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Guide to Keeping a Crested Gecko
RESOURCE ARTICLE

Guide to Keeping a Crested Gecko

Introduction

Buying any pet is a big decision but there are several things you may want to consider first to make sure that a Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus) is the pet for you:

  • Are all of the people in your household happy with a gecko coming to live there?
  • Can you guarantee that you will have a regular supply of live insects to feed to your gecko?
  • Are you happy to keep live insects in your home?
  • Are you prepared to look after an animal that could live up to 15 years?
  • Is there someone that you can ask to look after your gecko if you are away?
  • Crested Geckos are nocturnal animals so will sleep during the day and be awake at night.
  • Crested Geckos have the ability to climb up vertical surfaces.

Types of Crested Geckos

Crested Geckos were once thought to be extinct in the wild but were rediscovered in 1994 and are now one of the most popular pet reptiles. Crested Geckos derive their name due to the fringed crest which runs over the geckos eyes and down its back. They have specially adapted toe pads that allow them to move up and down vertical surfaces with ease. Crested Geckos are available in a wide variety of colours.

Buying a Crested Gecko

We recommend buying a Crested Gecko from a reputable pet shop. The shop will also be able to help you with a supply of good quality live food items to feed to your Crested Gecko.

Check before buying:

The Crested Gecko is feeding well.
Any reputable pet shop should be able to provide answers on how often the Crested Gecko is being fed and what type and size of live food it enjoys most.
The Crested Gecko is healthy.
5 point animal health check:
  • Make sure that the animal is alert and responsive
  • The mouth should be clear of any thick mucus and should not smell bad
  • The underside of the Crested Gecko should be clean, free from sores or raw skin and have a clean vent
  • The Crested Gecko should be able to support itself when handled
  • The Crested Gecko should be a keen feeder

Caring For Your Crested Gecko

Overview

  • Ease of Care:Beginner
  • Adult Size:15-20cm (6-7.5")
  • Life Span:Up to 15 years
  • Diet:Insects & Specialist Crested Gecko Food
  • Temperament:Friendly but can be jumpy
  • Background Temp:22-26.5⁰C (72-80⁰F)
  • HOT Spot:Not required

Equipment Needed

Top Tips

  • Ensure temperatures are not allowed to get too hot as these geckos do not like too much heat.
  • A tall vivarium is the best option for this arboreal gecko.
  • Allow some open spaces in the vivarium so that the gecko can jump from branch to branch.
  • Try using an elevated feeding platform to offer Specialist Crested Gecko Food and water.
  • These geckos prefer to drink water droplets after the tank has been sprayed.

Environment

Heating

Crested Geckos are nocturnal animals and will do far better if they are provided with a suitable background temperature.

A heat mat run on a thermostat is the ideal solution for providing heat. The heat mat should be located on the outside of the glass enclosure, either on the back or one of the sides.

The heat mat should be used in conjunction with a heat mat thermostat.

Heat mat thermostats are designed to regulate temperatures using a thermostat probe (also known as a sensor).

Correct placement of the probe is critical to avoid overheating and injury to the Crested Gecko. Insert the probe through the lid of the terrarium and tape directly to the inside of the enclosure adjacent to the heat mat. The probe cable should be taped 2-5cm (1-2”) back from the actual probe sensor to allow for a correct temperature reading and avoid it becoming dislodged.

Temperature and Monitoring

Crested Geckos can quite happily flourish at standard room temperatures, the ideal temperature range is 22-26.5⁰C (72-80⁰F). These geckos do not need a basking site as they would much prefer a background temperature. The temperature must not be allowed to rise above 29.4⁰C (85⁰F) or below 18.3⁰C (65⁰F).

Night-time temperatures should be 21.1-26.5⁰C (70-80⁰F), if night time temperatures are dropping too low a heat mat can be used to provide heat as mentioned above. Make sure temperatures are checked regularly to ensure that there are no extreme fluctuations.

