Top 10 Best Types of Geckos For Pets

Some climb straight up trees. Some hide all day. Some are bright and colorful, while others blend into their surroundings!

Geckos are fun little lizards that are full of personality.

With over 1,000 different types of geckos this diverse group of lizards has many great pet species.

They are relatively small lizards, have sticky feet and large, cute eyes. To get a better idea on some of the best pet geckos around, keep on reading…

What Is A Gecko?

Types of Geckos

Geckos are stout, moderately-sized lizards with soft skin and large heads and eyes. Lots of species have sticky feet that allow them to climb straight up surfaces. You will find many types of geckos climbing trees, walls and cliffs.

Nearly all types are nocturnal which means they sleep during the day and are active at night. This is why their eyes are so big because it allows them to see better at night.

Most geckos belong to the umbrella group Gekkota which includes three main families:

  • Diplodactylidae
  • Gekkonidae
  • Eublepharidae

Diplodactylidae are stone types from Australia and surrounding islands. There are about 115 species including crested, gargoyle and New Caledonian giants.

Gekkonidae are wall-climbing types that can be found all around the world. It is the largest lizard family with over 900 species including tokay, day and house geckos.

Eublepharidae are eyelid geckos that are also found all around the world. This family includes some of the most popular species to keep as pets including Chinese Cave, Leopard and African fat-tailed geckos.

There are only about 25 species in the Eublepharidae family, but they are unique because they have eyelids they can close. Stone and wall-climbing species have a layer over their eyes called a spectacle that does not allow them to close their eyes or blink. Instead they use their long, rounded tongues to lick their eyes to clean them.

Although there are thousands of amazing geckos around the world, some make better pets than others.

Each species has their own husbandry needs and are comfortable with different amounts of handling. In the next section we share some of the best pet geckos, their care needs and who is best suited to keep them.

10 Best Types of Gecko Species For Pets

Species Personality Color Size (inches) Price
African Fat-Tailed Relaxed and friendly Brown splotches and a white dorsal line 8 $35
Chinese Cave Shy and timid Black or dark brown, with bright yellow stripes 8.5 $125
Common House Fun, skittish and lively From a green cream to almost pure white 3 to 6 $10
Crested Friendly and patient Golden-brown in color with white splotches on their tails 6 to 10 $50 to $100
Gargoyle Shy and reserved Weathered gray stone 7 to 9 $100 to $200
Giant Leaf-Tailed Skittish and shy Brownish-green mossy color 10 to 12 $250
Gold Dust Constantly moving but skittish Bright green in color with a red drop pattern 4.5 to 6 $70
Leopard Friendly and fun little guys Bright-yellow color that is dotted with dark spots 7 to 11 $25
New Caledonian Giant Gentle giants Mossy green 14 $500+
Tokay Fiery and can be nippy Light blue to green to brown with orange or black spots. 10 to 12 $65

10. Giant Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Giant Leaf-tailed Gecko
These geckos are professionals at camouflage.

Giant Leaf-Tailed geckos (Uroplatus giganteus) are masters of disguise. Their main goal in life is to hide and not be eaten. They are amazing at blending into their surroundings in the tropical rainforests of Madagascar. This is even more impressive considering they are the second-longest type of pet gecko.

Leaf-Tails are a brownish-green mossy color with huge yellow tinted eyes. They have large, teardrop-shaped heads, muscular legs and a wide rounded tail that looks like a leaf! If they are resting on a cork log you can easily look right through them and not realize they are there.

Sadly Giant Leaf-Tailed geckos are flighty and afraid of humans. They will often jump and run or bite when keepers attempt to handle them. Due to their discomfort with handling and limited availability these geckos should only be kept by very experienced hobbyists.

These giant geckos can reach almost a foot long! Because of this they should be kept in a 24x18x18 inch tall glass tank. They are most comfortable with a basking spot of 80 to 82°F and an ambient temperature of about 75°F. Like other rainforest types of geckos they like a high humidity of 75 to 90%. Some individuals will lick water off the walls of their glass tank!

