The Giant Wonder Gecko (Teratoscincus scincus keyserlingi)
I first encountered these awesome geckos at SEWERFest in Sturtevant, WI.
They were unique little terrestrial geckos with bright yellow and satin black striped from head to tail, and they were full of attitude. I instantly loved how bold and animated they were. Then I heard something that made these animals a must have for me. A rattling noise was coming from the deli cup while this little gecko stood up tall on al fours and waived his tail. It almost sounded like a rattlesnake! This sound was made by the scale textures of the large scales on the top of the tail rubbing together as they waived it around. I bought two, and at the next show bought another, and absolutely love their attitudes. When they want food, they come to the front of their enclosure and sit like puppies just waiting for a treat, but if you bother them, they immediately puff up, stand tall, and rattle their tail at you, all while barking aggressively. It’s a cool display and something that makes them so interesting an unique.
These geckos range from the Eastern Arabian Peninsula to Oman, Afghanista, and Pakistan. Adults are about 8 inches total length and have a variety of white, orange, black, and yellow striped downt their body. They are terrestrial so they lack the to pads, but they also do not have eyelids. They are nocturnal and mostly active at dawn and dusk, out hunting for food. In captivity they readily eat crickets, mealworms, roaches, and almost anything else that moves. Over time you can even get them to readily eat from your fingers. They have thin, delicate skin, which makes them a bad candidate for regular handling, but that thin skin also can absorb oxygen, which is pretty unique and cool for this species. In their native range they live in dry desert areas and dig burrows 20” or more deep into the moist sand below the surface. While these geckos live in an area that is similar to a desert, the temperatures range from 50F during the winter to 88F during the summer. This cool period is very important for breeding activity in captivity, but is also nerve racking for keepers since it is a temperature dangerously cold for many other species. They can be kept singularly or in pairs in a 20 gallon long tank with a 4” deep sand substrate, but you want to keep it a little moist with daily misting. They like having things to hide under, so upside down planter bottoms, or cave decorations work great.
Overall, the unique aspects of these geckos, along with their attitude and personality, makes these an amazing animal to anyone’s collection whether it be for breeding or as a pet, and that’s why they are my choice for the Most Underrated Gecko.
all photos by the author