intend to handle them at all, they are suitable for beginners. Keepers will need patience for the growths of immature ones and for incubating eggs. They are very active during the night and are often seen venturing on the front glass panes or near the foreground of their enclosure, foraging for food or simply showing up when it's dark enough, they are particularly pleasant to watch in a living room.

Prices can be as high as 250 euros for a pair in Europe, but much less than this for WC pairs in the US. Juveniles are usually cheap. These prices are valid at the very moment I am writing this care sheet and may change according to the usual offer and demand factors.

Give Gehyra marginata a try, you will soon appreciate this species a lot and will not regret it! It is important to breed such geckos since they are still offered as WC, but who knows if the imports will stop in the future, and when. As long as they have enough humidity, enough food and are not overheated, they are fairly easy to care for. I would just not advise them for young keepers because of their fastness and aggressivity, though when you open the enclosure doors, they will flee under cover rather than trying to corner the keeper's hands to bite them. In that sense, their behavior is more gentle than some WC tokay geckos. They are also the perfect species to learn from before trying more delicate arboreal geckos needing cool temps and high humidity, such as members of the Uroplatus or Cyrtodactylus genera. Once they start breeding, they are quite productive, laying 5 to 8 clutches a year, 2 eggs per clutch but single fertile eggs or 3 eggs at a time are not uncommon occurences at all, depending on the female's age and size/bulk. In some warm and moist areas such as Florida, they may even be used as free-range geckos to eat large bugs. It has been 7-8 years I have been working with them and they have never shown any signs of bad health or bad sheds. This care sheet aims at providing the care and breeding basics as well as (at least I hope so) encourage more people to work with Gehyra marginata, the gecko with wonderful, gem-like eyes!


© Hervé SAINT DIZIER/THORR GECKOS, June 2015, all rights reserved; no pasting or use on other sites or forums without permission of the author.


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Hello, i just buy a WC Halmahera Gecko and they seems didn't want to eat the crickets. What should i do?
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