Whether you already have a gecko as a pet or are planning on adding one of these adorable reptiles to your household, one question is probably on your mind: how long do geckos live?
This is a tricky question to answer because the lifespan of a gecko depends on its exact species as well as its specific living conditions.
Pet geckos have different lifespans on average compared to geckos living in the wild, and aspects of a pet gecko’s enclosure and diet can either prolong or shorten their life.
While this means that the question of how long geckos live is complex, it’s actually good news because it means that you, as a gecko owner, have the power to extend your gecko’s lifespan.
We’re going to share how you can do this in our guide.
Average Gecko Lifespan by Species
First of all, as we just mentioned, the species your gecko belongs to will influence how long it is likely to live.
Here’s a breakdown of the average life expectancy of geckos according to species:
- African fat-tailed gecko = 25 years
- Frog-eyed gecko, Caledonian giant gecko, Chahoua gecko, Leopard gecko, Gargoyle gecko = 20 years
- Chinese cave gecko, Crested gecko = 15 years
- Mediterranean house gecko, Madagascar ground gecko, Gold dust day gecko, Yellow-headed day gecko, Today gecko = 10 years
- Giant day gecko, Flying gecko = 8 years
- Asian house gecko = 5 years
As you can see, there’s quite a range in terms of how long different gecko species typically live.
Depending on the species of gecko you choose to keep as a pet, your reptile could live for anywhere between 5 years and 25 years.
That’s 2 decades’ difference between the shortest and longest average lifespan, which is a massive difference in commitment.
So, make sure you know how long your chosen species is likely to live and think about whether you’re prepared to look after them for the duration of their lives.
However, species isn’t the only factor that determines the lifespan of a gecko. There are many other factors that will impact how long your pet gecko will live.
Other Lifespan-Influencing Factors for Geckos
The enclosure you set up for your gecko will influence its lifespan because it will determine how close your gecko’s living situation is to its natural environment.
Of course, you won’t be able to fully replicate a gecko’s natural habitat in a vivarium because, out in the wild, geckos can roam freely without restriction.
However, the next best thing you can do is ensure that your gecko has a large enough enclosure.
If your gecko’s enclosure is too restrictive, they can end up feeling stressed, which is another lifespan-influencing factor we’ll be discussing later.
Additionally, if a gecko gets really cramped in their tank, especially while they’re still growing, their development can get stunted, shortening their lifespan as a result.
In the same way that a poor diet can influence the human lifespan in a negative way, failing to meet your gecko’s dietary needs will likely result in a shortened lifespan.
Geckos need a balance of different nutrients in order to stay healthy and grow to their full size.
Without the right nutritional balance, your gecko’s development might end up being stunted, which can result in them dying prematurely.
Nobody wants to think about their beloved pet potentially getting sick, but the reality is that geckos can suffer from some life-shortening health conditions.
Most of the health conditions geckos can develop are preventable with proper care and nutrition, though.
So, the good news is that if you do the things we’re going to outline later in the article, you can help to prolong your gecko’s lifespan by ensuring it doesn’t get sick.
Numerous studies have shown that stress is a contributing factor to various illnesses and can shorten the human lifespan. The same is true for geckos.
High stress levels can make existing health conditions worse or even lead to the development of new illnesses, so if you want to keep your gecko healthy for a long time, you need to reduce the stress they go through on a daily basis.
Age at Purchase
This isn’t technically a factor in the overall lifespan of a gecko, but buying your gecko while it’s still a baby will mean you get to have your pet around for longer.
Buying a baby gecko also means you can minimize the possibility of getting a gecko with existing health conditions.
How to Extend Your Gecko’s Lifespan
Now that we’ve outlined the different factors that can either extend or shorten the lifespan of your pet gecko, it’s time to discuss what you can do to ensure that your gecko lives for as long as possible and stays healthy.
Build a Good Enclosure
Since the size of your gecko’s enclosure has the potential to limit your gecko’s lifespan if it’s too small, one of the best things you can do to extend the lifespan of your pet is to ensure that their vivarium is big enough.
The optimal size of your gecko’s enclosure will depend on factors such as their size.
For instance, smaller gecko species (the Crested gecko, for example) will need at least 20 gallons of tank space to feel comfortable.
With larger species, you’ll need a larger tank. 50 gallons is usually recommended for larger geckos.
It’s not just the size of your gecko’s enclosure you need to think about, though.
It’s also important to replicate the gecko’s natural habitat as much as possible so that they don’t feel stressed or experience disruptions to their natural sleep cycles.
The vast majority of geckos are either crepuscular or nocturnal. That means they’re awake at nighttime and like to sleep during the day.
So, if this is the case for your gecko species, you’ll want to make sure that nothing in the environment surrounding their tank will disturb them during the day while they’re trying to sleep.
Climbing apparatus is also essential for a lot of geckos.
All geckos have the ability to climb, but while some geckos are totally content to live at ground level, others must be able to climb up and seek high ground in order to be comfortable.
