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Chameleon Gecko Care Sheet and Bioactive Maintenance

Chameleon Gecko Care Sheet and Bioactive Maintenance

Chameleon Gecko (Eurydactylodes spp.)

Difficulty: Beginner

Chameleon geckos (Eurydactylodes genus) are small, nocturnal, arboreal lizards. These geckos are part of the diverse group of geckos native to New Caledonia, although less well-known compared to their neighbors. Chameleon geckos prefer tropical forest for habitat, where they spend most of their time in the cool and shaded understory. Like other New Caledonian geckos, chameleon geckos have an omnivorous gecko of fruit and insects.

Chameleon geckos grow 4-7” long, with males being smaller than females. They have a very different appearance from other New Caledonian geckos, with large, prominent scales all over their body, small feet, and their tails can sometimes be relatively quite thick. However, they still have vertical pupils, lidless eyes, and sticky toe pads. Primary coloring is typically an olive or green shade, with gray, green, yellow, or rust-colored skin visible between the scales, with a lighter-colored belly.

With good care, a pet chameleon gecko should live at least 10 years, with captive-bred individuals likely to live longer. Due to their easygoing dispositions and straightforward care requirements, these geckos can be a suitable choice for less-experienced reptile keepers.


What You Need for a Bioactive Chameleon Gecko Enclosure


Terrarium Size

The minimum enclosure size we recommend for housing a single chameleon gecko is 18”L x 18”W x 24”H. However, when it comes to choosing a terrarium for pet reptiles, keep in mind that larger is always better! Chameleon geckos may be small, but it’s still important to give them plenty of variety for exploration, hiding, and hunting. Fortunately, their size makes it easy to be generous!

Chameleon geckos can be housed together, but it’s not necessary for their mental health, so housing just one on its own is fine. Up to 3 geckos can be housed in a 18x18x24, but as mentioned above, larger with more basking, hiding, and feeding opportunities is better. No more than one male should be in one enclosure, and males and females should not be housed together unless you intend to breed them.



Although they are a primarily nocturnal (night-active) species, chameleon geckos should still have access to appropriate UVB lighting for optimal health. Aside from enabling vitamin D3 synthesis, access to UVB lighting offers benefits such as preventing illness, improving nervous and digestive function, and improving mental health.

In other words, we recommend installing high-quality, fluorescent tube UVB lighting as part of your chameleon gecko’s setup. For best results, use an Arcadia 2.4% ShadeDweller-Arboreal UVB kit. For optimal function, place the lamp on top of the enclosure mesh and place the basking branch 4-6” directly below.

Your UVB bulb must be replaced every 12 months to maintain its output. We do not recommend using other UVB bulbs or fixtures for this setup unless you have a Solarmeter 6.5 to ensure a basking UVI of 1.0-2.0.

Because this is a bioactive setup, you will also need a plant light to encourage healthy plant growth. The extra illumination is also beneficial for further simulating sunlight! We recommend the 16” Bio Dude Glow & Grow LED for this purpose — and don’t worry, it’s not too bright for your gecko. This lamp may seem bright, but it’s still nowhere close to real sunlight!

Your lamps should be on for 12 hours/day, or synced with your local sunrise/sunset times.



Like other reptiles, chameleon geckos are poikilothermic, and that means that they need a range of temperatures within their enclosure so they can regulate their own body temperature as needed. Areas of heat speed up their metabolism and promote activities like digestion and healing. Cool areas slow the metabolism and promote activities like rest and energy conservation.

Target this temperature gradient for your chameleon gecko:

  • Basking area: 82-85°F
  • Shade: 70-75°F
  • Nighttime: 68-74°F

To create a basking area for your chameleon gecko, you will need a low-wattage colorless incandescent bulb like the 40w Exo Terra Daytime Heat Lamp and a fixture like the small Exo Terra Deep Dome Fixture. If the basking area gets too warm, use a lower-wattage bulb. If the basking area is too cool, you will need a higher-wattage bulb.

To track the temperatures in your terrarium, you will need at least two digital probe thermometers like the Bio Dude Digital Thermometer / Hygrometer. Place one probe in the basking area and other in a shady spot lower in the setup. You can do this easily by zip-tying each probe to a branch or plant!



