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Thoughts on Keeping the Giant Bent-Toed Gecko and Related Species

Bent-toed geckos (Genus Cyrtodactylus, i.e. C. louisiadensis and C. irianjayaensis) are becoming ever more popular in captivity but, while a fascinating group, their care is often fraught with difficulties, and there is a great deal of conflicting information being circulated. A recent note from blog reader Dave, upon whom I can always count for interesting comments and questions, brought these wonderful creatures to mind again.

Dave noted the scarcity of husbandry information regarding bent-toed geckos, and mentioned that his lizard, purchased as a giant bent-toed gecko, was not feeding with very much vigor. Following are some exerts from my response to Dave, along with a few additional notes.

The Genus Cyrtodactylus
So far, 115 species have been described in the genus Cyrtodactylus. The giant bent-toed gecko is often sold as the “New Guinea phase” of C. louisiadensis, but is actually a separate species, C. irianjayaensis. To further confuse matters, stores sometimes mix up the various species, and coin their own names.

There are still many questions as regards the husbandry and natural history of the giant bent-toed gecko. Over the years, I’ve had a number of little known species of the same genus (Cyrtodactylus) pass through my hands, and have found the following general principles to be of use.

The Importance of a Secure Environment
Give the animal as much space as possible, with lots of cover and places to climb…suspended pieces of rolled cork bark make perfect shelters. Bent-toed geckos are very stress-prone, but don’t always exhibit the behavioral signs of stress – flight, panting, threat displays – so commonly seen in other lizards; disturb it as little as possible. These are definitely animals to observe, not handle. A night-viewing bulb will allow you to watch the lizard as it goes about its nocturnal wanderings without undue disturbance.

Providing Security
One useful technique that works with animals of all types is to provide a solid wall or two. You may notice that well-run zoos rarely exhibit animals in cages having all sides are open to view.

In an aquarium, you can cover some of the glass with dark paper or cardboard. Even where shelters are available, this simple step often makes a great difference in the animal’s welfare, and brings about immediate changes in its behavior.

Next time I’ll cover lighting and feeding, including a note on the use of snails in the diet of this and related geckos.

Further Reading
A listing of all species with the genus Cyrtodactylus, along with range information, may be found at

The image pictured above  was referenced from Wikipidia and features a related species; not the Giant Bent Toed Gecko. Originally posted by W.A. Djatmiko.


  1. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Great article can’t wait to read the next part. Thanks for all the useful information.


    • avatar

      Hello Dave, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your kind words …your comments spurred the article, much appreciated as always.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar


    Can we expect a second part to this article? Would be great. Thanks!


    • avatar

      Hello Dave, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your kind words.

      There is a good deal more to cover regarding these lizards; I have some feelers out for new information and hope to cover additional topics/species in the future.

      Thanks as always for your interest and support.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    what do they eat.

    • avatar


      They should be fed a wide variety of invertebrates..please see this article for further information. They have high calcium requirements,…small snails are the best source of calcium, but all food should also be powdered with supplements (see article); adults can be offered a pink mouse each 6 weeks or so as well. best,. Frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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