Chondrodactylus turneri is a stout, medium-sized (7" as adults) species from Southern Africa, commonly offered by importers for very low prices. They are often mislabeled as C. bibroni, Pachydactylus turneri/bibroni...
True bibroni mainly occur in South Africa which usually does not export its geckos; moreover, they have pointed, pyramid-shaped tubercules on their backs while turneri have smooth, rounded ones. Both species’ range are not known to overlap, at least in South Africa. P. turneri is often imported from other nearby countries with a less strict policy on their native species trade such as Botswana, Mozambique and Tanzania. Both are the same size and look very similar, hence possible confusions.
Anyway, they can be kept exactly in the same way in captivity. They dwell on rock and (dead) bark. A 10-15 gallon high enclosure is enough for a pair, more space is needed if you intend to keep bigger groups with more females. They are very territorial and males will readily attack each other. I would likewise avoid to keep females together if they are not about the same size, I've already had large subadult females clearly bullied by 1" larger adult ones. Females usually never have white dots on their backs while all males do, the latter also have protruding spiny growths on each side of their cloaca.
They only feed on insects but will readily accept almost anything large enough to be swallowed -roaches, crickets, locusts... All prey items should be dusted with Miner-All I or another similar supplement with D3 and no phosphorous. Feeding them a lot and often is important to have them breed. During the day, they should be kept with a cool side around 80°F and a warm spot at 95-100°F but this species is highly tolerant to high or low temps. I have had an escaped male thriving for 9 months at room temps and found again much fatter than he was when he escaped. UVBs are not necessary as they are mainly nocturnal, though I see mine regularly basking under artificial ones (10.0) when given a chance to do so.
The substrate can be made out of a thin layer of sand, 2" deep or so, or a mix of sand and dry coconut mould. A small part of this substrate should be kept slightly moist at any times of the year. Cage furnishings are quite simple: fake plants, cork tubes as hides, flat rocks oriented both vertically and horizontally. They are swift climbers so make sure your enclosures are escape-proof. Misting them once weekly will benefit the geckos, as well as a water dish.
They usually mate in Spring in the North Hemisphere. Males may cause more or less serious wounds to females as they are quite brutal when trying to breed. 3-4 weeks later. Females lay round-shaped, hard-shelled eggs into the substrate. The egg shells are fragile and caution is needed when you remove them. Incubating them at 84°F with a humidity level between 50 and 75% works well.
Babies hatch after 48-60 days under these conditions. They are raised in 6" cubic individual enclosures under the same conditions as the adults. Brumation is not particularly needed to breed them unless your room temps are always warm whatever the time of year. Eggs and babies are surprisingly large, and hatchlings start feeding voraciously after a couple of days out of their egg. Egg production usually stops after 5-8 clutches depending on the age and size of the females. Pairs or breeding groups can thus be kept together all year long.
They are great display geckos but will readily bite hard if handled too roughly. They also drop their tails fairly easily. In spite of this, they are not as often bred and offered as CB on the market as one would expect. Just like their terrestrial cousins C. angulifer, they certainly deserve to be bred on a larger scale than they actually are. Other species of the genus such as C. fitzsimmonsi can be kept and bred under the same conditions. They are very hardy geckos, ideal for beginners, and very interesting to watch.
Herve Saint-Dizier - Thorr Geckos
All photos by the author