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

The mourning gecko, known as Lepidodactylus lugubris, is a unique reptile with unique physical abilities and characteristics. This gecko is very well known for its ability to reproduce without mating. You should know about their specific care requirements and individual needs before bringing one home as a pet. This article will present a complete pet care guide on mourning geckos. We will also discuss their enclosure and dietary needs as well.

The mourning gecko is a fascinating creature native to the Indo-Pacific region. These reptiles are small, nocturnal, and easy to care for, making them quite popular among beginner reptile keepers. Mourning geckos are very well-known for their asexual nature and can thrive without mating. These reptiles are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet consisting of small insects and fruits.

Key AspectsInformation
Common NameMourning Gecko
Scientific NameLepidodactylus lugubris
HabitatArboreal; humid terrarium, climbing structures, hiding spots
SizeSmall; about 4-5 inches in length
Lifespan5-10 years in captivity
DietOmnivorous; insects, fruit, nectar
ReproductionAsexual reproduction; no mating required
BehaviorNocturnal, arboreal, secretive
HousingVertical terrarium; controlled temp, humidity
Temperature72-80°F daytime, slight drop at night
Diet in CaptivityInsects, fruit, prepared gecko diets
HandlingHandle infrequently to minimize stress
Health ConcernsMetabolic bone disease, inadequate diet
Care LevelBeginner; suitable for reptile enthusiasts


Mourning geckos are captivating creatures native to the Indo-Pacific region. Their unique name is inspired by their somber appearance, characterized by shades of gray, brown, or black. This unique appearance helps the mourning gecko to blend in with its surroundings.

Another fascinating aspect that comes along with this creature is its reproduction behavior. Mourning geckos are asexual and do not require mating to reproduce. This individualistic trait is also known as parthenogenesis

Mourning geckos are also relatively small compared to other species of geckos. An average mourning gecko can grow up to 4-6 inches when it reaches the age of maturity. You should also know that mourning geckos are nocturnal creatures meaning they rest throughout the day and hunt or gather food at night.

These reptiles are also equipped with adhesive toe pads, which help them perform their arboreal activities. These toe pads help the mourning gecko climb vertical and horizontal spaces with ease. Ensure in captivity your mourning gecko is placed in a vertical terrarium with plenty of climbing opportunities and hiding spaces.

These reptiles are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet consisting of small insects and fruits. In captivity, you can feed them a diet consisting of small insects such as crickets, worms, and occasional fruits. This dietary flexibility aids their survival in diverse environments.

Ensure you never pair multiple geckos inside the same tank, as they may participate in behaviors such as territorial dispute and vocalization. Mourning geckos can live up to 5-10 years in captivity and make long-term companions, hence making them a good choice for house pets. 

What Does a Mourning Gecko Look Like?

Mourning Gecko

Mourning geckos have a distinct and unique appearance which makes them stand out from other species of geckos.  Its somber coloring, ranging from shades of gray and brown to deep black, gives rise to its name. They also have a granular skin texture which adds to their unique appeal.

Mourning geckos are also relatively small and can grow up to 5-6 inches, making them relatively diminutive in size.

Another captivating feature includes their large lidless eyes, which allow them excellent night vision promoting their nocturnal behavior. These eyes are equipped with vertical pupils that further enhance their ability to see in low-light conditions.

Mourning geckos are arboreal creatures and thus have unique characteristics to help them with their climbing abilities. These reptiles are equipped with specialized adhesive toe pads which allow them to walk on vertical spaces and even upside down defying gravity. This remarkable ability is possible because of the microscopic hair structure on their toe pads, which create molecular attractions, enabling secure attachment.

Size and Growth Rate of Mourning Geckos

Mourning geckos are known for their small and manageable size. Adult morning geckos can grow up to 4-5 inches in length with proper care. Mourning geckos exhibit a compact yet intricate physique. Despite their diminutive stature, they possess a remarkable ability to adapt and thrive in various environments.

Young mourning geckos have a relatively fast growth rate due to their rapidly increasing bodies and high metabolism. Mature geckos on the other hand have a slower growth rate and undergo a series of shedding cycles as they mature.

