If you’re thinking about getting a gargoyle gecko, it’s important to set up their tank correctly from the get-go. In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to set up your tank for a healthy and happy gargoyle gecko!
A Gargoyle Gecko needs a tank size as a minimum of 20 gallons, however it is recommended to have a tank size of 30 gallons or more for this species. A baby Gargoyle Gecko (< 12g weight) can be kept in a 5-10 gallon tank. This makes it easier for the baby gecko to navigate their habitat safely, but it will need to be moved to a larger size as it grows.
Gargoyle Geckos reach 8 to 10 inches in length and around 45-65g weight when fully grown. As avid climbers, their tanks should be vertical and spacious. A bigger tank is almost always better, as more space gives them more options to explore and move around.
The recommended minimum vivarium size is 18”L x 18”W x 24”H.
Gargoyle Geckos need a tall tank because they prefer to climb and spend time above ground. Forests are their natural habitat, and so the tank and its decor should mimic that with wood and branches to climb around on. This kind of setup is much easier to create in a tall tank.
Gargoyle Gecko tank starter kits: In most cases, these are a bad choice, as they tend to be too small and come with mediocre equipment. Often, you’ll have to replace the tank and the equipment sooner rather than later. At worst, your gecko might suffer or even die in bad starter kits that come with the wrong light or heat sources.
Choosing a Substrate
For a Gargoyle Gecko, a natural substrate, about 2-4” thick, should fill the bottom of the tank for healthy moisture levels and keeping the gecko safe and healthy. Preferred options are a blended soil (organic topsoil, moss, play sand, leaf litter) or a bioactive substrate.
Gargoyle Geckos are arboreal lizards, meaning they spend the majority of their time in trees. In the wild, they live in tropical forests and make their homes in crevices and among the foliage. Because of this, it’s important to recreate a similar environment for them in captivity. The substrate, or bottom layer, of their tank is a key part of achieving this.
There are many different substrates on the market that can be used for Gargoyle Geckos, but not all of them are created equal. Some substrates can be dangerous for Gargoyles, while others simply don’t provide the right kind of environment for them to thrive. In general, you should avoid any substrate that is dusty, sharp, or can cause impaction.
Blended Soil is a common choice for its simplicity and how close it is to this gecko’s natural environment. You can buy these pre-made or make your own – but keep in mind that you will need to replace it roughly ever 1-2 months to prevent bacteria buildup.
Bioactive Substrate is an even better choice, but a bit more effort to set up. With a live microfauna, the substrate essentially cleans itself and can be used for much longer before having to be replaced. It also deals with the gecko’s poop and offers are more real and stimulating environment.
Temperature for Gargoyle Geckos
Gargoyle Geckos need a temperature range between 77°F (25°C) and 84°F (29°C) to self-regulate their temperature. Usually, the bottom of the tank will be cooler – between 72-74°F (22-23°C) is fine. The top, near the basking bulb, will be the hottest – up to 84°F (29°C) is fine. Make sure to never exceed 86°F (30°C) or go lower than 65°F (18°C) in the gecko’s tank.
To make sure that your Gargoyle Gecko always has appropriate temperatures, you’ll need a lamp spot on a timer for a regulated day-night cycle.
If your normal room temperature is in the recommended zone, a strong basking lamp might increase temperatures too much – if that’s the case opt for a weaker lamp.
You should also set up the temperature in the tank before bringing home your Gargoyle Gecko to make sure the temperature in the tank is stable throughout the day and night. It can and should drop a few degrees at night, but not below 68°F (20°C). Once you’re sure that the temperature stays in healthy levels, you can add your gecko.
Heat at night
During the night, all light and heat sources should be turned off, unless the temperature would drop too much. If needed, use a heat pad or ceramic heat lamp, but nothing that gives off light at night. Also use a thermostat for any heat source you set up for this reason to prevent overheating.
Humidity for Gargoyle Geckos
Gargoyle Geckos need humidity levels between 50-70%. They get much of their moisture from the air, rather than from a water dish. The easiest option is to set up a reptile mister to automatically mist once a day in the evening. Track the tank’s humidity levels with a hygrometer in the tank (should be included in your thermometer) to make sure that the humidity levels stay within that range. Higher levels directly after misting are fine, though.
Your Gargoyle Gecko needs the regular misting not only for humidity, but also for the water – they like to lick or “drink” the tiny water droplets on plants as a source for moisture. They tend to only drink from a water dish very rarely, but one should be provided anyway. Make sure to replace the water in it daily.
Both the water dish and the misting can and should be done with regular tap water, assuming it is clean and safe for humans. The minerals in the water are essential for the gecko – distilled or filtered water lacks these necessary minerals.
