The Halmahera giant gecko (Gehyra Marginata), also known as the vorax gecko, is one of the largest gecko species, originating from the island of Halmahera in Indonesia.
In the wild, they live in a hot, humid climate in the tropical forests of Asia.
They’re known for their particularly shy nature and non-aggressive temperament. Consequently, they are quite difficult to handle, have incredibly delicate skin, and are known for being the fastest species of gecko, so they’re quick to get away.
For these reasons, they aren’t ideal for a novice reptile owner and are best left to people who have owned reptiles before.
Generally, the price to purchase a Halmahera is a little more than other geckos (leopard geckos vs bearded dragons) due to their larger size and the careful handling that’s required. Prices range from $60-$80.
But what else should you know about them?
Appearance & Colors
Size & Camouflage Skin
Halmaheras can grow up to 28cm (11in) from their nose to the tip of their tail and are most commonly a sandy to light brown color with a mottled effect. Rarer color types are also available, ranging from white/gray, yellow and black.
The standard brown, mottled coloring along with the wrinkled, folded skin type, helps them camouflage themselves against the bark of trees to avoid predators in the wild.
The yellow and black versions were developed in captivity and are not so wild-friendly.
Unique Webbed Feet
They have slightly webbed feet to help them in climbing and gripping surfaces. And unlike the more popular leopard gecko, Halmahera geckos can stick to glass or other smooth surfaces due to the sticky pads on the bottom of each toe.
Despite their long legs, their feet are surprisingly small, giving more space to their noticeably large claws which help them to climb and grip onto trees.
They have impressively large, bright green eyes like those of a crocodile set at each side of their head and they are one of their most striking features. They also have a pointy nose, unlike other geckos who usually have a more rounded face.
But other than their eyes, their appearance isn’t as striking as other popular reptile species, making them a less popular option as a pet.
Halmahera geckos can live for anywhere between 15-20 years in captivity if taken care of properly.
They are quite hardy creatures that don’t suffer from many common medical issues, so they’re one of the easier lizards to care for.
Halmahera geckos are known for being quite difficult to handle, making them a less than ideal pet for beginners and households with children.
They’re the fastest type of gecko and due to their large eyes – ideal for spotting predators- and their long legs, they are quick to run and hide whenever they feel a threat is near.
As defense mechanisms, they can also shed their tails and slough off their skin in sections if they are grabbed by a predator. The skin and tail will heal if this occurs, but won’t grow back, despite popular belief.
Because of their obvious dislike for handling, Halmahera geckos are best for households that aren’t looking for a cuddly pet.
If you are looking to handle one, they can be tamed. However, this may take some patience.
- Place your hand inside the terrarium on a regular basis so they can get used to you.
- Inch closer to them every day, staying visible in front of them. Don’t approach from behind, they’ll assume you’re a predator.
- Start touching them gently, then move away.
- Finally – gently pick them up from underneath, gripping lightly under their armpits. Don’t ever squeeze, and if they don’t like it, stop.
Temperament & Behavior
Halmahera geckos are among the shyest types of gecko and aren’t a great choice if you’re looking for a particularly friendly or cuddly pet. While they aren’t particularly aggressive or defensive, they are definitely one for the more experienced reptile owner.
Aggression & Activity
The good news is that Halmahera geckos aren’t aggressive. They are more likely to run away than try and fight you off. If you do ever receive a bite from a Halmahera, it’s not likely to be serious and most likely won’t even draw blood.
As for general activity, like most geckos, Halmaheras are nocturnal. This means that they are most active during the evening and night-time hours.
In fact, they are known as one of the most active types of gecko as they are constantly moving around the terrarium in search of food. They are naturally curious and require many enrichment techniques to keep their minds healthy and happy.
As with all gecko species, Halmaheras aren’t good at sharing and generally don’t get along with other geckos at all unless they’re mating. And even then, it’s touch and go!
They are very territorial creatures and don’t warm to each other at all if they’re competing for the same space and food.
It’s always best to purchase a single Halmahera if possible, as fights can end in disaster. Because they have sharp claws and a soft underbelly, they can result in deep wounds which could easily become infected.
Halmahera geckos are one of the largest types of gecko, so they need a lot of space. They are also an arboreal species, loving to live in trees, hiding amongst the leaves to avoid predators.
This means that, rather than the standard long thin terrarium that you might expect to buy for other geckos, you’ll require a terrarium with a lot of height.
The standard size for a single gecko would be a 40-gallon terrarium. From reptile stores, these can be purchased as specialist items with front-facing doors for easy access.
Baby Halmahera Gecko Enclosure
Baby Halmaheras also need a hot and humid environment, but due to their shy nature, they do tend to feel too exposed if you place them in a 30-40-gallon tank immediately.
It’s best to use a smaller tank to give them security while they’re young and move to the larger once they’ve reached their full size (at around 18-24 months old).
The smaller, baby tank also helps you to get more up close and personal with your gecko and will develop trust so that they’ll be easier to handle when they reach adulthood.
To set up a suitable environment for a Halmahera gecko, you’ll need to consider the following:
Clean, safe branches can be purchased from pet stores. It’s not recommended to just pick them up outside, as there may be fertilizers or food particles on there that your gecko might find toxic. But make sure you purchase real branches.
Place the branches so that they lean on the top of the terrarium glass, giving a sharp incline for your gecko to climb, just like a real tree.
