Equipment for keeping Crested Geckos
Terrarium: for 1-2 Cresteds PT-2600 Exo Terra Glass Terrarium 30x30x30m (12x12x12”) WxDxH
For 3 or 4 Cresteds PT-2605 Exo Terra Glass Terrarium 45x45x45m (18x18x18”) WxDxH
Lighting for the PT-2600: Compact Terrarium Canopy PT-2225 + Bulb PT-2190 Repto glo 2
Lighting for the PT-2605: Compact Terrarium Canopy PT-2226 + Bulbs 2 x PT-2190 Repto Glo 2.
Heating: The bulbs when on should give enough heat. A heat mat a Royce 7x12” with a Komodo 300 thermostat as background heat set at 75F
Substrate: Orchid Bark
Décor: Vines PT-3080 – PT-3082 Plants PT-3040 – 3052.
Branches well secured,
Pool Bark Effect small
Calcium and vitamins: Exo-Terra Calcium +D3. Exo-Terra Multi Vitamin Powder.
Many reptiles require a diet based on live or fresh foods, due to their specific feeding habits. These are readily available, but in themselves do not offer a balanced supply of nutrients. To ensure your pet receives a properly balanced diet, it is important to increase the nutrient content of these foods with a nutrient supplement.
Crested Geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) are native to mainland New Caledonia and at least one small surrounding island. Crested Geckos are mainly arboreal (tree dwellers), however they will seek out hiding places near the ground to sleep during the day. Crested Geckos feed on both insects and fruits and in most cases can be kept at room temperature.
The crested geckos ease of care, unusual appearance, and unlimited breeding potential, has contributed to their exploding popularity and has pushed the crested gecko to the forefront of the herp community.
Crested geckos can be housed in many different ways. The following can be used as a guideline but is not set in stone.
Crested Geckos can be maintained in simple conditions or in elaborate naturalistic vivarium. Hatchlings to four month old cresteds can be housed in 10 gallon aquariums. Four month old to adult crested geckos should be housed in a 20 gallon tall aquarium or larger. Three adult cresteds can be comfortably housed in a 29 gallon aquarium. Hatchlings, newly acquired animals, and sick animals should be housed in simple cages. These simple cages should contain plenty of climbing structures, some artificial foliage for cover, newspaper or paper towel substrate, and a small water dish. The cage should be kept particularly clean during quarantine. All newly acquired animals should be kept separate from any other reptiles in your collection for at least 30 days. All crested geckos should be lightly misted with water once every evening as they will do best with moderate humidity.
Naturalistic vivariums can be quite a visual spectacle and can add a new dimension to the keeping of captive reptiles. Crested Geckos are an ideal candidate for a naturalistic cage setup once they have passed the hatchling stage. I recommend Orchid Bark type substrate or something similar. This substrate should be used dry if your cresteds are breeding so that they do not lay their eggs in it. Provide a separate container (5" X 5") of moist peat and vermiculite (50-50 mix) or Moss in the cage for egg laying geckos. Hide the egg laying container by using a slab of cork bark to conceal it. Live plants can be used in the enclosure but care must be taken to prevent eggs from being laid in the pots. The best solution to this is to place a one to two inch layer of very course stones over the soil, these stones should be large enough that they cannot be ingested! Plants that can be used include any species of ficus, pothos, or philodendron, to name just a few. Cork bark and bamboo sections provide excellent climbing surfaces. Use your imagination and be creative, which is the key to enjoying a naturalistic vivarium!
Morphs and Colours
Crested Geckos come in a variety of different colour and pattern morphs.
Temperature, heating, and lighting
Temperatures for crested geckos should be maintained between 72° and 82°F for most of the year. At temperatures of 85°F or warmer, crested geckos will become stressed, which could lead to illness or death. A two month cooling period is recommended to allow breeding crested geckos to rest. During this period temperatures should be kept at 65° to 70°F.
A photo period of 12 to 14 hours of light is appropriate for most of the year, with ten hours of light being appropriate during the cooling period. Lighting is most easily achieved with the use of fluorescent tubes placed directly on the cage top. This will facilitate both the requirements of the geckos and the live plants within the enclosure should you choose to have them. It is unnecessary to use UVB lighting for crested geckos. For large collections consider lighting the entire room with natural or artificial light. Crested Geckos may cease breeding and laying eggs if they are given less than 12 hours of light.
In most situations room temperature is adequate for crested geckos, as long as the temperature stays within 70° to 82°. If you are attempting to breed you Crested Geckos, temps should be kept between 75° and 80° for optimum production. If temps cannot be kept in this range, a nocturnal red or blue heat light can be suspended above the cage for 24 hour heat. This type of light also allows for nocturnal viewing. Crested Geckos are not disturbed by this wavelength of light so it will not interrupt their photo period. Ceramic infrared heaters have also been used successfully; however these do not provide any visible light, making it difficult to view the geckos when they are most active.
Diet and Feeding.
Crested geckos feed on a variety of insects and fruits. Crickets, wax worms, small roaches, and other similar insects can be offered. Hatchling crested geckos should be offered 10-14 day old (1/8 inch) crickets every at least every other day. Juvenile and adult crested geckos should be offered appropriate size insects three or four times weekly. Offer insects that are no larger than the distance between the geckos eyes, however adults can eat items that are slightly larger than this.
Fruit baby food should be offered twice weekly for hatchlings and juvenile geckos and 3-4 times weekly for adults. The preferred flavours are apricot, peach, pear, apple, and banana; however other types will be consumed. This mixture can be spiked with a sprinkle of both spirulina and bee pollen once a week. Spirulina and bee pollen are nutrient dense super-foods that will enhance the nutritional value of the baby food.
The new powdered diets that are on the market are another excellent source of nutrition. You simply mix the powder with the correct amount of water and place inside of a dish in the cage. Some geckos take to this diet right away and others seem to be fussy, but will eventually eat it if you keep at it. If using this mix, make sure to remove uneaten portions every morning as it tends to mould quickly. In addition to the powdered food you should feed insects to your geckos at least once or twice a week.
You will need to supplement the diet of your crested gecko with a calcium and vitamin D3 powder. Hatchlings and juveniles should have their crickets lightly dusted with this powder twice weekly. Sprinkle a small amount into their baby food once a week as well. Breeding adults should have their crickets lightly dusted every other feeding and their baby food sprinkled every other feeding. Make sure the calcium supplement you use does not contain any phosphorus. You can check the calcium storage of your adult geckos by getting them to open their mouth and observing the calcium sacs (picture coming soon).
Vitamin supplementation is recommended for hatchling to adult crested geckos. Use a multi-vitamin made for reptiles and dust the insects with it once weekly.
Feeding your insects a high quality diet prior to offering them to your geckos is one of the best ways to prevent any nutritional deficiencies. This practice is known as gut-loading. Offer insects dark leafy lettuces, carrots, fruits, trout pellets, grains, and other foods. Crickets will eat almost anything so offer a variety of foods and your geckos will benefit greatly.