The Fascinating Crocodile Gecko: Tarentola mauritanica or Moorish Gecko

The Crocodile Gecko, also known as Tarentola mauritanica or Moorish Gecko, is a fascinating reptile that is found throughout North Africa and the Iberian Peninsula. These geckos are typically light brown in color with dark spots and stripes, and they can reach a length of up to 8 inches. Crocodile geckos are nocturnal animals, and they prefer to live in warm, dry environments. They are excellent climbers, and they feed on a variety of insects. This gecko is also known as the common wall gecko.

The crocodile gecko or Moorish gecko, Tarentola mauritanica, is a medium-sized gecko best kept by itself or as female pairs. Crocodile geckos can reach up to 8 inches in length and make good display animals with their bright colors. They can be shy, so provide plenty of hiding places. Crocodile geckos are native to the western Mediterranean area of North Africa and Europe. The Crocodile Gecko is a very interesting animal that not a lot of people know about. Here are some facts about this amazing creature:

The crocodile gecko – image from Wikipedia

Quick facts about crocodile gecko

  • The Crocodile Gecko gets its name from the fact that it has rough, scaly skin that looks a lot like crocodile skin.
  • The Crocodile Gecko is a nocturnal creature, meaning it is most active at night.
  • The Crocodile Gecko is an excellent climber and can climb up vertical surfaces with ease.
  • Crocodile Geckos are insectivores and their diet consists mainly of crickets, moths, and beetles.
  • The Crocodile Gecko is a medium sized gecko that can grow up to eight inches in length.
  • Crocodile Geckos are shy creatures and need plenty of hiding places.
  • The Crocodile Gecko is a very colorful creature with bright colors that make it a good display animal.

The crocodile gecko, also known as the Moorish Geckos is a medium-sized lizard that may be kept alone or in pairs by females. This interesting little animal has some unique hunting techniques which it uses to catch its prey.

The animal’s flat head and somewhat elongated snout, which is similar to that of a crocodile, give it its name “crocodile gecko”. The exotic look of moorish geckos is complemented by their bright colors and entertaining behaviors. They are a lively species that require a big terrarium but are simple to maintain.

Tarentola mauritanica
Tarentola mauritanica

The Moorish gecko is a highly adaptable and friendly species that will thrive in captivity.

Let’s take a look at the requirements for crocodile gecko care and how these geckos developed as pets below.

Background Information on the Crocodile Gecko

The Moorish gecko is a common lizard species throughout Europe and northern Africa’s Mediterranean regions.

This gecko is also known as the “Common Wall Gecko” in certain parts of North Africa.

Moorish gecko
Moorish gecko

Moorish geckos are perfectly equipped to live in a number of environments. They’re great survivors that can adapt to different surroundings and thrive in many conditions.

The range of the crocodile gecko in North Africa encompasses places such as Tunisia and Libya and regions below:

  • Morocco
  • Northern Libya
  • Northern Egypt
  • Northwestern Sahara
  • Tunisia (Northern and Central)

The eastern-most population of this gecko species is found in North Africa, which also includes a small group living in the south of Western Sahara.

In Europe, the Moorish gecko can be found in:

  • Southern France
  • The Italian Coast
  • Southern Slovenia
  • The Croatian Coast
  • The Southwest of Greece
  • Most of the Iberian Peninsula

Outside of their natural range in the Mediterranean basin, Moorish geckos have established themselves in other regions of the world.

In cities and towns in areas below, invasive crocadile gecko colonies can be found.

  • Spain
  • Uruguay
  • Portugal
  • Argentina
  • United States

Crocodile Gecko Habitat

In the Mediterranean region, crocodile geckos are typically found in mountainous regions.

The common wall gecko - crocodile gecko
The common wall gecko – crocodile gecko

This gecko lives in many habitats, and cohabits well with humans.

They like cliffs or shrubland with lots of nooks and crannies to hide in. This sort of environment is widespread in southern France and northern Africa, where these geckos are most numerous. However, these geckos are adaptable and readily exchange one setting for another, with ample hiding spaces and food supplies. 

Moorish geckos can survive in any climate, regardless of latitude or elevation. Whether it’s in Northern Africa, Southern France, the Mediterranean zone, or North America, they’re adaptable.