Chameleon geckos need a high humidity environment. To be specific, they need an average of 60-80% humidity, wetter at night and drier during the day (absolutely no lower than 50%). Keep track of your humidity levels with a digital hygrometer like the Bio Dude Digital Thermometer / Hygrometer, with the probe secured to a branch in the middle of the enclosure, preferably in a shaded area.

To raise humidity in your gecko’s enclosure and provide a source of drinking water, use an Exo Terra 2qt Mister to wet things down every morning and evening, preferably when it’s dark. If you need help increasing humidity, you can run a fogger/cool mist humidifier with distilled water at night. If your setup is a bit stagnant, try adding a 4” USB fan.



A thick layer of bioactive-compatible substrate is essential to creating a successful bioactive chameleon gecko enclosure.

First, pour approximately 2” of clay balls or Bio Dude HydroGrow drainage material on the bottom of the enclosure. Then, place a layer of tight mesh on top to help prevent soil from getting into the drainage layer.

Next you will need a soil-like mix that mimics the conditions of a tropical forest and will nourish your plants. If you want to make your own, you will need a mixture of 50% organic topsoil, 25% peat moss or coconut fiber, and 25% play sand, measured by volume. Mix that with leaf litter, sphagnum moss, and an appropriate amount of Bio Shot to inoculate your soil with beneficial microfauna. This layer of soil should be as deep as possible.

Alternatively, you can let The Dude do the work for you with a Bio Dude Terra Fauna 18x18 bioactive substrate kits! This is particularly helpful if this is your first time setting up a vivarium.

To make the substrate functional, make sure to add tropical CUC organisms like powder blue/orange isopods, dwarf white isopods, and springtails. You can also add other species like superworms, earthworms, and millipedes!

For best results, let your plants and CUC get established for at least one month before introducing your gecko to the setup. This is also a good time to make sure you have the right temperatures and humidity.


Decorating the Enclosure

Enclosure décor is more than just making your setup look good. It’s also an important part of providing environmental enrichment to your gecko, which enhances your pet’s quality of life by providing opportunities to express natural behaviors. Considering that chameleon geckos are arboreal, two of their most important natural behaviors are climbing and hiding, which means that you will need lots of branches, vines, and foliage to fulfill that need. Don’t be afraid to clutter it up, but make sure there’s some open space for basking and jumping.

Live plants in particular are critical to helping your mini-ecosystem function properly. You can’t have a fully-functioning vivarium without live plants!


Feeding Your Chameleon Gecko

Chameleon geckos are omnivorous. In the wild, they primarily feed on insects and fruit. As pets, you should be feeding them a balance of live insect prey and reconstituted “crested gecko diet” meal replacement powder. Juveniles (0-12 months) should be fed insects every other day and CGD 2-3x/week. Adults (>12 months) should be fed insects 2-3x/week and CGD 2-3x/week.

Offer as many insects as the gecko will eat in a 5-minute period, no larger than the gecko’s head. Crested gecko diet should be mixed to a smoothie consistency and offered in a 0.5oz gecko cup on a wall-mounted gecko feeding ledge.

The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for any reptile is VARIETY! Here’s a quick list of foods that are safe to feed to your gecko:

Best insects: crickets, grasshoppers, dubia roaches, discoid roaches, hornworms, silkworms

Best CGD: Pangea, Repashy, Black Panther Zoological, Leapin’ Leachie, Zoo Med.


CGD does not need any kind of supplements added to it, since it’s already balanced and fortified with vitamins and minerals. However, feeder insects should be gutloaded with a specially-formulated insect gutload diet like Repashy Superload or Arcadia InsectFuel for 2-3 days prior to feeding, and they also need to be “dusted” with an appropriate supplement powder at mealtime. There are many options, but MinerAll Outdoor and Arcadia Calciumpro Mg are both solid choices.


Although your gecko will get most of its water from daily mistings, it’s best practice to always keep a clean cup of water available. Chameleon geckos generally prefer to stay off the ground, so use a gecko cup in a magnetic ledge rather than a traditional water bowl.


Care information courtesy of ReptiFiles.


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  • Josh Halter


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