During each shedding cycle, these geckos will shed away their old and withered skin to make more room for their rapidly growing bodies.

As juveniles, they experience a frequent shedding cycle to promote their rapid growth. However, as they approach adulthood, the frequency of shedding decreases, aligning with their slower growth rate.

The growth rate in mourning geckos depends on various factors such as their diet, environmental conditions, and genetics. You should provide a habitat that meets all their care requirements, such as temperature, humidity, and a well-balanced diet. Doing so will promote their healthy growth and prevent them from catching any health issues.

Temperament and General Behavior of A Mourning Gecko

Mourning geckos have distinct yet intriguing behaviors, making them a favorite among the reptile community. These small reptiles are nocturnal and spend all their day hiding and running away from predators. Mourning geckos are active during the night, taking part in different activities, such as hunting and exploring their surroundings.

These reptiles are keen explorers and will climb vertical spaces such as trees and branches with ease. Mourning geckos are arboreal creatures equipped with adhesive toe pads that help them while climbing vertical spaces.

Mourning geckos are also territorial and will fiercely defend their designated areas within their habitat. These reptiles are solidarity creatures and prefer to spend their life alone.

Due to their asexual nature, they do not take part in the breeding season and reproduce through a special method known as parthenogenesis. This remarkable adaptation contributes to their widespread distribution and colonization of various environments. Communication between geckos often involves vocalizations and body language, such as tail waving or head bobbing.

When it comes to communicating with humans, mourning geckos can get stressed or agitated very easily. Handling sessions should be kept at a minimum to avoid stress and prevent any accidental harm. You should always respect your gecko’s boundaries and give them space and time to get used to their new habitat.

Enclosure Setup for Mourning Geckos

Providing a safe and comfortable habitat for your mourning gecko is crucial to ensure its well-being and safety. These small reptiles are nocturnal and arboreal you will need to provide them with an enclosure that takes care of all their needs.

While purchasing a terrarium for your reptile pet, you will need to consider factors such as size, lighting, temperature, humidity, substrate, and hygiene.

Enclosure Size

While choosing an enclosure for your mourning gecko you should consider that they are arboreal creatures and love to explore their surroundings. Start with a vertical enclosure that allows them plenty of climbing opportunities.

A minimum of 12x12x18-inch tank is required for a single adult mourning gecko. You can even opt for a bigger tank to provide more environmental enrichment or while hosting multiple geckos inside the same tank. 

Provide ample climbing opportunities with branches, vines, and foliage to mimic their natural habitat. You should also ensure there are plenty of hiding spaces inside the tank for your pet gecko to rest in. This will prevent them from stressing out and prevent territorial disputes.

Lighting Needs

Mourning geckos are nocturnal creatures and do not require access to full-spectrum UVB lighting. Instead, a low-intensity LED bulb will be much more beneficial to their overall health. This allows you to observe their behaviors without disturbing their natural day-night cycle. A timer can also be placed to simulate a natural lighting cycle.

Ideal Temperature and Humidity Levels

The right temperature and humidity levels are crucial for the health and overall well-being of your pet gecko.

Mourning geckos require a temperature gradient of 73-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, followed by a slight drop at night. You can equip the tank with heating pads or heat-emitting lamps to achieve this temperature. Placing a thermometer inside the tank will also help you monitor any temperature changes and take action accordingly.

Humidity levels are another crucial aspect while providing a safe habitat for your pet gecko. Mourning geckos require a humidity level of 60-80 percent at all times inside the tank. This can be achieved by misting the tank daily and placing live plants to absorb access moisture. Equipping the tank with a hygrometer will help you monitor the humidity levels inside the tank.

Substrate Requirements

The substrate is another essential factor while setting up an ideal enclosure for your pet gecko. Substrates that retain moisture should be used, coconut coir or sphagnum moss help maintain proper humidity levels inside the tank. 

The substrate should also be chosen keeping in mind that it allows egg-laying and burrowing opportunities. Provide a layer of at least 2-3 inches to ensure adequate moisture retention.

