Care and breeding basics sheet for Ptychozoon kuhli ,Annandale 1905/Malayan Flying Gecko, based on my own experience. Adult size:
SVL 70-95 mm, Total length 140-190 mm (6’’-8’’) Hatchling size: just over 5 cm (2’’). Description:
flying geckos have long, serrated tails ending up in a dermal, oval-shaped fold. They also have skin folds along their flanks and limbs which help them to “glide” in the air while jumping from one branch to another*. The eye has a brown iris and a vertical pupil, and is crossed by a dark stripe. The head is triangular and well set from the rest of the body, the feet are all webbed. Some individuals have a light-coloured stripe on their backs, the overall colour ranges from dark brown to light grey with a wavy pattern on the back. This species is a particularly cryptic one, being able to press against tree trunks, casting no shadow thanks to their large dermal folds and imitating bark with lichenous growths. The underside can be creamy white, grey, dull brick red, or light brown but is always lighter-coloured than the back. These are very fast and agile critters, always on the alert, and are escape artists, a point to consider during cleaning tasks and planning for the vivarium settings. Their bodies are very flat. The tail does not seem to break off easily and regenerated tails are quite rare even in wild-caught specimens. These geckos have strong claws and pads with setae enabling them to climb on the smoothest surfaces.
*just like flying squirrels do.
My Ptychozoon kuhli
pair : 1. Tail shape
1.1 Tail tip :
has a relatively short and narrow tail end ,whereas P. kuhli
’s tail shown here ends in a broad ,spatula-shaped tail . 1.2 Serrated tails
It is generally believed a tail serrated backwards indicates P. lionotum while a tail serrated straight ,making a right angle with the tail axis ,is typical of P. kuhli
.None of the scientific papers published asserts this .Tails are serrated in both species and some kuhli
specimens may have tails serrated slightly backwards ,so it does not count as a specific feature . 2. Head and tongue P. kuhli’
s tongues display in most cases ,but not all ,a black tip .A whole pink tongue would indicate in 90% of cases a P. lionotum
.Heads of both species are similar ,I have made a close-up pic to show the scalation of the labials . 3. Color
Both species are often prone to color changes according to heat ,lighting ,stress ,and environmental criteria .Color is in no way a means to differentiate both species . 4. Inbreeding
No case of kuhli x lionotum
intergrades were ever reported .It would be wise to think such hybrids are impossible ,both in the wild and in terrariums ,as both species are partially sympatric . 5. Dorsal tubercles
2-6 rows of spiny ,tiny scales protruding and called tubercules are a distinctive feature of kuhli
adults (for both sexes ) whereas lionotum
don’t have any such tubercles . P. lionotum
(Photo courtesy Henke from Sweden ): P. kuhli
Green arrows on the above shots indicate the position of the tubercles . 6. Forefeet :
All four feet are webbed and bear strong claws .In P. kuhli
,the toes in the forefeet are all gathered by the webbed skin between the toes .In P. lionotum
,the toe situated the nearest to the body in both forefeet tends to be separated from the others . 7. Sexing
Ventral view :
Hemipenal bulges are less obviously noticeable than in other gecko species ,but the row of pre-anal pores only seen in males is unmistakable . Legal info:
not listed in the CITES appendix nor restricted in the EU. Geographical range:
Peninsular Malaysia, southern Thaïland ,Nicobar islands ,Sumatra, Java, Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak with all the neighbouring islands. Climate and biotope:
Flying geckos inhabit damp, dark and warm primary forests in their native range. These areas are subject to monsoon and very heavy rainfall, and humidity never drops very low. Temperatures under these latitudes can easily reach 90-95°F. They can also be found in plantations and are seldom seen in mountains above 3,000 feet. Human settlements attract them, especially where there are bright light sources at night which make all sort of bugs and insects gather. Temperatures never fall under 70°F throughout the year. There are three seasons: rainy season from May to October with high temps and continual and heavy rainfall, NE winds make the air drier and cooler from October to February, then for 2-3 months the rains start again with less intensity but temperatures increase. These geckos can be found above ground level on trunks but they can also reach the canopy, several tens of feet above the forest floor. Natural History:
They spend the day under bark crevices or on tree trunks and actively forage for prey at night. They are not strictly nocturnal, from time to time I see my animals moving and even hunting for prey during daytime, but they are mostly active in the evening. They are strictly arboreal, a prolonged sojourn on the ground would mean death is near. This is a very active species, able to communicate through soft, creaking sounds and very territorial. Never house more than one male in the same enclosure! Even females can sometimes be aggressive with one another. For this reason they are best kept in pairs or, at most, trios. Purchase and quarantine:
Most specimens found in reptile shops and events are wild-caught and need at least one month of quarantine with 2 checks for parasites at a 2-weeks interval. One single fecal sample showing no parasites would not mean the animals are not infected, as parasites follow certain cycles and are only eliminated from time to time in the geckos’stools.
This must be done with the assistance, or under the control of a qualified veterinarian. WC specimens also need to be rehydrated by frequent spraying with slightly warm water, they usually do not drink from vessels but only lick drops of sprayed water. Red mites are very often found on them and they can be a plague, transmitting severe bacterial, viral or protozoic diseases to the geckos, harassing them and drinking their blood.
I have successfully eliminated such mites with Carbyl® , 2 pinches of powder sprayed in their viv but not on the geckos, repeated 3 times in a month will usually kill all mites. Be conscious that red mites eggs are laid everywhere and are not visible to the human eye, and a reptile collection can quickly be infested if nothing is done.
Flying geckos once treated for parasites are very hardy, but many amateur herpers lose their animals in this process. I have had 7 flying geckos and none of them died, but I have often heard of an alarming death rate with imports. Whenever you can, it is better in all respects to buy captive-bred specimens. Browse the specialized forums as it is not too difficult to find CB flying geckos.
