Western banded geckos (Coleonyx variegatus) are aptly named--these geckos have bands across their entire body, and are found in the southwestern United States. They are found in arid regions across northern Mexico, southern California, Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. Because this is a hardy and small desert species, it's the perfect gecko to bring home for a small slice of the American southwest!
Western banded geckos have a yellow background with brown spots and stripes along its body. Their smooth, almost translucent scales give them a very unique look.
A 10 gallon tank can house two or three adult Western banded geckos. Larger enclosures can house more individuals, but males should not be housed together to avoid territorial disputes within the enclosure. Sand, such as Repti-Sand, works well as a substrate but should be spot cleaned at least once a week, if not more often. So long as the animals are kept healthy and temperatures are correct, impaction is not a risk.
Western banded geckos spend the hot daytime in burrows, where temperature is cooler and humidity is higher. Cork bark, upside down plant saucers, slate, and other similar items can be used as hides; commercially available reptile hides also work. Rocks, low driftwood, and other similar items can be provided as decor and climbing material, but any heavy cage items should directly supported by the bottom of the enclosure instead of being placed on top o the sand.
Keep this species at an ambient temperature between 75-85F. A daytime hot spot of around 95F should also be provided; this can be maintained with a heat pad or heat lamp. Western banded geckos require no special lighting.
Western banded geckos spend a lot of time in a more humid microclimate. As such, they benefit greatly from having a humid hide within the enclosure, using something like sphagnum moss as a substrate to retain moisture. Ambient humidity can range from 40-60%. This species should be misted around three or four times a week with the intention of providing water droplets on the enclosure walls, from which the geckos can drink.The enclosure should have enough ventilation that it dries out within a few hours of misting. A shallow water dish can also be provided but is not necessary with regular misting. Both temperature and humidity can be monitored with a thermometer/hygrometer.
Western banded geckos reach 4-5 inches as adults. They have a lean build, giving them a thinner look than other stouter gecko species.
Western banded geckos have a voracious appetite. As insectivores, they should be provided a staple diet of dubia roaches or crickets. Other food items, like small mealworms or wax worms, can be offered as occasional treats. A good rule of thumb for size is to only offer insects whose length does not exceed the space in between the gecko’s eyes. Generally, hatchling western banded geckos should be fed insects measuring around ⅛-inch. Subadults and adults can then be moved up to ¼-inch insects. Dust feeder insects with a vitamin/mineral supplement. An escape-proof feeding bowl will help keep bugs from hiding within the enclosure.
Western banded geckos are easy to sex. Males will exhibit bulges at the base of their tail.
A brumation period in the winter is recommended to incite breeding. Females will lay pairs of eggs in the substrate. They will often deposit their eggs in a humid hide if one is provided. The eggs can be carefully removed and incubated.
Links of Interest:
Reptiles Magazine Care Article - Reptiles Magazine article on western banded geckos