Crested Geckos come from the island of New Caledonia. They were thought to be from the genus Rhacodactylus but after phylogenetic analysis, they found that they were actually from another genus, Correlophus. They range in color and patterns, from plain brown to bright oranges, reds and yellows. They are one of the most popular reptiles in the industry because of their docile temperament. They are a solitary gecko and should not be housed together and make a great first reptile because they can tolerate tank conditions that aren't quite perfect.
SIZE & LIFESPAN
Crested Geckos have been know to live in captivity for 15-20 years or more. If you properly care for them, and give them the correct diet, this is a gecko that you'll have as a pet for more than a decade. Crested Geckos are a mid-size gecko weighing approximately 40-50 grams when full grown and measuring approximately 4 inches snout to vent. They do not hold fat in their tails like other species of geckos. If they do drop their tails, it will not grow back. Losing their tail isn't a huge deal though and won't effect them when climbing or jumping.
HEAT & LIGHTING
Because Crested Geckos are nocturnal, UVB lighting is not needed. That being said, Crested Geckos can benefit from UVB lighting. It can stimulate their appetite and also help mimic their natural environment in the wild. We provide all our Crested Geckos with UVB and recommend doing so if you can. If you decide to provide your gecko with UVB lighting, be sure to use a T5 bulb with 5% UVB. We recommend either the Arcadia Shadedweller or the Arcadia 6% bulb. Both bulbs work great and need replaced yearly to provide proper UVB. When using UVB, you also want to make sure to provide adequate coverage in the enclosure so that your gecko can get away from the UVB when it needs to. In the winter, we give our geckos 8-10hrs of UVB light. In the summertime, we leave the UVB light on for 12-14hrs. Unless your house gets extremely cold, room temperature should be fine for these geckos. We keep our cage between 75-80 degrees during the day with a night-time drop down to 72 degrees. Crested geckos are not tolerant towards high heat, so make sure that the tank never exceeds the low 80's. And, if your house is too cold, the use of a 25 watt ceramic heat emitter will help raise your tank's temperature. Be sure that your heat lamp or map is connected to a thermostat so that your enclosure never gets too hot. Be sure to always have a thermometer in your enclosure so that you can closely monitor the temperature in the tank.
Crested Geckos thrive on a fruit mix referred to as CGD or Crested Gecko Diet. We've tried all the CGD mixes on the market and Pangea Fruit Mix and Leapin Leachies is by far our gecko's favorite brands. CGD should be changed out every other day so that no molding occurs. CGD is a complete diet, so you do not need to add calcium or vitamins to it. When mixing the powder with water, you want to make it the consistency of ranch dressing. In conjunction with CGD, we feed insects, including crickets, roaches, and black soldier fly larvae, 1-2 times a week. Be sure to dust all your insects with a high-quality Calcium D3 supplement such as Minerall. You should only give the gecko as many bugs as they can devour in 15 minutes (About 8-10 roughly). The appropriate sized insects should be no larger than the space between the geckos eyes. Typically babies can take 1/4" insects, while adults prefer 1/2" insects. We typically give babies and juveniles insects twice a week and adults insects once a week. Be sure your gecko is eating its CGD. If your gecko stops eating its diet, then withhold bugs until it starts to eat the CGD again. Food can be placed either on the ground or in an elevated food ledge. We recommend trying both for your gecko and seeing which is prefers. We have some geckos that prefer eating up off the ground and others that will only eat from the floor. Every gecko is different, so it is best to try each out to see which your gecko prefers. As for the amount of food a gecko can eat, a baby Crested Gecko can eat a pea sized amount of food. We usually use silicone bottle caps to feed babies. A bottle cap filled up about halfway is an appropriate amount of food for a baby-juvenile. For an adult, we give them approximately .25oz of food which is equivalent to filling up the .5oz cups halfway up with food.
A hatchling (between 2-10 grams) should be kept in a smaller container. We use 8x8x12" enclosures to house our hatchlings. You can also use a large critter keeper to house babies. At around 15 grams, you should move them to their adult enclosure which should be 20-30 gallons in size. The minumum size enclosure for 1 adult is 18x18x18, but an 18x18x24" enclosure is preferred for this species. We house all our adults in 18x18x18" PVC enclosures because it helps keep in humidity. Different enclosures work for different climates. If you live in a dry climate, a tub or PVC enclosure will lock in humidity. If you live in a humid climate, a glass exo terra will provided needed ventilation to insure mold does not start to grow. Being an arboreal species, they will thrive in tall tanks with vertical climbing spaces. We do not recommend keeping more than one gecko in an enclosure. We keep all our babies and adults separate. The only time we put two together is for breeding purposes which is only done 1 week out of the year. If you do want to try to cohab, you should have at least 20 gallons worth of space per gecko. There should be multiple hides and feeding dishes in the enclosure to ensure each gecko can properly hide and eat without aggression issues. We feel it's best to keep these guys separate, but other keepers have cohabbed them successfully. When cohabbing, be sure to check on your geckos often. If a gecko is losing weight or has bite injuries, be sure to separate them immediately to prevent any more harm to the animal.