Giant Leaf-Tails in the pet trade are often collected from the wild and sold for between $250 and $500. These individuals should not be purchased as these lizards are considered a vulnerable species. It is always better to find one from a private breeder to prevent wild populations from being threatened. Wild-caught individuals can also be more skittish and have parasites.

  • Personality: Skittish and shy
  • Size: 10 to 12 inches
  • Lifespan: 7 to 10 years
  • Husbandry: Advanced
  • Price: $250

9. Chinese Cave Gecko

Chinese cave gecko
Impressive looking lizards that are best kept with a gentle hand.

Chinese Cave Geckos (Goniurosaurus hainanensis) are small geckos from the Chinese island Hainan. They live in low-elevation forests where they spend most of their time hiding among rocks or in caves. They are a very shy species and are only active at night.

These pet geckos are well suited to an experienced keeper who is patient and has lots of previous reptile experience. They will come out occasionally for handling, but do not seem as comfortable with handling as other more popular pet species like Leopards.

Because of the demand for these geckos from the pet trade they are now considered a near threatened species. Poachers were searching scientific articles for exotic geckos that they could collect and sell. With the exotic appearance of this species there was a huge demand for them.

The Chinese government has taken steps to stop poachers and the caves these geckos live in are now protected by armed guards. You can now only purchase individuals from legal captive breeding programs.

Chinese Caves have slim, triangular-shaped heads and distinctively large eyes that are a deep red. Their bodies are black or dark brown, with bright yellow stripes. These yellow stripes create a banding pattern from the backs of their heads to the tips of their tails.

These small geckos like it cool and can be kept in a 10-gallon terrarium. Make sure the basking spot does not rise above 80°F as being too hot can be fatal to this sensitive species. They also require an insect only diet like leopard geckos. Babies should be fed with 5-10 insects daily and adults every other day. These geckos are fairly shy and will only eat from an escape-proof food bowl at night.

  • Personality: Shy and timid
  • Size: 8.5 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Husbandry: Intermediate
  • Price: $125

8. Gold Dust Day Gecko

Gold dust day gecko
Little critters that will brighten your day with their bright colors and active personalities.

Gold dust day geckos (Phelsuma laticauda laticauda) are one of the few pet geckos that are active during the day. They provide all-day entertainment and love to run around their enclosures just like they would in the rainforests of Northern Madagascar. They seem to be constantly moving and watching them hunt and explore serves as easy entertainment for their keepers.

These lizards are a type of day gecko and come in on the smaller side at only 4.5 to 6 inches when measured from snout to tail.

Gold dust days and nearly all other types of day geckos are skittish and should not be handled. Many will drop their tails without much provocation. They are extremely scared of human contact and are also very good at escaping due to their speed and unpredictable movement. They are best suited for experienced keepers who want an active display pet.

These day geckos are bright green in color with red drops running down their backs towards their tail. They are named for the golden sheen that covers their green body as they look like they have been dusted in gold. They have large eyes and blue “eyelids” with narrow heads that taper into their snouts. Their tails are almost the same length as their slender bodies and are very thick at the base.

Gold dust day geckos can be kept in an 18 inch tall tank that is 12×12 inches. They should be misted daily to keep a humidity of between 60 and 70% and need a UVB bulb as they are active during the day. They are avid eaters and can become obese very easily. Hatchlings are less than an inch long and should be fed dusted fruit flies daily. Adults should be fed five crickets every few days.

  • Personality: Does not enjoy handling
  • Size: 4.5 to 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 10+ years
  • Husbandry: Intermediate
  • Price: $70

7. Tokay Gecko

Tokay gecko
Impressive looking lizards, but watch out for that bite!

