Crocodile geckos have a base color of tan, brown or gray, with salt and pepper sharply protruding scales dorsally. They have very rough, crocodile-like scalation (from which their common name is derived) and well-developed toe pads. The underside is white, cream or very light brown. They are heavy-bodied, medium-sized geckos with pronounced triangular heads. Adults grow to between 5-7 inches long; males are slightly larger and have broader heads. They are predominantly arboreal but occasionally will drop to the ground in search of food. They are frequently found near human habitations where they congregate on walls and ceilings preying on bugs attracted to light sources. Crocodile geckos are opportunistic and voracious feeders. They are a fairly long lived gecko, with lifespans of 15-20 years not being uncommon.
Crocodile geckos are nocturnal geckos, courting and eating at night, but are often seen basking during the day. They are widely distributed throughout the northern part of Africa and the Mediterranean, mostly coastally. In Africa they can be found in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt (including the Sinai Peninsula). In Europe they can be found in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia (although they are believed to have been introduced into the later three). They are found in all types of rocky habitats; cliffs, walls, buildings, rubble and ruins. They are also occasionally found in trees. They are often found near buildings both inhabited and vacant. Although outside of urban settings it is usually encountered in sparse densities, the contrary is frequently true within urban settings (presumably due to more readily available food). They are semi-communal, but males are fiercely territorial. Within their range they are common, highly adaptable, and often follow human settlement, causing them to be considered a household nuisance in some places.
Like many geckos, crocodile geckos do best in a vertically oriented enclosure (one that is taller than it is wide). Ideally the enclosure will incorporate one or more ventilation points (usually the top and/or sides). Substrate should be a layer of compost, mulch, crushed coconut, or orchid bark at least an inch deep. Branches and branching plants, rocks, bark and similar décor should be included to provide ample climbing and hiding spaces. They should be provided with a relatively narrow and focused basking spot (most easily obtained by using a spot light with proper wattage or placed on a rheostat) with a surface temperature range of between 95-105 degrees. Although they are nocturnal they bask during the day and therefore benefit from UV light, which can either be provided by the basking light (there are several commercially available reptile spot lights that now incorporate UV) or through the use of a fluorescent UV bulb. Daytime ambient temperatures should be in the 75-85 degree range (Fahrenheit) with a drop of 10 to 15 degrees at night being ideal. Water and humidity can be provided by daily misting, with a humidity level of around 65% being ideal.
Crocodile geckos are opportunistic and enthusiastic feeders, eating a wide variety of insects including, but not limited to: insect larvae, crickets, grasshoppers and locusts, moths, flies, waxworms, superworms, roaches and springtails. In the wild they frequently eat small scorpions. They will also eat smaller lizards and are cannibalistic. As with all captive lizards, prey items should be dusted with a good vitamin/mineral supplement. Water can be provided by misting plant leaves and the sides of the enclosure, and also by providing a shallow water dish.
In spite of their robust build, these geckos do not tend to be aggressive towards one another, but like many geckos adult males cannot be kept in the same enclosure unless it is large enough so as to avoid frequent confrontations (most home vivariums will not meet this criterion). Males can be distinguished from females by their somewhat wider tail in the postanal area and by a broader head. Also, males tend to be slightly larger than females. Due to their cannibalistic tendencies, only like-sized individuals should be kept together.
Although not common, crocodile geckos are capable of inflicting a painful bite. They can also move very quickly, and have relatively sensitive skin, so they should be handled only when absolutely necessary.