Added May 2003: each genus belonging to the Eublepharidae now has its own page.

A look at the

Subfamily EUBLEPHARIDAE - Eyelid Geckos


Subfamily EUBLEPHARIDAE - the Eyelid Geckos

This seems a good place to start, firstly because some people have proposed that this subfamily should actually be promoted to being a complete family in itself, and secondly and mainly because it contains the two recently most popular geckos, the Leopard Gecko and the Fat-Tailed Gecko.

"Eyelid geckos", or eublepharids to be more scientific, differ mainly from the other geckos in having eyelids, but also because they lack the adhesive lamellae that so many other geckos possess. Their distribution is worldwide, having members in North and Central America, Asia (including Japan) and Africa. Though the subfamily contains only 18 species, Mattison believes that their distribution points to a formerly larger group.

Species and Care

The care for all the eyelid geckos (except probably the Malaysian Cat Gecko) is roughly the same, subject to variations in humidity according to place of origin. However, even the desert species seem to prefer having their "burrows" (ie the substrate under their hidebox or hollow bark, etc) misted lightly but regularly to provide slightly higher humidity within. A 2' x 1' x 1' tank or vivarium is usually large enough to hold 1-3 adults. Although these geckos do not possess the same climbing abilities as others, you should be aware that they are still quite agile and often also inquisitive, so it is important that the tank is secure. Despite worries about sand impaction in the gut, sand substrate (if playground or reptile-specific sand is used - not silica sand) or similar is usually fine for these animals, though some prefer to use pine mulch or woodchips for the African species. Water should be supplied in a shallow bowl. As leopards in particular are often very active, it seems not only attractive to the eye but also psychologically beneficial for these lizards to have a number of rocks, barks and dried tree segments, etc, which they can climb and explore as well as rubbing their old skins off on. Heat requirements vary slightly but are normally up to 85 at the warm end during the day, with a drop of maybe up to 10 degrees at night. Heatpads are usually adequate, with maybe a red bulb connected to a thermostat if more heat is needed. It has been pointed out that some of the eublepharids come from areas that have cold winters, eg Central Asia or Japan. Check the species-specific care requirements for any lizard that you wish to keep.

While there is a good deal of information now available on the husbandry of the Leopard Gecko, the African Fat-Tailed Gecko and the Banded Geckos (Coleonyx species), there is far less available on the Holodactylus species of Africa, the Goniurosaurus species of Asia or Aeluroscalabotes felinus. Both these latter groups are not beginner's geckos, and those who purchase them should attempt to pass on their observations. The rest of the Eublepharis genus are likewise fairly undocumented in captivity, although it is debatable whether the success and availability of the Leopard Gecko would make these species more or less desirable to keepers.

Aeluroscalabotes Malaysian Cat Gecko
Coleonyx Banded Geckos
Eublepharis Leopard Geckos
Goniurosaurus Asian Leopard Geckos
Hemitheconyx (African) Fat-Tailed Geckos
Holodactylus (African) Clawed Geckos


Lizards of the World, Mattison

Breeding and Keeping Geckos, Coborn, TFH 1995.

Keeping and Breeding Lizards, Mattison

Geckos: Keeping and Breeding Them in Captivity, Walls and Walls, TFH 1999.

See also individual genus pages for relevant works.

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