These are known as arboreal geckos.
If your gecko species likes to live on the ground rather than above it, you’ll need to make sure that your flooring is safe and that your pet won’t ingest substrate accidentally.
This can cause internal impaction or even choking.
Before bringing home a gecko as a pet, you will need to do some thorough research into whether they are ground-dwelling or arboreal, what their sleep patterns are, and what kind of temperature and lighting conditions they prefer.
Humidity is also an important factor. If any of these conditions aren’t optimal, your gecko could suffer and their lifespan could be shortened as a result.
Register With a Reptile Vet
When you bring your gecko home, one of the first things you should do is register with a nearby, highly-rated reptile vet.
It’s important to check the reviews of your local reptile vet practices because you want your gecko to be able to receive the best treatment possible.
Bear in mind that while some regular vet practices may have the facilities to treat exotic pets like geckos, most don’t, so it’s best to save yourself time by researching reptile or exotic pet-specific veterinary practices.
Your gecko should get regular check-ups, at least on a yearly basis, because some of the health conditions geckos can suffer from might not be immediately obvious.
It’s unfortunately quite common for reptile owners to assume their gecko doesn’t need to see the vet because it seems okay, when in fact, there is an underlying health issue.
With that being said, knowing about the health conditions geckos can develop and what the symptoms are may help you to catch problems early on.
This will mean that if your gecko does develop a health condition between checkups, you’ll be in a better position to ensure that they can get the treatment they need quickly.
Geckos can suffer from various skin diseases, and this kind of health problem is one of the easiest to spot.
Usually, a gecko with a skin condition will present with discoloration or unusual shedding.
You can help to treat a skin issue yourself at home by giving your gecko some shedding baths and handling your pet less while they recover.
However, if the problem doesn’t seem to be improving, you should make an appointment with your vet.
Parasitic infections can also affect all gecko species. While many of these infections are not fatal, they still need to be treated promptly to avoid digestive issues.
Usually, parasitic infection in geckos can be treated with prescription medication.
So, if you suspect that your gecko may be suffering from a parasitic infection, you should make an appointment with your vet.
Since some parasites can live in your gecko’s digestive system without causing obvious symptoms, this is another reason why scheduling regular checkups at the vet is so important.
We mentioned earlier that humidity is an important factor when it comes to your gecko’s living space, and that’s because if the humidity in the vivarium isn’t where it should be, your gecko could become susceptible to respiratory infections.
Usually, higher humidity is a bigger risk for respiratory difficulties than low humidity.
You might notice your gecko drooling when a respiratory infection first develops, but the symptoms can quickly get worse and your gecko will start to obviously struggle to breathe.
If your gecko seems to be wheezing, make an urgent veterinary appointment.
We’re going to discuss what you should feed your gecko to extend their lifespan in the next section, but for now, you should know that getting enough calcium into your gecko’s diet is crucial.
That’s because a lack of sources of calcium in your gecko’s diet can cause calcium deficiency, and if this continues, metabolic bone disease can develop.
Metabolic bone disease, also known as MBD, can be fatal and it’s very painful since it causes bone deformation and weakness.
One final health condition you need to be aware of if you’re planning on getting a gecko as a pet is mouth rot.
This is also known as infectious stomatitis, and it has some pretty obvious symptoms such as reddening of the mouth and pus inside the mouth.
If your gecko is displaying these symptoms, you need to take them to the vet immediately. They may need surgery to get rid of the infected tissue if the infection has become severe.
Meet Your Gecko’s Dietary Needs
We just discussed how calcium (or a lack of it) in your gecko’s diet can impact their health, but geckos have many dietary needs.
If you want your gecko to live out their full expected lifespan, you need to prioritize accurate nutrition to stop your pet from getting unwell.
Geckos are primarily insectivores, so a large part of their diet is made up of insects.
Crickets, dubio roaches, mealworms, and black soldier fly larvae (phoenix worms) are all staple insects in the average gecko’s diet.
With that being said, simply feeding your gecko a variety of high-protein insects may not be enough to satisfy all of your gecko’s dietary needs.
That’s why many gecko owners also introduce supplements into their pet’s diet.
A calcium supplement that is free from Vitamin D3 (they don’t need much of this vitamin since they’re either nocturnal or will get enough from their UV lights) is a good idea.
You can also offer your gecko other food items as treats.
These are not necessary for nutrition, but they’ll help to keep your gecko’s diet varied and ensure they’re enjoying their food.
You could introduce some more worms into their diet now again, such as earthworms, butterworms, and waxworms.
Some fruits are also suitable for geckos in moderation, but make sure to do your research on what fruit your gecko can and can’t eat.
Since geckos are so small and sensitive, it’s easy for them to get stressed out.
Things that might seem like non-issues to us humans can cause an enormous amount of stress to your gecko, and the chemicals and strain on the heart produced by elevated stress levels can cause shorter lifespans in reptiles.
