Coleonyx mitratus questions


New member
Greetings, everyone.

We acquired two female Coleonyx mitratus the other day, and they have been settling in nicely. One of them is quite shy, while the other one is a bit more curious. The previous owner had to give them away, and she has been giving us a lot of advice. They are supposedly about four years old.

As we are new owners, we keep worrying about small details. I read a lot of materials on the internet, but there is a lot of conflicting information. This is why I thought it would be best to ask about a couple things I have been wondering.

Below is a picture of their terra.

Neither of them seems that interested in using the humid hide (lower left corner, there is a cave). The shy one (named Kiwi) is spending a lot of time in the water bowl instead, as it doubles as a cave (lower right corner, the high rock thingy). Is this normal behaviour? I thought these geckos would not be that interested in water, but Kiwi spends most of her time there. Then again, it probably feels lika a dark narrow cave in there, so she might feel safe in that environment.

Another question regarding the set-up: as you can see, we are using a red heat lamp for heat. However, I found some info that a heat mat would be better for their digestion and overall well-being. Is this true, or is it OK to use a lamp?

Finally, the more curious one (Hanna) spends most of her time in the coconut cave, or in a hollow branch behind the skull. Often when I see her, she starts opening and closing her mouth and licking her lips. Is this normal? Does it mean she's just nervous to see me, or something else?

As you can understand, we want the best for these little fellas, so any help is appreciated. I will try to provide more information if necessary, and hopefully Kiwi and Hanna can be really happy with us.


Active member
Welcome to GU! I haven't kept C. mitratus, but I've kept C. variegatus and C. elegans. As I understand it, C. mitratus need some humidity like C. elegans (C. variegatus is from a drier climate).
I recommend you do as you suggest and get rid of the heat lamp (which may be cooking them) and use an under tank heater. They tend to like small spaces to squeeze into and the one hanging out in the water dish (you mean actually inside it, or squeezed under or up against it?) may be too dry. Licking the lips is normal.
Here's an article about Coleonyx: Three to Get Ready: Coleonyx - Gecko Time - Gecko Time



New member
Thanks for your advice - I will do as you say and get a heat mat for them ASAP.

With Kiwi, she is actually INSIDE the water dish/cave. There is a small hole in the water bowl part which leads to a sort of cave that has a bottle inside it. I have checked on her a couple of times to see if she's OK by carefully removing the cover. She is always pressed tight around the water bottle and seems to be feeling quite good. The "cave" part is a bit higher than the actual bowl, so she's not actually in the water most of the time. However, it's certainly wet or at least damp in there. I also attached some pictures so you can understand the water dish better. As a bonus, it actually has Kiwi on it - I think she has recently shed, as she still has some old skin on her tail.

It makes sense when you say they like to crawl into tight spaces, as she really is pressed tight between the bottle and the outer wall. I imagine she feels really secure there. The humid hide is also really open and has a big entrance - I think it must not feel safe enough for them and that's why they're not using it. We might replace it for something smaller which they might like more.