All About Crested Geckos


February 15th, 2013

Summary

Rhacodactylus Ciliatus commonly known as the Crested Gecko is a prehistoric looking lizard that makes a remarkable out of the ordinary pet if its specific care requirements are met. The common name has arisen due to their raised ridges or crests running down the top of the head and shoulders. They are a nocturnal (awake during the night) lizard which occurs naturally in New Caledonia in a temperate rain forest habitat. All of our Crested Geckos are captive bred but still require an environment similar to that of their wild relatives.

Adult size:

  • Crested Geckos rarely grow larger than 25 cm (10 inches).

Life span:

  • A happy and healthy Crested Gecko should be expected to live for over 10 years so they are certainly a long term commitment.

Considerations Before Purchasing

  • Who will look after your new pet if you are away?
  • Can you provide fresh food for your pet?
  • Are you prepared to take on an animal that could live for 10 years?
  • Is the rest of the family happy to live with a lizard that eats live insects?
  • Can you afford all the equipment necessary to keep your pet happy?
  • Have you done your research on Crested Geckos and their relevant care?

Handling

Crested Geckos can tolerate handling but they can be nervous and jumpy so please be patient. If they are terrified then they can drop their tails which will not grow back. Children should always be supervised with any animals and as they are expert climbers, care should be taken to avoid your Crested Gecko escaping whilst handling. Be aware that they can become too cold if kept out of the enclosure for a long time in cold weather. Do not handle your Crested Gecko for at least 24hrs when you first take them home to allow them to settle in to the new surroundings.

It is important for hygiene reasons to wash your hands with an anti-bacterial hand wash before and after handling your Crested Gecko.

Feeding & Supplements

In their natural rainforest habitat, Crested Geckos will feed on a number of insects, nectar from certain plants and fruit. Complete diets specifically made for Crested Geckos can be purchased which satisfy all of their nutritional needs. This should be the majority of their staple diet. Finely chopped fruit such as strawberries and blueberries can be rarely offered as a very special treat, but never offer banana. A small bowl of a calcium supplement should always be made available. Juvenile Crested Geckos can benefit from being fed live insects in conjunction with their species specific complete diet.

The length of the insect to be fed should be equal to the distance between the lizard’s eyes. Locusts are a suitable insect for promoting hunting activity in your Crested Gecko as they will climb around the enclosure. Other insects such as crickets and mealworms can be offered if care is taken to ensure they don’t evade the gecko and hide away. Feed as many insects as your lizard will consume overnight and then remove any uneaten insects from the enclosure the following morning. Lightly sprinkle the insects with a calcium carbonate supplement such as Calcidust every meal. Also on alternate days the insects must be lightly dusted with a vitamin D3 supplement such as Nutrobal.

We recommend: Pro Rep Calci Dust, Zoo Med Repti Calcium with D3, Vetark Nutrobal.

Housing & Decor

Due to the relatively high humidity environment required by these animals, good ventilation such as a mesh top is an essential feature of the enclosure. Generally glass terrariums are the best option as wooden vivariums will not tolerate the moisture required for this species. We recommend an enclosure that is at least 60cm high to allow for adequate exercise. It is a good idea to secure any openings of the enclosure with appropriate locks. There are numerous decor items that can be offered to entertain and provide refuge for these arboreal acrobats such as artificial vines and plants, but please ensure everything is reptile safe and easily cleaned with a reptile specific disinfectant.

We recommend: Vivarium Lock, Exo Terra Abutilon Plant, Cascade Reptile Disinfectant.

Heating

Crested Geckos are cold blooded reptiles, so they rely on the heat from their external surroundings to regulate their body temperature. In order to do this correctly, known as thermoregulation, access to both a “warm” and “cool” area must be provided with a specific temperature gradient emulating their natural habitat. Ideally the “cool” area should be between 15˚C – 22˚C 24 hrs a day. This “cool” area temperature is often simply the ambient temperature of the room containing the enclosure, but in locations less than 15˚C, this can be maintained by using a heat mat no larger than 1/3 of the total floor area in conjunction with a thermostat and monitored with an accurate thermometer. This species does not tolerate elevated temperatures, so the “warm” area should be between 23˚C – 25˚C, the temperature of which maintained as described above.

