Chahoua Caging & Husbandry
The Chahoua Chamber
October 20, 2020
Once you've decided to add a chahoua to your collection, choosing and setting up a cage can be one of the most exciting parts of ownership. The age and size of your chahoua will determine what type of enclosure you should keep it in. As a general rule, chahoua like enough space to move around, forage for fruit and insects, and to thermoregulate, but they also enjoy security, which means they don't necessarily require expansive enclosures either.
For animals under 10 grams in weight, I recommend keeping them in smaller containers like a medium kritter keeper or 6-quart sized bin if you use a slide-out rack. This smaller size allows younger geckos to find food and water more easily, and gives them a sense of security.
For animals that are 10-25 grams, use something about double the size mentioned above, so possibly a large kritter keeper or 15-quart bin in a slide out rack. At this stage, your chahoua will be eating vigorously and growing quickly, but the same principles from above of easily finding food and feeling secure still apply.
For single animals over 25 grams into adulthood, I recommend a 12”x 12”x 18” Exo-Terra terrarium. I have also used a standard 10 gallon tank with a screen top with good success.
For adult pairs, I recommend an enclosure that is at least 20 gallons, or something like an 18”x 18”x 18” or 18”x 18”x 24” terrarium. There are a variety of new sizes and caging types available on the market, but going with at least 20 gallons will ensure that you have happy and healthy chahoua. I personally use and recommend the PVC enclosures from D.W. Geckos and Terraria.
Caging Decor and Key Elements
Now that you have your enclosure picked out, what should you put in it? There are a few simple things to include that will create an ideal enclosure for your chahoua.
Substrate: If your chahoua is under 10 grams, I recommend using paper towels for substrate. At this age, young geckos are refining their hunting skills and may not be as accurate when chasing insects as they will be in just a few more months. Using paper towel means that your gecko, while learning to catch prey, won’t accidentally bite and swallow a piece of bark or dirt that can cause impaction. Impaction can be deadly. Older geckos can be kept on organic potting soil.
Climbing elements: No matter their age, the best thing you can include in your chahoua enclosure is cork bark -- they love it! Cork bark is easy to clean, does not rapidly break down in humidity, and dries out quickly after misting. You’ll want one or two tall, vertically oriented slabs of cork bark and/or if you can find one, a cork hollow. Adjust these so that your gecko can hide behind or within them and feel secure. In addition, vines or sticks can be used for decor in other parts of your gecko’s habitat - they’ll use these when basking and hunting.
Feeding/Watering stations: Chahoua will drink water out of a water bowl and they do like a variety of fruit smoothie diets. The best way to accommodate both of these is with magnetic ledges like these. Such ledges are easier to accommodate in larger enclosures, so for younger geckos, I use large bottle caps - like Gatorade caps - and keep one filled with water, and use another when feeding fruit diets.
Foliage: Plants, whether real or fake, add another layer of security for your chahoua. For adult enclosures with full spectrum lighting, I use organically grown pothos plants with good success. For other enclosures, I use fake plants and vines. You can place these wherever and however you like, or how your chahoua seems to enjoy.
Humidity, Lighting and Temperature
New Caledonia, from where chahoua originate, is a fairly humid place which means you need to try to replicate a similar environment in your enclosure. The easiest way to do this is through misting. Whether you use a misting system, squirt bottle or larger size sprayer, just add a few drops of dechlorinator to the water and mist down your chahoua’s enclosure thoroughly each evening. You’ll see your gecko lick water from the walls of the enclosure and from his/her own eyes - very cool! I recommend the use of a hygrometer because humidity can be a tricky thing to measure. You want to be sure that your chahoua’s enclosure reaches 70% humidity for a few hours during the day, and does not drop below 30-40% in between misting.
Chahoua can exist happily at what most people would consider to be “room temperature” or about 65-80° Fahrenheit, or 18-26° Centigrade. Prolonged exposure below 60°F/15°C or over 85°F/29°C for can result in stress, and ultimately, death. If you’re unsure about what might be too hot or too cold, use a thermometer or temperature gun to confirm.
Does your chahoua need supplemental lighting? No. Would it enjoy heat and/or UVB? Most certainly. Younger animals can be harder in this regard because their enclosures are smaller, but putting them on a higher rack - or in a rack with heat tape - can provide a nice boost of warmth. For older and larger animals, I use both full-spectrum UVB lighting and heat. The heat source should be positioned to one side of the enclosure so that chahoua can thermoregulate. A warm spot of ~83°F/28°C with the ability to move to a cooler area of 72°F/22°C - or anything in between - is ideal.