Crested Gecko Care Sheet
Crested Geckos are an arboreal gecko species native to New Caledonia, an archipelago just east of Australia. These guys are small, extremely docile, and easy to care for. Their temperature requirements are in the range most air-conditioned homes are kept in. Add to that their lovable personalities and wide variety of colors and patterns and it’s easy to see why Crested Geckos are one of the most kept pet lizards in the reptile industry. Until 1994, Crested Geckos were thought to be extinct. Now they are protected in their native habitat and are bred in captivity all over the world. They grow to about 4-5 inches long (not including the tail) and range from 45-65 grams in weight as adults. They have a longevity of 8-20+ years and we currently have a few still with us that were born in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.
KEY POINTS FOR CRESTED GECKO CARE
Please read below for a detailed care guide in each area.
- Crested Geckos need a vertical enclosure with space to climb.
- The enclosure should have at least 2-3 decent sized plants (plastic or live) for them to hide and sleep in. Use a soft substrate like orchid moss or soil. DO NOT use sand, coco fiber, or wood chips as they can be dangerous.
- They must be kept between 70°-77° Fahrenheit and are very sensitive to the heat (NO heat lamps, bulbs, or mats).
- They require a humidity level of 50-70%. Ideally somewhere in the middle around 60%. Easiest way to maintain is by spraying the enclosure each night since that will also be the water they drink (they lick off the leaves).
- Crested geckos eat a fruit-based powder formula mixed with water to form a smoothie consistency. This should be changed within 24 hours and replaced with fresh food 3 times a week.
- You may feed a couple of insects once or twice a week maximum. Insects are treats and should never be used as a main diet.
- Crested Geckos are nocturnal and will be most active at night. For this reason, you may not see them eat or move around too much during daytime hours. If they are pooping, they are eating.
HOUSING CRESTED GECKOS
Crested Geckos generally need a somewhat basic set up. How you like to decorate the enclosure besides the necessities is personal choice. Since they are an arboreal species (meaning that they live in trees), Crested Geckos need their enclosures to have height. The basic items to house a Crested Gecko would be a vertical enclosure, a food bowl, and a good deal of plants for them to climb and hide in.
The types of enclosures that are commonly used are aquariums and assortment of reptile caging. Make sure that the enclosure being used have a lid or door that locks. That will prevent the gecko from escaping the enclosure as they can be quite the escape artists through even the smallest of openings.
The enclosure size will vary depending on the size of the gecko. If a baby is kept in too large of an enclosure, they may become easily stressed and have trouble finding their food. Our size recommendations are as follows:
- Baby (5-9 grams) 8”x8”x8” or 6qt enclosure
- Juvenile (10-25 grams) 12”x12”x12” or 12qt enclosure
- Subadult (26-39 grams) 12”x12”x18” 24qt enclosure
- Adults (40+ grams) 18”x18”x24”, 18”x18”x18”, or 50-55qt enclosure
Once an enclosure is chosen you will need a substrate. Many items can be used like paper towels, orchid moss, soil, or a mixture of the last two. Young geckos need to be kept without loose substrate for their safety since they may accidentally ingest it with potentially fatal results. Any gecko under 9 grams should be kept on paper towel substrate. Important to note—do not use sand, coco fiber, or wood chips as these substrates can be dangerous for Crested Geckos.
Your enclosure will need at least 2-3 plants (plastic or live) for the gecko to climb and retreat to as a hiding spot to feel secure. Plastic plants with suction cups for the sides of the tank are ideal and easy options since the gecko will enjoy climbing the walls and getting in between the leaves. Keep in mind that live plants can be difficult to care for inside a terrarium unless you have experience.
Crested Geckos do not require lighting or heating. You may get an LED light if you choose but make sure to turn off in the nighttime hours as they are nocturnal and need the darkness during the night. Do not get any heat emitting lights or fixtures as they are sensitive to warm temperatures.
Lastly, you’ll need something to serve as a food bowl. Many options are extra small ceramic reptile bowls, plastic sauce cups, Gatorade bottle caps, or a variety of other options made for Crested Geckos.
FEEDING CRESTED GECKOS
Crested Geckos eat a fruit-based powder formula mixed with water to form a smoothie consistency. This should be changed within 24 hours and replaced with fresh food. The standard recommended diets are those made by Pangea Reptile and Repashy. Any of their Crested Gecko powder diets will have all the nutrients required to keep your Crestie healthy and thriving. Repashy is available at some pet stores and widely available online at places like Chewy, Petco and even Amazon. Pangea can be bought directly from their website and at select other online stores. Avoid cheaper diets available at pet stores since they do not respond as well to those, and they are not as nutritious.
If you choose to feed insects, opt for a live option. They are unlikely to eat preserved insects. Keep in mind that insects are strictly a treat and should never be a main diet. They are high in fat and low on protein and the nutrients they need. If you feed insects, we recommend only a couple once or twice a week at most. The best options for insect feeders will be Discoid roaches and Dubia roaches since they are a healthier option, alternatively you can also use crickets. Feeders like wax worms and meal worms should be offered infrequently since they have almost no nutritious value. They are the gecko equivalent of feeding candy or fast food.
TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY
Crested Geckos are cold-blooded animals. They cannot produce heat or self-regulate their body temperature. Because of this, you’ll have to make sure the temperatures where they’re kept are appropriate. They prefer ambient temperatures around 70°-72° Fahrenheit but can be kept between 70°-77° Fahrenheit. Temperatures any colder or warmer than that will quickly affect their health. Since most air-conditioned homes are kept between 70°-77°, it’s unlikely you’ll need to do any temperature adjustments. They do just fine at the room temperature of most homes. Crested Geckos are very sensitive to the heat and prolonged exposure to any temperature above 80° Fahrenheit can quickly become fatal. We recommend a thermometer near your enclosure(s) to make sure temperatures remain in the desired range.
If you have any specific circumstances that could be dangerous for your Crestie (i.e., rough winter or rough summer) that is making the ambient temperatures in your home fluctuate beyond their range, contact us and we’ll help guide you to the best of our ability on how to help keep your gecko at an appropriate temperature.
As for humidity, that is something we really find important. With the A/C or home heat inside the house taking away the humidity, we recommend a few things to maintain it in the desired range. Humidity levels should be between 50%-70%. The most important piece will be to mist or spray your enclosure nightly (only a few sprays to cover general areas with droplets). Be sure not to over saturate, too much humidity is not a good thing either.
A helpful tool to maintain humidity is keeping a small Tupperware of wet orchid moss inside the tank. You can cut a small opening on one of the lid corners and it will also serve as a hiding spot for your scaly pet. If your gecko constantly has stuck shed, this is an easy way to know your humidity levels are too low. We recommend a hydrometer to keep track of your humidity levels.