Crested Geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) are great beginner reptiles for people just getting into the hobby, as they are hardy pets that will thrive in the right set-up. They also don’t have to eat live insects, which can be a huge draw for people who have a distaste for the creepy crawlies. Along with a range of beautiful colours, and varying prices (some being quite cheap), you’re bound to find the perfect pet for your household. So keep reading our crested gecko care sheet to find out what you need to know before you take home your new crested gecko friend!
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Life Span: 10 – 20 Years
Enclosure Size: 20+ Gallons
Temperature: 72 – 80 F
Sleep Pattern: Nocturnal
1. Tank Mates
Crested Geckos are primarily solitary animals. Males should absolutely NEVER be kept together, as one male will usually try to dominate the other. This can lead to fighting, aggression, one gecko guarding and taking all the food, and even death.
Females can sometimes be housed together successfully, but there have been cases where females have been kept together peacefully, and one day just turn on each other and one will beat the other up. While them turning on each other will not always happen, it is always a risk, and keeping a close eye on the pair for changes in behavior/health is important.
Male/Female pairings are possible, but is not the best setup for the average keeper just wanting crested geckos as a pet. There are two main outcomes when keeping a male and female together. One is that the pair will not get along and will have to be separated, hoping that no major fights happen in this time. The second is that they will breed, which in turn means the female will start producing fertile eggs. You will then have to deal with these eggs, and it can also be hard on the female if not properly accounted for with proper weight/diet requirements met.
2. Animal Size
Crested gecko hatchlings come out of the egg extremely small. They can weigh between 1.5 – 2 grams, and are small enough to fit on the tip of your finger. The average crested gecko baby is sold at about 4 grams, or 6 weeks, so you’re new pet will likely be a bit larger than a hatchling.
Crested Gecko adults on average weigh around 35 g – 55 g (or more), and most will reach their adult size between 18 months and 2 years. But don’t be alarmed if your gecko does take a little bit longer to mature. Crested Geckos are around 4.5 inches not including their tail, and around 8 inches with. For comparison, crested geckos will fit in the palm of your hand quite nicely.
Crested Geckos make great beginner pets because they have a very calm temperament. While they are fairly easy to handle, care is to be taken as they do like to jump, and may even try to jump off your hand/arm/ etc. For young children holding a crested gecko, it may be best to have them sit on the ground so the gecko won’t have far to the ground if they do decide to jump.
Crested Geckos may be calm, but just like any lizard they don’t like being scared or having their tail pulled on. If frightened or their tail is pulled on, they will drop their tail in an attempt to get away. Unlike most geckos though, crested geckos do not regenerate their tail if it is dropped. If your gecko loses it’s tail it will be fine, just make sure to keep the area clean, and doesn’t get any debris in the wound while it heals. Your gecko will now have a cute little “frog butt” instead of its usual long tail, and it will not hinder your gecko.
When you first get a crested gecko it may be skittish, but if given proper time to settle in to its new home it will settle in quite nicely into a calmer gecko. Make sure to slowly introduce yourself and work with your gecko in little increments every day, and your gecko should soon become used to and comfortable with you.
As far as crested geckos go, the average room temperature will suffice for your gecko, and additional heating will not be needed. If your house is around 78 to 82 degrees during the day, and as low as low 70’s during the night, you’re just fine. However, if you live in a fairly cold area you might need additional heating. Alternatively, if you live in an extremely hot area you may also want to consider how you will keep the gecko from overheating, as too high of a temperature can stress crested geckos out.
Crested gecko lighting is fairly simple. As long as your gecko has a pretty steady source of light during the day, and darkness at night you are good to go. You can achieve this by putting them in a room with a lot of natural daylight (keep them away from direct sunlight though!), or using any light that does not produce much heat and they aren’t able to directly climb on (like the ones below).
Crested Geckos are very easy when it comes to the food department. Most crested geckos are fed a meal replacement from brands such as Repashy ( buy it in the United States & Canada through amazon) or Pangea (United States & Canada). These meal replacements have everything your gecko needs to be healthy. Fruits, bugs, protein, vitamins. Everything your gecko needs in one easy meal, making it so you don’t have to worry about your gecko getting what it needs. They also come in different flavours, which means there will most likely be a version that your gecko likes. It is also quite cheap.
You can also feed your crested geckos other additional insects like crickets, but many people feed their geckos only the meal replacement, which is completely fine for your gecko.