Tokays (Gekko gecko) are a classic gecko species in every sense of the word. From their scientific name Gekko gecko to their charming appearance they are the typical pet gecko. They have teardrop-shaped heads, wide toe-pads, stout tails and range in color from light blue to green to brown with orange or black spots.

These lizards are very colorful in appearance, but also in personality. Tokays are good at defending themselves and are not afraid of violence. They are well-known for their strong bite and speed. Care must be taken when opening an enclosure or handling them to stop them escaping or biting.

All Tokays will need a lot of work to be comfortable with handling. Some individuals can get used to handling over time, but most do not like being out of their enclosure.

In the wild they have adapted well to human presence and can be seen climbing up the walls of homes in Asia. Naturally they are distributed throughout the rainforests of Southeast and East Asia and spend most of their time climbing trees and cliffs.

Tokay geckos need a tall glass tank that is 24x18x18 inches. As they are arboreal they enjoy vertical space and lots of hiding spots. Provide them with a basking spot at 90°F, an ambient temperature of about 80°F and a humidity range of 60 to 80% and they will be very happy pets.

  • Personality: Fiery and can be nippy
  • Size: 10 to 12 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Husbandry: Intermediate
  • Price: $65

6. New Caledonian Giant Gecko

Leachie

New Caledonian Giants (Rhacodactylus leachianus) are the largest species of gecko in the world. Leachies can reach over 14 inches from snout to tail and are twice as big as more popular choices like Cresteds and Leopards.

Leachies are found in forested areas all over New Caledonia. New Caledonia is home to many types of geckos including the Gargoyle and Crested species. Just like Crested and Gargoyles, New Caledonian Giants are arboreal, nocturnal and eat a similar diet. They are however very unique in appearance.

Their large size is the first thing that sets them apart from their cousins, but they also have narrower heads and short, blunt tails. Most New Caledonian Giants are mossy green in color, with lighter whitish blotches all over. Similar to other species they can also change their color tone from bright green to earthy brown.

New Caledonian Giants have tame and docile personalities, but due to their large size they can be a handful. Their large size makes them a bit too much for a child to handle on their own, but most adults should be fine.

Leachies are not common pets because they are significantly more expensive than smaller, similar species like Crested or Gargoyles. Their care is very similar to these two species, but due to their large size and 40 year lifespan they are not considered a beginner lizard.

A single New Caledonian Giant can be kept in a 36x18x18 inch glass tank, but bigger and taller is better. They should have a basking spot of 80 to 85°F and an ambient temperature of 70 to 85°F.

  • Personality: Gentle Giants
  • Size: 14 inches
  • Lifespan: 40+ years
  • Husbandry: Intermediate
  • Price: $500+

5. Common House Gecko

Common house gecko
Durable little lizards.

Common house geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) live up to their names as they have become invasive all over the world due to their hardy nature and quick reproduction. These common geckos can now be found in homes all across America, Europe and even subtropical areas in Florida. Interestingly this species was originally from warm tropical and subtropical areas native to Southeast Asia.

Their hardiness, hardy nature and ease of care makes common house geckos perfect for someone looking for more experience with a skittish species. These geckos are just as quick and skittish as day geckos, but cannot be handled. Their skittish nature makes them not a great pet gecko for beginners.

Common house types look like a combination of a leachie and a gargoyle stuffed into a small 3 to 6 inch body. They are pale in color, but can change in tone from a green cream to almost pure white. They are also nocturnal so your best chance of seeing them active is when the lights are turned off at night.

They change color to protect themselves from harsh UVB light during the day. Their color changes from white to a creamy green when they are exposed to different kinds of light.

These lizards can be kept in a tall glass tank that measures 28x12x12 inches. They should be provided with a basking spot of 90°F, an ambient temperature of about 80°F and a humidity range of 60 to 75%.

  • Personality: Fun, skittish and lively
  • Size: 3 to 6 inches
  • Lifespan: 5 to 8 years
  • Husbandry: Intermediate
  • Price: $10

4. Gargoyle Gecko

Gargoyle gecko
They look like little stone statues that can come to life in your terrarium.

