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Dune gecko, Stenodactylus sthenodactylus

Dune geckos are a lovely, small, communal species perfect for beginners

At a glance...
  • Small species with small enclosure requirements
  • Can be kept in pairs or small groups
  • Easy care requirements making them suitable for beginners
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Do Dune geckos make good pets?

The Dune gecko is a nocturnal, small, terrestrial gecko species within the group of Dwarf sand geckos (Stenodactylus species) hailing from the arid, rocky grassland and sandy regions of North Africa and the Middle East.

Dune geckos are characterised by a white underbelly and a beige/brown patterned back which can vary quite a lot between individuals. They are very well adapted to the hot, dry, harsh environment of the deserts they originate from. This hardiness, their small size and generally docile nature make them a perfect choice for beginner keepers.

What type of enclosure does a Dune gecko need?

Despite not being very active during the day, Dune geckos are quite active during their nocturnal waking hours. They should, therefore, be provided with plenty of space to roam and hunt. We recommend a minimum enclosure size for a single Dune gecko to be 60 x 45 x 45cm (24 x 18 x 18"), making the Exo Terra Glass Terrarium 60x45x45cm a good option, but slightly larger is better if you have the opportunity to provide this.

Dune geckos are a cohabitable gecko species, and can be kept in female-female pairs, or small groups comprising of one male and multiple females, or multiple females only. If you do not wish for your Dune geckos to breed, do not keep them in a mixed-sex group. We do not recommend keeping a single male and female pair, however, as this is likely to cause excess breeding stress on the lone female.

What temperatures does a Dune gecko need to be kept at?

Dune geckos, just like other reptiles, are ectothermic and rely on outside sources to regulate their internal body temperatures. Due to their native habitat, they require quite warm temperatures when compared with many other reptiles.

The ideal warm end temperature for a Dune gecko would be 35-38°C (95-100°F), whereas the cool end should sit closer to 28°C (82°F). This can be achieved using an overhead heating system, such as a basking lamp or ceramic heat emitter. All heating equipment should be connected to a compatible thermostat to ensure their safety, for example, a dimming thermostat for a basking lamp or a pulse thermostat for a ceramic heater.

Dune geckos will not require any overnight heating, unless your home drops below around 15°C (59°F), in which case, you should provide some low-level, non-light-emitting heat during the night.

Do you need to provide UVB for a Dune gecko?

Despite their nocturnal habits, Dune geckos would still often be exposed to sunlight in nature and can benefit significantly from this, as it will assist them in metabolising vitamin D3 and properly utilising the calcium provided in their diet.

They are best kept with a UVI between 1-2, which can be achieved using an Arcadia ShadeDweller ProT5 Kit placed 25-40cm (10-15”) above the basking area, or an Arcadia ProT5 Kit - Forest 6% if this distance will be between 40-45cm (15-18”).

Which substrate do I need for my Dune gecko?

Dune geckos are typically found in arid desert habitats, so sand-based substrates provide the most natural environment for them. Good examples here include ProRep Leo Life or Lucky Reptile Desert Bedding. Alternatively, if a bioactive enclosure is preferred, a bioactive substrate such as Arcadia EarthMix Arid would make a good choice.

How do I decorate a Dune gecko enclosure?

The enclosure should be built up with a range of enrichment pieces such as branches, rocks, tunnels, logs and foliage from either live or artificial plants, along with a minimum of two hiding caves - though more is recommended, particularly when housing a group. Ensure that there are hiding spots and decor on both the hot and cool sides of your enclosure so that your gecko can feel secure at either end of the thermogradient.

What do Dune geckos eat?

Dune geckos are insectivores and should be fed on a varied diet of feeder insects such as crickets, locusts, cockroaches and so on. To ensure all of the required nutrients are provided, livefood should be dusted with supplements according to a strict schedule.

We recommend using a calcium-rich multivitamin on every feed, such as Arcadia EarthPro-A, a calcium plus magnesium supplement on every fourth feed, such as Arcadia CalciumPro Mg and finally, a vitamin D3 supplement on every eighth feed such as Arcadia EarthPro RevitaliseD3.

How do I buy a Dune gecko?

If you would like to purchase one of our Dune geckos, please come in and see us. We will ask a few quick questions and also to see some images of a suitable set-up completely ready for the gecko to move into. We reserve the right to refuse adoption to anyone we feel is unprepared to adopt.

Common names Dune gecko, Elegant gecko, Short-fingered gecko
Scientific name Stenodactylus sthenodactylus
Country North Africa and the Middle East
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 7-10cm (3-4”)
Natural habitat Arid, rocky grassland and deserts
Housing 60 x 45 x 45cm (24 x 18 x 18")
Ideal temperature 38°C (100°F) (warm end); 28°C (82°F) (cool end)
UVI 1-2
Ideal humidity 30-40%
Diet Insectivorous
Average lifespan 7-10 years
Personality Docile, can be timid at first
Ease of handling Easy
Cohabitable Yes
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