Malaysian Cat Eyed Gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus)
Malaysian Cat Eyed Gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus) are a very shy species that I only see at night when the mister goes off. Out of all the species I’ve kept, Cat eyes have been by far the most difficult to monitor. They are so reclusive it is not abnormal to never see them eat, drink or poop for that matter. This species is slow moving almost comparable to a chameleon. They are semi arboreal, and found next to a body of water (streams, waterfalls) in the wild. Because of this, Malaysian Cat Eyed Geckos need to be misted with distilled water a minimum of 3 times a day (depending on humidity). Malaysian Cat Eyed Geckos are naturally a slender long bodied reptile with thing twig like limbs. They are often found sleeping under hides curled up like a cat would. Even though this species has eyelids they can still lick their eye, and blink rather slowly, like the rest of their movements. There are several locales of Aeluroscalabotes: Dorsalis (known for their green eyes and white stripe down their back), Johor (known for their silver eyes and the Cameron Highlands variation (most common).
The more natural you can make your Cat Eyed Geckos enclosure, the better and happier/healthier your animal will be. Cat eyes are a semi arboreal species which means their enclosure should be more tall than it is wide. A 12″W x 12″D x 18″T is suitable for a single cat eye. Cork flats, rounds, vines and clean branches are best in a cat eyes enclosure. Live plants help to sustain humidity. Ensure if you are using live plants that you have removed all the original soil (in case of previous fertilizer use in soil) and replace it with peat moss/organic potting soil free of any perlite, vermiculite or other additives. Safe plants that thrive in high humidity enclosures are: Maiden hair ferns, pothos, baby tears, and bonsai trees (ficus). They will take advantage of climbing cork bark surfaces and any hiding places you provide them. It is recommended for female to be kept in a 18″W x 18″ D x 18″T exo terra for when males are introduced for breeding this allows them to have their space as they are a solitary animal. A variety of décor can be used as hides for Cat Eyed Geckos. Under plants, leaf litter, cork bark rounds/flats and decorations have been regular hiding places for my cat geckos. It is essential to have several hides for this species as they will spend the entire day in their hides sleeping. One hide should have damp (almost dry) sphagnum moss filling it creating a ‘bed’ for the cat gecko. While other hides should be humid with damp sphagnum moss or soil.
Substrate should consist of a high humidity medium such as sphagnum moss, peat moss or tropical soil for optimum humidity. The first layer of their substrate should be hydroballs to allow water to drain from soild into this easy to drain medium. Second layer should be coco husk wood chips to further allow water to drain from soil. Third layer should be organic potting soil or better yet peat moss, and it is optional to place sphagnum moss on top of the soil in some corners and sections to provide a place to retire from heat or moisture. I pack down soil in case the gecko were to pounce on a cricket this reducing the chance of getting a mouth full of dirt and risk impaction. Substrate should be damp, but not dripping or dry. Sphagnum moss also provides a hide for them to retire from heat. Isopods and springtails are the best cleanup crew for cat eyed geckos apart from your weekly ‘spot’ cleaning. Since Malaysian cat eyed geckos eat twice a week they produce very little waste. I have had geckos not produce any stool for months as he simply did not want to eat (picky eaters even if you offer their favourite-isopods). I take a paper towel or facial tissue and look around on the soil or décor for any fecal material to clean up providing the soil cleaners haven’t gotten to it first. The Isopods and springtail combined create what’s called ‘bio’-active soil, essentially making it self-sustainable. Taking furnishing out and washing them is often advised against as the chemicals and regular tap water used to clean the furnishings can be more harmful than good to cat eyed geckos.
Being a nocturnal species, Aeluroscalabotes felinus do not require UVB lighting or heat lamps (depending on your rooms temperature). However if you have live plants in your enclosure (highly recommended) you will require UVB lights for the enclosure.
This species is found in montane forests or lower elevation areas next to bodies of water and prefer cooler temperatures.
General rule of thumb: 70°F-76°F (21°C-24°C) for 9-10 months out of a year. Anything greater than 83°F (28°C) will cause problems for this cooler temp species.
Cat Eyed Geckos benefit from a cooling period that aides in breeding. These temp drops should take place late November through until late January then temps go back to normal. Winter temps should be: 66°F-70°F (18°C-21°C) during the day, and 62°F-65°F (16°C-18°C) during the night. They can tolerate temps in the lower 50°F’s however these should obviously be avoided.
