How we care for our Gastros…
Gastropholis should be kept in glass arboreal enclosures at least 24″Wx18″Dx36″T and of course, the bigger the better statement applies here.
T5HO 5.0 or 6% UVB across the entire width of the top is preferred. Basking should be accomplished by placing a dome fixture on the side of the enclosure designated to be the warm/dry side. I often use BR30 65w incandescent FLOOD bulbs in the larger 36x18x36 enclosures and lower wattage bulbs in smaller.
Lights can be on a 12hr photo period or set to a circadian rhythm. This can be done with several of the wifi timers now on the market. I prefer the TP-Link Kasa units over others.
Leaving all lights off at night is preferred as long as your house doesn’t get cooler than mid 60s.
The side opposite the basking will be the cooler/wet side. I like to place a large plant here. Schefflera abricola or Ficus benjamina are my top choices. Natural branches that are at least as big around as the animal should be used throughout the enclosure for climbing and cork rounds with the inside diameter big enough for them to be able to turn around in if needed.
I like to keep my Gastropholis enclosures bioactive. This can be as complex or simple as you like. Just about any tropical substrate will do fine. Ive even had good experiences with cheap top soil from Menards mixed with play sand.
Gastropholis like a pretty humid environment. They will easily get stuck sheds on their tails if not enough humidity is present. A densely planted enclosure will help greatly with this and partially covering off some of the screen top will help hold it in.
Hydration under my care is accomplished by automatic misters spraying on the leaves and then the water being lapped up from the leaves and glass surfaces. But many gastros will drink just fine from a clean water bowl if provided. Spraying of the enclosure either manual or automatic should be done in the morning to provide water to drink and then again in the evening to increase night time humidity.
Feeding Gastropholis is a non complicated affair as they will generally take anything offered. Mine prefer vitamin/pollen dusted and gutloaded insects over all, but also readily accept most commercial omnivore and gecko diets, mineral dusted turkey balls, and wet cat/dog foods.
Many people keep Gastropholis in trios and pairs. I have found that for me pairs work much better. The inhabitants appear to be less stressed and very rarely display as if threatened. My pairs are kept together year round and they seem to stop producing for a few months in cold season. I start getting eggs again as soon as late February. 5-8 eggs every 45 days has been the norm. Six clutches in a season is not uncommon.
Eggs are often glued in cork tubes on the wet side at or around 78f. Eggs are removed and artificially incubated at 78f over moistened substrate. Vermiculite, perlite, and SuperHatch have all netted similar results. Vermiculite was moistened with purified water. Two parts water to one part vermiculite by weight was used. SuperHatch used as directed or aquatic potting soil being my incubation media of choice for this species. Incubation typically lasts 80-85 days. Eggs left within the enclosure are subjected to temp and humidity fluctuations tend to take longer than eggs incubated at a stable temperature. Our eggs hatched in-situ as healthy babies after 114 days. The babies were removed promptly to prevent predation from the parents.
Eggs sweating excess moisture is a sign that they will be hatching within a few days. Often times the babies will pip and remain in the egg with only their heads exposed for a day or so.
Once out, they are ready to take on the world. 1/4” crickets that have been gutloaded and vitamin/pollen dusted are often taken within a day or two of hatching. Babies are housed together as a clutch and are setup identically to the parents.
Babies are bold and may even try to climb upon you at food/maintenance time. Don’t fall for their games. Just understand that humans are nothing but tools for them to use for escape. They will crawl up your arm and onto your back knowing they are too light for you to feel them through your shirt. They know that you are afraid of grabbing them by the tail and restraining them. Others will escape while you are too busy to notice. You just got outsmarted by baby Gastros.
Sexing Gastropholis is a fairly simple affair. The males have large preanal pores and the females small. Some claim to be able to 100% sex them at a few days old. I prefer to wait a month or two before I even try.