Crocodile Gecko 101 – Care, Size, Lifespan, Diet & MORE

Crocodile geckos, also known as Tarentola Mauritanica, are fascinating creatures with unique appearance and intriguing characteristics. These reptiles are native to North Africa and Southern Europe.

These creatures are calm and require specific care requirements to stay healthy. This article will provide an in-depth pet care guide on crocodile geckos. We will also talk about their dietary needs and enclosure requirements.

Crocodile geckos get their name from their rough crocodile-like appearance. These creatures are nocturnal and participate in intriguing activities such as climbing, burrowing, and vocalizing. You should follow all the care requirements, including a proper-sized terrarium, dietary needs, temperature, and humidity levels. Their diet consists of mostly insects, and have a shy yet calm temperament.

Key AspectsInformation
Common NameCrocodile Gecko
Scientific NameTarentola mauritanica
HabitatTerrestrial; require a suitable terrarium with hiding spots and climbing areas
SizeAdults typically reach 4-5 inches in length
Lifespan10-15 years with proper care
DietInsectivorous; primarily feeds on a variety of insects
ReproductionFemales lay eggs, requiring a suitable nesting box and incubation conditions
BehaviorNocturnal; display climbing, burrowing, and vocalizing behaviors
HousingGlass or plastic terrarium with appropriate temperature and humidity levels
Temperature75-85°F with a slight temperature drop at night
Diet in CaptivityMainly feed on gut-loaded insects like crickets and mealworms
HandlingCan be handled gently, supporting their body and avoiding excessive stress
Health ConcernsShedding issues, metabolic bone disease, and respiratory infections
Care LevelModerate care level


Crocodile geckos are fascinating creatures with majestic appearances and intriguing characteristics. These creatures are native to North Africa and southern Europe; these geckos get their name for their unique appearance, including rough crocodile-like scales on their body. This unique body texture makes them visually striking creatures to house as pets.

Crocodile geckos are relatively small compared to other species of geckos. These geckos can grow up to 4-5 inches in length. Crocodile geckos are nocturnal and exhibit intriguing behaviors such as climbing, vocalizing, and burrowing. These creatures are active and curious and make fun pets to observe in their terrarium.

When it comes to housing a crocodile gecko they will require a suitable enclosure that mimics their natural surroundings. The enclosure should include hiding spots, climbing areas, and the right temperature and humidity levels.

Regarding their diet, crocodile geckos are insectivorous and feed on various insects. Feed them a well-balanced diet containing all the essential vitamins and nutrients to promote rapid growth.

Crested geckos have a docile temperament and will not act aggressively until they are agitated or stressed. Handle your pet geckos with care and gently support their body. You should also avoid handling during the shedding season to avoid stress. Crested geckos can also live up to 10-15 years in captivity with proper care, making them long-term companions.

What Does a Crocodile Gecko Look Like?

Crocodile Gecko

The crocodile geckos have a unique and captivating appearance. These creatures have rough crocodile-like scales all over their body. The rough scales give a dynamic appeal to the gecko, making it an enticing lizard to house as a pet. These geckos also have a slender and elongated body shape with a triangular head and lidless eyes. The eyes consist of vertical pupils which allows them to see clearly in their nocturnal environment.

Crocodile geckos come in a wide range of colors depending on their genetics and age. Their coloration varies from shades of gray, brown, or tan, with dark markings all over their body adding to their unique appearance.

One of the remarkable features of a crocodile gecko is its tail. The tail is long and slender in shape and has a distinct segmented appearance which resembles a lot with a tail of a crocodile, hence the name crocodile gecko. 

These geckos also have large lidless eyes, which help them see in their nocturnal environment. This keen eyesight helps these geckos hunt in dimly lit areas and make them excellent insect hunters. Another notable feature of these creatures is their adhesive toe pads, these pads help these creatures to climb walls and other vertical places. Hence, making them skilled climbers.

Size and Growth Rate of Crocodile Geckos

Crocodile geckos are relatively smaller in size as compared to other species of geckos. These creatures can grow to a length of 4-5 inches when they reach adulthood. Their small size becomes a huge asset to reptile keepers who want a manageable-sized lizard. Crocodile geckos require a medium-sized tank to live in and will not occupy a lot of space.