Editor’s Note- Substrates such as small pebbles or sand should be avoided, as they can be ingested by your mourning gecko and cause digestive issues such as impactions.

Cleaning Requirements

Regular maintenance of the enclosure is essential to provide a healthy and hygienic habitat for your pet gecko. You need to have a proper cleaning routine to provide a clean and safe enclosure for your mourning gecko.

Remove any uneaten food and feces after each feeding session. Doing so will prevent the growth of bacteria and bad odor from the tank.

Partial substrate changes should be done after every few months. Ensure to completely change the substrate partially by the end of 6-12 months. Cleaning the substrate will prevent diseases and provide a clean environment for your pet.

You should also have a deep cleaning session by the end of each month. Clean the entire enclosure with a reptile-safe disinfectant, harmful and chemical-based disinfectants should be avoided as they can damage your mourning geckos’ health. 

While performing a deep clean, wipe all the decorations and enclosure accessories dry before placing them back inside the tank. You should also ensure plants are clean and free from pests before introducing them inside the enclosure. Lastly, if your pet gecko shows any signs of stress, discomfort, or illnesses, take them to a trained vet immediately.

Diet Plan for A Mourning Gecko

A well-balanced and nutritious diet is required to ensure the well-being and overall safety of your pet gecko. Mourning geckos are omnivorous and feed on a varied diet such as insects, fruits, and nectar in their natural surroundings. You need to provide your pet gecko with a diet that is rich in vitamins, nutrients, and protein to promote rapid growth.

In captivity, you can feed your mourning geckos with small insects, such as crickets, roaches, fruit flies, and small mealworms. Insects are a great source of nutrients, proteins, and fats.

Ensure the insects are propionate to the size of your pet gecko and should not be bigger than the space between their eyes. Feeding large-sized insects can lead to digestive issues such as impactions.

Editor’s Note- You can also gut-load or sprinkle these insects with calcium and vitamin tables before feeding them to your mourning gecko. Doing so will provide them with all the essential nutrients and vitamins.

You can also feed your pet gecko with occasional fruits such as Mashed bananas, and pureed mangoes, and baby food can be provided as occasional treats. Fruits provide your mourning gecko with vitamins, minerals, and natural sugars that contribute to their overall health. Although fruits are rich in sugar and can cause issues such as obesity, hence should only be fed as an occasional treat.

High-quality commercial gecko diets are also great to add versatility. These diets are designed to provide all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. They come in a powdered form and can be mixed with water to easily feed your pet gecko. Although, these commercially available diets should not be made the sole source of nutrition and should be supplemented with live insects and fruits.

Mourning geckos are small reptiles and also have a fast metabolism when they are young. Young geckos require feeding every day, whereas adult geckos only require food every other day or after 3 days. You should also remove any uneaten food after every feeding session to prevent them from ingesting contaminated food.

Mourning geckos depend on their environment for hydration, although a shallow water dish container should be made available at all times. You should also clean and replace the water inside the container after each feeding session. Mist the enclosure daily to help maintain proper humidity levels and provide a water source for drinking.

If your pet gecko begins to develop a lack of appetite or is not consuming any food consult a trained veterinarian immediately. They will be able to detect the underlying issue and treat it immediately.

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 Mourning Geckos

Shedding is a natural process that many reptiles go through and is vital for their growth. As the mourning geckos mature they will shed out their old withered skin to make room for their rapidly increasing bodies.

Shedding happens in phases, juvenile geckos have a much more frequent shedding cycle compared to adult geckos. Some signs of shedding include a dull appearance, lack of appetite, and fatigue. 

When the shedding process is complete, the dull skin will be replaced with shiny and vibrant skin. You can also see your mourning gecko rubbing itself against hard surfaces such as branches and rocks to get rid of all the shed skin.

Keep in mind that you should never physically remove any loose skin from your gecko’s body during the shedding process. This can accidentally harm your mourning gecko and lead to various health concerns. Misting the tank regularly and providing enough moisture inside the enclosure will help your pet gecko to achieve an even shed.

