How to Set Up a Crested Gecko Enclosure

Crested Geckos

Crested geckos are one of my favorite pet reptiles. They are relatively small and are very simple to house. I mean, they don't necessarily require heating or lighting. You just have to make sure that their enclosure is set around 75F to 80F, and the enclosure is taller than it is long.

These guys are pretty hardy reptiles and are one of the best beginner species that a newbie reptile keeper can raise and keep.

When thinking about getting a crested gecko or any other pet reptile, you want to make sure that you know how to properly care for the reptile, and the enclosure is probably one of the two more important aspects of properly caring for a reptile- the other being diet.

So, when setting up a crested gecko enclosure, you pretty much have two options- natural and simple. I always prefer simple because it's just so much easier to clean and care for, but below you can choose which option is best for you.

Enclosure Size

First off before you even get started, you want to make sure that you know what size enclosure that you will need. I like to house babies and juveniles in kritter keepers, and as they grow upgrade the kritter keeper until they require a tub of some sort.

By starting them in smaller enclosures you can prevent stress and the gecko can find it's food.

For adults, though, you want to make sure that you house ONE adult crested gecko in at least a 15 gallon tall aquarium. Remember crested geckos need height over length; they are arboreal reptiles.

If you want to house multiple crested geckos in an enclosure, it is only recommended if you house multiple females, as multiple males will fight, and male/female groups will breed, and the females will need at least 3 months of rest. But, anyway, you can house up to 3 crested geckos in a 29 gallon aquarium.

If you don't want to go the aquarium route, but want something that is a little lighter to move and easier to clean, you can always try the clear tubs. I prefer the 66 quart tubs for groups of 3 crested geckos. I house older juveniles in 22 quart tubs. (I believe these are the quart sizes, I still need to double check them)

Just remember if you want to go the tub route, you want to make sure that you drill air holes into the side of the tub and preferably screen a portion of the lid (meaning cut out a plastic portion and replace it with screen). This will allow for better ventilation.

Picture from dorymarlin955
Picture from dorymarlin955
Picture from C&S Exotics (natural in appearance)
Picture from C&S Exotics (natural in appearance)
Picture from Peewee
Picture from Peewee

Naturalistic Crested Gecko Cage

When it comes to a natural crested gecko enclosure, you want to be careful of smaller geckos. You do not want to introduce a hatchling or baby crested gecko into an enclosure with dirt, as younger geckos have problems catching their food properly and can end up with a mouthful of dirt. And even though crested geckos need CGD more than they need crickets, they sure appreciate crickets on occasion.

It's also not recommended to put new crested geckos into a full natural enclosure because you cannot properly watch them for illness during the quarantine period.

So, when making a naturalistic crested gecko enclosure, I would suggest waiting until the gecko is a little older, but in the end it's still up to you to decide.

With the natural enclosures, you should really use an aquarium over a plastic tub because more than likely you will be adding live plants, and your plants will need some flourescent lighting. Plus it will just be easier.

You want to use a Bed-A-Beast type substrate so that you plants can root themselves. Many people layer the bedding- for example expanded clay aggregate, window screen, and then Bed-A-Beast. This is helpful for the plants and drainage. I would suggest about an inch of the expanded clay aggregate and three to four inches of the Bed-A-Beast substrate.

And, if you wanted, adding some nice moss to the top of the Bed-A-Beast would give the set up a nice feel.

Before planting your live plants, you want to wash them off, to get rid of any pesticides and insecticides.

You want to plant your live plants in the aquarium and let them fill in before putting the crested gecko(s) in the aquarium. By letting the plants fill in, the gecko(s) will have more to climb on, as the plants will not be as frail and flimsy.

Plants that you may want to conside can include:

  • Schefflera
  • Pothos
  • Peace lily spathiphyllum
  • "Polka dot plant" (hypoestes sp.)
  • "ZZ plant" (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
  • Spider plant

You don't have to use live plants in a natural enclosure, you can always use fake plants and vines just with the natural bedding. Another option is to use live plants, just leave them potted.

Although, the natural enclosures look so much nicer, they are a pain to clean.

