DEHYDRATION IN NEW CALEDONIAN SPECIES and How To Rehydrate Them
For the new keepers: New Caledonia. What is that? It's a South Pacific Island to the East of Australia, that is home to some of our favorite species in the pet trade. Crested Geckos, Gargoyle Geckos, Chewies, Leachies, and more, all call this island home. These are the species that this blog will be directed towards.
Young Female Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus)
The geckos of New Cal generally need to be kept cool (70-85F depending on the species) and fairly humid. Water bowls should be present in their enclosures at all times and they should misted 1-2x daily based on both how humid the air already is and on the amount of ventilation in their enclosure. You want the enclosure to completely dry between mistings, creating a cycle that helps your gecko shed properly. For a new keeper, it can be difficult to figure out if you are keeping your gecko too dry or too humid, and quite often keepers will err on the side of too dry by mistake. Keeping their enclosure on the cool side will help retain some of that moisture. Heat will make it evaporate and dry out quicker. Keep this in mind and mist more frequently if the enclosure is on the warm side, and pay attention to your species' temperature requirements. These geckos can overheat easier than others!
LISTEN TO YOUR GECKO! They will "tell" you how dry or moist they are based on their appearance! A nicely hydrated gecko will have nice taut smooth skin, crests erect, a fuller body build, and nice wide round eyes with a "I had such a good beauty sleep last night" look to their under-eye. See the photo above! However, a dehydrated gecko can have sunken eyes, wrinkly skin, and can even be sunken in on their bodies a little. The gecko may also have stuck shed if it has been too dry for a while. A severely dehydrated and over-heated gecko won't be very responsive, if at all. They can be still, limp, sucked in, and seem almost dead. It can be pretty scary!
Here's a good tip: Keep an indoor digital thermometer/hygrometer in the room near your gecko's enclosure. This will keep you constantly informed of the ambient temperature and humidity, so that you can act accordingly.
A juvenile Gargoyle Gecko (Rhacodactylus auriculatus) drinking its CGD out of a cup. New Cal geckos get a lot of moisture from their food, as well as from drinking it off of their enclosure walls and out of their water dishes.
Did you know? Shipping and travel can occasionally dehydrate or over-heat a New Caledonian gecko. Be observant when unpacking your gecko, and put them away immediately into their moistened enclosure.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU FIND THAT YOUR NEW CALEDONIAN FRIEND IS DEHYDRATED? You'll need to prepare a sauna. In the reptile world, a sauna is a small container with air holes poked in it, and moist paper towel in the bottom. For New Caledonian geckos, please do NOT use warm water. You want to do the opposite of over-heating your gecko. Use room temperature water if you can. Place your gecko in this sauna, and snap the lid on. Your gecko will begin to drink the condensation off the sides of the container, and even lick at the paper towels. They will also get some moisture through their skin. While they are in here, you can take the time to clean their enclosure, mist it with some water, and get it prepared for your gecko again. Don't forget the water dish! After 15-30 minutes in the sauna, your gecko can be put back into its home. You may want to repeat this process a few times before your gecko is back to normal.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU FIND THAT YOUR NEW CALEDONIAN FRIEND IS SEVERELY DEHYDRATED AND OVER-HEATED? If you suspect that your gecko may be severely dehydrated or over-heated, this is an emergency situation. Promptly prepare a sauna for your gecko, as described above, and put your gecko in. What you'll want to do additionally, is take another folded moist paper towel, and give your gecko a "blanket". Please leave your gecko's nose out of the blanket, so it can breathe! If over-heating is suspected, find the reason why, and move your gecko sauna to an appropriately cooler location.
IF YOU THINK YOUR GECKO MAY BE DEHYDRATED, OVER-HEATED, OR DECEASED, PLEASE DO NOT HESITATE! QUICK ACTION MAY BE WHAT SAVES YOUR LITTLE FRIEND. ALWAYS PAY ATTENTION TO, AND INSPECT, YOUR ANIMALS REGULARLY.
One of our adult female Crested Geckos (Correlophus ciliatus), Beor, perched in her enclosure.
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