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Crested Gecko Pet Care
The Crested Gecko,Rhacodactylus ciliatus, is extremely popular among reptile enthusiasts. The Crested Gecko breeds readily in captivity, eats well, and is overall, hardy. The amounts of morphs that have been displayed recently through the pet trade have been incredible.
Crested Geckos come from an island off the coast of Australia called New Caledonia. They usually attain an overall length of 6-8 inches, and some even reach 10 inches. Most reach an average weight of 30-60 grams. Crested Geckos are arboreal and are usually found up in the trees. Because of their recent pet trade explosion, collection in the wild is under consideration for a ban. Most of the Crested Geckos seen for sale today are captive bred.
The following information is how I raise my Crested Geckos. Please leave a comment or question if you have any, or if you feel there needs to be any corrections.
Crested Gecko Habitat
A single Crested Gecko adult will be comfortably housed in a 20-30 gallon tank, preferably a tall tank. My enclosures include climbing vines, branches, artificial foliage, hiding areas, and water/food bowls. For substrate, I use newspapers, paper towels, or reptile carpet.
Crested Gecko Lighting
Crested Geckos are nocturnal. Because of this, they do not require any UVA/UVB lighting. They also do not require high temperatures, so a low wattage bulb is preferred to allow them to sync their light cycle which is necessary. Keep Crested Geckos around 70-75 degrees. Temperatures at 80 degrees or above can cause stress to your animal which may result in illness, injury, or death. A nighttime temperature dip near 65 is ok, but usually not necessary unless you are breeding.
Crested Gecko Humidity
Crested Geckos due require a moderate level of humidity. The best way to achieve the adequate levels of humidity is to mist the enclosure heavily once or twice a day. I mist heavily in the morning and at night. Allow the enclosure to completely dry out between misting. If water remains in the cage too long, it promotes bacterial growth and your gecko may become infected. A hygrometer, which measures humidity, should read 60-100%. Low levels can cause shedding problems. Also, when misting, the geckos will typically lick up water droplets. I have seen my geckos drink out of a water bowl, but it is good to make sure they have ample opportunities to get enough water.
Crested Gecko Diet
When feeding Crested Geckos, I only feed mine Repashy MRP or appropriate sized crickets. I do not feed baby food as it does not have the proper nutritional value for geckos. I do not feed mealworms as this may cause impaction. I do not feed wax worms because they are just too fatty. My feeding schedule has worked well for me and for my geckos. I feed them every two days. At every feeding they are given Repashy MPR. On every weekend, they are given crickets. They can eat the Repashy diet only and be perfectly healthy. I feed them crickets to provide diet variety and allow them to get some exercise by hunting. There are some sites saying to feed your geckos more than this, but I find it a waste of food. Also, make sure to dust your crickets with vitamin powder. Check the MRP feeding cup/bowl daily to make sure it has not dried out or begun to mold.
Crested Gecko Temperament
Most of the time, Crested Geckos are docile. I have had an adult male, during breeding season, who has bitten me on numerous occasions because of territory protection. Once he climbs out of his tank and onto my hand, he is calm. When I reach in his tank to get him, he strikes. Sometimes I just put one of his branches underneath him and lift him out.
Crested Gecko Handling
Crested Geckos are a bit flighty and jumpy when you first hold them. By placing one hand in front of the other and allowing the gecko to jump from hand to hand, they will get tired and calm down. Once this happens, they tend to crawl around slowly, but can become spooked and run very quickly. When picking up, approach from the side of the gecko, sliding your hand underneath the body. Your hand should support the entire body. Immediately place your other hand in front of the gecko in case it decides to jump.
Crested Gecko Tail Loss
Unlike some other geckos, Crested Geckos can drop their tails without it being pulled on or held. They can just drop it. Also, their tails do not grow back.
First, try housing only one gecko per tank to diffuse any fighting. Also, when Crested Geckos are breeding or mating, it is pretty common for the female to bite off and possibly consume the male’s tail. To avoid this when the male and female are first introduced, watch for overly aggressive behaviors, i.e., excessive biting, chirping, or barking.
Second, when picking up or touching your Crested Gecko, watch their tails. One of my females always shakes her tail up in the air rapidly back and forth. She is telling me to go away, and if I am predator, eat this (the tail) instead. To avoid her dropping her tail, I will give her a gentle touch on her side. The tail will wiggle, and then stop. Then, I touch her again. The tail will wiggle much less this time. On the third attempt, I will go ahead and pick her up keeping an eye on tail movement. If it shakes violently when I lift her up, I will stop and wait for her to stop wiggling her tail, or I will just put her down and try again later.
Third, when taking your Crested Gecko out of the enclosure, make sure their tails do not grasp anything on the way out. I have heard from many other enthusiasts that they went to pick up their favorite gecko out of their enclosure, and the Crested Gecko wrapped its tail around some immovable tank decoration and pop, off with the tail.
Fourth, you may even need to keep cages away from each other, no matter if they are similar or different species. I have had a Crested Gecko drop its tail because it saw my Iguana, whose cage was right next to the Crested Gecko’s, climbing up to his hot spot. My Crested Gecko jumped down to the bottom of his cage and the tail was flopping around on the cage floor. Looking back, I could have avoided this situation by blocking that side of my Crested Gecko’s enclosure with some background paper.
Crested Gecko Sex Determination
In adults, it is easy to tell what is male and what is female. Males have a large bulge at the base of their tails. The bulge looks like a scrotum basically. This bulge houses the hemipenes, the male sex organs. A female will not have any bulge. Sex is determined easiest by 6-9 months of age.