Crested Geckos are a species of geckos native to New Caledonia. New Caledonia is a group of islands between Fiji and Australia. These islands are the exclusive home to quite a few different species of geckos. The crested gecko is a wonderful first gecko for beginner keepers due to their hardiness, ease of feeding, and calm nature. That being said it’s still a large responsibility as crested geckos can live up to 15-20 years in a proper environment. But one look at their derpy little faces and you’ll be hooked!
Enclosure Design & Info
Crested Geckos are arboreal crepuscular geckos so a tank that is taller rather than wide is recommended. Babies should be kept in a smaller tank such as a standard 12x12x18 until they are large enough to be moved to a bigger enclosure. Once they reach the sub-adult age they should be moved to their final tank. Personally I believe an adequate enclosure to be 18x18x24 for fully grown crested geckos. Crested Geckos should only be kept 1 to an enclosure unless specifically trying to breed. Even then the introduced male should be removed after a couple weeks. During that time they geckos should be heavily monitored and if there’s any signs of aggression the male should be removed immediately.
Crested Geckos are found in the forests of New Caledonia. These are forests with grassy floors, dense underbrush, and many trees. As such when you’re designing your enclosure it’ll help to look at reference images. A good reference for this is the fern forests of Mt. Koghi. Enclosures should be comprised of many vertical climbing locations covered by dense foliage. Multiple arboreal hides are highly recommended. Having a location 3/4 of the way up in the enclosure for food is highly recommended as well.
Substrates can vary but I recommend a natural soil or coco fiber substrate. Plus it just looks nice. Remember that if you use soil to get organic potting soil that contains no pesticides or fertilizer. A water dish should be added and kept clean to provide drinking water, but misting daily is essential because some will refuse to use the water bowl and lap up water after being misted. For this reason live plants are recommended within the vivarium as they will not become as dirty. Also live plants help keep the humidity higher.
Humidity, Lighting, and Feeders
The tank itself should be able to be kept at a higher humidity. At all times the humidity should be around 75% and at least once a day the humidity should be brought to 100%. This is typically done by misting the enclosure down right around dusk. When misting your enclosure try not to directly spray your gecko. It can be stressful for them and you don’t want to create a daily habit of stressing your gecko.
Crested Geckos are a crepuscular species so technically full spectrum lighting is not necessary. However recent research shows that many, if not all, gecko species benefit from it. It’s not necessary for this species but I do recommend providing it if you can. If you do decide to provide UVB a T5 or T8 2.0% or 5% bulb that spans the width of the enclosure is recommended. Stay away from coil-style UVB bulbs as their output is unpredictable and too high of UVB output can lead to retinal issues and skin burns. If you have live plants in the enclosure I’d also recommend a 6500k plant light thats on for 10-12 hours a day.
In the wild the crested gecko’s diet is actually pretty diverse. While a good chunk of their diet is traditional insect based protein, another large chunk is fruits and some veggies. This diet would be difficult to replicate in captivity, and was, until Allen Repashy came into the scene and created a powder based diet with all the essentials. Other brands later took notice and created their own brands such as Pangea Reptiles. This diet is what you’ll primarily feed in captivity. It comes in powder form and is mixed with warm water making a ketchup like consistency. Follow all package directions for exact mixing and storage. On top of this I recommend also offering insects such as crickets, dubia, silk worms, and hornworms once or twice a week. Silk worms and hornworms should be appropriately sized and should be used as treats. It’s also fun to offer some fruit on occasion, my cresties in particular go nuts for banannas!
While calm in nature cohabitation is not recommended. While some keepers have reported success in pairs of females or trios comprising of a single male and two females, the risk coupled with no husbandry based reward makes it a venture I’d absolutely recommend against. Like most other reptile species crested geckos are solitary in nature and highly territorial.
As far as the design of the enclosure itself some common materials used are spider wood(typically for baby enclosures), grapevine, cork flats and rounds, and other misc branches. Make sure any branches sourced from the wild are properly disinfected. For plants most species of ferns are safe, along with pothos, and bromeliads. Refer to a reptile safe plant list for exact plant species. If live plants aren’t your thing, you can also use fake plants. Whatever route you decide make sure you get enough to create a dense forest within the enclosure. You’ll also want to have some arboreal hides for the crestie to nap or hide in. Commonly hollowed out coconuts or cork rounds are used.
Handling, General Care, Common Illnesses or Issues
One of the biggest selling points of a crested gecko is their temperament. While flighty when you first work with them, over all they are quite tame. Like most reptiles approaching from the top is generally discouraged. Approach them from the front so they don’t see you as a predator, although after working with them for quite awhile most don’t really seem to mind how they’re picked up. One common thing seen is the crested geckos ability to drop their tail. If this happens don’t beat yourself up too much. It’s a very common thing. If the gecko feels stressed or thinks of you as a predator they’ll detach their tail as a defensive mechanism. Unfortunately with this species the tail does not regenerate. However this in no way affects the life of the gecko.
While this species is extremely hardy, there are some common issues you should do well to avoid. All the ones I’ll list are easily avoidable and you shouldn’t come across them unless some aspect of your husbandry is incorrect. The only exception to this is the gecko dropping its tail. If this happens, stay calm. Very little intervention is needed on your part if it does happen. While the gecko is healing up afterwards it’s imperative to keep the enclosure clean. Some neosporin without pain relief can be applied to nub to ensure it doesn’t get infected. However keeping the enclosure clean is paramount.
Some other common issues faced are respiratory infections, stuck sheds, and MBD or metabolic bone disease. All of which are easily avoidable if your care is correct. Respiratory Infections (RIs) are typically caused by an overly wet environment. Always remember wet is not the same as humidity. Typical signs of this are excess mucus or a wheezing or popping sound when breathing. This requires a vet, do not let this go or attempt to treat it yourself.
Stuck sheds however are on the other end of the spectrum, if your humidity is too low the gecko could have issues shedding their skin, particularly on the toes. If this happens this could lead to damage to the foot pads or the lose of digits.
MBD is caused by the gecko not getting the proper amount of calcium. If you use a powdered crested gecko diet this should never be an issue. However if you start to see deformities in your gecko you should immediately get to a vet.
In conclusion, crested geckos are an absolute gorgeous addition to any collection. Being calm, as well as relatively simple to care for has made their popularity skyrocket with no signs of receding. With normal patterns being relatively cheap, and a large amount of different morphs it’s not surprising as to why so many people seek them out!
Tags: Gecko, Correlophus Ciliatus , Crested Gecko