The primary goal of keeping crested geckos successfully is duplicating, to the best of your ability, their natural environment. With a thoughtful examination of each element they face in the wild and the harmony between them, you can give your pet a comfortable life. Please click on all the external links provided to learn more about each subject. They will open in a new window so you can remain on this page. It’s a great idea to read many more crested gecko care sheets than this one, and join the Pangea Crested Gecko Forums & Gecko Forums to ask questions.
The first rule of crested gecko care is this: an 18x18x24″ Exo Terra is the MINIMUM size for one adult or a pair. Too often do new keepers keep a baby crested gecko in a 12x12x18″ and never upgrade once the gecko has grown. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE, it can lead to floppy tail syndrome, hyperactivity, lethargy, and overall poor health of your crested gecko.
ELEMENT: The Sun & Moon
Crested geckos are nocturnal, and do not depend as much on light or heat for their well being. That said, Vitamin D3 is still essential for crested geckos, and a UVB bulb on during the day would mimic the natural levels of D3 they would get through the dappled shade as they sleep during the day on the forest floor. You may notice that your crested geckos become more active during full moons, this may simply be due to more light available from a full moon, or the moonlight provides critical social and mating queues for crested geckos. Either way, it is a good idea to keep your crestie in a room affected by the changing nighttime light intensity of the moon cycle.
Because crested geckos do not need a basking spot or high heat to thrive, it is more important to select a cage location. If your house is warm, you may want to put your cage on the floor as cold air falls and hot air rises. You should also select a spot with good ventilation. Aside from these few criteria, cresties are extremely hardy and forgiving pets. Do not let your cage to go over 85°F, as the ideal temperature is 70°-75°F.
ELEMENT: The Earth
Cresties are mostly arboreal, although they remain close to the ground in the wild rather than high up in a tree. This may be because they eat both insects and ripe/fallen fruit, which can both be found on the ground and usually in the same spot! Wood & vines are excellent cage decor which will be used for climbing. For sleeping, it seems that cresties prefer to wedge themselves somewhere secure such as a Snake Plant.
You can use a potted plant, or plant directly into substrate. The substrate can simply be Peat Moss or Coconut Fiber, or a complex mix such as the ABG (Atlanta Botanical Gardens) mix. Make sure you rinse the roots thoroughly after you bring your plant home, to remove all the little white balls (perlite). You want to re-pot your plant in a basic potting mix with NO perlite. If your crested gecko ingests too much perlite accidentally, it can cause impaction which obstructs the digestive tract, leading to death.
Misting is recommended once per day, especially at night before you go to bed – since this is when they are active and can take the opportunity to drink fresh water droplets off leaves, and allow the humidity to help their skin and eyes.
Aside from some very basic habitat requirements for crested gecko care, they need a good diet to thrive. The ideal crested gecko diet includes a MRP (Meal Replacement Powder) such as Repashy Crested Gecko GRUBS N’ FRUIT Diet. This is mixed with water to achieve a consistency of a thick smoothie. You can also make your own smoothie by using several different ingredients such as:
- Berries (all types)
- Melons (all types)
- (avoid citrus fruits)
- Bee pollen (for protein and amino acids)
- Chlorella (for additional nutrients)
- Powdered calcium (for calcium, of course)
- Plain or Fruit Yogurt (for probiotics)
Crested geckos are omnivorous, eating both insects and fruit….so a fruit diet alone is not enough. Even Repashy has amended their original recipe by adding ground/powdered Black Soldier Fly Larvae to provide insect protein. The rule of thumb is to provide insects once per week, and try to offer a different insect every week. Good choices are crickets, small Dubia or other roaches, superworms, butterworms, silkworms, phoenix worms/black soldier fly larvae, mealworms/beetles, and wild caught insects such as slugs or sow bugs (rollie pollies, woodlice..)
It is also a good idea to mix the Repashy MRP with your own smoothie mix, rather than just water. Simply mix your ingredients in the blender, and add the Repashy MRP separately once everything else is liquefied. This will make more than your gecko will eat in a single helping, so freeze your concoction in an ice-cube tray to use throughout the week (use within 10-14 days after freezing, and throw away what you do not use after this time).
The final element in crested gecko care is you. Once an ideal habitat is established, your crestie will depend completely on your care in order to survive & thrive. This is called ‘husbandry.’ Cresties are naturally social in groups of one male and many females, and can be fully tame to humans. Aggressive cresties are usually found from big breeders & pet stores who do not hand raise their animals. Buying a crestie at a young age or from a small hobby-breeder who has hand raised their babies will guarantee you have a calm adult.
An aggressive crestie is a stressed crestie! And stress kills! Handling may cause temporary stress for a few weeks until your gecko has gotten used to you, but it will ultimately reduce the lifetime stress if you had not handled him.
Never pick your crestie up in an aggressive manner (like a bird of prey picking up a fish), as this will cause your crestie to lose its tail, and cresties do not regrow their tails.
In conclusion, crested gecko care is simple and they make the absolute best beginner pet….and an excellent hobby project for advanced keepers who wish to push the boundaries of color morphs and line-breeding.
WARNING: Crested gecko care can be easy – almost TOO easy. There are many reptile keepers who get carried away with keeping crested geckos, and find themselves having 100, 200, even 500+ crested geckos. This becomes a form of animal hoarding. Because they are so common, they can be very difficult to sell, and we recommend buying a desirable morph if you intend to breed. If you intend to breed, keep a very small colony of 1-2 males, and 1-5 females at the most. Even still, desirable morphs will become common within 4 years because of the other people breeding them, and become difficult to sell. You should ONLY keep geckos you love, and are willing to keep their whole lives (which is more than 15 years).