How to Care for Your Crested Gecko
Crested Geckos (Correphalus ciliates) are mid sized, nocturnal, arboreal geckos native to New Caledonia. Their habitat is the temperate rainforest, featuring high humidity and moderate (65- 85F) temperatures. Crested Geckos in the wild are primarily shades of brown with an arrow shaped head and prominent fringed scales, called a “crest” which runs from the eyes, dorsally down either side of the back to the vent. When calm or at rest, crested geckos display a more pastel coloration (referred to as “fired down”). When active, colors can change dramatically and feature brighter shades with more contrast (“fired up”). Crested Geckos have special toe pads called “lamellae” which allow them to adhere to smooth surfaces like glass. Crested Geckos have no eyelids. They were believed to be extinct until their “rediscovery” in 1994. Since their introduction into the reptile hobby soon after, they have bred very well in captivity and currently exhibit a wide variety of colors including black, brown, yellow, orange and red. Crested Geckos are generally considered to be a beginner pet.
Crested geckos are active, arboreal geckos who enjoy climbing and jumping. An adult crested gecko should be kept in as large a cage as possible, with a minimum size of 18”x18”x24” recommended. They appreciate a fairly densely planted enclosure with either live or artificial plants. Since they tend to orient themselves upwards, a front-opening tank is best to reduce the chances of them escaping when you open it. Many crested geckos are kept in planted enclosures with an expanded clay ball and mesh drainage layer topped by coco fiber or other vivarium soil mix. The plants in the habitat should be sturdy and able to tolerate the gecko’s weight. Crested geckos can also be kept on non-particulate substrates such as paper towel with real plants in pots or artificial plants. A water dish can be provided if desired, though crested geckos get most of their hydration by licking water drops from their environment. A hide can also be placed at the bottom of the enclosure.
Heating and Lighting
Crested geckos do not require additional heat as long as the ambient temperature in the room is usually between 65-80F. Additional heat can be supplied if necessary by placing a heating pad or heat cable on the back wall of the enclosure. If any air conditioning in the summer months is not available, ice packs can be used in the cage to reduce the temperature on sweltering days. Crested geckos are nocturnal and do not require lighting beyond the ambient light in the room. Planted enclosures, however, do require light for the plants, and a bulb that promotes plant growth should be chosen and run on a timer to allow a maximum of 12 hours of extra “daylight." A humidity of at least 80% in the evenings should be provided by heavily misting each night. Humidity levels can decrease during the day.
Food and Supplementation
Crested Geckos are frugiverous (fruit eating) and insectivorous (insect eating). Their primary diet is usually purchased as a powdered fruit nectar which is rehydrated by adding water. There are many brands and flavors of this diet. It’s important to be sure that the specific brand produced states that it is a “complete diet”. The product is generally referred to as “Crested Gecko Diet” or “CGD”. Recently, CGD brands have appeared which incorporate powdered insects with the fruit. An adult Crested Gecko is usually fed a small bowl of CGD three times a week and insects, usually crickets or roaches, twice a week. Not all Crested Geckos will eat live prey. It is not considered to be essential, though it is useful especially for juveniles who need more protein as they grow to adult size. Some Crested Geckos can learn to like crickets or Dubia Roaches. To accustom them to this food, hold the gecko gently and poke a feeder at its mouth. Most geckos will bite the feeder and may eat it. If they come to recognize it as food, they are more likely to hunt once the feeder is introduced. Crested Geckos require calcium, vitamin D3 and other vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development. These supplements are incorporated into the commercially available “complete” CGD diets. In addition, live prey can be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 every
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to crested geckos, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.