Cat eyes require high humidity and greatly benefit from morning and evening mistings. Humidity should be: 65%-90%. Misting in the evening is essential as a nocturnal species will drink at night. Cat eyes are unique in the sense as to how complicated their water requirements are. This species is prone to what are described as kidney stones (yet to be confirmed) by many keepers. These said stones are avoidable for the most part by reducing mineral intake. It’s best to use distilled water or reverse osmosis water. Both can be costly so it’s best to consider that before purchasing this species. Misting is best provided through a fine mist misting system for a fine mist. We used to hand mist all of our Cat Eyed Geckos and found much better results once hooking their enclosures up to a MistKing. Misting is detrimental to this species overall health and should not be taken lightly.
Recently acquired cat eyes may not eat for the first while or until they deem their enclosure suitable. This may take up to as long as a month. Like mentioned before, this is a finicky species. Even once settled in cat eyes may go close to a week or two without eating a noticeable amount of food. Cat eye gecko adults will consume 3-6 appropriately sized bugs every 2 or 3 days. They should have a variety of: Isopods (their favourite), crickets, dubias, snails, phoenix worms, hornworms, silkworms, black soldier fly larvae and the occasional butterworm. All prey items should be within the size of the distance between the geckos neck. Oh, and don’t be shocked if you find that expensive hornworm uneaten wandering in the cat eyed geckos tank for days…Did I mention their finicky eaters?
Adults should have their food items dusted with calcium + herp. vitamin (very lightly) once every 2-4 weeks. Young geckos should get Ca + herp vitamins once every 1-2 weeks. Calcium supplements should have D3 if you are not using a UVB light source. Over supplementing is very problematic with this species.
Males: 4-5″ total length and more angular head. 9 grams (about half the size of females) with an obvious hemipenal bulge that is developed by 6 months old (or younger).
Females: 6-7.5″ with a broader head. 15 grams.
May reach sexual maturity at 1.5-2 years but should use weight as guideline.
Once cooling period is finished and the cat eye is adjusted back to normal temps (75°-77°) introduce the male into the females enclosure. People report being able to leave the male in there for 2-4 weeks or until signs of female being gravid (larger abdomen).
After successful pairing female may take 2-6 weeks to show signs of being gravid. Females can store and re-use the male’s sperm for up to 1 year.
Typically there are two eggs per clutch with an average of 4-6 clutches per season. Gravid females will seek out covered area in the substrate to lay her eggs. Provide a cover area over peat moss so if you do not see the eggs immediately they are safe from being misted. They prefer to lay under cork bark. After you find the eggs, do not roll them over or tilt them. Select a deli cup with air holes along the side and fill it half way to the brim with incubation medium (perlite, repti hatch, vermiculite, whatever holds humidity well) that has been flushed with water and is damp but not dripping. Be sure to use distilled water to dampen the incubation medium. Incubation temps can range from 65°F-81°F (18°C-27°C) but 73°F seems to work best with a slight drop in temps at night. Incubation can last 65-120 days depending on temps. Cooler temps generally result in longer incubation but a much healthier and larger baby.
Best kept in 8″L x 5″W x 7″T enclosure. Climbing decor should be the same as the adults, however apparently paper towel is recommended as substrate until 2 months old. Misting should take place every morning and evening, which may result in frequent paper towel changing.
Cat eyed geckos are said to be prone to kidney stones. These are commonly seen in cat eyed especially is being offered a high mineral diet (including regular tap water). These stones can be fatal if not passed. I have had animals that have only been offered distilled water as their hydration and very rarely supplemented food items and they still passed what are said to be kidney stones. Kidney stones appear as very hard, rounded urates. Often white or off white in colour. I have seen these ‘stones’ passed with stool and on their own.
Cat eyed geckos are also prone to kidney failure and fatty liver disease. Keeping your animal hydrated with proper water requirements is key to avoiding any kidney issues. Also only use plants that are reptile safe as toxins can cause acute kidney failure. While some animals are genetically prone to chronic kidney failure, which there is not cure and it will be a slow death. Fatty liver disease is simply caused by a high protein diet and is also fatal and untreatable. To avoid this, offer low protein foods to your feeder insects prior to feeding (veggies and fruits as opposed to high protein commercial food diet).