gecko-care

Crested Gecko Care Sheet

December 22, 2020

crested gecko

Crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) are 6-8” long, arboreal lizards native to New Caledonia. They are typically found on the islands of Grande Terre and Isle of Pines, and prefer a tropical forested habitat.

Crested geckos have a large triangular head, large feet, sticky toe pads, a muscular prehensile tail, and a fringe that runs from their eyes down their back. This fringe gives the appearance of having eyelashes, which is why they are sometimes called “eyelash crested geckos” or “eyelash geckos”. However, like most geckos, crested geckos do not have eyelids. In the wild they are typically tan to light brown in color, but captive breeding has made a wider variety of colors and patterns available.

Crested geckos are hardy, easy to breed, easy to care for, and tolerate humans well, making them extremely popular as pet lizards. With good care, they can live up to 20+ years.

Minimum terrarium size for crested geckos:

The absolute minimum terrarium size for a single crested gecko is 18”L x 18”W x 24”H. Of course, larger is always better!

Housing multiple crested geckos in the same terrarium is not recommended, and may result in fighting if attempted. This is especially the case for males, which will often fight to the death.

Do crested geckos need UVB?

Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for crested geckos. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits. 

The best UVB bulbs for crested geckos housed in an 18” x 18” x 24” terrarium are:

For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

Lights should be on for 11 hours/day during winter and 13.5 hours/day during summer to simulate seasonal changes in day length. All lamps should be turned off at night.

Best temperature for crested geckos:

Despite the popular myth that crested geckos do best at room temperature, they do benefit from having a low-temperature basking area. After all, they’re still reptiles, and that means they need a range of temperatures in their enclosure that allow them to thermoregulate.

Crested geckos should have a low basking temperature between 82-85°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe positioned in the basking area. The cool zone of the enclosure should stay between 70-75°F, and nighttime temps can drop as low as 65°F.

Provide heat for your gecko with a low-wattage incandescent bulb. White heat bulbs are the best way to imitate the warmth of sunlight indoors, and considered to be a superior form of reptile heating by experts. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. 

Best humidity levels for crested geckos:

Crested geckos are a tropical species, so the humidity inside their enclosure should be fairly high: 60-80%. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

Increase humidity by misting your gecko’s enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle. Mist first thing in the morning and then again at night if needed. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your gecko with an important source of drinking water!

Best substrate for crested geckos:

Providing a layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for crested geckos:

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.

Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.

How to decorate a crested gecko terrarium:

An empty terrarium makes for a bored crested gecko, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

Since crested geckos are strictly arboreal, at bare minimum you will need a branch for your anole to bask on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:

What to feed to a crested gecko:

Crested geckos are omnivores, which means that they need to eat both plant- and animal-based foods to get the right nutrition. In the wild, they primarily eat insects and fruit. As pets, it’s best to feed them high-quality, specially-formulated crested gecko diet (CGD) supplemented by live insect feeders.

How often crested geckos need to eat depends on age:

  • Hatchlings and Juveniles (0-12 months) — CGD daily, insects 1-2x/week
  • Adults (>12 months) — CGD every 2-3 days, insects 1x/week

Best crested gecko diets: Pangea, Repashy, Leapin’ Leachie, Zoo Med, Lugarti, Black Panther Zoological, Gecko Pro

Feeder insects for crested geckos: dubia roaches, discoid roaches, red runner roaches, crickets, hornworms

The key to balanced nutrition is variety, so make sure to offer a rotation of as many different foods as possible.

Supplements

You will also need a calcium supplement. We recommend Repashy Supercal NoD, lightly dusted on all feeder insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.

Water

Of course, don’t forget small food and water bowls and a feeding ledge! Since crested geckos are arboreal, they prefer to eat and drink up off the ground. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.

How to handle your crested gecko:

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. That being said, crested geckos usually tolerate handling well. Here are some tips for success:

  • Don’t grab the gecko from above. Instead, scoop from below.
  • Support its entire body and all four feet.
  • Start with short handling sessions at first, then gradually make them longer.
  • Put the gecko back in its enclosure only when it’s calm.

Your gecko may be a bit jumpy at first, so let it hop from one hand to the other until it has calmed down.



*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet! Here are some more sources we recommend checking out:


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