Crested Gecko Care

Crested Gecko

Rhacodactylus ciliatus

Crested Geckos are native to New Caledonia, located approximately 900 miles east of Australia. They are indigenous to the island, Grand Terre, and the Isle of Pines to the south.

Because crested geckos weren't reported being seen in their native environments, many believed they had gone extinct. In 1994, the species was found on the Isle de Pins.

Crested geckos are arboreal, and since they are nocturnal, they spend their days hiding amongst leaves and branches.

Crested Gecko Lifespan

It is assumed that crested geckos have a similarly averaged lifespan as other geckos. It is unknown for sure, as they have only been in the reptile market since 1994 when the Europeans discovered the gecko on the Isle de Pins. But, is is thought that crested geckos will live about 15-20 years.

Crested Gecko Size

As adults, crested geckos can reach 4-4.5" snout to vent, or about 8" to the tip of the tail.

Crested Geckos as Pets

Crested geckos make great beginner reptile pets. They are very docile and can be handled with care.

They are a very, very jumpy reptile. So it's best to let them jump hand to hand without any force. Limit handling baby and juvenile geckos, until they are used to you. Excessive handling will cause unnecessary stress.

If you grab the gecko suddenly by force or by the tail, you risk the gecko dropping its tail, and unlike many gecko species, crested geckos don't regrow their tails.

Floppy Tail Syndrome

Floppy Tail Syndrome is caused by enclosures that lack climbing sources. When the gecko hands upside down on the walls of the enclosure, the tail is left flopping over it's back. This can deform the gecko's pelvis and give them a crooked appearance.

Crested Gecko Housing

Enclosure Size:

First off NEVER house more than one male gecko together, as they are territorial and will fight, causing severe injuries and even death. One male can be housed with up to 3 females, but be prepared for mating and eggs. Or, you can house multiple females together, but do watch for any signs of bullying or stress when housing more than one gecko in an enclosure.

Crested geckos are arboreal and need an enclosure that is taller than it is long. One crested gecko can live in a 15-gallon tall aquarium (18"W x 18"D x 18"T), or 3 in a 29-gallon aquarium (30"W x 12½"D x 17"T ).

*Note: 3 crested geckos in a 29- gallon is really pushing it.

Décor:

You can make a simplistic or naturalistic enclosure setup. Make sure to utilize the space effectively, in either case. Add ample climbing and hiding places, including plants and branches.

The simplistic approach is more practical than it is aesthetically pleasing. This approach includes egg cartons; they are cheap and provide ample hiding places and climbing surfaces. If you do not want to use egg trays, you can use fake or real (potted) plants, branches, and cork bark.

The naturalistic approach is more aesthetically pleasing than it is practical. If you choose this method, it is always best to buy a larger enclosure for you gecko because you will need to add plants and branches. This approach involves the use of loose substrate and mosses as floor covering. Live plants are added either in pots or planted in the substrate with branches and bark. The advantage of a naturalistic type enclosure is that it provides the geckos with amply hiding places and climbing sources. But, on the other hand having loose substrates creates the risk of impaction.

Lighting:

Being nocturnal, crested geckos do not require supplemental lighting. Do not place the enclosure in direct sunlight, but indirect lighting can be beneficial in creating a day/night scenario.

Heating:

Daytime temperatures should NEVER reach higher than 80F; the daytime temperatures should range from 72-80F. At night, the temperatures can drop to the high 60s to the low 70s.

Humidity:

The enclosure can stay fairly dry during the day. With thorough misting once or twice a day, the humidity will rise. Strive for average humidity levels between 70-80%.

For babies and juvenile geckos, mist the enclosure twice a day: once in the morning and once at night. For adults, mist the enclosure once at night.

Keeping too high humidity will increase the chances of fungus, but low humidity can cause shedding problems. So, by misting the enclosure, you create a balanced humidity level.

Reptile Substrate

Many people use Bed-A-Beast, Repti-Bark, or some other type of naturalistic bedding, but using loose substrates can cause impaction, severe constipation, can be fatal.