Now talking about their growth rate, crocodile geckos are relatively slow with their growth rate compared to other species of geckos. When these creatures are at their early stage of life they experience a rapid growth spree, which slows down as they slowly move toward adulthood.

The growth rate of crocodile geckos can be affected by many factors, such as their diet, habitat conditions, and overall care.

You should provide a healthy and nurturing environment to your pet gecko doing so will promote their rapid growth. A healthy and nutritious meal is also essential to provide them with a well-balanced diet and prevent them from falling ill.

You should also schedule monthly visits to the vet to stop any illness from head-on. These practices will keep your crocodile gecko healthy and provide an apt lifestyle.

Temperament and General Behavior of A Crocodile Gecko

Crocodile geckos display intriguing temperament and behavior, making them captivating creatures to house as pets. These geckos are nocturnal and mostly stay active during the night. They also exhibit fascinating behaviors such as climbing, vocalizing, and burrowing.

Crocodile geckos are generally docile and have a calm temperament, making them a great choice for beginner reptile enthusiasts. Like any other pet, these creatures are shy at first but can get used to human interaction by proper handling.

You should handle your pet gecko carefully while supporting their body and limbs. Putting excessive pressure or making sudden movements can easily stress these lizards, and they might run away while you try to hold them.

Despite their general calm behavior, crocodile geckos exhibit territorial traits towards other geckos. It is best to keep all the geckos in different tanks till it is time for the breeding season. Providing plenty of hiding spaces and basking areas can help improve their sense of security and provide a calm environment.

Editor’s Note- You should never keep two male crocodile geckos inside the same enclosure. This can lead to territorial disputes and aggressive behavior.

Enclosure Setup for Crocodile Geckos

Providing a safe and calm environment for your crocodile gecko is crucial for its health and overall well-being. A proper habitat will provide them a healthy environment, and help your geckos thrive in captivity.

A few things that you should keep in mind while setting up a tank for your crocodile geckos include enclosure size, lighting needs, and maintaining the right temperature and humidity levels.

Enclosure Size

For a single adult crocodile gecko, a minimum tank of 10 gallons is required to provide them with a comfortable space to move around. However, providing a larger tank will promote their active behavior and provide climbing opportunities for the pet.

A 20-30 gallon tank will serve as an ideal tank for a crocodile gecko. With a larger tank, you can even think about hosting a pair of male and female geckos inside the same terrarium.

You should also ensure that the tank comes along with a tight and secure lid to prevent your crocodile geckos from escaping. Crocodile geckos are known for their climbing skills and can easily find their way out of captivity unless there is something that is keeping them secure inside. A safety lid will prevent accidental hazards and keep your pet gecko safe.

Lighting Needs

Crocodile geckos are nocturnal, meaning they do not require access to intense UVB lighting to survive. However, equipping the tank with low-intensity UVB lighting can still benefit their overall health and well-being. A 3% UVB bulb can be placed on either side of the enclosure to provide a day and night cycle.

Temperature and Humidity Needs

Maintaining the ideal temperature and humidity levels is crucial for the health and well-being of your pet geckos. Crocodile geckos rely on external heating sources for thermoregulation.

You should maintain the temperature levels between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. While the basking spot inside the tank should have a temperature gradient of 85-90 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also equip the tank with a heating lamp and thermometer to maintain and monitor the temperature inside the tank at all times.

Crocodile geckos also require moderate to high humidity levels between 60-80 percent at all times. You can achieve these humidity levels by misting the tank daily or by equipping the enclosure with a reptile misting system. You should also equip the tank with a hygrometer to monitor the humidity levels inside the enclosure.

Substrate Requirements

Selecting the right substrate is crucial for the health and overall well-being of your pet geckos. Crocodile geckos might engage in borrowing behaviors and need a safe substrate option to prevent them from any harm. Coconut fiber, also known as coconut coir, is an excellent choice as it helps retain moisture and provides a soft substrate for burrowing.

You should avoid using substrates such as sand, pebbles, or fine gravel, as it can cause digestive and impaction issues in your crocodile gecko. These lizards can easily ingest this substrate during hunting or exploring activities.

Cleaning Requirements

Providing a clean and healthy environment is essential to provide a safe enclosure for your pet gecko. You should have a cleaning routine to provide a calm and healthy environment for your crocodile gecko. Doing so will prevent any disease or infection from occurring and increase the life expectancy of your pet.