We use paper towels with newly acquired Crested Geckos. Since it's sometimes hard to tell if your gecko is eating at first, the paper towels make it easy to see the poop in the tank. Once the gecko has finished its 90 day quarantine, you can put it on the substrate of your choosing. You can use cocofiber, paper towels, a soil mix or bioactive soil. We typically use a mix of peat moss, sphagnum moss and reptile bark in our enclosures. In our baby and juvenile enclosures, we use 1-2" layer of damp bedding. In an adult enclosure, we use a 3-5" layer of damp bedding to keep the humidity up. The substrate should be moist, but there should be no standing water. If the top layer of bedding is drying out, be sure to mist it more to lock in the humidity. You can go bioactive with this species. With a bioactive tank, you want to make sure you have a good drainage layer so that you do not get standing water in your enclosure. Also, because Crested Geckos go after insects, you'll want to make sure to stick with dwarf isopods so that the gecko doesn't decide they are a tasty treat.
Crested Geckos live in the lower part of the trees in New Caledonia and will appreciate elevated hides and space to climb inside their enclosure. We recommend using either a hanging coconut, mossy hide and/or pipe insulation as hides. The hanging hides are more natural looking and look great in display tanks, whereas the pipe insulation is not as aesthetically pleasing, but it does the same exact job! We like to get fake leafy vines and hang them throughout the cage with the assistance of suction cups. Be sure to rinse off all plastic plants before you put them in the tank. You can also place live plants such as Snake Plants and Pothos plants. Be sure to rinse off the plant's leaves and re-pot any plants so that there is no way for your gecko to come in contact with pesticides or fertilizer. Personally we like to do a mix of both. Our enclosures typically consist of cork flats, a bamboo bridge, a hide (either a coconut hide or cork round), a live snake plant, and some silk plants draped around the enclosure. You want to have plenty of horizontal perches zig zagging across the enclosure so that the gecko has plenty of areas to perch.
Because Crested Geckos are a tropical species, they require higher levels of humidity. We recommend keeping their humidity between 60-80%. Having a digital hygrometer in the cage will help measure the humidity levels in your tank. Depending on your enclosure type, you may need to mist more frequently. Glass enclosures tend to lose humidity quickly, so need misted 1-2 times a day. Whereas, tubs and PVC enclosures keep humidity better so need misted every 1-2 days. You want to mist enough so that your gecko can drink water from leaves or decor in your tank. If humidity requirements are not met, the gecko will have issues shedding as well as the risk of becoming dehydrated. If you cannot mist daily, we recommend purchasing a MistKing so that the tank will automatically be misted daily. The cage should have a dry out period during the day, so if you notice the tank is still wet by the next morning, you should hold off on misting until the walls and decor dry out completely.
Crested Geckos are one of the most docile reptiles we have ever encountered. It is very rare that a crested gecko will bite or act aggressive towards a human. We recommend taking your gecko out 1-2 times a week for 15 minutes in order to get your gecko used to you. The "hand-to-hand" method is the easiest way to handle a Crested Gecko. This is done by placing your hands next to each other & slowly moving your hands to let your gecko crawl over them. Either way, Crested Geckos are incredibly easy to tame and make good pets for young children.
All geckos should be provided with a small, shallow water dish. We always recommend putting a small bio ball in the water dish so that any crickets that find their way into the water bowl are able to get out. Be sure the water dish is shallow enough so that the gecko can stand in it without submerging their head. If the water is too deep, there is a potential of the gecko drowning. When using water, be sure to either use spring water or tap water with de-chlorinator added to it. DO NOT use distilled water. Distilled water removes trace minerals from the water which are an essential to keeping your gecko healthy.
We recommend spot cleaning the cage at least once a week and doing a full bedding change and tank cleaning every 6-8 weeks. Every week look for poo, dead insects, shed, and food smears on the ground or glass and remove it from the enclosure. When cleaning the entire cage out, first remove all bedding and wipe down all surfaces with hot soapy water. Put the decor into a bucket with warm water & a capful of vinegar. Let it soak for 15 minutes & then rinse off the items & place them in bucket of hot water. Once the decor has soaked for 15 minutes, rinse them off again & then they are ready to go back into the tank once cleaning is complete. Then you want to be sure to disinfect the tank with either vinegar or a commercial reptile cleaning product. Once you have disinfected the tank, thoroughly rinse your tank out with hot water until it is free of any cleaning products. Let everything air dry before putting it back into the enclosure. When cleaning to enclosure put the reptile in either a deli cup or another small contained space. Do not put the reptile back into the enclosure until cleaning is complete.
☐ Large Critter Keeper or 8x8x12" enclosure (for hatchlings)
☐ 20-30 gallon vertical tank or tub (for adults)
☐ Bag of Crested Gecko Diet
☐ Elevated Ledge for feeding
☐ Plastic or silicone cups for CGD
☐ Mister Bottle or Spray Bottle
☐ Vines for climbing
☐ Plastic plants or Live plants
☐ Moist Hanging Hide
☐ Bedding - soil mix, paper towels or bioactive mix
☐ UVB tube light (optional)
☐ Heat Lamp with Thermostat (depending on your temperatures)
☐ Shallow Water Dish