Lygodactylus grotei


(STERNFELD, 1911)


Distribution:


Tanzania

Description:


Lygodactylus grotei has a total length of 6 centimeters with their tail accounting for more than half their size. Lygodactylus grotei is one of the smallest members of the genus. Females are about 3 millimeter larger than the males. Like all species of the genus Lygodactylus they have sticky blades in the toes and underside of the tail tip. Sexes do not differ in coloration. On the back there is a broad brown marbled band which starts at the tip of the snout all the way to the tail end, which is then divided in the middle by a beige line. The flanks of the animal are adorned with a bright, almost white and dark brown band which runs down to the dorsum, then extends from the tip of the snout met at the height of the eyes all the way to the tail. The dark band is then opened between the legs with several bright spots. The tail varies from orange to red. The belly of Lygodactylus grotei is a faded beige color. Neither males nor females have dark throats. Males are identified by their thickened tail base and series of preanal pores located between the hind legs.
The coloration in juvenile Lygodactylus grotei differs greatly from adult animals. The body is brown and speckled with white dots. The tail is bright red.

Habitat:


The life of Lygodactylus grotei in the wild is not yet fully understood. It is said to be an arboreal living gecko. Due to its striped pattern one can only assume that they inhabit smaller branches of trees with which they are perfectly camouflaged.

Husbandry and Breeding:


Due to the small size of Lygodactylus grotei the terrarium does not need to be very large. A terrarium measuring 20x20x30 centimeters (roughly 3 gallons) would meet the needs for a pair perfectly. Males respond aggressively to each other within the species, so the rule of only one male per enclosure must be maintained. In larger tanks quite a number of females can be housed usually without issue alongside a male. The side and rear walls should be decorated with natural cork plates. Lygodactylus grotei do best with a sand-soil substrate. Further terrarium decoration can be arranged with cork tubes, branches and small pieces of bamboo. A small trailing plant such as Pilea sp. works well. The plant is best left in its pot, as females have been known to lay eggs in the small braided stems from time to time, this will allow for easy egg removal later on. A shallow bowl of water should be provided with a small pebble in it to prevent drowning. Additionally a small bowl of crushed up cuttlefish bone should not be missing from the terrarium decor. Lighting is provided by a small compact UVB bulb. This should meet the daytime temperature requirements of 26-28C (79-82F). The use of more lighting would only lead to the overheating of the small terrarium. In larger terrariums however it is possible to use a Halogen puck light or two to help maintain the proper temperatures.
It is very important to feed Lygodactylus grotei regularly. Due to their small body size and mass, they have virtually no fat reserves. This means they should at least be feed every two days. Suitable food for Lygodactylus grotei consists of pinhead crickets, woodlice, fruitflies, springtails, firebrats, wax moths and wax moth larvae to name a few. The food should always be dusted with the appropriate vitamins at every feeding.
The terrarium should be misted once daily to meet the water and humidity needs of Lygodactylus grotei. The humidity should be kept around 60-70%.
Females lay a double clutch of eggs every 2-3 weeks, normally in the summer months. Eggs are usually placed amongst plants, cork tubes or are partially buried in the substrate. Measuring only 5x4 mm, the eggs should be carefully removed and incubated in an incubator for better temperature control. The easiest way possible is to use small forceps (be very careful not to crush the eggs!) or a slurpee straw. A high level of humidity should be provided inside the incubation container. Eggs may be placed directly on a milk cap containing dry vermiculite. At a constant temperature of 28C (82F) the young hatch out between 55-60 days. On hatching young Lygodactylus grotei measure a total of 2.3 centimeters. Clutch mates may be housed together in converted 1.3 liter household containers. The clutch mates can be raised in containers previously used to raise others as this helps them build a healthy intestinal flora. The containers are furnished with the same substrate as used for their parents, a piece of cork and a plant. Springtails are a must for the containers, this ensures there is a constant level of food available. Additionally young should be fed at least every two days with small micro feed, such as firebrats, field sweepings, pinhead crickets or fruitflies. Misting the container once daily is sufficient enough to provide the young with water and humidity. The humidity should be maintained around 70%. The container should be illuminated with a small compact UVB bulb.
Lygodactylus grotei has proven to be a very inquisitive and trusting animal. They are active all day and thus it makes them interesting to observe. Young animals even possess the same curious and trusting behavior as their parents, thus it is possible by the age of two weeks to also feed them from tweezers. Many animals at present are wild caught, they have proven to be in the difficult to care for range. Regular feedings and misting will greatly play a role in their survival rate. Wild caught animals are usually plagued by numerous blood mites and intestinal parasites. Treatment of parasites in small animals is often not easily possible. Therefore care must be taken in the medicines chosen for their treatment, as due to their small size it is easily possible to overdose and kill them. However With proper care the animals will flourish and breed. Newly acquired animals should always be quarantined!
Based on the above information I can only recommend Lygodactylus grotei to the very dedicated & experienced keeper who is willing to put much time and love into the care of this highly interesting gecko species.
Lygodactylus grotei is often traded in the hobby falsely under the name Lygodactylus capensis pakenhami. This is wrong because the imported animals did not come from the Island of Pemba. Therefore it should only be referred to as Lygodactylus grotei.

Text and Photos: Dennis Hluschi, Leipzig

Translation: Maureen Winter, Münster

Lygodactylus grotei (Female)

Lygodactylus grotei (Male)

Lygodactylus grotei (Female ventral)

Lygodactylus grotei (Male ventral)

Lygodactylus grotei (Eggs)

Lygodactylus grotei (Hatchling)

Lygodactylus grotei (Juvenile)

Lygodactylus grotei (Rearing Container)

Lygodactylus grotei (Semiadult)