Other options:

  • Paper towels
  • Reptile carpet
  • Slate
  • Roll out tile
  • Butcher paper
  • Newsprint with a non-toxic ink.

Avoid using:

  • Cedar, pine, other wood shavings
  • Hard wood and bark chips
  • Gravel
  • Crushed corn cobs or walnut shells
  • Kitty litter
  • Potting soil
  • Silica sand
  • Calci-sand

66 Quart Sterlite Tub. Simplistic enclosure.
66 Quart Sterlite Tub. Simplistic enclosure.

Gutloading Crickets

Crickets must be gutloaded at least 24 hours before you feed them to your crested geckos. It's an easy procedure. It just means to make sure that the crickets are fed prior to feeding them to your geckos.

If you purchase your crickets in advance, keep them in a critter keeper with a pice of egg carton to climb on. To gut-load the crickets, place either store bought cricket food, fish flakes, oranges, potatoes, or carrots, in with the crickets.

If you purchase crickets just for the meal, most petstores provide their crickets with some sort of feed before you bring them home. In this case, you wouldn't have to worry about it. Just dust them, and put them in the enclosure.

By feeding the crickets, they become nutritionally balanced, which is passed on to the gecko. You must still coat the insects for added minerals!

Crested Gecko Diet

Crested geckos have simple dietary concerns: Crested Gecko Diet (meal replacement powder) and crickets. You can feed crested geckos fruit baby foods, but only at limited amounts. Excessive baby food, can create calcium deficiency as there is little nutrition in the baby food.

The meal replacement powder (MRP), Crested Gecko Diet (CGD), was created by Allen Repashy. It provides crested geckos with all the nourishment and that it needs. You can purchase CGD at most pet stores and Amazon. CGD should be provided to the gecko daily; usually it will last a few days before you have to remake it.

Crested geckos should be provided crickets once or twice a week, depending on their size and age. Younger geckos should be provided crickets at least twice a week, in addition to the daily CGD. Coat the crickets in a calcium supplement.

If you choose to give your gecko baby food, make sure that it is only a supplement to the CGD. Crested gecko approved baby foods include:

  • Peaches
  • Apricots
  • Applesauce
  • Bananas

For the most part crested geckos prefer to drink water off the enclosure walls and décor. You can provide the gecko with a water bowl in addition to daily sprays.

Crested Gecko Morphs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
HarlequinPartial PinstripeHarlequinFlamePinstripePinstripeFlame with Slight PinstripingPartial Pinstripe
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Harlequin
Partial Pinstripe
Partial Pinstripe
Harlequin
Harlequin
Flame
Flame
Pinstripe
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Flame with Slight Pinstriping
Flame with Slight Pinstriping
Partial Pinstripe
Partial Pinstripe

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Comments 469 comments

Lisa liza 3 years ago

How can I tell if my crested is a boy or girl?

Also he/she seems to like mealworms, so he/she gets those once a week. Us that ok


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Cardboard is fine. It is a cheap and disposable décor . Just replace it often, as it can mold easily.

Generally, they don't move around much during the day, as crested geckos are nocturnal.


Gecko1 4 years ago

Can i putcardboard in my geckos cage? Also, he is not moving unless i hold him!


Crestedgecko 4 years ago

That's what im doing. Do you think my gecko is okay? He is always pooping in my hand, but nowhere else


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Offering baby food to reptiles is definitely an outdated practice, although there are a few keepers who still believe it is the best. I personally feel that there is enough proof to keep my reptiles on CGD. I have been keeping rhac species for many years. An alternate option you may want to consider is baby food mixed with CGD. It's not ideal bc of the baby food, but it is much better than baby food and powdered vitamins and minerals.


CrestedGecko 4 years ago

A Guy at the pet store said that he was feeding baby food to his cresty for 13 years and i should try it


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

No. Baby food is not the ideal diet. Baby food is not healthy to sustain any reptile. It is not formulated for animals. Even when mixed with vitamins and minerals, it still does not offer all the proper nutrients that the animals need for health. I highly suggest that you switch to crested gecko diet, which can be purchased at local pet stores or online.