How to Identify the Sex of A Mourning Gecko?

Identifying the sex of a mourning gecko can be a tedious task. Determining the sex of your pet gecko requires careful observation of certain characteristics. Male mourning geckos have more prominent preanal pores, which appear as small dots on the underside of their hind legs. These pores are not visible on female geckos.

Another huge factor that can help you identify their sex is their body structure. Mature male geckos have prominently larger heads and more pronounced v-shaped creases where the tail meets the body.

Determining the sex of a young mourning gecko can still be hard unless you get the information from the breeder or the store you purchased them from. Take your mourning gecko to a vet to confirm and help you identify the sex of your pet gecko.

How to Handle a Mourning Gecko?

Mourning geckos are shy creatures and require you to follow the proper technique to handle them correctly.

Handling a mourning gecko requires a calm and gentle approach. You should never make any sudden moves or sounds while trying to handle your pet gecko. Making sudden movements and sounds can startle your pet and cause them stress or agitation. This can lead them to run away from you or bury themselves.

Hold them gently while providing support for all their limbs, you should also not hold or pull their tails as it can detach easily. If your mourning gecko is still running away from you, then you should respect its boundaries and give it time to get used to the new environment.

Ensure to always wash your hands before and after each handling session to prevent contamination. You should also keep the handling sessions brief and infrequent to avoid stress and discomfort.

Common Health Issues in Mourning Geckos

Like any other pet mourning geckos can also get ill from time to time. You should be aware of the common health issues in mourning geckos to detect and treat them effectively.

Some of the common health issues in mourning geckos include MBD, obesity, and respiratory infections. Calcium and vitamin deficiency can lead to a deadly illness known as Metabolic bone disease. MBD can make your pet gecko’s bones weak and deformed, eventually causing them to break easily.

Inadequate humidity inside the enclosure can lead to respiratory infections. Some signs of respiratory infections include wheezing, open-mouth breathing, and excessive mucus. Not having the right humidity levels inside the tank can also lead to retained shed, which might need intervention. Insufficient or over-feeding your pet gecko can lead to illnesses such as obesity. 

You should provide your mourning gecko with a clean enclosure consisting of the right temperature and humidity levels. This will provide them with a safe and comfortable space to live in and prevent them from falling ill.

Breeding in Mourning Geckos

Mourning geckos are asexual, making their breeding process unique. Females can lay two eggs per clutch without mating. The temperature during the incubation period determines the sex of the offspring. Providing a humid environment is essential during the incubation period.

Hatchlings are self-sufficient and typically do not require parental care. Studying and observing the breeding cycle of a mourning gecko can be fascinating, thus making them a fun pet to bring home.

How Much Does an Average Mourning Gecko Cost?

The cost of a mourning gecko depends on various factors such as its age, size, health, and morph. An average mourning gecko can cost around $20-$50 in the market. Rare color variations or specific genetic traits may command higher prices.

You should also ensure that the store or breeder that you are buying from is reputable and your pet does not have any hidden illnesses. 

Another thing that you should consider is the ongoing cost of owning a mourning gecko. These costs include their diet, enclosure needs, substrate, and occasional vet visits. Mourning geckos can also live up to 5-10 years in captivity, and these costs can slowly add up and hence need to be put under consideration.


Are mourning geckos dangerous?

No, mourning geckos are non-threatening and have a docile temperament. Improper handling and agitating your pet gecko can lead to an accidental bite. Avoid pulling at their tail, as it can easily stress and agitate your pet.

Do mourning geckos make good pets?

Yes, mourning geckos make great pets. These reptiles are small and easy to manage. Mourning geckos also have a minimum care requirement, thus making them an ideal pet for many reptile beginners.

Final Thoughts

Mourning geckos make excellent pets and have a unique appearance and charm. These reptiles also have a fascinating breeding cycle, making them a favorite among reptile enthusiasts. You should provide them with a safe and comfortable habitat to promote their rapid growth. Ensure the enclosure meets their specific care needs, including the right temperature and humidity levels. With dedicated love and attention, these creatures will develop into beautiful long-term companions.

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