Water & Humidity
Because these geckos live in a humid climate, they must get lots of moisture. The humidity level should be at 60-70% and you’ll need to provide a shallow water dish on the floor of their terrarium to allow them to drink or step in.
Also, it’s also important that you keep the environment around them nice and moist. Lightly misting the terrarium walls with a spray bottle every few days will help keep the environment perfect for them as they like to lick the water off the walls and leaves around them.
Like most geckos, you should provide a hideout for your Halmahera on the floor of the terrarium. These can come in the form of logs to keep it nice and natural.
However, as your gecko will spend most of its time up on the side of the terrarium or in the “trees”, it’s essential that you provide lots of leaf cover, so that they can hide amongst the leaves and feel at home.
Fake leaves are the best option. They don’t die, won’t be toxic and will keep the area moist as they don’t soak in water.
The material that you choose to put on the floor is important. In the wild, Halmahera geckos live up in the trees, with a floor covered with leaf litter, so sand isn’t going to work.
Reptile carpet is easy to clean, or if you’re looking for a throw-out solution, newspaper or paper towel will also work. But your gecko won’t spend a whole lot of time on the ground anyway, so it won’t get dirty too quickly.
Halmahera geckos prefer a darker habitat, as they live amongst the leaves in tropical environments where the sunlight might not reach.
They’re also nocturnal, so the darker the environment is, the more active they’ll be. Try to keep them away from bright lights altogether.
UV Radiation & Temperature
Unlike other reptile species, Halmahera geckos don’t always require a UV heat lamp to keep them warm. In fact, they are one of the lower maintenance lizards when it comes to heat.
In the wild, their nocturnal habits mean that they often leave their home searching for food during the coldest hours of the night.
Because they will spend most of their time up in the trees that you’ve provided, hiding in the leaves, a heat mat isn’t much good either. However, as long as the temperature is around 22-28°C (72-80°F), your gecko will be happy.
Be sure to purchase a good quality thermometer to allow you to always keep track of the temperature.
A low wattage UV lamp or red lamp may be required in the winter months during the night-time when the house’s temperature drops below 21°C (70°F).
You should always have a cooler area and a hotter area in the terrarium. This allows the gecko to regulate their own temperature and move around the terrarium according to their own body heat.
The cooler area should not go below 21°C (70°F), and the hotter area shouldn’t go above 29°C (84°F).
The hotter area is usually at the top of the terrarium, while the cooler area is lower. An excellent way to change these temperatures yourself without a lamp would be to wrap a heat mat around the terrarium’s top area (rather than placing this under the floor).
Depending on where you live, you might need to adjust the frequency of your misting. Generally, every couple of days will work if you live in colder temperatures.
However, if you’re in a desert area with dry heat, you may need to do this daily, or even a couple of times a day. A healthy environment will always have droplets of condensation on the inside of the glass.
Placing a piece of corkboard against one terrarium wall on the inside really helps to keep your gecko moist, as it naturally soaks up the water and retains it.
Food & Diet
Adults can go for several weeks without food in the wild if necessary. However, this shouldn’t be practiced in a captive environment. They’re primarily insectivores, so there’s a whole host of food sources that you can provide to keep their diet interesting.
- Crickets (Brown crickets only. Black crickets have sharp feet which can tear your gecko’s skin.)
- Dubia roaches.
- Phoenix worms.
- Pinkie mice (around twice per month.)
Your gecko should have a generous meal around 3 times per week to keep them at the right weight. Babies may require feedings every other day to help them grow.
Like most geckos, they are prone to bone diseases if they don’t get enough calcium, so it’s a good idea to dust any live food that you give them with calcium powder first. This can be picked up at your local pet store.
There are also supplementary freeze-dried or powdered gecko foods that you can mix with water and use if live food is in short supply. These contain calcium and vitamin D3. But try to only use these once a week as a top-up to a regular diet.
All geckos deserve a treat. In the wild Halmahera geckos would eat the sweet fruit from the trees and even honey. Mangos and bananas appear to be their favorites. However, these things need to be kept to once per week to avoid digestion issues.
Halmahera geckos should only ever be placed together if they’re breeding.
There are occasions when a pairing of 2 females might work, but breeding pairs will always get sick of each other, and a male-male pairing will always cause aggression.
These geckos are very challenging to breed, and it can take a lot of attempts to get it right, even for an experienced Halmahera owner.
You should only leave the 2 geckos in the same terrarium for a couple of days at a time. Be patient and make sure you keep a close eye on them. Skin tearing is common if fights break out and you’ll need to separate them immediately to prevent lasting damage.
Halmahera geckos only lay 2-4 eggs and will require a spot to bury them initially. The egg-laying will generally take place around 4 weeks after mating.
Once you’re sure that the mating has been successful, you’ll need to provide a moist soil bed for the female to lay her eggs and cover them. Ensure the soil always stays moist, but not wet, as this can rot the shells.
Geckos aren’t natural parents and will leave the eggs alone once they’re buried, so it’s a good idea to remove them and place them in an incubator.
They have one of the longest incubation times of all reptiles, sometimes taking a full 6 months for the hatchlings to make their way out of the egg, so you need to be patient.
Overall, Halmahera geckos are great pets for the experienced reptile owner. But they do have extremely specific needs and can be hard work, even for the experienced. So, I hate to disappoint the beginners out there, although if you’re willing to commit to it, anything is possible.