Crestedlover 4 years ago

Hey, umm, so each day i feed my Gecko 1teaspoon of blueberry apple banna baby food with some powderd viamis, like calcim and vitamin D. I also mix in some of his powdered food in this mix, and a small squirt of water. Is this ok? he loves it!!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

That seems about equivalent to a 10 gallon tank, give or take. It should be fine making it a vertical enclosure.


Anonymus 4 years ago

Hey there. I've read quite a lot on Crestie care, but I was wondering- I have a fish aquarium that is 30 litres, and about 30-40cm across, about the same in height. Would this be alright, or do I need a bigger tank?


Cooper81 4 years ago

My crestie is 4 years old now, and she has a possibly broken leg. I've been feeding her CGD and dipping crickets in calcium powder so i don't think its MBD. But she just drags her leg behind her and its her back left leg. Everything else seems fine. But is her broken leg cureable without seeing a Herp Vet?


quick learner927 4 years ago from lyndhurst nj

ok thnk u.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

that i'm not sure. you generally have them placed underneath soil and a mesh layer. the gecko never touches them. they are a generally used as a drainage layer for plants planted in natural enclosures.


quick learner927 4 years ago from lyndhurst nj

Srry for askin so many questions but wat do the clay balls do n do they need to be changed?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

The clay balls are for when you set up a naturalistic enclosure.


quick learner927 4 years ago from lyndhurst nj

so they like room temperature enclosures? n wat r those orange balls at the bottom of enclosure tht ppl use... do u have to replace them n wat is there objectives?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

No need for external heat sources. You can easily dehydrate the gecko if you use heat.


quick learner927 4 years ago from lyndhurst nj

i also have another question.... can u use a day n night heat source n wat r those orange balls tht ppl put at the very bottom of the enclosure


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author


quick learner927 4 years ago from lyndhurst nj

so whitney05, im planning on setting up a crested grecko tank, but ive heard tht using potting soil is good to use but wat do u recommend, tht cud possibly be better than it but have a natural look to it??


Jessica 4 years ago

I've had my Gecko for a week. I know that he/she is about a month to a month and half. I am afraid that there is some shed still attached to one of it's toes. I've heard that this can cause the toe to fall off. What should I do? My friend said to maybe set it in some lukewarm water to losen.


Halley 4 years ago

Hi, i have recently gotten 2 baby crested geckos and i was wondering if my flooring in their tank is okay. i currently have repti bark in it and they don't seem to mind it at all. when it comes to handling them i haven't much because i know they need to settle so they still hide quite a bit (not too worried about them hiding). But i was also wondering if it is safe that i do have a heat bulb by my cage? its far away enough that the tank can only reach a max temp of 74F because i know of the risk of heat stress. they also have lots of shade and i keep a damp towel on top of their tank and daily misting for humidity that stays at about 70%. Im also wondering if 2-3 crickets in calcium 2-3 times a week is enough and baby food(not for much longer, just awaiting my cgd to arrive)

Thanks!


gecko 4 years ago

Is the heat right on your cage it shoul be about 70 degrees


stephanie 4 years ago

we have bought 2 baby geckos recently they are about 10 week old and 1 of them seems to be something wrong with it. it has shedded its skin about 2 week ago and now it has gone really dark and not moving much. it is staying on the floor and not climbing up the trees like the other 1. when i put food -CGD mixed with baby food (as suggested by pet store) in front of it, it seems to lick a little bit them move away like it doesn't like it so we don't know if it is eating or not. we havn't fed it crickets as the pet store said they will be fine on the gecko diet until they get bigger. has any1 seen this happen before is it pooly? and will we need to take it to a vet or just buy some different food to try? any advise would be great. thanks


gecko 4 years ago

How do you get them to eat it with out holding them and sticking it right in front of them


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Place the gauge about midway in the tank. I'd suggest offering more CGD. You want to make sure that the geckos are eating it and not just the crickets.


gecko 4 years ago

And I have 2 baby cressted geckos and I feed them 12 crickets a week is this not anuff


gecko 4 years ago

Where should I place hydrometere in a cage about a foot tall


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Try using a smaller dish of CGD. Use a bottle cap to start, only filling halfway with CGD. I would stop feeding crickets so much, as the more you feed and the more the gecko eats, the less hungry it will be.