Gargoyle Gecko Tub (Similar to my crested gecko enclosure with torn egg cartons placed randomly)
Gargoyle Gecko Tub (Similar to my crested gecko enclosure with torn egg cartons placed randomly)
Juvie Kritter Keeper (sorry for the poo)
Juvie Kritter Keeper (sorry for the poo)
an older setup with a more flat design.
an older setup with a more flat design.

Simplistic Crested Gecko Cage

Being just what it is a simplistic enclosure does not include substrate, plants, vines, or pretty much anything else. A simple crested gecko enclosure is truly pretty simple.

This is how I set up my enclosures, and you can go with it from here if you have any other ideas. I prefer using clear tubs, but you can still use glass aquariums with the simple set up.

You can use paper towels as a substrate, but I actually don't use paper towels or any substrate other than the bare tub floor. I find that it is easier to clean without the paper towels on the ground, and my geckos tend to find a way to mess up the enclosure with the paper towels.

For the décor, I prefer egg cartons and cardboard cup holders that you get from McDonald's. I find that the babies and juvies like the egg cartons, but not all adults care for them. The cardboard cup holders work great for older crested geckos to climb in and around, as well as curl up in.

For the larger kritter keepers and tubs, I will add fake plants, so that the crested gecko has more to hide in and play around. I have found that the small, suction plants work great for kritter keepers that are size medium and up. I use the medium and large suction plants for larger tubs. Sometimes I will mix up different sizes and different types in my larger enclosures. (For example, in my gargoyle gecko enclosure, I have at least 3 or 4 different types of fake plants.)

In larger tubs, you may want to include vines as well to give the gecko something to walk on. Although, I have never used them, I do like the look of them.

I typically add a humid hide made from a Glad tupperware container with a hole in the top, filled with Bed-A-Beast for the females to dig around in and to add extra humidity to the enclosure.

With the simple crested gecko cages, you can do a lot with them, and they are so easy to clean. Just dump and replace. There isn't much scrubbing involved except the walls of the enclosure.

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Comments 84 comments

Cassie 4 years ago

I love this posting, it is very concise for being so short!

My question is this... What is the expanded clay aggregate and is there a product that is widely sold so that I can find it? I'm getting my gecko tomorrow and need it NOW, lol.


sam+lava(crestie) 5 years ago

how many weeks/days do you have to wait before handling crestie

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Some reptiles actually do much better in simplistic enclosures. I've used super simple enclosures for leopard geckos and then given them more elaborate enclosures, and some will thrive better in one whereas other thrive better in the other. I've done the same for crested geckos, and I've found that mine have always faired better in simple enclosures versus more elaborate ones.

I keep simplistic based on the ease of cleaning and care. It's so much simpler to ensure health of the animal based off of fecal appearance and whatnot.

It all boils down to how well the animal fairs. If the animal fairs better in a simple enclosure, than that is what is best for that animal, otherwise try something else.

emilylh 5 years ago

I feel the simple enclosure that you talk about is very cruel and selfish. i know a lot of breeders use these and its only for money profit.

If you cared about your reptile and its well-being, in fact any animal, you would try to accomidate it the best way.

Any Human can live in a closet given food and water, but would they be happy and i doubt they would live for very long.

gecko-lover-2003 5 years ago

i might get a crested gecko but what im really conserned about is were to get it from theres lots of places but i don't know id go to petsmart but they have high prices id go to petco but their pets arent healthy eh right now im looking at breeders i found this really cool one its only 45 dollars my grampa it going to give me money for christmas 35 dollars i only have 5 right now i could probly get a 5 in time

Gecko1 5 years ago

It is OK that he is resting on the bottom of his cage. He probily is bored or just is sleeping. If he is not sleeping, than he is resting

Kimberly 5 years ago

sorry about my misspelled words, typing from a phone. what i meant was do they always stay in the branches or is something wrong if they are walking around the bottom of their habitat? please help.

Kimberly 5 years ago

HI! I just bought my first crested gecko. Ive had him about a week, hes almost 3 months old. i went to the aquatic pet land in my area, and the sales associate told me that if my gecko is waling on the bottom of the habitat, hes unhealthy. he still climbs, he sits on his egg carton piece i put on there, he;s very energetic so i assume hes fine. os it bad that he chills on the bottom too?

