Crested gecko care sheet
About the specie
The scientific name of Crested Gecko is Correlophus Ciliatus. They come from New Caledonia, which is located beside Australia, where they live in rainforest in shrubs and small trees at a height of 1.5-3 meters.
They get their name from the the growths on their head.
In addition, they have also developed a stapler on the tip of the tail and feet, which acts like a suction cup, and therefore they can climb on slippery surfaces. For more rough surfaces, they have their nails that make sure they can crawl on it.
Crested geckos, like other geckos, can throw the tail as a defense mechanism. What's different about Crested geckos is that they will not grow back a new tail.
The gecko usually live 15-20 years in captivity.
They are usually around 40-60g and about 20-25 cm, like adults, the tail being half the length. Typically, the females are the largest.
Crested geckos are generally calm and it takes a lot before a Crested gecko will bite. However, they can become 'jumpy' if they are not used to handling. If they're jumpy they run fast and jump a lot when handling, so they can be difficult to handle. This can be avoided by let them from babies get used to be taken out and handled occasionally (off course without doing it too much, too much handling will just stress the gecko).
Humidity should preferably be at 70-80% during the night and about 50% during the day. This can be achieved by spraying around the terrarium in the evening and then letting it 'dry out' during the day.
The temperature should preferably be 22-27 degrees, but they can tolerate from 16-30, so they work well at room temperature.
Crested geckos are arboreal geckos, so they need good climbing opportunities in the terrarium. For many, it would be easiest to go for a terrarium that is taller than it is wide, but it can be just as good with one that is equally wide or wider than high, as long as the height is there to create climbing opportunities.
Aa height of 50-60 cm is good to go after as minimum. When looking for terrarium 40x40x60 is a good size for an adult, in some cases 45x45x45 or 30x30x45 can be fine for a small adult.
For the bottom layer, find something that can keep the humidity without molding. I suggest spagnum dirt or coconut husk.
If you choose to have bioactive in the terrarium, you can throw in some dead leaves, branches, rotten wood, moss, etc.
For hatchlings it can be a good idea to use kitchen towels, as you can see if there is feces and then know if the gecko eat, since it is not always possible to see in the food because off the small amount they eat as hatchlings.
Terrarium set up
Good climbing and hiding places are important. It can be done with curved and crooked branches. Preferably at least one horizontal (or close to), so the gecko has the opportunity to sit and rest it's body on the branch. Coconut hides and cork tube can be good things to have in terrarium. These can be hung up, so they have some hides higher in the terrarium.
Then it's also important with a lot of plants, so that they have hides and feel safe in the terrarium. False plants can be used, but also living plants can be used. As a plus living plans can help maintain humidity.
When choosing to have living plants, it can be a good idea to also choose to run bioactive terrarium. Add isopods, spring tails, earthworms and any other insects that help break down wilted leaves and feces from the animals, and then there will be a small biosystem.
No matter what it's important to remember that Crested geckos are reptiles and are not social animals, so they don't benefit from live with others, and they don't get 'lonely' if kept for themselves. However, it is possible to cohab.
If you're new with the specie, I can only recommend to start with keeping one alone until you have more experience with the specie.
Males should never be kept together as they are territorial and will fight. Otherwise, it is only possible for males to be kept with females (for breeding). They shouldn't be kept permanent together trough.
Females can be cohabbed. It require that they are about the same size and you keep an eye on them. Sometimes they maybe not directly bite or fight each other, but they can also be dominant to one another, so that, for example, one is kept away from the food. If you experience any of this, they must be separated.
Hatchlings can also possible to cohab in small groups. But even after a few months, male can begin fighting. Therefore you also need to keep an eye on them, if they suddenly need to be separated.
At about 20-30 g you can mostly see the gender difference easily because of the big difference. The males will have a hemipenis bulge at the tail root, while the females won't have any bulge here.
If you want to see the gender earlier, it can be done by loupe the gecko. This can be done at 5-10g.
You need to look with a magnifying glass (or possibly a macro lens on the camera) on the scales between the geckos legs. If it is a male, you will see a v-shaped row of pores. They are seen as small light or dark spots on the scales. In addition, the males can have shiny/waxy and overlapping scales.
The females won't have the row of pores and no overlapping or shiny/waxy scales. They sometimes have a few pores, called pseudo pores. See our guide here.
Crested geckos can already be mature at about 25g-1 years, but the optimal breeding weight is 40g + and minimum 2 years.
You can either choose to keep the female and the male together for the season, or only put them together for a short period, as the females can store the sperm and therefore still lay fertile eggs for a season without the male. If you have the female and the male kept together, it's best, for both the female and the male, to give a break some months in the year. Typically I do it in the winter months, as they normally also stop their egg-laying cycle in the nature in this period.
After mating, the female will lay a set of eggs (2) in 1-1.5 months, that she is gonna dig down. The best thing is to remove the eggs from the terrarium and put in a hatch box. Because if they hatch in the terrarium, you risk they will be eaten by the adults.
You can check if the egg is fertile by light them and see if they have a red ring. If the egg is completely yellow, it is probably infertile.
The eggs should be incubated in some damp media. It can be fertilized spagnum, vermiticulte or something similar. You can either dig the eggs under the medium or lay them on top, where they should be at 20-27 degrees and after about 60-120 days they will hatch depending on how high the temperature is. Avoid hitting the eggs with water, when wetting the medium.
Within the first 24 hours, the hatchlings will shed. Often shortly after hatching.
The hatchling are taken care of like just the adults, starting out in a smaller box / terrarium and gradually upgrading to something bigger.
However, you can choose to have the babies in a large terrarium from the start, but if you choose this, it is a good idea to keep an eye on if the gecko is stressing. I typically have no problems with this, you just need enough hiding, so the baby feel safe.
In the nature, they live on fallen ripe fruits and insects. In captivity, there is developed a complete food that contains everything they need. It's in powder form that is gonna be mixed with water to a ketchup or smoothie consistent. This is given every 2-3. day.
You are covered in with both insects, fruits, vitamins and minerals that they need with the complete feed, but even if you feed with complete diet, it's still a good idea to offer insects 1-2 times a week. The insects should be lightly shaken in pure calcium. I like to use insects like dubia cockroaches and crickets. Wax worms are also good, but do contains more fat, so in moderate amounts of these.
Some feed with them, but I recommend to stay away from mealworms as they have a eco skeleton that can be hard to digest and fattening a lot.
When looking for a complete diet feed, I really recommend to choose from the brands Repashy and Pangea. They have a various of different flavors.
They also have varieties, that don't contains insects, so these variants requires insects twice a week, if you choose these kinds of flavors.
If you're looking for a complete feed, it usually will be called "complete diet" or "meal replacement powder".
New keeper of crested geckos?
As a new gecko owner, you can experience the gecko not eating the first few weeks, as they can be stressed after the trip and need to get used to their new home. I even had animals who didn't eat before 1,5 month.
Don't be nervous about it, they easily cope with this. They just require to be left alone and no handling until they start eating regularly.
With new flavors of the feed, you can also experience the gecko don't eat this at first, but often you just have to feed it some more times, and then the gecko will start eating the new flavor.