Remove any feces or uneaten food after each feeding session. Spot cleaning will prevent bacteria and odor buildup and keep the enclosure pristine. Replace and regulate old substrates with fresh ones to prevent waste accumulation and bacteria from building up. You should do this after every few months to keep the enclosure in an ideal state.

You should also perform a deep clean after every month. Clean and disinfect all items in the tank with a reptile-safe disinfectant. Do not use chemical or toxic products, as they might deteriorate the health of your crocodile gecko. Dry off all the decorations and walls of the enclosure before you place your pet gecko back into its tank.

Editor’s Note- You should never forget to wash your hands before and after every feeding or handling session. Washing your hands will avoid any germ or bacteria exchange and keep your pet healthy and safe from illnesses.

Diet Plan for A Crocodile Gecko

A well-balanced diet plan is required to maintain a healthy lifestyle for your pet gecko. A nutritious and varied diet promotes rapid growth and provides all the essential nutrients for your pet gecko’s body.

The primary content of the diet for a crocodile gecko should contain live insects. You can offer a variety of insects to your pet geckoes, such as crickets, mealworms, waxworms, dubia roaches, and occasional superworms or phoenix worms.

You should also make sure the insects you are offering are of the appropriate size. The size of the insect should be smaller than the gap between its eyes.

Crocodile geckos also require calcium and vitamin D3 to maintain healthy bones and prevent bone deficiencies. You can add supplements to your pet gecko’s diet by dusting calcium and vitamin D3 tables on top of insects before feeding them to your pet.

Gut-loading insects is another way of providing essential nutrients to your crocodile gecko. You should do this at least thrice a week during the feeding session. Doing so will keep your crocodile healthy and prevent them from catching illnesses such as MBD.

Young crocodile geckos should be fed daily due to their fast metabolism and rapidly growing bodies. Adult geckos can be fed every other day or after three days depending on their age, size, and health. You should monitor their weight to adjust their feeding schedules accordingly. Excess feeding can lead to various health problems, such as obesity.

Crocodile geckos also require access to fresh drinking water at all times. You should also clean and replace the water after feeding sessions with dechlorinated water to avoid health concerns. If you notice any changes in your pet gecko’s appetite, behavior, or weight, it is essential to consult a reptile veterinarian for proper evaluation and care.

Monday4-5 small crickets (dusted with calcium supplement – no D3)
Tuesday3-4 mealworms and 1 waxworm (mealworms dusted with calcium supplement – no D3)
WednesdayA3-4 mealworms and 1 waxworm (mealworms dusted with calcium and other supplements)
Thursday3-4 silkworms and 1 waxworm (silkworms dusted with calcium supplement – no D3)
Friday4-5 small crickets (dusted with calcium supplement – no D3)
Saturday3-4 mealworms and 1 waxworm (mealworms dusted with calcium supplement – no D3)
SundayRest day (no feeding)

Shedding Process of Crocodile Geckos

The shedding process in crocodile geckos is essential for their growth and overall development. Like other reptiles crocodile geckos shed their old and worn out skin to make room for their rapidly growing bodies. Some signs of shedding include a dull appearance, lack of appetite, and lethargic behavior.

During the shedding process, the crocodile gecko’s skin might appear dull and wrinkled while fresh skin is formed underneath it. You can also see your pet geckos trying to rub against surfaces to get rid of all the old skin. Provide your pet geckos with proper humidity levels in the enclosure to help them shed evenly.

You should also closely monitor their shedding process to provide them with any help whenever required. Ensure to never remove any loose patches or shed skin manually from your crocodile gecko. Doing so can injure your pet and lead to various diseases.

How to Identify the Sex of A Crocodile Gecko?

Determining the sex of a crocodile gecko can be a tedious task especially if they are young and their body has not fully developed. You must look for unique characteristic traits to make a final judgment on their sex.

One way to identify males is by looking for preanal pores located near the vent area. These pores are more prominently seen in adult males rather than females. 

Another way of determining their sex is by locating the  V-shaped row of enlarged scales called femoral pores on their thighs. These pores are also seen more promptly in male geckos rather than females.  Females, on the other hand, lack these pores and generally have a more slender body shape.

