Care Information for the Australian Barking Gecko
By Randy Fedak
The following information is based on my experience keeping and breeding reptiles and amphibians for the past 35 years. I do not consider this information to the absolute definitive answer to success because quite frankly I learn new things everyday and not only do I learn from other reptile enthusiasts but also from the animals themselves I encourage everyone to read as many texts on the topic as possible to gain different perspectives. It is also wise to check the credibility of your sources if at all possible. Not everything on the Internet is correct!
SIZE & RANGE
Hatchlings are typically .75-1.0 inches and adults can get as large as 6 inches from their head to the tip of their tales. Native to arid areas of Australia, the Barking Gecko gets its common name from the squawking sound that is mostly made by juveniles when they are frightened. They are more commonly referred to as “Millis’” here in the U.S.
Barking Geckos are a nocturnal terrestrial species that doesn’t need a large amount of floor space to live comfortably. A typical housing setup for a trio should include a minimum floor space of 14” X 21” with floor heating on one end that will allow a temperature gradient for the geckos to regulate their body temperature. The height of the enclosure is less important than the floor space since these geckos are not climbers. A small shallow water bowl, a hide box, a piece of sterilized bark or Cholla wood to assist with shedding, and a secure fitting lid completes the setup. Larger rocks and additional pieces of wood provide additional spaces for cover. Males are territorial and will not tolerate other males in their enclosures. A single male can be housed with several females.
The substrate of choice for this species is sand. Care should be taken to avoid sand that has not been washed and sterilized. There are several commercial varieties that come in various colors that can make for a very attractive setup. I prefer to use sand that is calcium based because it can be ingested without a problem and it is an added bonus for ovulating females in need of calcium for egg production. Avoid very fine types of sand. Despite their claims of not causing impaction, I have seen impaction in other species of geckos caused by fine grain sands
A shallow water dish is essential for this species. Higher humidity is necessary prior to shedding so an egg laying chamber filled with damp vermiculite can serve to increase humidity when the geckos are close to shedding. Barking Geckos will eat some of their shed skin but most of it is left on the cage floor.
Barking Geckos can be fed a variety of small insects with dusted crickets making up the bulk of their diet. Providing food about every 2-3 days seems to be sufficient. Adults will usually take a single Superworm if offered as part of their normal feeding regiment. Babies will need to be fed proportionally sized baby crickets. Insects that show a lot of movement are particularly relished.
Insects offered for food should be gut loaded if possible and dusted with calcium at least two feedings per week. Gravid females should have their food dusted with calcium more frequently. Vitamin supplements are not necessary as long as the insects being fed are gut loaded. Larger adults will take an occasional day old live pinkie mouse.
Floor heating that provides an 80-85 degree Fahrenheit warm spot for hatchlings provides the ideal temperature range to assure proper digestion. Adults prefer cooler temperatures in the range of 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Barking Geckos are nocturnal by nature and will usually spend daylight hours secluded inside their hide box so there is no need for supplemental lighting. Normal room light is not harmful and is probably beneficial to stimulate a normal day/night cycle.
If the general husbandry techniques that are listed above are provided Barking Geckos are as easy to keep as Leopard Geckos. Respiratory problems can occur if they are exposed to wet conditions for long periods of time or they are exposed to substrates that contain fine dust. Keeping track of simple behaviors such as feeding, defecating, and shedding can provide a sense of what is normal for a particular animal and it can provide clues to potential problems. The vast majority of illness involving captive bred individuals stems from some type of husbandry issue so whenever there is a problem then you should most definitely review how you are taking care of your snake and what has changed that may have caused the problem. Have there been temperature fluctuations? Drastic changes in humidity? Exposure to some new food item? Exposure to other species? Make sure you review your care practices and try to pinpoint the problem. Most illnesses will require treatment by a qualified veterinarian. The best way to locate a qualified veterinarian is to talk to other people in your area who care for reptiles. They should be able to help you. Try to locate a veterinarian that specializes in exotic animals and has experience handling reptiles. Do not delay in seeking veterinary care if your snake begins to show symptoms such as loss of appetite, wheezing, runny nose, mucous coming from the mouth, failure to thrive, obvious weight loss, constipation, or chronic watery foul smelling stools. Knowing the normal behavior of your gecko will allow you to determine if something is wrong and it will also assist you in being able to provide your veterinarian with some clues as to what may be the problem. Be prepared to pay for standard laboratory exams which are often times used to determine bacterial infections and to determine the proper course of treatment. Don’t wait until your gecko is extremely ill to take it to the veterinarian. Waiting will only cost you more money in the long run and sick geckos generally don’t recover without assistance. Try to isolate sick animals as soon as possible and always quarantine new animals before introducing them into established collections.
I hope this information will be helpful to you while caring for your new pet. If you have any questions or just want to run a situation or scenario by me don’t hesitate to email me with your questions. I can be contacted at: email@example.com. Good luck and happy herping!