Lepidodactylus lugubris AKA Mourning Gecko

Lepidodactylus lugubris (Pronounced lep-ih-doe-dack-till-us loog-oo-bris), known as the Mourning Gecko, are brown and cream colored geckos with sticky feet.  These geckos like to hang out on walls and on decor added to their vivariums.  Mourning geckos are relatively small, easy to care for and easy to breed, this gecko is currently very popular within the hobby.  


Quick Stats:

Minimum Enclosure: 30cmX30cmX45cm(12”X12”X18”)

Heat:  18°C-27°C (65°F-80°F)

Humidity: 70-90%

Food:  D. hydei, isopods, small crickets.


Lepidodactylus lugubris Mourning Geckos are not too variable in their coloring.  They are a simple cocoa brown color, with cream accents across their backs, heads and legs.  The cream color can dip into pale, light green in some areas, and particular specimens may only have cocoa and green markings.  This can vary somewhat in each individual gecko.  Small in size, but not so small that they are difficult to care for, Lepidodactylus lugubris geckos are approximately 10 cm (3.9in) long.  

Distribution and Natural Habitat of Lepidodactylus lugubris Mourning Geckos

Lugubris are native to coastal forested areas.  Their expansive, fragmented range includes the Maldives, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, West Malaysia, Hawaii, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, China, the Philippines, New Guinea, Fiji, some islands in Australia, Western Samoa, Guam, the Society Islands, and the Mascarenes.  These geckos are arboreal and typically make their homes on the leaves, bark, and branches of the trees in their habitat.  Lugubris has not been assessed by the IUCN Red List.  Due to the unique ability of lugubris to reproduce parthenogenetically, it is assumed that these geckos are numerous in the wild.


Lugubris has a very unique trait, almost every Mourning Gecko is female!  These geckos mate via “pseudocopulation” a technique where two females will artificially impregnate the other.  This causes both geckos to become gravid, or carrying eggs.  The lugubris geckos are nocturnal meaning they are awake during the night.  They are arboreal and typically prefer to stay above the ground of their regions.  Lugubris live near streams and ponds, or right on the edge of slow moving water.  They always live in a coastal setting. Up in their trees, they sleep during the day, blending with the color of the branch  they have chosen.  At night they come alive, scurrying from location to location looking for food. 

Life in the Vivarium

Lepidodactylus geckos require a humidity range of 60-90%.  You can place a bromeliad or small shallow dish of water in the enclosure or add a pond feature to achieve this.  Remember, lugubris cannot swim well, so ensure that the water source is shallow and easy to get out of.

Lugubris thrive at temperatures near 22-25°C (71-77°F) but can survive a range of 18°C-27°C (65°F-80°F).  Never exceed 32°C (90°F) as this can become fatal to the geckos. Generally a heat source such as a pad or light is typically not needed on a mourning gecko vivarium however will be appreciated by the gecko. If you wish, you can provide low amounts of UVB for the morning gecko, however it is not required if you provide a high quality diet and vitamins.  Do not rely on sunshine from a window, because the sun through the glass will heat up to extremely unsafe temperatures very quickly. Glass also blocks out beneficial UVB rays, so be sure to place your UVB lights over a screen or mesh top. Keep note of any air conditioning or heaters used in your home as well, as they may affect the temperature in your gecko cage.  These geckos will appreciate a slight temperature drop to 20C (68F) at night. 

It is possible to house a single juvenile lugubris in a 5 gallon aquarium.  We recommend larger than this, with 30cmX30cmX45cm(12”X12”X18”) being optimal for 2-3 geckos – but bigger is always better.

As juveniles you can house several lugubris together, and as adults they do well in small groups or colonies.  Remember to increase the enclosure size the more geckos you add. However adult Mourning geckos may be cannibalistic and might see a hatchling gecko as a food source.

It is possible that your Lepidodactylus will live to 10+ years in a vivarium. Please consider this before deciding to take them home to your family.

Lugubris will hunt small prey insects and can adapt to eating a high quality prepared gecko diet. This is easily achieved by providing them with flightless or wingless fruit flies and crickets. Baby and juvenile lugubris will eat Drosophila melanogaster and adults will hunt  Drosophila hydei.  Small crickets at 1-2 weeks of age can be offered to adult lugubris.  The flies and crickets on their own are a poor nutritional source.  We recommend “dusting” your fruit flies or crickets with a high quality vitamin and mineral supplement. We use and recommend Dendrocare all in one vitamin/mineral supplement. You can combine and use other supplements available to you, however please ensure you research what ratio or frequency you can supply vitamins as some can be lethal in high dosages. 

It is very common to build a bioactive vivarium for your geckos. This is achieved by introducing isopods and springtails into the environment. These little land crustaceans (no they are not insects!) will eat the decaying and decomposing bio matter as well as any excess feces in the vivarium. Some of these micro fauna will be eaten by your gecko, as a little snack.

As with all our geckos, we do not recommend that you house multiple species or morphs together. Please supply each group with a vivarium to call their own.

Breeding Lepidodactylus lugubris Mourning Geckos in Captivity

Lepidodactylus lugubris Mourning Geckos are very easy to breed in captivity.  Due to their unique parthenogenetic characteristic. They do not require a male to reproduce!!  Mourning geckos reach sexual maturity at 8-10 months of age, and will lay clutches of 2 eggs every 4-6 weeks. Eggs take about 2 months to hatch.  They will lay their eggs in a secure spot within the vivarium. The egs will strongly adhere to the surface they are in contact with, making them very difficult to remove! Unfortunately a small hatchling gecko is often seen as prey to adult mourning geckos. When possible, do remove the young hatchlings immediately from the adult enclosure and feed them a high quality gecko diet and small melanogaster fruit flies. They are really tiny, so be sure to properly secure their enclosure from any escapes. Trying to catch an escaped mourning gecko can prove very difficult.

Final Notes

Lepidodactylus lugubris are an amazing small species of micro gecko.  Easy to care for, easy to breed, fun to watch, and super cute, these geckos are great for the beginner or advanced hobbyist alike.  

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