Lighting for Gargoyle Geckos
Gargoyle Geckos are most active at dusk and during the night, but should still have a daytime light source for improved activity, appetite, and overall health. This low-intensity basking light should also be a weak UVB source (around 2-5%), as new studies show an improvement in health when both vitamin D supplements and a UVB light source are used.
You don’t want any “night light” sources, as these can mess with the gecko’s day-night cycles.
Install the light over the mesh on top of the tank, never inside it, and make sure to not have glass between the lamp and the tank as that blocks the UVB light.
Gargoyle Geckos are most active during the night, but because of their excellent eyesight in the dark, they don’t need any light sources. Ambient lighting in a city is usually already more than they would have in the wild, and any additional light would only disrupt their regular cycles. Make sure to not have the light on in the room in the middle of the night, either.
Hours of UVB daylight
Gargoyle Geckos are mostly hiding, resting, or sleeping during the day, but may come out to get some sun (or UVB light from the lamp). Even if they don’t, they are aware of the “sunlight”, which is important in regulating their day-night cycles. That’s why you should have strict automatic timers for your basking lamp.
Your Gargoyle Gecko should get 12 hours of artificial UVB daylight per day – from 8am to 8pm is a common choice. During summer, you can increase this time to 14 hours. Make sure to increase or decrease this time slowly during spring and fall – by about 30 minutes per week.
With a quality automated timer like this Zilla Heat & Light Timer, this should be a set-and-forget process most of the time.
Filling your Gargoyle Gecko’s tank with accessories and decoration is more than just making it prettier – a varied environment is important for the gecko’s mental health and physical development. Environmental enrichment boosts a gecko’s cognitive development, reduces stress, improves immune system function, and much more.
Gargoyle Gecko need only one “core” element, and that’s an elevated feeding and drinking dish combo. Elevated is more natural to them than a feeding dish on the ground – there are dishes like this that you can “stick” to any place on the tank’s wall with strong magnets. For the feeding “dish”, many Gargoyle Gecko owners prefer biodegradable gecko cups to put the feeding mixes into.
Beyond this, you can be creative – however, any elements you add to the habitat should fulfill at least one, ideally two of the following functions:
- A hiding place / natural cover
- Elements for climbing and jumping, exploration
- Water capturing
While Gargoyle Geckos are arboreal, they spend much time near the ground, as well as some time on the ground itself. There should be hiding places for them both on the ground and higher up in the tank. This is both to give them options, but also so that they can hide at different temperature levels, as temperatures tend to be higher further up, near the basking lamp. (Learn more about your Gargoyle Gecko’s diet here)
Plants are another great source of natural cover to hide in – you can use real or artificial plants for this, or a combo of both, but make sure to choose plants that are similar to the plants in their natural, semi-tropical climate.
Branches, vines, cork or PVC pipes and tubes, as well as other decorative elements provide plenty of stimulation to climb around, jump, and explore their habitat. Include some of these in your Gargoyle’s tank.
Many elements can do both – bridge-like structures provide a hiding spot beneath, and a climbing/jumping spot on top.
Finally, there should be some spots where water naturally gathers from misting. Tiny droplets on plants or decoration are an important source of moisture for your Gargoyle Gecko.
Make sure to only buy pet/reptile-safe decorations to prevent any accidents!
Best plants for Gargoyle Geckos
If you want to use real plants in your Gargoyle Gecko’s tank, it’s important to choose safe and healthy options. Here are some of the best plants to choose from:
Small to large ficus species are popular choices for both the geckos and owners. Examples include the fiddle-leaf fig (Ficus lyrata), golden king ficus and Ficus benjamina.
Other popular options include the “dragon plant” (Dracaena) or pothos (Scindapsus).
For a long list of gecko-safe options for real plants, check out this guide.
When choosing real plants, keep in mind that they will have their own requirements to survive and grow. Apart from water, they need substrate to grow roots in, light and plenty of space. Occasional trimming will likely be required to prevent the plant from growing too high or filling up the tank on its own.
How many Gargoyle Geckos can live together in one tank?
Unless you are an experienced gecko keeper or are breeding them, you should only have one Gargoyle Gecko per tank. Gargoyle Geckos are quite aggressive, and keeping two in one enclosure will result in stress, fighting, and eventually the death of one of them.
Especially male gargoyles are quite territorial and do not accept other males in their territory. Housing two together is essentially hosting a Gargoyle Gecko hunger games in your home – only one of them will survive.
Housing two female Gargoyle Geckos together is also not a good idea. They are less aggressive and territorial, but there will usually be a more dominant one. It will take the weaker gecko’s food and fights might still occur, often resulting in injury for one or both geckos.
Keeping a male and female Gargoyle Gecko in the same enclosure is obviously necessary for breeding, but should only be done for a limited time during breeding season and not year-round. The male will still be dominant and territorial, which usually ends badly for the female.
Gargoyle Geckos are quite solitary and should almost never be housed together.