Lighting

In the wild, Crested Geckos are exposed to low levels of light and UV due to their primarily nocturnal nature.

In captivity, a UV light should be used for a Crested Geckos health and wellbeing. We recommend using a UV tube which has been specifically designed for forest dwelling reptiles. Make sure the UV light is fitted correctly and securely to avoid the gecko becoming trapped behind the light tube or hurting itself unnecessarily.

Substrates and Decoration

Personal choice will dictate how you decorate your vivarium but we recommend the following as a guide:

  • Substrates: Crested Geckos can be housed on any of the following substrates: Orchid Bark, Coco Fibre Brick, Sphagnum Moss or Spider Substrate. These substrates will retain essential moisture, helping to maintain humidity levels.
  • Wood for climbing and sleeping on.
  • Artificial or Live Plants for decoration and to provide darker areas for the Crested Gecko to hide away in if he chooses to.

Diet and Water

Crested Geckos should be offered appropriately sized insects and a Specialist Crested Gecko Food.

As a general rule, the distance between the gecko’s eyes will give you the approximate size of live food to feed your gecko.

The gecko will be at its most active during the night so it is best to feed your gecko in the evening.

Crested Geckos are keen fruit and nectar eaters so should be offered one of the specially formulated Crested Gecko Foods.

Make sure fresh water is always available in a water dish for the gecko to drink. The enclosure should also be misted every other day to help maintain humidity and to allow the gecko to drink the droplets which form after the enclosure has been sprayed.

Supplementation

Crested Geckos need additional supplementation to their diet to help them to flourish and maintain healthy and productive lives. We recommend using a calcium Magnesium mix and a multi-vitamin powder.

Health & Hygiene

Always wash your hands, surfaces and equipment with warm water and disinfectant immediately before and after handling your gecko, their food, enclosure and any other equipment.

Additional Information

A Crested Gecko has the ability to drop its tail if it feels threatened or is under attack. Once the Crested Gecko has dropped its tail it will never grow back unlike most other species of Geckos.

When a Crested Gecko sheds its skin the process will begin by the gecko rubbing its face against an object to loosen the skin around its face. Once this has been achieved, the gecko will take the loose skin in its mouth and begin to eat the skin as it is shed. The gecko will normally shed its skin in one piece and eat it all. It is worth checking the gecko’s toes to ensure that all of the old skin has been shed as if any is left it will begin to constrict the blood supply to the toes and will eventually cause the gecko problems.

Crested Gecko have a prehensile tail, which allows the tail to be used for gripping on to branches as well as providing stability when moving amongst the tree canopy.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does a Crested Gecko live for in captivity?

    A Crested Gecko may live for up to 15 years in captivity, if cared for correctly.

  • Why does my gecko keep licking its eyes?

    Crested Geckos do not have eyelids, their eyes are protected by a clear scale which keeps them moist. To clean its eyes the gecko licks any surface debris away.

  • Will Crested Geckos thrive better if there are more than one kept together?

    Crested Geckos will live together but there are a few things that need to be considered first:

    - Never keep more than one male in the enclosure.

    - If a male and female are kept together it is highly likely that they will breed and produce eggs.

    - One gecko may become more dominant which may result in the less dominant gecko losing weight and not eating.

  • How many crickets do I need to give to my Crested Gecko?

    Trial and error is the best way to discover the ideal number of crickets or locusts for your Crested Gecko but be aware that any insects left in the enclosure may crawl over the gecko during the day, whilst it sleeps, causing it distress. Start by offering 6-8 insects, if these are eaten more can be added, If they are not eaten remove the insects and offer less next time.

  • My Crested Geckos seems to change colour sometimes, why is this?

    This is called “firing up”. The gecko will normally do this when it is active. Some geckos will become intensely coloured when they fire up.

  • What other types of beginner lizards are there?

    Leopard Gecko, Bearded Dragon and Yemen Chameleon.