Jamie 4 years ago

Well see I leave the cgd out all the time. I left the gecko for three days without crickets and he refused to eat the cgd, and when i offer crickets he eats 5 or 6 maybe more.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Offer less crickets, as the gecko may be getting full on the crickets before making its way to the CGD bowl. That or offer less CGD so that you can better monitor how much the gecko is eating. I use bottle caps and increase the amount of food by how much I see the gecko eating. This prevents waste.


Jamie 4 years ago

Hey there. My gecko hasn't touched his food in a week (The meal replacement). He only eats crickets that I offer. What should I do?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 4 years ago from Georgia Author

Offer what will be eaten within 10 minutes, removing the rest. Use small crickets, and make sure that you still offer the meal replacement.


Sammy 4 years ago

I have a baby crested gecko. It says to feed it crickets twice a week? How many crickets should I put into the tank at one time?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm sorry to hear that.


cynthia p 5 years ago

I didn't get him in time I guess....

:.( he died this morning.

Thanks for the advice though.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

I would contact a vet who is familiar with reptiles.


cynthia p 5 years ago

I got him in a deal off Craigslist, I didn't know about his condition before i got him. As far as eating i know he is hungry but he is to slow to catch crickets and he bites his tong. He drags his head and his back is arched and his feet can't get any grip at all


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Where did you get him from? If a breeder, you need to contact the breeder immediately. If a pet store, contact the store.

You should see a vet to assess any physical problems.

See if the gecko will eat on its own before taking the liberty to force.


cynthia p 5 years ago

I just got a crested that looks like he was thrown against the wall, I don't know what to do or how to feed him, I didn't know how bad he was until i got him, I don't want to kill him but i don't know how to feed him

please help


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Eatin shouldn't be a problem, as there is a natural adjustment period, although the gecko should be moving around some.


karen 5 years ago

i just one one pet and hes like only 3 inches and hes not eating i been having him for 2 days...is it normal...he also doesn't move or jump hes just hidding and layin down...should i worry?


cllum 5 years ago

jusst got one today and it is the est pet iv ever had !!!!!!!!!!


Matt Man 5 years ago

i was just wondering if the crested geckos enclosure can be just below 70 at day ? is that too cold ? also if he is nor=t eating cgd for the first two - three days should i be worried? thanks . so far your information has been greaat!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

I wouldn't offer them to young crested geckos, but adults may eat them. Generally, crested geckos aren't too fond of mealworms, though.


cooper81 5 years ago

Is it okay to feed cresties mealworms?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

There is no reason why you should have a frog and crested gecko living in the same enclosure. Separate the two. It is unsafe and unhealthy.


Gecko1 5 years ago

Hi! My frog is eating all his crickts, but i wonder, Can I Create my own calcium powder for his crickts?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Both plane and car ride will greatly stress out the crested gecko. Car will cause more stress than plane, but I'd recommend bringing pets as carry-ons instead of putting them in the cargo area, where it can get quite hot.


singinlunatic 5 years ago

Hey Whitney,

First, I just wanted to let you know that I think your info on crestie care is the best I've seen for general knowledge. Way to go!

Second, I have to move across the country this summer. Do you know if my crestie will die if he goes in an airplane for about 4-5 hours during the day? They tend to air condition planes a lot and that worries me. If you think it would kill him, I am thinking about driving across the country for little Sufjan instead. But...that worries me too because it will be in May so it will probably be hot outside. The drive would take like 5 days and I will have to bring him and his tank into various hotels and the car. He'll also have to stay in the car if I need to go into a restaurant to eat. Do you think that that could actually be worse for him because of the stress of moving around so much?

Right now I'm thinking the latter option would be better as long as I keep the hotel rooms around 70 degrees and never leave him in the car for more than like half an hour. What do you think? Any suggestions about the best way to do it?

Thanks so much!!!!!!


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    Whitney (Whitney05)3,491 Followers
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    Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises and other exotics since 2003



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