Because it is able to live alongside humans, the Moorish gecko will almost certainly become a cosmopolitan species like the house gecko.

Lifespan of Crocodile Gecko

In captivity, the average longevity of a crocodile gecko is ten years. A pet Moorish gecko may live for up to 15 years if cared for properly.

The Moorish gecko, unlike most reptiles, has a similar natural lifespan in the wild. This is due to its excellent disguise and hiding skills. As a result, Moorish geckos are able to avoid most predators and diseases.

Crocodile Gecko size?

The average crocodile gecko is 5.9 inches long, including the tail.

Moorish gecko resting
Moorish gecko resting

The moorish gecko is a tiny to medium-sized lizard that grows up to 5.9 inches long.

When compared to other popular pet geckos, moorish geckos aren’t very large.

Leopard geckos and giant day geckos can grow to be longer than 7.9 inches long, with the former reaching sizes of up to 10 inches.

The Moorish gecko is medium-sized for the whole gecko family. It’s tiny, however, in comparison to other pet gecko species.

The tails of Moorish geckos are as long as, if not longer than, those of other gecko species. The tail may make up one-half to even a bit more than half of the entire length.

Crocodile Gecko Price and Cost

The Moorish gecko is a low-cost animal because it is prolific in captivity. You may expect to pay between $25 and $50 per gecko, depending on the breeder.

If you get a high-quality crocodile gecko from a prominent breeder, expect to pay anywhere from $50 and up.

The average purchase price for a moorish gecko (crocodile gecko) is between $20 and $30.

Where can you buy a Crocodile Gecko?

These geckos are popular among hobbyists and breeders because of their simplicity in breeding. This variety of breeders implies that you may purchase crocodile geckos from a number of sources.

Reptile Expos and repticons

A local reptile expo or your nearest reptile convention (Repticon) are two of the greatest locations to search for any sort of lizard or reptile you want to purchase.

Repticon is a large international conclave that attracts breeders from all over the United States. Every applicant must go through a rigorous vetting process, which includes checking references and attending seminars.

At a reptile expo, you’re almost certain to spot at least one vendor selling crocodile geckos.

Private Crocodile Gecko Breeders

Your next best choice is to purchase a moorish gecko from a private breeder.

If you’re unable to locate a reptile shop in your area, check out the Internet for local reptile forums. You’ll find lots of keepers who can assist you in finding the right one.

If you don’t live near a breeder, you may purchase Moorish geckos over the internet. A simple Google search will provide you with a variety of trustworthy breeders that have these geckos for sale all year.

Pet Stores selling crocodile geckos

Even if you discovered a store selling crocodile geckos, avoid buying these geckos from a pet shop.

Some pet retailers are unsure if their animals come from the wild or how the geckos were kept before they came there. It’s critical to know whether the gecko was captured in the wild or captive-bred, since wild geckos require particular attention.

In case your wild-caught gecko has internal or external parasites, you must treat them. Geckos from Europe are particularly susceptible to endemic species of Coccidia (an internal parasite) than those originating in other countries.

If you discover a pet shop that can connect you with the gecko breeder, it’s worth considering purchasing a crocodile gecko from them.

Crocodile Gecko Tank Setup

A Crocodile Gecko tank setup does not need to be fancy, but there are some basic requirements to keep them healthy. These include a heating lamp, light, water bowl, and humidity level between 40% and 60%. Additionally, they need plenty of hiding places, with some on the warm end and some on the cool end of the tank. By following these simple requirements, you can create a healthy and happy environment for your Crocodile Gecko.

Crocodile Geckos are nocturnal lizards that come from rocky regions. As such, they will appreciate the addition of plenty of hiding places in their habitat. One way to provide this is by using non-toxic silicone to glue together slate and other similar stones to form hides. This way, you can create rocky areas and distribute them throughout the habitat, which will mimic the Crocodile Gecko’s natural behavior.

By following these simple requirements, you can create a healthy and happy environment for your Crocodile Gecko.

Read this article for more information about crocodile gecko tank setup.

Crocodile Gecko Diet

The diet of the crocodile gecko should be diversified and include a variety of insects.

