Pictus ground geckos (Paroedura pictus), are known also as ocelot geckos for their outlined patterns forming bands and mottling.
These geckos blend in quite well with their surroundings. They have shades of brown, rust and cream with black outlining their markings with a cream underbelly. Babies have high contrast colors that dulls with age. Patterning can differ, with individuals being either banded or having a stripe down the back. Patterns become more mottled over time, though some characteristics, such as the stripe, may be retained.
A single animal or pair can be kept in an 12x12x12 enclosure, and a trio can be kept in an 18x18x12 enclosure. A male can be housed with multiple females, but males should never be housed together. A substrate that will hold some moisture works best for this semi-arid species. Coco fiber-based substrates mixed with sand or Dig-It work well. Desert BioBedding with isopods (dwarf whites or dairy cows or giant canyons all work well), springtails, and succulents can be used to create a beautiful and bioactive semi-arid enclosure! Regardless, keep the substrate moist (not wet), and allow for dry patches in the enclosure; dry spots are especially imperative for actively breeding females to deposit eggs. These geckos are terrestrial but enjoy climbing as well.
Pictus ground geckos are primarily terrestrial, but will make use of low climbing material like manzanita or driftwood. Cork bark or live oak bark works especially well for this species, providing hides as well as climbing material. Be sure that any heavy decor is supported by the bottom of the enclosure and not the substrate, as this species will dig. Leaf litter can also provide numerous hiding places and a natural touch, as they often inhabit the leaf litter layer in the wild.
During the day, pictus geckos should be kept at temperatures ranging from 75 to 80 F and a basking spot around 85-90 F. As a nocturnal species, UV lighting is not required for this species, but isn’t harmful if provided. Temperatures should not fall below 70 F at night.
Pictus geckos require a moderate level of humidity - around 55-65% (up to 70%). High ventilation and the enclosure being allowed to dry out between misting are still important. This species should be misted around every other day to maintain an elevated humidity and to provide water droplets on the enclosure walls, leaf litter, and other cage items from which the geckos can drink. The enclosure should have enough ventilation that it dries out after several hours. Humid hides are strongly recommended for this species, and can be as simple as wetting down substrate underneath a hide. A shallow water dish can be provided but is not necessary with consistent misting. Live plants will help create humid microclimates within the enclosure.
Both temperature and humidity should be monitored with a digital thermometer/hygrometer.
Adult pictus geckos only reach a size of just over 4” to 6"" from head to tail!
Pictus ground geckos are insectivores. Hatchlings are large enough to take ¼”-inch crickets. Pictus geckos will take ½” and eventually even ¾” crickets, along with similarly sized dubia roaches. Adults can be sparingly fed treats, such as waxworms, butterworms, and small hornworms. Feeder insects should be gut loaded and dusted with a vitamin/mineral supplement.
Pictus ground geckos can be sexed relatively easily as males will exhibit conspicuous bulges at the base of their tail.
Breeding pictus ground geckos is very straightforward. Brumation is desirable for breeding. Cooler temps with a 10 degree drop should be provided from late fall to late winter/early spring. Adult females should be provided a consistent food source, and should also be offered a source of readily available calcium within their enclosure. The best way to monitor the health of an actively breeding female is by tail size; a female with a plump tail is healthy. A female with a thin tail should be removed from the enclosure and be given time to recuperate.
Females will bury their eggs in the substrate once every three to four weeks or so. Eggs are very delicate, and great care should be taken if they are removed from the enclosure for incubation. Drier spots in the substrate must be provided as females will not lay eggs in substrates that are too wet, which can cause a female to become egg bound.