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Madagascar Ground Gecko Care Sheet



The Madagascar ground gecko is also known as the Ocelot gecko and the pictus gecko.

PHOTO CREDIT: TIMBELMONT/WIKIPEDIA

Madagascar Ground Geckos (Paroedura picta)

Madagascar Ground Geckos are tropical, terrestrial, nocturnal geckos with beautiful color patterns and with large eyes. They are native to the southern part of the island of Madagascar, located east of Africa in the Indian Ocean. They are an excellent gecko for those who have experience with beginner-friendly geckos such as Crested Geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) or Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius).

Madagascar Ground Gecko Availability

Madagascar Ground Geckos are available mostly from breeders and are occasionally seen available as wild-caughts in the pet trade. They are typically available in banded and striped morphs and have a xanthic (lack of black pigment) version of both.

Madagascar Ground Gecko Size

Approximately 5-1/2 inches with tail. They are relatively wide bodied geckos with large heads.

Madagascar Ground Gecko Life Span

With proper care the Madagascar Ground Gecko can live from 6-10 years.

Madagascar Ground Gecko Housing

A 10 gallon glass terrarium with a screen top can house a male and two females. Keep them in male female pairs or a single male and multiple females. Males will fight with other males, possibly to their deaths. They can climb glass so a secure top is necessary to prevent escapes! A 16 quart Sterlite or similar plastic sweater box may also be used provided multiple ventilation holes are drilled on the sides.  Each gecko should have their own hiding place. Terrarium furniture should also consist of some rocks or pieces of wood for them to crawl on, anchored as necessary with glue to prevent tipping and crushing of the geckos. Small live or plastic plants may also be used.

Substrate can be paper towels, peat moss and/or medium grade orchid bark (to prevent accidental ingestion).  They live amongst leaf litter in their natural environment so that may also be used instead of or in conjunction with other substrates.

Madagascar Ground Gecko Lighting and Temperature

A temperature range of the 77F to lower 88F during the day works best with the Madagascar Ground gecko. Temperature can drop into the low 70Fs at night.  If you need to provide heat to your terrarium to reach the proper temperature several options are available. Infrared or low wattage incandescent lighting are good choices to increase temperature as are UTHs (under tank heaters). 

UVB lighting is optional as a diet providing proper vitamin supplementation (ask your breeder what is recommended) makes it unnecessary to maintain your Madagascar gecko’s health.  Florescent lighting may be used for live plants in the terrarium.   Lights should be turned off at night.

Madagascar Ground Gecko Food

Madagascar Ground Geckos are exclusively insectivorous. They should be fed a diet of commercially available insects such as mealworms and crickets. Crickets should be 90-95% of the gecko’s head size – an adult should be fed a three week old or ¾” cricket.  Wax worms may be given only occasionally due to their high fat content.  Insect food should be gut loaded with nutrients and supplemented with a reptile specific supplement containing calcium, vitamin D3 and other essential vitamins and minerals such as phosphorus and Vitamin A (or the pre-cursors to make Vitamin A). 

Madagascar Ground Gecko Water and Humidity

Mist the sides of the terrarium daily to provide humidity (60-70%) and droplets of water for the geckos to drink.  You may also provide a shallow water dish.

Madagascar Ground Gecko Tails

Madagascar Ground Geckos can lose their tails if stressed. They will regenerate but will not look the same. 

Madagascar Ground Gecko Handling and Temperament

Handling should be kept to a minimum with this active gecko from Madagascar. They do not appreciate handling and may nip you as a result of your attempt! Their bite is usually a warning that does not hurt.


Julie Bergman is the owner of Gecko Ranch, LLC and has been breeding many species of geckos for over 20 years.  She is a frequent contributor to Reptiles Magazine and is the author of the Advanced Vivarium Systems book “Geckos.” You can visit her website at www.geckoranch.com

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