Crocodile gecko diet
Crocodile gecko diet

Moorish geckos need a balanced diet with several types of feeder to stay healthy.

Fortunately, there are a variety of choices on the market. The following are just some of the alternatives:

  • Crickets – Choose a size that is appropriate for your gecko. Overfeeding your pet with cricket food that are too large might cause harm.
  • Mealworms are high-fat. Don’t overfeed your geckos them, as they have a lot of fat.
  • Young superworms are high in protein and low in fat, making them an excellent food source for crocodile geckos.
  • Black Soldier Fly Larvae – Choose a tiny size that’s still soft and easy for your gecko to digest. High in protein content.

Waxworms should not be fed to your geckos. They have a considerably higher fat content than the insects listed above and cause obesity in geckos.

Always dust your crocodile gecko’s food with a high-quality calcium powder to assure that it receives enough calcium.

They also require a lot of Vitamin D, so you should consider taking a multivitamin as well.

Crocodile Gecko Temperament

Crocodile Geckoe are calm, peaceful reptiles that aren’t typically thought of as pets. These geckos are non-aggressive and will not attack you. They also won’t let you touch them.Crocodile geckos have a flighty nature and will flee from any attempts to handle them.

They’re show animals rather than pets, and if you pick them up, their tails will likely be lost.

Moorish Gecko Health Issues

The Common wall gecko (Moorish gecko) has a robust physique as well as a strong immune system.

This species is not susceptible to disease, but it may be affected by the same disorders that afflict geckos.

Are Moorish Geckos considered to be Good Pets?

If you don’t mind a showpiece pet rather than one you can handle, moorish geckos are wonderful pets.

The requirements of a crocodile gecko are few and easy to meet. They have a low incidence of disease, are non-aggressive, require little maintenance, and thrive on a diet consisting largely of insects with some plant matter added.If you think they’re beautiful, and don’t mind having a pet that you can only look at, then the Moorish gecko is perfect for you.

Do Crocodile Geckos Need a UVB lamp?

Crocodile geckos are nocturnal and don’t require UVB lighting to survive. Some hobbyists, on the other hand, claim that even if it isn’t vital, UVB lighting may be beneficial for nocturnal reptiles.

Some people believe that UV light can help with a variety of health concerns, including skin conditions and auto-immune diseases. There’s also some evidence suggesting that UVB lighting might aid in the treatment of metabolic bone disease.

Crocodile gecko having problems shedding

Geckos kept in conditions with too little humidity are frequently unable to shed their skins.

If you’re having trouble keeping your geckos hydrated, consider increasing the humidity in their enclosure (if it’s lacking). One of the greatest things you can do for your gecko is to provide them with a humid hide.

A humidity hide is a plastic container with one exit and moist substrate inside. It has greater humidity, so the gecko may go inside when shedding.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) in moorish gecko

Calcium is required for the formation of bone. When there isn’t enough calcium in the diet, a deficiency of bone density develops.Make sure your geckos get a varied diet and enough calcium/minerals from an early age.

The most common symptom of MBD is a thin, brittle or spongy bone. In addition to general weakness, this can lead to a lack of strength and an inability to support the body’s weight.

If your reptile has bowed legs, a flabby jaw, or brittle bones, take it to an experienced veterinarian right away. A veterinarian will explain how to treat your pet and whether the condition is curable.

Parasites in moorish geckos

Several internal parasites can infect these geckos, especially if they are caught in the wild.

The most typical diseases are coccidiosis and worms. If your gecko has wet droppings, is thin, or isn’t eating, take it to a veterinarian.

It’s a good idea to have your veterinarian do a parasite check-up once a year so you can treat the pet if required.


Moorish geckos, also known as crocodile geckos, common wall gecko and Tarentola mauritanica make fascinating pets for those who don’t mind a showpiece rather than one they can handle. These geckos have a low incidence of disease, are non-aggressive, require little maintenance, and thrive on a diet consisting largely of insects with some plant matter added. They’re beautiful, and don’t require UVB lighting to survive.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this article about crocodile geckos.

We have plenty of other gecko-related content for you to look at.

From the unusual flying gecko to the leachie gecko and crested gecko, this family is a wealth of fascinating pets.

What’s your favorite gecko species? Let us know in the comments.

