A Mourning gecko is as peculiar as its name. Also known as a smooth-scaled gecko, it has been a subject of interest for gecko lovers and reptile owners for a long time. These geckos are popular for their unique name and for having a parthenogenetic reproduction system. A mourning gecko is an easy-to-care-for reptile that can be kept as a pet.
But more about their care later, first we will learn about the history and origin of these geckos in more detail. So, let’s take a closer look at the mourning geckos and learn more about their origin and natural habitat.
Origin and Naming History
A Mourning gecko has got its name because of its unique reproduction system. These geckos are asexual—meaning they don’t need a male partner to reproduce. The offsprings are all females and are actually the clones of their mothers. Only a few of these offsprings are males, and they too are sterile. So due to this unique characteristic, they are named a Mourning gecko—because it is mourning for a lost partner.
Scientifically, they are called Lepidodactylus lugubris, and they belong to the family Gekkonidae. They are also commonly known as Smooth-scaled geckos because of their physical appearance. The skin on the upper body of a mourning gecko is smooth and doesn’t have tubercles. These tubercles are the small bumps on a reptile’s skin that give its body a bumpy look. In appearance, they—some of them, in fact—are a lot like lizards. But there are differences between geckos and lizards, especially when you closely observe their skin and colors.
A Mourning gecko can be widely found in Maldives, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and many other seashores of the Pacific and Indian oceans.
Mourning Gecko at a Glance
|Common Name||Mourning Gecko Smooth-scaled Gecko|
|Scientific Name||Lepidodactylus lugubris|
|Origin||Maldives, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and seashores of the Pacific and Indian ocean|
|Natural Habitat||Tree branches, bushes, or on walls and surfaces close to unnatural lights.|
|Size||8 – 10 cm|
|Sociability||They are social and should be kept in pairs. However, too much handling should be avoided due to their small size.|
|Terrarium Temperature Range||75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Terrarium Humidity Range||60% – 80%|
|Lifespan||10 – 15 years|
Mourning Gecko Appearance and Size
These geckos are small in size—measuring only about 8 – 10 cm in length. The color of a Mourning gecko’s body can be brown or tan. Its body is covered in dark spots and has a strip that starts from the nose and goes down to the end of its tail. They can also change their body color, so it is very common for a gecko’s body to have one color during the day and appear in a different color at night.
The size of a baby mourning gecko can be smaller than an inch. The female mourning gecko lays 2 eggs at a time every month or two in safe places like a tree’s crevices, leaves, under wooden logs, and holes. These eggs—glued together, hatch in 65 – 100 days. The offsprings that are born are clones of their mothers. These geckos are mostly used as a source of food for other reptiles, such as bigger lizards and snakes.
Regarding a mourning gecko’s temperament, they are social. But as they are very small in size, they shouldn’t be handheld a lot. They are also metaturnal creatures—they sleep partly during the day and partly in the night. So it is common to see a mourning gecko hunt and eat during the night and also be active during the day. Once tamed, these geckos are known to be very easy to look after and are fun pets.
Mourning Gecko Food—What do They Eat?
When it comes to a mourning gecko’s food, they are omnivores. In their natural habitat, such as in the wild, they consume various foods like live insects, bugs, spiders, nectar, fruits, and even pollen. However, in captivity, they can be fed some invertebrates like fruit flies, beetles, crickets, and roaches.
They can also be given commercially formulated diets such as the Crested Gecko Diet (CGD). As these diets are specially formulated according to a gecko’s body needs, they provide all the essential nutrients. By consuming these diets, a gecko will grow better and live a healthy life. Commonly, these geckos can live for 10 – 15 years.
Housing a Mourning Gecko:
To keep a mourning gecko as a pet, it is important to provide it with a suitable living place. The housing setup should be spacious enough for a gecko to move around comfortably. It should have proper hiding places so the gecko can have privacy.
When it comes to the appropriate size of a terrarium for a mourning gecko, it is important to consider the number of geckos you would house together. If you are housing a pair of mourning geckos, the terrarium should at least be 12 inches in length, 12 inches in width, and 12 inches in height. These, however, are the minimum measurements. If you want to house them in bigger terrarium so you don’t have to worry about changing it when they reproduce and grow in numbers, then it is better. A mourning gecko is a social creature so it shouldn’t be kept alone. They are happy and healthy when living together.
For a mourning gecko to live comfortably, you need to ensure its terrarium has a regulated temperature. The terrarium temperatures for a mourning gecko should be between 75 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. At the night, however, you can bring down the temperature gradient to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. As these geckos are cathemeral—meaning they are active in irregular patterns during the day and night, it is essential to provide them with suitable temperature gradients throughout the day and night, so they can grow and be healthy.
For a mourning gecko, perfect humidity levels range between 60% – 80%. These geckos need at least 50% of humidity to thrive and they can even tolerate a humidity level of 90%, but they should also have access to dry areas.
Interesting Facts About a Mourning Gecko:
We have gathered some interesting and fun facts about the mourning gecko. Let’s check them out.
- Almost all the mourning geckos are females. As they are asexual, the offsprings they produce are primarily the clones of their mothers. The few of them that are males are born infertile.
- One assumption is that these geckos get their name ‘Mourning gecko’ because they don’t have a male partner, so they are mourning the loss of their partner.
- Their eggs are saltwater tolerant.
- Just like other geckos, a mourning gecko doesn’t have eyelids. It uses its tongue to clean its eyes.
- They have toepads that help them climb and adhere to vertical and slippery surfaces such as glass.
- Although they are clones of their mothers, mourning geckos do not completely resemble each other. They have different body patterns, and they may also show a genetic variation based on their location.
- When faced with a predator or any other danger, a mourning gecko can cut off its tail. It is a gecko’s defense mechanism to distract the predator with its cut-off wiggling tail while seeking refuge and hiding away. It has the ability to regrow its tail.
Looking after a mourning gecko is simple and can be fun, provided you know the basic living needs of this gecko. With a suitable terrarium, nutritious diet, and regular vet visits, your gecko can live a healthy and happy life. A mourning gecko can live up to 15 years, so to own a pet for such a long time, you must look after it.