Owning your first Crested Gecko
With a quick search for "Crested Gecko" on your web browser you will find many excellent resource sites and care sheets full of different diets and conditions to house your Crested Geckos. There are also a handful of forums where you can post your specific questions and learn more about the selective care of crested geckos from other hobbyists around the world. I frequently post on these sites and have added my favourites in the links below.
For anyone planning on purchasing a Crested Gecko or would like to read a very informative book about the species Rhacodactylus and how they came to be in North America. I recommend picking up a copy of Rhacodactylus: The complete guide to their selection and care by Philippe de Vosjoli, Frank Fast, and Allen Repashy. It`s an easy read and is known as the bible of Rhac care among the Rhacodactylus Community.
Remember when purchasing any type of pet do as much research as possible!
Here`s a general care sheet and requirements to keep your crested gecko In tiptop shape. I added this for beginners it also includes tips and tricks I have come by over the years.
HousingBecause I have several Crested Geckos I raise them in appropriate sized critter keepers and Rubbermaid bins with drilled ventilation holes. I also use screen cages and glass aquariums as display tanks. The more height the better as they are a semi-arboreal species, spending most of their time in small trees and low shrubs they will also seek out ground cover to sleep during the day. Usually somewhere dark, moist, and secure like a cork bark flat, hallow or between the leaves of a plant.
There are two methods to housing Crested Geckos. A naturalistic enclosure or a sterile set up. One of my favorite things about keeping Crested Geckos is the ability to house them under jungle conditions. A Naturalistic enclosure makes for a very attractive display and the adults thrive under these conditions. Providing live plants and moist soil is a great benefit to maintaining a proper level of humidity and it offers the geckos maximum security and cover.
PlantsThe types of plants I prefer to use are golden potho`s, snake plants, Josephs coat, and weeping figs. Pothos are a vine plant that have large leaves and provide excellent cover. They grow well under low light conditions. Snakes plants have a series of vertical shoots that provides arboreal surface space and top perches. Josephs Coat has multi coloured leaves that looks attractive in a display tank. You can most often find a gecko sleeping sandwiched in-between the giant leaves. Weeping Fig or Ficus is a very leafy thin-branched plant that resembles the plants and trees Crested Geckos are found in the wild.
I keep all of my plants potted this way it ensures me they will stay nice and healthy and I can monitor their water intake more easily. If special soil or fertilizers is needed I add a thick layer of coco fiber to the surface of the pots. A buried screen cover or rocks help avoid gravid females from laying eggs at the base of the roots or to prevent ingesting fertilizer or soil.
For additional climbing space and hides I recommend vertical and horizontal cork bark flats, hallows, treated branches, and fake vines. To treat a branch or driftwood found outside or purchased at a pet store soak them in boiling water to kill off any hitchhikers.
Temperature, Heat, And LightingWe have gone over the basic housing conditions to make your pet feel at home. Now we must focus on the proper temperatures to keep your geckos alive and jumping. This is where most people are sold on purchasing a Crested Gecko.
Imagine a gecko that doesn`t require you to buy expensive heat lights and heat pads that put a major dent on your hydro bill. Well how about a gecko that can with stand a nighttime temperature of the low 50`s and is comfortable with a daytime temperature rarely succeeding room temperature. I would say this would be the ideal reptile to keep. Well this is the Crested Gecko.
The Optimal conditions for a crested gecko are a daytime temperature of 78 degrees with 60% humidity and a nighttime temperature of 65-70 degrees with 60-80% humidity. This can easily be achieved by daily misting. I provide them with a gentle mist in the morning and a heavy mist at night. I use warm water when misting because it`s easier to create humidity and keeps the temperature on the warm side. Between misting the enclosure has time to dry out.
Constant humidity without proper ventilation causes mold plus water and air will go stagnant. So make sure they have proper ventilation. I use moist coco fiber as substrate for my adults. Under their hides it`s nice and humid so they have the option of a dry or humid condition during the day. Paper towel stays moist well but don`t over saturate it while misting and avoid directly misting the egg cartons.
Live plants are an excellent way to provide proper humidity. After a shower Crested Geckos will lick the water droplets off of the plants and enclosure walls. In my opinion misting is better than providing a constant water source like a water bowl. The frequent trips I take to mist and feed my geckos keep me on top of their cage maintenance. If there`s any waste or diet to be discarded I clean it there and then. Never wait to clean a mess and your enclosures will always be clean.
If your house is constantly on the cool side provide a low wattage heat light during the day but make sure your enclosure is never over 82 degrees it will stress your geckos. Any temperature over 85 degrees can be fatal! This is not uncommon for many gecko species around the world.
My Babies and Juvies are kept on the warm side. Adults are very hearty and can with stand very low temperatures. In fact you have to keep them in the low 60`s during the day for several months to stop them from breeding! So don`t worry if your daytime temps aren`t always optimal but you should make a note that warmth stimulates growth and helps with proper digestion. If you are planning on breeding your Crested Geckos remember to provide a cooling cycle. If you are keeping them as pets optimal conditions are perfect all the time.
With Proper Supplement Crested Geckos don`t require UV Lighting. However if you are using live plants in your set ups it`s a must for some species. My enclosures are kept in indirect sunlight as I use low light plants such as Golden Pothos. Crested Geckos are nocturnal so this is more than enough daylight for them.
If you have an attractive set up you will probably use a display light. There are many fluorescent bulbs that aren`t UV but if your plants require a UV light I recommend using less calcium d3 supplement while dusting your crickets prior to feeding.
When your geckos are comfortable with their surroundings they will often forage and bask in the open during the day especially after a mist.