Scientific facts and information about Tarentola mauritanica

Below is restored from previous GGA website

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Tarentola mauritanica (Linnaeus, 1758)

COMMON NAME: Crocodile Gecko, Moorish Gecko & Common Wall Gecko

DESCRIPTION: The Moorish Gecko is, for its size, strong and heavily built. The most distinguishing characteristics are the rows of keeled, tubercular scales along the back, flanks and tail. It has a large, pointed head. Coloration is usually gray to brown with some darker mottling. The ventral surface is immaculate white. A flap of skin runs along the flanks and the limbs are relatively short. The undersides of the toes are equipped with adhesive toe-pads along their entire length. Juveniles are more brightly colored with some transverse striping which fades with growth. Adult size can reach about six inches.

DISTRIBUTION: Native to the Mediterranean region from southern France to Greece and northern Africa. Has recently been reported as living and breeding in California.

NATURAL HISTORY: Moorish Geckos are found in dry, rocky areas particularly on cliff faces and large boulders etc. They may be very common around human settlements, particularly stone walls. Whilst primarily nocturnal, they can often also be seen basking during the day.

HOUSING IN CAPTIVITY: Owing to its aggressive, territorial behaviour, only one male can be kept in each enclosure. I once tested this idea by setting up 2.3 in a heavily decorated 50 gallon aquarium. The larger male immediately hunted down and attacked the other male. An enclosure the size of a 10 gallon aquarium will house a pair, but bigger is better. It should be vertically oriented with plenty of securely stacked rocks and branches. Moorish geckos are able to climb on the glass of the tank. Substrate can be as simple as newspaper or a couple inches of clean, dry sand. Keep one corner slightly moist or provide a humid shelter. No special lighting is required, although a basking spot reaching 85º F is appreciated. A drop at night to average room temperature is fine. Some keepers provide a dish of water, but I prefer an occasional, once or twice a week, light misting in the mornings when the lights go on. Do not spray the geckos directly.

FOOD AND FEEDING: They will actively hunt down and consume anything that moves. Any appropriate sized insect is fine and some adults will take the occasional pink mouse. If you raise your own insects and they are well fed and supplemented, no additional vitamin supplementation is necessary. 

HEALTH: I have found these geckos to be amazingly parasite and disease free. They are extremely hardy. The only problem I have seen is with shedding the skin on the toes if they do not have access to a damp refuge. They are not recommended for handling and can be nervous.

BREEDING: These Tarentola should be kept in true pairs. Unfortunately, even adult animals are difficult to sex. Males are said to be more robust in body size and have a wider head than females. However, even world famous gecko expert Arthur Loveridge wrote, “externally the sexes appear indistinguishable”!

Some breeders advocate a 2-4 week cooling down period to stimulate breeding activity. While I make no effort to provide this cool down, the natural fluctuation in home temperatures seems to slow down activity during the winter. Two to four clutches of two eggs each are buried in a moist section of the substrate during the spring and summer. Eggs should be incubated at about 80º F in dry sand or vermiculite. Dampen the substrate in one corner of the incubation dish away from the eggs and do not allow them to get wet. The young hatch in 2-2 1/2 months, depending on temperature. Hatchlings are about three-quarters of an inch long and feed on pin head crickets, fruit flies or other appropriate sized insects within a week of hatching. This species is cannibalistic so the young should be reared separately from the adults. Communal housing of young is possible but is not recommended and you should be prepared for missing toes and tails. The young are slow to mature, taking up to 2 years.  

GGA RATING: 2 – Some Previous Gecko-Keeping Experience Recommended


Bartlett, R. D. & P.P. Bartlett. 1995. “Geckos: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual.”  Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.

Loveridge, A. 1947. “Revision of the African Lizards of the Family Gekkonidae.” 

       Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology Vol. 98:1-469.

Mahrdt, C.R. 1998. “Geographic Distribution”. Herpetological Review Vol.29,

       No.1 p 52.

Henkel, F. W. & W. Schmidt. 1995. “Geckoes: Biology, Husbandry, and  Reproduction.” Krieger Publishing Company.

Seufer, H. 1991. “Keeping and Breeding Geckos.” T. F. H. Publications.