Crested Geckos should be fed the meal replacement 3-4 times per week. All that you need to do is mix the powder with the proper ratio of water it says on the container, and mix thoroughly. Make sure to start with a small amount to gauge how much your gecko eats and go from there. If the bowl is clean every time try adding a little more, or if there is constantly extra food make a little less. You’ll soon find a proper balance. The mixed meal replacement should only remain in the enclosure for 24-36 hours, and should then be removed. The best place to put this food is in a small bowl (small deli cups work well and are cheap), and put the bowl on a ledge higher up in the enclosure, as crested geckos prefer their food to not be on the ground. If you are going to use a store bought ledge such as these: (US & Canada), make sure to use ones with strong magnets, as suction cups aren’t as strong and may result in the ledge falling on your gecko.
If you wish to feed your crested gecko crickets, gut loaded (US & Canada) and or/ calcium (US & Canada) dusted crickets once or twice a week is sufficient, along with the meal replacement powder. Crickets should not be the only food you feed to your crested gecko.
Young crested geckos should be kept exclusively on paper towel, as this will be easiest for you to monitor their waste, and keep them from ingesting anything they shouldn’t. Once crested geckos are older they can be kept on a few different substrates.
Paper towels are of course still acceptable, they can be used from the time a crested gecko is born up to an adult and beyond. No risk of them eating it, easy to clean, and fairly cheap as well. However this is not the most appealing substrate looks wise.
For a more naturalistic set up, or enclosures where you wish to plant live plants, eco earth is also an acceptable substrate. You can easily spot clean it, and changes don’t need to be made very often. If you want to spruce up the substrate even more, moss and leaf litter can be added on top of the eco earth. This will also help prevent your gecko from ingesting any small particles that it shouldn’t.
There are also certain reptile “carpets” available, that can look like anything from grass, to sand, to actual carpet. Sand and grass looking carpets are fine, however be wary of the felt/carpet looking ones, as your geckos claws may get stuck in them and rip, harming your gecko. They are also harder to clean and keep sanitary. Tiles are also an acceptable option, as they can be cheap, easy to clean, and a smooth surface for your gecko which removes any danger.
However crested geckos spend most of their time up above the ground, so don’t be too concerned with what you pick, just go with what’s easiest for you and fits the look you’re going for. Just make sure you avoid any substrates that can be dangerous to your gecko, such as sand, wood chips, bark mulch, small gravel, etc.
Crested geckos like to climb on things, and they have pads on their feet that help them climb various surfaces such as walls and plants. Therefore it is important for your enclosure to be taller than it is wider. For a younger gecko 10 gallons will do well, but once they get closer to adult size you will need to switch them over to at least a 20 gallon, although you can always go larger. A glass tank turned on it’s side makes a great cheap tank for them. There are also many tanks on the market that are made specifically for crested geckos, and have lots of vertical space. So what you choose to buy will depend on your price range, and the amount of space you have. Some good examples of ones made for Crested Geckos Include:
Wire cages such as these: (United States & Canada) are lighter and easier to clean, however these should only be used in places with natural high humidity, as any humidity added by you spraying the enclosure will quickly disappear, and this won’t be good for the health of your geckos.
There are also custom cages available made out of various materials, which can be made to your specification. These can get very pricey very quickly, but if you’re looking for something specific this may be a good option.
Crested geckos are nocturnal, which means they are most active at night. Having plenty of plants and vines, as well as branches for them to climb and jump on at night is important. They also like to hide out and sleep in the plants/vines during the day, so having the plants will satisfy this need as well. The plants/vines that you choose to include can be fake ones attached to the walls or ledges, or they can be real ones that you plant yourself. Just make sure that whatever plants you choose, real or fake, can support the weight of the full grown gecko.
Vertical logs and cork bark (United States & Canada) are also great for your gecko to climb around/in, and can be a beautiful addition to the tank if you wish to include them. Just make sure that any wood you get is not toxic to reptiles, as some woods can seriously harm and injure your gecko. A good list of toxic woods can be found here.
8. Humidity and Water
Crested Geckos do require proper humidity, which you will need to monitor and control. A basic hygrometer (US & Canada) will be a good tool to have to make sure that the proper levels are maintained. Humidity levels should not drop below %50, with a few hours a day at a humidity level of 80-100 percent. This can be achieved by misting the cage once or twice a day, allowing water droplets to form on the tank walls and leaves. A misting spray bottle (such as the ones below) will be a great tool to have around.
Crested Geckos prefer to drink the water droplets from the walls and leaves when you spray down their tanks daily, but including a small water bowl for them to drink from if desired is always a good idea.
Now that you know what you need to do to set up for your new crested gecko, you can confidently bring your new friend home to live with you! Enjoy your new pet, as they will be with you for many years to come!
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