Because we primarily breed and sell crested geckos, the following is mostly geared toward that particular breed. However, much of this information is also applicable to other New Caledonian geckos, such as leachies, chahouas, and gargoyle geckos. While we recognize that there are many other, equally effective practices for the responsible care of a happy, healthy gecko, we have had tremendous success using these methods, and we want to share our experiences with you.
About the Crested Gecko:
The crested gecko, also known as the eyelash gecko, or correlophus ciliatus, is a medium-sized omnivorous gecko from the island of New Caledonia. They are most likely named for their natural “eyelashes” and the protruding “crests” from the sides of their heads. With proper care, they may live up to twenty-five (25) years. They were once so rare that they were considered to be an extinct species until live specimens were rediscovered in the wild in 1994. The care of a crested gecko is about as easy as a reptile will ever get. This makes it an ideal beginner pet, and especially good for young children. They are not especially fragile, and are a lot of fun to handle. Its skin appears rough and spiky, but once taken in hand, you will be surprised to discover that it actually has a soft, velvety feel. At some point, particularly during infancy, it may drop its tail, which will not grow back. The crested gecko is also capable of jumping, and at first, it will be eager to do so, but after a few sessions of reassuring handling, it will grow more and more accustomed to you, after which its jumping will become very manageable, as well as more predictable and entertaining for both you and the animal. They have the ability to change color slightly which is commonly known and firing up or firing down (shown in the picture below). The animal make fire up more due to changes in the environment such and light, temperature and humidity, but there are many other things that can cause it as well. Biting is extremely rare, and even if this should occur, the impact is so minimal you will barely know it happened at all. With their many color and pattern options, who wouldn’t love to have one of these cute little guys as a pet?
A ten (10) gallon enclosure is recommended for an adult crested gecko. But they’re not fussy. It will not care if you purchase a glass terrarium or if you choose a relatively less costly plastic bin. But keep in mind that due to its inherent climbing instincts, it will require more height than width. Screened cages are not recommended because they will not retain a sufficiently high level of humidity. Crested geckos, by their nature, will not drink from a cup or a bowl, but rather, they lick the water from the condensation on the inside of the glass, plastic or other internal solid surfaces, and therefore, screen mesh, which will not retain humidity and condensation, should not be used. For baby geckos, the best bedding is paper towels. Once the gecko reaches about ten (10) grams, it is recommended that you switch to a more permanent synthetic bedding, such as Eco Earth. Eco Earth and similar products will aid in the retention of the high levels of humidity that geckos require to be comfortable and thrive. Additionally, decorations in the cage should provide comfort, safety and security for the gecko. We often use paper towel tubes and suction cup-mounted artificial vines. Be creative. Add your own twist. The gecko has no preferences other than safety, security and adequate space to move around. Beyond those minimal requirements, you may find that the addition of your personal touches will be reflected in the demeanor and personality of a treasured family pet that is uniquely yours.
Crested geckos are omnivorous, which means they eat both plants and animals. In a domestic environment, their ideal main source of nutrition is a commercially-branded food like Repashy or Pangea, which are specially-formulated fruit-based diets designed specifically to provide the spectrum of nutrients that geckos need. You should mix the fruit powder with water until it becomes a thick, sauce-like consistency. Its food should be changed about every three (3) days, or whenever you begin to detect that it is about to go bad (although it is treated and formulated to resist spoilage, it must eventually be replaced, and the amount of time that it will take for the food to begin to spoil largely depends upon ambient humidity and temperature, which will vary according to the changes in seasons throughout the year). You and I may prefer pizza or cheeseburgers, but for a treat, geckos love to eat insects like dubia roaches, crickets, meal worms, and wax worms. These provide both enrichment and important essential nutrients for your developing gecko. When feeding with insects, it is important to dust them with calcium powder to provide as many nutrients as possible. Also, bear in mind that a typical gecko will not drink still water from a bowl, under any circumstances. Why? Who knows. We never said that they will prepare your taxes, or that everything they do will make sense. But for this reason, we do not place water bowls in their cages. It would just be a waste of time (and water). Rather, we simply spray their cages with fresh water until water droplets form on all of the cage sides and plants, so they will have every opportunity to stay hydrated and wash down those yummy bugs and fruit powder. Hey, who are we to judge? Some people we know even like sushi.
