Added 9 March 2000

Subfamily GEKKONINAE - the Typical Geckos

Genus GECKONIA - Helmeted Geckos

There is but one gecko species in this genus, the rather quirky Geckonia chazaliae, better known as the Helmeted Gecko. The name derives from the shape of the head caused by some of the scales at the back of it. Like the better-known Leopard- and Fat-Tail Geckos, the Helmeted Gecko is one of those creatures that seems to wear a perpetual wry grin. This, its small size and tolerance of captive conditions, even in a group, have made it a more popular terrarium subject in recent years.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
G. chazaliae Helmeted Gecko N. Africa (Atlantic coast of Morocco and Mauritania) 4" G. chazaliae is found mainly in sandy and dry areas, though paradoxically often near or on the seashore. Unlike most geckos, the tail of this species is rather meager compared to the stocky body, where it stores its fat reserves. As with most of the Gekkoniae subfamily, the Helmeted Gecko is a good climber thanks to its adhesive lamellae, even though in its habitat it seems to be a strictly terrestrial gecko. By day the overall colour is a pale brown that turns to light gray in the night. Most of the literature I have read on the keeping of Helmeted Geckos recommends a substrate of sand, or sand mixed with soil, with rocks and cork bark for hiding places and cage furniture. A water dish or bowl must be provided, and the cage sprayed once a day. Rogner recommends a terrarium of just over 1' x 2' x 1': although he claims they are aggressive at night, none of the other sources I read mentioned this and in fact describes them as fairly docile. Rogner also suggests a general temperature during the day of 18-25 deg C, higher in a basking spot, while Coborn calls for a maximum of about 32 deg C. Both agree on a winter cooling period of 4-6 weeks at 8-10 deg C. Modry cooled his collection down to 17 deg F during a winter period and was surprised to find a clutch of eggs in January - apparently the geckos are active all year in spite of the temperature variations, and breeding may even take place during the winter.


The information above was culled from a number of sources as follows:

Breeding and Keeping Geckos, John Coborn, TFH, 1995.

Lizards of the World, Mattison

Keeping and Breeding Lizards, Mattison

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

Echsen [Lizards] 1, Rogner, Ullmer 1992

"The Helmethead Gecko", Dr David Modry (University of Veterinary & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Czech Republic), Reptile & Amphibian Magazine, Nov-Dec 1996.

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