Remember that any form of heat emitting electrical device should be temperature controlled by a suitable thermostat and monitored with an accurate thermometer.

We recommend: Pro Rep Heat Mat, Lucky Reptile Dial Thermometer.

Lighting

As they naturally live in the canopy of dense vegetation, Crested Geckos do not require any specific lighting. However for it is beneficial to offer 12hrs per day of exposure to UVB radiation to facilitate dietary calcium absorption. UVB can be provided by fluorescent lighting such as strip lights, or compact bulbs of tropical strength – 5.0. Be aware that such lights should not be mounted inside the enclosure, but the beneficial radiation cannot penetrate glass. Carefully read the manufacturer’s directions on how to mount the housing and on the suitable distance these lights should be mounted from your lizard. Exposure to UVB radiation is harmful to humans. Please avoid extended skin exposure to the rays and never look directly at the source of light. UVB bulbs have a limited usage life and we recommend replacing them every six to eight months.

Substrate

There is a chance of impaction with any loose substrate. This means that the Crested Gecko can ingest the substrate leading to blockage of the digestive tract. To help prevent the chance of impaction, a fixed substrate such as Cage carpet can be used. To minimise impaction with a loose substrate, the food bowl can be placed on a large slate tile, or surrounded by an area of cobble stones to prevent your lizard dragging substrate into its dinner. Remember to feed the insects in your lizard’s calcium bowl rather than on a loose substrate to help prevent impaction. At Pets Corner we provide our Crested Geckos with coarse grade orchid bark as a substrate. This substrate helps retain the desired humidity of the enclosure while allowing air flow reducing stagnant areas. Also the large pieces are unlikely to be ingested by a small mouthed lizard and it is also easy to spot clean daily. Approximately once a month, or more often for larger or messy animals, the entire enclosure will need

We recommend: Pro Rep Orchid Bark Coarse.

Water & Humidity

A small shallow bowl of clean fresh drinking water must be available at all times. Crested Geckos require an average humidly of around 75%. This is to be maintained by daily spraying of the enclosure with tepid water from a hand held sprayer that is never to be used for any chemicals. Monitor the humidity using an accurate hygrometer. Spray the entire enclosure, including the lizard. You can purchase special water conditioner to add to tap water before use with your gecko which contains beneficial electrolytes, neutralises harmful chlorine and chloramines as well as binding heavy metals.

Shedding

As Crested Geckos grow they need to shed their skin. You will notice a slight opaque appearance to your lizard when they are approaching a shed and during this stage it is essential that the appropriate humidity is maintained as explained above. Also there should be an area of moistened moss available for your gecko to shelter in. Shedding will occur in sections and should never be picked off. Your gecko may eat its shed leaving little sign that the process has been undertaken, but occasionally areas of retained shed may need attention, particularly around the toes and tail. Talk to a member of staff if you are concerned. If you feel your Crested Gecko is acting strangely or feeling unwell at any time, please seek veterinary advice.

Final Remarks

Crested Geckos can make friendly long lived additions to your family if they are provided with their essential care requirements. Pregnant women, young children and people with weakened immune systems should consult a doctor before exposure to any reptile. Please ask a friendly member of staff for advice if you require further information.

Check List

  • Secure enclosure
  • Heat source
  • Thermostat
  • Thermometer
  • Water/ Food bowl
  • Hides
  • Reptile disinfectant
  • Food Substrate
  • Lighting Decor
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Sprayer
  • Moss
  • Hygrometer
  • Water conditioner
  • Crested Gecko book
  • Supplements