Gecko1 5 years ago

I would recommend keeping him off crickets for a week. Then, fill a bottle cap with rephasy superfood. Next put your gecko and the food mix into a contanor with brething holes. You can easily tell if he is eating. If he is, he just does not like crickets. You should not feed him Baby food. Just Rephasy. He would be OK on only Rephasy, but start small with the crickets. One week, put him in a tupperware contaner with air holes and feed him one cricket. The next week, do the same, only with 2 crickets. Once he stops eating them, then try feeding him last weeks number. IE week3 he does not eat all three. Try going back to only 2 crickts, lioke last week. Hope this helps, Sammi

jordan 5 years ago

My friend gave ne a 3 month old with a ten gallon tank, a stick in it. And 2 jars of food. What do I need to add to make him healthy

Gecko1 5 years ago

I was at Petco and found some great vines. He loves to climb on them! My geckos name is The Lizard Of Menlo Park!

Sammi 5 years ago

I have had a crestie for almost 3 weeks now. He seems perfectly healthy and happy but he doesn't seem to like eating crickets.

When I first got him he straight away jumped on them and gobbled them right up but he seems to be eating less and less of them. I've even had to start taking him out of his vivarium and putting him in a smaller container with breathing holes in so that I can monitor how much he is eating and to make sure that any crickets left over can be removed.

I made up a mixture of organic baby food (so there are no added sugars or anything), banana and crested gecko diet which he seems to love.

Is he going to be fine on just that mixture? And would you recommend me not giving him any crickets for a week or so to see if he will eat them after hes been without them for a while?

braden918 5 years ago

i am getting a crested gecko very soon and i am wondering how long i have to wait before i can take it out of its habitat to play with???

Justin 5 years ago

I just finished reading every comment and your post and i have learned a lot but i still got a few questions as i am getting a crested gecko in a few days. My uncle has given me a 20 gallon tank for now just i case i don't get one before i get him , will that be okay? I was looking at the tanks and would the exo-terra Natural Terrarium Mini/Tall tank be good , the dimensions are 30x30x45 cm/12” x 12” x 18” for there life or should i upgrade to a bigger one later on. so as to setting up the cage, and maintaining it changing the paper towel and spraying the cage evryday would be smart, is there anything else i should be doing regularly besides a whole main clean up? and the tanks from exo-terra come with lights , will this be a problem considering it can provide heat when it is turned on , and would it be a problem if i turned on the light for a bit? and is he okay in the dark, at night, i don't need to have a little loght for him or anything incase. any more tips or pointer will be very useful since this is gonna be my first reptile

Renee 5 years ago

About a week after I brought him home, my gecko passed away. I was so upset I didn't want to talk about it yet and today I felt a little better. when I found him he was alive but he was lying in the middle of the tank. his skin was very pale, his breathing was very shallow and about every 5 minutes he would open his mouth wide then snap it shut. after about 20 minutes of this he flipped on his back and struggled to get to his feet. i flipped him with a Q-tip and he just sat. the next moring he was in the same position that i left him, not breathing.Would you happen to know what might have caused his death?

Renee 5 years ago

Thanks!I used a moist Q-Tip and easily got the shed off is head, and by spraying the tank the shed came off his toes by its self. I'm just going to wait to get it off his tail. Thanks for all your help, Renee.

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Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

Leave him alone for a few days. A few days won't be too devastating. Just make sure to spray the enclosure.

Renee 5 years ago

My wish has come true! I now have my little baby gecko. He has been somewhat active and seems healthy but, there is stuck shed on him which I was a little upset with. I'd like him to adapt to his environment first but I don't want this to cause further problems by letting the skin stay stuck to his toes! Should I wiat a few days, or get it off now? And how would I go about doing that safely? Hope to hear from you very soon, Renee

Renee 5 years ago

I was thinking about Laurel for a girl and Charlie for a boy. And hopefully i'll get him/her today instead of tomorrow. Thanks for all your help! Wish me luck!


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Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

It's hard to suggest specific names. Think of your favorite movies, books, etc and maybe you can come up with something from characters you may like

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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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