Helmethead gecko, Tarentola chazaliae

Helmethead geckos make unique, adorable and interesting pets

At a glance...
  • Helmethead geckos have a cute, unique appearance
  • Easy to take care of and small housing requirements
  • Generally shy and wilful, but can be tamed
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Do Helmethead geckos make good pets?

The Helmethead gecko is a nocturnally active, small, terrestrial gecko hailing from the Western Sahara, Mauritania and Morocco, where this gecko lives in arid, rocky desert and grassland habitats.

As the name suggests, Helmethead geckos have a row of large scales lining the back of their heads, giving the appearance of a helmet and are characterised by a brown-tan colouration with pale or dark blotches along the body.

At Swell Reptiles, all of the Helmethead geckos for sale are captive bred in the UK, reducing the negative impacts on their native environments, whilst assuring you that your new gecko will be healthy and free of parasites or diseases.

What type of enclosure does a Helmethead gecko need?

Despite not being very active during the day, Helmethead 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 Helmethead 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.

Helmethead geckos can, in some instances be kept in groups comprising of a single male and multiple females, in which case, a larger enclosure of at least 90 x 60 x 60cm (3 x 2 x 2ft) should be provided to allow adequate space and hiding spaces for all individuals. Any cohabitation must be closely monitored and the animals separated should they show any signs of aggression towards one another.

Do Helmethead geckos need to be heated?

As with all reptiles, Helmethead geckos are ectothermic and rely on outside sources to regulate their internal body temperature. They, therefore, need to be provided with a thermogradient that runs from warm to cool from one end of the enclosure to the other. The ideal basking temperature for this species is 30-32°C (86-89°F), with a cool end temperature of around 22°C (71°F).

This should 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.

Do Helmethead geckos need UV?

Despite their nocturnal habits, Helmethead 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 does a Helmethead gecko need?

Helmethead 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 Helmethead 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 Helmethead geckos eat?

Helmethead geckos are insectivores and should be fed on a varied diet of livefoods such as crickets, locusts, cockroaches and so on. To ensure all of the required nutrients are provided, livefood should be supplemented 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 Helmethead gecko?

If you would like to purchase one of our UK captive bred Helmethead 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 Helmethead gecko, Helmeted gecko
Scientific name Tarentola chazaliae (previously Geckonia chazaliae)
Country Western Sahara, Mauritania and Morocco
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 11cm (4")
Natural habitat Arid, rocky desert and grassland habitats
Housing 60 x 45 x 45cm (24 x 18 x 18")
Ideal temperature 30-32°C (86-98°F) (warm end); 22°C (71°F) (cool end)
UVI 1-2
Ideal humidity 40-60%
Diet Insectivorous
Average lifespan 8+ years
Personality Skittish but can be tamed
Ease of handling Easy-moderate
Cohabitable Single male and female heavy groups only, otherwise, no
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