Gargoyle geckos (Rhacodactylus auriculatus) live in the same subtropical regions of New Caledonia as the crested species, but they spend more of their time near the ground in shrubs and low trees. They are not arboreal like their Crested siblings and cost twice as much at $200.

These lizards will climb 15 meters up into trees to search for insects and nectar at night. They then climb back down to rest in bushes and shrubs during the day.

Cresteds and Gargoyles have similar temperaments and can become comfortable with handling over time. They are best suited to adult keepers who are able to put a bit more time and patience into socialization and handling.

Gargoyle species are also known as knob-headed geckos and New Caledonian bumpy geckos. They have a unique diamond shaped head with bony lumps behind their ears. These lizards have a stout body that measures between 7 and 9 inches and is the color and texture of weathered gray or tan stone. Some individuals can look like living sculptures!

These Geckos also have big eyes, wide toe pads and slim prehensile tails almost the same length as their bodies. Some have reddish, rust-color markings along their sides. Many pet species are selectively bred to encourage these rust-color markings.

Gargoyles should be housed in a 24x18x18 inch glass terrarium that is misted daily to keep humidity around 60 to 80%. They should have a basking area of about 85°F and an ambient temperature of 70-75°F. This tank setup is quite easy for most adult beginners to maintain and does not require a lot of space.

Babies should be fed a specifically formulated crested gecko diet each day and insects twice a week. Adults should be fed the same formulated diet twice a week and insects just once a week.

  • Personality: Shy and reserved
  • Size: 7 to 9 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Husbandry: Beginner
  • Price: $100 to $200

3. Crested Gecko

Crested gecko
They are well-known for their sticky tongues!

Crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) were thought to be extinct until their rediscovery on the islands of New Caledonia in 1994. New Caledonia consists of many subtropical islands about 900 miles east of Australia. This species has since gone from extinction to distinction!

These geckos are great pets for beginners who are ready for a lizard that needs a little bit of handling to be comfortable with them.

Since their re-discovery crested types have become very popular and widely available. Baby and newly acquired individuals may be a bit skittish, but with gentle, gradual handling they can become comfortable with any keeper.

Crested geckos have triangular heads, well-muscled limbs, a skinny tail and wide toe pads. They are golden-brown in color with white splotches on their tails. Depending on their mood these colors can change from muted yellow to bright gold. This species is also called an eyelash gecko because of the little protrusions above their eyes that look like eyelashes.

Like some other species on this list they are arboreal and nocturnal. They use their sticky feet and prehensile tails to climb in the branches and leaves of rainforest trees. Their large eyes help them to navigate through low-light conditions. During the day they tuck themselves away between leaves to stay safe and sleep.

Vertical space is important for cresteds because they are arboreal.

A tall glass terrarium that measures 24 inches tall and 18 inches wide and deep is the perfect tank. Since they are from subtropical regions with heavy rainfall year-round they need a relatively high humidity of 50 to 70%. They do not bask as they are crepuscular, but it is still important to have a temperature gradient of 85°F to 78°F.

Many keepers do not use a UVB light as they are nocturnal, but a low-emitting 2% UVB bulb during daylight hours is still a good idea. Different bulbs are effective at different heights, so make sure you check their effectiveness before installing.

Crested geckos are omnivores that enjoy fruit, nectar and insects in the wild. There are many commercially available diets that make feeding them simple and easy.

  • Personality: Friendly and Patient
  • Size: 6 to 10 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Husbandry: Beginner
  • Price: $50 to $100

2. African Fat-Tailed Gecko

African fat-tailed gecko

African Fat-Tailed Geckos (Hemitheconyx caudicinctus) are ideal pet geckos for any first-time lizard keeper. The African Fat-Tailed is the Leopard Gecko’s relaxed cousin. Both species are almost identical in body shape and have large, fat-storing tails which can make identifying one confusing.