Although these physical traits might help you to take your best guess on the sex of your crocodile gecko, you need to visit a trained vet to identify and confirm their gender.

How to Handle a Crocodile Gecko?

Handling your crocodile gecko requires you to be gentle and hold them with a careful approach. The first that you should do while holding your crocodile gecko is to wash your hands to prevent any exchange of contaminants.

You should approach your crocodile gecko in a calm and composed manner without making any sudden movements. Support their body and limbs while lifting them and ensuring that they feel secure. 

You should also never put any excessive pressure as this might stress or agitate your pet gecko. Keep the handling sessions short and infrequent to minimize stress and discomfort. If your pet gecko is trying to run away from you, then you should avoid handling sessions in the meanwhile till they feel comfortable.

You should always respect your pet’s boundaries and avoid handling it during the shedding or breeding period. Remember that each gecko comes with their level of comfort with handling, so respect their preferences and build trust gradually for a positive handling experience.

Common Health Issues in Crocodile Geckos

Like any other pet crocodile geckos also catch an illness or fall sick from time to time. You should know about their common health issues to avoid them in the future and provide appropriate care respectively.

Some of the common health issues in crocodile geckos include Metabolic bone disease, shedding issues, parasites, and respiratory infections.

 Inadequate humidity levels or rough enclosure surfaces can lead to incomplete shedding or retained shed, which may cause complications if not addressed promptly. You should provide a safe and comfortable environment for your pet to avoid shedding issues.

Crocodile geckos might also develop MBD due to calcium and vitamin D3 deficiencies which should be avoided. Improper UVB lighting can also be a cause of MBD in crocodile geckos. Metabolic bone diseases can make your pet gecko’s bone brittle and cause weakened bones, deformities, and even fractures.

An unhygienic environment and poor husbandry can lead to respiratory and parasitic infections in crocodile geckos. Some signs of respiratory infections might include wheezing, open-mouth breathing, and nasal discharge.

Parasites, such as worms, mites, and ticks can infest your pet gecko’s body leading to various health problems and illnesses. You should provide a clean and safe environment to avoid such illnesses.

Scheduling a monthly veterinarian visit will help you detect any health issues head-on and treat them immediately.

How Much Does an Average Crocodile Gecko Cost?

The cost of an average crocodile gecko depends on various factors such as their age, size, morph, breeder, and genes. Although, on average a young crocodile gecko can cost you around $30 to $80, while adult geckos may cost between $50 to $150 or more.

Rare color morphs and unique patterns in a crocodile gecko might cost you even higher sometimes exceeding $300 or even more. Additionally, geckos with proven genetics for breeding purposes might also be more expensive.

It is important to buy Crocodile Geckos from trustworthy breeders or legitimate pet stores to guarantee their well-being, proper care, and accurate lineage information. Refrain from acquiring geckos from dubious sources or unethical practices.

Bear in mind that the initial cost of obtaining a gecko is merely one aspect of pet ownership. One should also take into account ongoing expenses, which include enclosure setup, lighting, heating, substrate, food, and potential veterinary care.

Before getting a Crocodile Gecko, it is critical to conduct thorough research on their care requirements and carefully consider all associated expenses to ensure they receive the best possible environment and care throughout their lifetime.


Are Crocodile geckos dangerous?

No, crocodile geckos are not dangerous and have a docile and calm temperament. They will not make any aggressive moves until they are stressed or agitated. Handle your pet gecko with care to avoid any accidental bites and to provide a safe environment for your crocodile gecko.

Can you handle a crocodile gecko?

Yes, you can interact with and handle your crocodile gecko. They might act a bit shy but with occasional human interaction they can get used to handling. Although, handling tolerance varies for each gecko and should be respected accordingly.

Final Thoughts

In summary, Crocodile Geckos offer a captivating and fascinating experience as reptile companions, making them an excellent choice for those seeking an extraordinary addition to their home. Their unique appearance, calm temperament, and relatively straightforward care requirements cater to both novice and experienced reptile enthusiasts. 

Ensuring a well-maintained enclosure, appropriate temperature and humidity levels, and a balanced diet will support their health and well-being. With dedicated attention and affection, your Crocodile Gecko is certain to flourish, becoming a cherished member of your reptile family.

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