If your gecko is behaving avoidantly or aggressively, breathing rapidly, wagging their tail from side to side, it’s possible that they are reacting to stress.
If the color of your gecko changes to look more dull, this is another potential sign of stress.
Many things can cause stress in geckos, and most of them have to do with their enclosure.
For example, if the enclosure is too small or lacking in climbing apparatus, your gecko might feel stressed out since it’s not able to move or behave naturally in a confined space.
If your gecko’s enclosure is too hot, too cold, too bright, too dark, or too humid, your gecko will become stressed and can eventually become sick due to the correlation between excessive humidity and respiratory infections in geckos.
As you can imagine, not being able to breathe properly is extremely stressful.
As we mentioned earlier, most geckos are nocturnal. This means that they like to sleep during the day.
If people are coming and going noisily around your gecko’s enclosure while they’re trying to get some rest, they may become sleep deprived or anxious.
Even people being noisy or moving in a fast, abrupt way around your gecko during their waking hours can cause high levels of stress.
Please do as much research as you can before getting a gecko so that you know how much light, heat, and humidity it needs, as well as how big its enclosure should be.
Check whether your preferred gecko species needs climbing apparatus or not.
If possible, put your gecko’s tank in a quieter part of the home where people aren’t constantly walking through.
Note: If your gecko seems to be acting stressed but you can’t think of anything that might be causing said stress, it’s possible that your gecko is getting ready to mate, especially if it’s winter or springtime.
Mating rituals are different for different gecko species, so do some research into your gecko’s mating behaviors and see if they match with what you’ve been observing.
Buy Your Gecko Young
As we mentioned earlier, buying your gecko at a young age will extend the amount of time you get to spend together even if it doesn’t actually extend the gecko’s lifespan.
However, you may be surprised to learn that getting your gecko while it’s still a baby can actually help to ensure a long lifespan.
First of all, when a gecko is rehomed later in life, this can cause a lot of stress for the reptile.
That’s because once it has become accustomed to one living arrangement, moving it to a different enclosure in a different home can cause anxiety.
Since stress has the potential to shorten your gecko’s life, getting them while they’re still young may be a good idea.
Additionally, if you get your gecko as a baby and have done your research about the health conditions they may get during their lives, your gecko’s chances of living a long and healthy life will be higher.
This is because baby geckos are less likely to already have an existing health condition.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Geckos Die from Tail Dropping?
If you see your gecko’s tail fall off and don’t know what’s going on, it’s normal to feel very alarmed and worried.
However, the good news is that your gecko’s tail falling off doesn’t mean they’re dying or likely to die.
Tail dropping is unpleasant for your gecko, but it’s something these animals do when they feel threatened.
A perceived threat could be anything from being handled too roughly to excessive noise in their environment.
While your gecko’s tail will grow back, the fact that they have tail dropped means they’re feeling stressed.
Since stress can reduce your gecko’s lifespan, this is something you’ll want to address.
It’s also worth seeing your vet if your gecko has dropped their tail just to rule out any health conditions behind the stress.
How Can I Care For an Older Gecko?
As geckos get older, they might need specialized care. You might notice your senior gecko moving more slowly or sleeping more.
They might also not be as interested in their food, which means you might need to help them when it comes to eating.
More shedding is common as geckos age, and mobility will generally be reduced.
Baths and gentle human contact might help your older gecko to feel better. You can also try giving them live food that doesn’t move as fast to encourage them to eat.
A couple of extra checkups a year may be a good idea if your gecko is starting to show signs of aging.
Does a Gecko’s Size Determine Lifespan?
If you’re wondering whether a gecko’s lifespan can be affected by their size, the answer seems to be no. There is no clear correlation between a gecko’s size and how long they live.
In any case, most gecko species grow to around 10, 11, or 12 inches long, so while a few species may be larger or smaller on average, there isn’t much size difference between gecko species.
How Does Color Impact Gecko Lifespan?
Color doesn’t really impact a gecko’s lifespan, just like size has no effect on how long a gecko is likely to live.
The only way color might indicate a shorter lifespan in a gecko is if a gecko’s color starts to fade, which could indicate a skin condition or stress.
If you notice this happening, take your gecko to the vet for a checkup.
Geckos can live for anywhere between 5 years and 25 years depending on the species.
However, your gecko might not live out its full expected lifespan if its living conditions or diet aren’t optimal, which is why learning as much as you can about gecko care before taking one on as a pet is crucial.
Make sure that your gecko’s enclosure is large enough and the right temperature before you bring home your new pet. Also, find out what lighting your gecko needs.
Feed your gecko a mostly insect-based diet, potentially with calcium supplementation (no D3) and some fruit as treats.
Be on the lookout for symptoms of skin diseases, parasitic infections, metabolic bone disease, mouth rot, respiratory infections, and stress.
Get regular checkups for your gecko to be on the safe side.