At first glance it is easy to mistake an African Fat-Tailed species for a type of Leopard, but they are a different type of gecko. The African Fat-Tailed species is slightly smaller than a Leo at around eight inches. They are also colored with brown splotches and a white dorsal line, instead of being yellow with black spots.

African fat-tails live in dry and humid grassland and woodland regions of West Africa. They are nocturnal and do most of their hunting for insects at night.

These geckos are extremely docile, very comfortable with handling and make brilliant pets. They are fairly easy to find in the pet trade and breeders produce them in many different color and pattern morphs.

African Fat-Tailed geckos need a 20-gallon long terrarium. Beginners should keep a basking spot of 90 to 100°F and an ambient temperature of 70 to 75°F. Since they naturally live in both dry and humid areas, it is also important to give them a humidity gradient along with a temperature gradient.

Mist the cool side of the enclosure at least every other day and provide a humid hide filled with damp Sphagnum moss.

  • Personality: Relaxed and Friendly
  • Size: 8 inches
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Husbandry: Beginner
  • Price: $35

1. Leopard Gecko

Their cartoon-like smiles make them some of the most charismatic lizards.

Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) are personable and fun lizards with permanent smiles. Their easygoing nature, simple care, and prolific breeding makes them some of the most popular pet lizards. Leos are the best pet gecko for a beginner, ahead of their close African cousins.

The Leopard part of their name comes from their distinctive bright-yellow color that is dotted with dark spots. They also have cute rounded heads with blunt snouts and large, round tails banded with black spots. In general their bodies are small and range from 7 to 11 inches.

These geckos are from the Middle East and range from the dry desert of Afghanistan to the rocky areas of India, Nepal and Iran. They spend most of their time hidden in shady areas during the heat of the day and only come out at dawn and dusk.

Leopard geckos as pets are docile and easy to handle for children and adults. They move slowly, seem to be comfortable and rarely ever bite. They are widely available and come in all kinds of different colors and morphs.

To keep this pet happy they need at a minimum a 20 gallon terrarium. Their ground temperature should range from 86 to 92°F and the ambient temperature should be about 79 to 82°F. A 2% UVB light can also be beneficial to their health. Though their environment in the wild is dry, it is important that they are still provided with a clean water bowl and a humid hide.

Babies should be fed 5 to 10 insects daily and adults 5 insects every two to three days.

  • Personality: Friendly
  • Size: 7 to 11 inches
  • Lifespan: 15 to 25 years
  • Husbandry: Beginner
  • Price: $25 (baby) and $60 (adult)

Picking The Best One For You

Handling a leopard gecko

Leopard and African Fat-tails are by far the friendliest types of geckos!

Some babies need a little bit of extra care to be comfortable with handling, but they warm up to humans very quickly and make adorable pets. These geckos rarely bite and their movement is nice and slow. This makes them perfect for families with children who are learning about reptiles.

The only downside is that they can drop their tails if they are handled too tightly so children need to be taught how to hold them carefully.

Crested and Leopard species are the most common pet geckos.

Both species can be found in most pet stores and can be bought for under $100. They also come in many different colors and patterns so you will have lots to choose from. Finally both species can live for over 20 years! It is extremely rewarding to have a fun little pet for such a long time.

Anyone who might be a bit hesitant around reptiles will have their hearts melted by a leopard gecko. Their cartoon eyes and permanent smile win over everyone. African fat-tails are a good choice over the Leopard species if you want a pet gecko that is a bit less common, but still docile and easy to take care of.

About Nigel Robert

Nigel Robert Nigel is a lifelong reptile lover and has kept pet lizards since childhood. His first was a pet Leo which was shortly followed by a Beardie named, Rocky. For the last 10 years he has kept over 20 different species but his favorite is his Banana Ball Python, Monty.

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