At this point, you may be wondering if you’re going to have to turn your whole home into a sauna to keep a gecko. Nope. These little guys actually thrive at normal room temperatures. They do not require any special lights or heat sources. This is one more reason why a gecko is one of the easiest reptiles to care for. They like to live in mid-70- to mid-80-degree temperatures. But if you live in an environment with harsh winters and your house drops below 65 degrees for long periods of time you may provide additional heating for its cage, while you live your own life like a polar bear. However, if this is the case–and we cannot stress this enough–you must use a regular light fixture with a common, standard incandescent light bulb, and not a heat light or LED bulb. This will provide just the right amount of ambient heat for your little friend without drying out its cage too quickly and overheating/frying them (as with heat bulbs) or providing them no heat but plenty of crisp, bright light for all of the tiny books that they can’t, won’t and don’t want to read (as with LED bulbs). You can easily monitor and adjust the temperature accordingly by mounting a small, inexpensive internal thermometer on one side of the cage, or by using a point-and-shoot thermogun for periodic temperature readings, which cost a little bit more, but wow, it looks cool and it’s so much fun to use. And let’s face it, you’re also going to use it to measure the temperature of your hand and your tongue. You know, for science.
This is one of the most important environmental requirements for your geckos, which is why we’ve already mentioned it a couple of times in the preceding sections. This is certainly not to say that any of the other information is unimportant, but in particular, insufficient humidity is one of the most common and easily-avoided health-related issues affecting crested geckos. These animals are considered tropical, so they need a relatively high level of humidity and an accumulated condensation of water droplets to drink from the surfaces of the cage and the vegetation within the enclosure to mimic their natural habitat and appeal to their instinctive habits and behaviors. While they need a high level of humidity to be comfortable and have adequate water to drink, they also cannot constantly be sitting in soaking wet dirt and never be able to get dry. Your gecko will need you to maintain a level of humidity between a range of fifty percent (50%) to eighty percent (80%). This is easily achieved by spraying its cage every time you feed it. This simple and easily-implemented method ensures a regular humidity maintenance schedule which we have found to work perfectly.
Crested geckos are relatively hardy and resilient, but as you would probably expect, they will not tolerate being tightly squeezed or rough handling. They should not be handled by young children without supervision and a proper understanding of the species. Your crested gecko loves to climb and jump, and this natural behavior is to be expected and encouraged. If you handle it during the day, your gecko will generally be relaxed, and may only take a few leaps here and there. But if you handle the same animal at night, it will most likely be a lot more lively because it is a nocturnal species. Still, like people, each gecko has its own unique personality. Most geckos will become used to handling with regular sessions. They are a blast to play with, and unlike certain species of reptiles and family members who went to law school, they tolerate it well and enjoy their playtime with you as much as you do.
On the low end, you can set up an adequate home for your crested gecko for under One Hundred Dollars ($100.00). But as you would expect, you could construct a gecko mansion, and completely kit them out. Of course, you can begin with a modest cage, and upgrade it over time, by purchasing modules and additions to pimp their crib like one of the rappers on Hot Ones. But your crested gecko doesn’t want, need or understand how to use and appreciate a rooftop hot tub or a Lambo in the garage. All it cares about being safe, well-fed and properly cared for. However you proceed, you will need these items as a bare minimum: a spray bottle, a bag of crested gecko diet, a glass or plastic enclosure (e.g., a tub or terrarium), bedding (paper towel or Eco Earth), humidity and temperature gauges, and decor. The decor is where you get to have fun and flex your creativity. For us, to minimize costs, we typically use paper towel tubes, egg crates and other salvaged household items that would otherwise go in the trash. The geckos love it, and you can feel good about repurposing and reducing the impact of single-use household waste. If, like us, you are on a limited budget, feel free to get creative. Try to find things around your home to place in its enclosure as an elevated hiding place (or “hide”) for recreational and living spaces. Crested geckos will typically only use ground-based hides (e.g. paper towel tubes) as a place to, well…, go to the bathroom. So they need those too. You can also find thousands of gecko hides on the internet.
Again, this is by no means intended to be the one most perfect and comprehensive resource for the care of your crested gecko. In fact, we’re sure that there are countless valuable tips and methods out there that we either don’t know ourselves, or that we simply forgot to include, so if you believe that there is any information that we’ve missed and that you would like to share with the community, please let us know we will happily include it here–just contact us. But as we said, these are the practices that we have implemented with great success, and which, in our experience, we have found work best. We believe that crested geckos are a great option for a pet if you’re looking for a reptile or small animal that is fun, playful and will look and feel really cool perched on your shoulder. Sure, you could try to do that with a dog, a cat, a hamster or a fish. Let us know how that works out. A crested gecko is sure to turn heads and make and make an absolutely amazing pet. We will always have plenty of these guys in stock, so head on over to our shop and choose your new best friend!
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