Most imports come from Peninsular Malaysia or Indonesia. Handling:
These geckos do not like at all being handled. First, they can easily escape your hands, second, they are able to bite you-it is not painful for the keeper but shows unnecessary stress that should be avoided. They are perfect display geckos, but not pets to be regularly handled. If ever one of your flying geckos escapes, slowly approach it, and try to entrap it under the palm of your hand, that usually works well, but nothing shall frighten the gecko in the meantime. The vivarium:
20 gallons glass tanks will be perfect for them. Do not use tanks with screen tops, as they tend not to hold enough moisture. The tank should be at least 50cm/20’’ high but apart from that, these animals need space, be it vertical or horizontal. My trio is kept in a 24’’ longx 20’’ highx16’’ deep glass tank with 2 opposite ventilations and they really thrive in it. Juveniles shall be kept in smaller and individual enclosures, 10’’x10’’x12’’ will be fine. Make sure the vivarium doors close well and that there are no escape possibility, as the geckos will readily exploit the minutest holes or openings to find their way out. Substrate and cage furnishing:
I use coconut mould in a 2-inch deep layer, and I would not advise wood chips ,vermiculite or other similar substrates as they do not keep moisture properly, more, the geckos dive so readily on prey that they could ingest bark chips or vermiculite. Coconut mould gently releases humidity as needed and makes a perfect bedding. No sharp element nor stone must be present as the geckos would injure themselves on these elements while jumping. Cork bark oak hides are much appreciated, and the back and side walls of the tank should be covered with cork panes with colours helping the geckos to blend on them. Potted plants are also much more advisable than plastic plants, as potted plants will give additional moisture, hides, laying sites. You can use various non-spiny bromeliads, tropical ferns, small yuccas, Scindapsus aureus and similar tropical hardy plants. Bamboo canes places vertically and/or 1 to 2 inches diameter branches will complete the enclosure furnishing and will match the needs of this species. Heating and lighting:
UVBs are not an absolute necessity, though it cannot harm to use a 5% UVB light source such as an economic bulb made for terrarium animals or special neon tube. I have always kept my animals using UVB radiations. Lighting and heating aggregates work 12 hours a day all year long. The basking spot can be unusually warm for a gecko species: the basking area can safely reach 95-100°F (35-38°C) while the cool end will be in the low 80°F (26-29°C) during the day. Night temps should drop to 70-75°F (20-24°C) all year long. A heating cable placed on the outside of the back wall and connected to a thermostat will give the ambient heat, while the aforementioned bulb will generally be enough to provide the warm end (26W Hagen® UVB 5% bulbs are perfect for that use). These critters like warm if not hot and wet atmospheres, and tend to shun away very bright light sources. Humidity:
a daily ,heavy spraying of the viv will be enough to ensure the correct moisture level for this species. Spraying should be reduced in the winter months to simulate the dry season. Misting units can be a good trick if you have plenty of vivaria or if you often go on holiday, such devices exist with very precise timers and water tanks. Foggers are useless with these animals, they would bring more aesthetics than being really useful to hydrate the geckos properly. At night, a 80-95% moisture level is needed at all times if you do not want your animals to dehydrate or to have shedding troubles. Humidity can safely reach 60% at the driest point of the day, as it corresponds to the rainforest conditions. Feeding:
¾ inches (2cm) crickets dusted with a proper supplement once every other feeding will make a perfect diet. Flying geckos seem to prefer fast-moving prey items rather than worms or caterpillars, and my own geckos readily accept prey from tweezers. 2-6 crickets per adult animal every 3 days is a good feeding scheme. Juveniles shall be fed smaller crickets daily. Do not use vitamins with juveniles under 3 months of age, that would harm or even kill them. As an alternative, silkworms are sometimes accepted, small roaches are very much appreciated y the geckos, but they seem to ignore static prey such as baby locusts or waxworms, unless they are very hungry. Supplements:
I use Calcamineral®, Miner-All I® or T-Rex 2:0. Very important: avoid mineral supplements which contain phosphore, as prey items are already holding excesses of phosphore, and be careful about the amount of vitamins present in the supplement, too much vitamins can be worse than not enough and trigger severe nutritional pathologies. Breeding:
It occurs through spring and summer, and a drier and cooler period stimulates breeding, mating starts when temperatures and sprayings are increased. Males tend to be quite harsh when approaching females, and you must carefully monitor your females which may get injured at that moment. After a month or so, it is easy to see when a female is about to lay eggs:
They lay 2 white, hard-shelled eggs usually glued to a piece of bark or onto the viv’s glass panes, sometimes in leaf axils of potted plants. These eggs should be removed with great care as they are extremely thin-shelled and fragile. Do not try to separate the eggs from one another, you would break them for sure. Incubation can be made in plastic cricket boxes placed inside the viv, as parents will eat the unprotected young as soon as they would hatch if you do not protect the eggs in such a container. The box is filled with moist coconut mould and perlite and eggs are left to incubate on the piece of wood they were stuck to. It takes about 75-85 days to get the first births at daily temps of 90°F and night temps as mentioned above. Rearing the young poses no particular problem as soon as you have a regular supply of very small live prey (wingless fruitflies, pinhead crickets). Market price of the species:
£20/€30/US $ 40-45 is the average price for an adult, be it WC or CB, on the continental European herp market. Of course you will have to spend much more for the viv, heating and lighting devices, say around £200/€300/US $ 450. Difficulty:
2 to 3-intermediate keepers only, not for beginners, especially without experience of arboreal geckos. © Hervé Saint Dizier, 2008