Crested Geckos (Correlophus (Rhacodactylus) ciliatus)



Once believed to be extinct, crested geckos were discovered again in 1994, and since then their praise as great pets has gradually increased. Native to a semi-tropical island chain near Australia called New Caledonia, crested geckos get their name from the spikey crest that runs from their back, up around their neck and over their eyes. They are perfect for beginning reptile owners because they are easy to care for and are very low-maintenance. 

Crested geckos come in a wide variety of colors and patterns. Their color shades vary to include browns, oranges, creams and reds. Some crested geckos have no pattern at all, and some have different sized bands and spots. They are sometimes referred to as eyelash geckos because of the ridges on the skin above their eyeballs. Crested geckos enjoy climbing around on plants, vines and even the walls of their terrarium. You will certainly have fun decorating their habitat and creating fun areas for them to climb on and jump around. 

Crested geckos are mostly tame but can be timid when being touched, so be sure to handle them with care. Keep in mind that when they are stressed, crested geckos may drop their tails and – unlike other reptiles – they are not able to grow them back.


Crested Gecko Fun Facts

  • Crested geckos have unique toe pads that enable them to travel around their terrarium and scale other vertical surfaces easily 
  • They are skilled jumpers thanks to their long tails that help with their coordination and speed 
  • Crested geckos like to sleep during the day and be active at night 
  •  "Tailnessless" is typical in adult crested geckos, it's common for them to drop their tails and wind up with a tiny nub


Average Size and Life Expectancy of Crested Geckos

Generally, both male and female crested geckos can attain lengths of up to eight inches from snout to tip of their tail. They approach sexual maturity at 15 to 18 months of age, when they weigh about 35 grams. If your crested gecko is robust and taken good care of, it can live relatively long for a reptile – between 15 and 20 years on average!


Housing Your Crested Gecko

A 10-gallon terrarium is perfect for young crested geckos, though it's best that you purchase a 20-gallon terrarium for adults, particularly if you plan on housing more than one gecko collectively. Once crested geckos are fully mature, they enjoy having a healthy amount of vertical space to hunt, jump and climb, so go with a tall terrarium rather than a short one. The larger the cage, the easier it will be to see your gecko. Make sure your terrarium has a screen top for fresh air. 

Male crested geckos are competitive towards each other and can be quite territorial and aggressive. They should not be housed with other males – instead, it's best to put a male-female pair together. 

You'll want to assemble a mixture of various elements for the crested geckos to climb on and hide inside. Branches, bamboo, vines and vertical cork flats are all great materials to use. Also, presenting your crested geckos with a variety of live and artificial plants to simulate their natural habitat will supply them plentiful hiding places and will keep them more satisfied and healthier. They like to climb on wood, so include branches across the terrarium to provide resting and climbing areas.


Substrate for your Crested Gecko

The substrate is what covers the bottom surface of the terrarium. The crested gecko spends most of its time above ground climbing on vines and branches, so there is a variety of different uncomplicated substrates that can be used. For the most natural look, you can go with peat moss or coconut fiber pulp, both are also great if you plan on growing live plants in the terrarium. For the most straightforward cleaning, reptile carpet is an excellent choice and very low-maintenance. 

If you have young geckos, be careful because the hatchlings and babies may unintentionally or purposefully eat sand or little particles which can be dangerous for their health and could cause intestinal impaction. Also, you must avoid any commercial plant soils or sands that may have pesticides or fertilizers, they would be very harmful if swallowed by your crested geckos.


Temperature for Crested Geckos

Crested geckos, like other reptiles, are ectotherms, so their body temperature is reliant on outside sources to stay regulated. It is important for you to have two thermometers, one on either side of the terrarium, to make sure the temperature is not getting too hot or too cold. Reptiles rely on warm temperatures to be productive and catch prey to eat. Crested geckos prefer temperatures that are between 78- and 82-degrees Fahrenheit. At night, low 70s are sufficient. It is essential to have thermometers because temperatures that are too dramatic can be harmful to the gecko's health. 

As long as the daytime temperatures are in the high 70s, you do not need an additional heat source. However, if the temperature rises above 87 degrees Fahrenheit, you will want to place the geckos in a cool room. Crested geckos are accustomed to temperature drops in the winter and can tolerate levels in the 60s. If needed, to provide heat, you can use either an under-tank heating pad, heating tape or a heat bulb placed on top of the screen. You can find these supplies at pretty much any pet store or online. Also, always have a cool side of the terrarium that is about 10 degrees colder than the warm side, so the geckos can regulate their temperatures.


Crested Gecko Lighting

Crested geckos are nocturnal reptiles and therefore consume most of the daytime sleeping in plants, so there is no need to give them a special UVB light to bask in. A diet that is high in vitamin D3 will be enough. However, some light throughout the day can be advantageous to their health and keep the gecko's circadian rhythm on course. It will also help them know when to sleep and when to eat. A low-wattage lamp located above the screen of the terrarium will provide excellent lighting for this. Also, make sure your crested geckos have a hidden corner to escape the light if they want to. 

If you want to watch your crested gecko’s nighttime liveliness, you can use a red nightlight bulb. This won’t disturb them as a fluorescent light would. There’s quite a mixture of various lighting solutions available. Do some research before you shop, or talk to employees at stores, to determine the best solution for your particular setup.


Crested Gecko Humidity

Crested geckos prefer a fair amount of humidity, about 50 to 70 percent on average and they prefer the higher end of the range. You can get a reasonably inexpensive hydrometer to measure the humidity inside the terrarium. Mist dry areas of the enclosure with fresh, clean water every night and then let the terrarium dry to approximately 50 percent humidity before misting lightly again during the day. Having an assortment of living plants will also help support an adequate level of moisture in the terrarium. Sustaining proper levels of humidity is crucial to ensure the geckos will be healthy and able to shed their skins easily.


Water

Crested geckos will hydrate themselves by licking droplets of water off the walls and plants in the terrarium. You should also give them a shallow dish supplied with fresh water at all times. The water dish should be sturdy and should not be capable of being knocked over, as you do not want the substrate in the terrarium to get moist. You will also want to make sure that the geckos can get in and out of the water bowl easily, as they occasionally will like to take a soak in it.


Crested Gecko Food

Crested geckos are great as pets because powdered diets have been perfected to enable the geckos to thrive without the need to feed them insects. For example, Repashy and Pangea Diet both are excellent choices. You take the powder and mix it with two parts of water and then feed it to the geckos three times a week. You will have to experiment a little bit to find out how much your particular gecko likes to eat. If the food has not been consumed in 24 hours, remove it. Crested geckos absolutely love dubia roaches, so if you are not using them as a diet staple, then at least try to offer them as treats a few times a week. Choose dubia roaches that are as long as the gecko's head. Also, you can feed the crested gecko insects such as, crickets and waxworms once to twice a week. Before feeding, gut load – dust the insects with a calcium powder supplement that contains vitamin D3 – to ensure the geckos have a diet full of the essential minerals and vitamins. To dust the insects, place them in a bag or can with the powder and shake lightly to coat them.


Conclusion

Crested geckos are very interesting to look at, easy to take care of and perfect for novices. You will be sure to enjoy watching them leap from branch to branch and hunt bugs to eat. Keep the temperatures and humidity levels sufficient and feed them nutritious diets, and everything will be smooth sailing. We hope you appreciate reading about crested geckos and can't wait to learn about your experience as an owner!