Image Credit : Mickael Leger Photographie
The crested gecko has hair-like projections found above the eyes, resembling eyelashes. It has a wedge-shaped head and a crest that runs from each eye to the tail. Crested geckos do not have eyelids and so they use their long tongues to moisten their eyes and remove debris.
The toes and the tip of the semi-prehensile tail are covered in small hairs called setae. The toes have small claws which aid in climbing surfaces to which their toes cannot cling. They possess a prehensile tail which they use to assist in climbing.
- Scientific name : Correlophus ciliatus
- Distribution : South Province, New Caledonia
- Average Size : 0.25 m (0.8 ft)
- Life Span : 15 years or more
- Difficulty : Beginner
We prefer to live plant our tanks to create a more natural environment and it also looks stunning. Our adult and juvenile cresties are usually kept in this sort of tank. With our baby cresties we have found that a plastic cricket keeper box is ideal and also have custom made tanks for our juveniles. A 0.45 x 0.45 x 0.45 meters (1.5 x 1.5 x 1.5 feet) is ideal to house a single crested gecko until they reach around the 20g weight, when this weight is reached it would be advised to move them into a 0.45 deep x 0.45 wide x 0.6 meters tall (1.5 x 1.5 x 2 feet) tank, this size tank will be ideal for a single cresty for the rest of its life, but as ever bigger is always better.
If you are planning to keep more than one cresty in the same tank please take into consideration the size of the tank as well as the sex and age of the gecko. It is not recommended to house two males together, however you can house more than one female in the same tank, provided the tank is an appropriate size and that geckos are a similar size and don’t fight.
Crested geckos rarely use the floor (apart from laying, or illness) so a hide box is not really needed. However crested geckos do like to hide, which is why lots of cover should be provided around the enclosure. Plastic hanging leaves, leafy live plants, branches and cork bark all provide great hide places for crested geckos.
We prefer a more natural looking enclosure, so we use coco fiber as a substrate as we live plant this also helps with humidity and hiding places for the geckos.
Lighting – Heating
We use ceramic heat emitters in a dome to provide a heat gradient during the day, from 28 °C (82 °F)at the top in one corner down to 20 °C (68 °F)on the floor in the opposite corner. Crested Geckos although most active at night, will also move about during the day, the heat gradient will allow the gecko to thermo-regulate picking an area that suites them best. Because of this we provide our geckos with UV light, as we use mesh top terrariums we use 10% UV lighting as the mesh will reduce the amount of UV getting through.
We spray our enclosures twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening, as we live plant this provides water droplets on leaves for the geckos to drink from. It also keeps the humidity up. A small shallow water bowl can be placed in the enclosure for the geckos to drink from, ensuring the water is changed on a daily basis.
Crested geckos come from New Caledonia which has a tropical climate, hot and damp. We try to recreate this environment as close as we can. Humidity should be kept between 50% – 80% we achieve this by spraying twice a day allowing the enclosure to dry out between sprays.
We feed all of our cresties Crested Gecko Diet (CGD), there are many good CGD on the market to choose from. When we mix up the food we add fresh pureed fruit such as mango, papaya, strawberry, plum, apple and pears most fruits other than citrus fruits or banana. We then pour the mix into ice cube trays and freeze for later use. This makes feeding very easy, we just pop a fruit cube into each dish and allow to melt.
We also feel live feeding is essential for all cresties, as in the wild they would hunt insects to make up most of their diet. We offer appropriate sized live food such as brown crickets, roaches and locust as staple feeders. We also feed as a treat wax worms once a month or so. We suggest dusting all live food with plain calcium without vitamin D3.
Crested geckos tend to be a good handleable lizard (if sometimes jumpy), especially if handled from a young age. Some care needs to be taken when handling as they are a soft scaled lizard, rough handling can result in skin sores or tears. The other consideration is tail loss if the tail is grabbed and the gecko drops it, that is it, as crested geckos do not re-grow their tails.
If you are using paper towel spot cleaning as and when you see feces is recommended, with a complete towel change once a week or more often if needed. With a live planted enclosure the tank will mostly look after itself, however the introduction of live tank cleaners such as springtails or woodlice can help the removal of feces. The glass of any enclosure will need washing as and when necessary, we use a little warm water with vinegar.
As long a the humidity is maintained there should be no issues with cresties shedding. It can be quite rare to see your crested gecko shed as quite often they will eat their shed, or when it comes off it rolls into a very small ball of skin. If problems do arise a shed box can be used, place the gecko in a small box filled with warm damp moss or paper towel for ten to fifteen minutes, if this has not helped repeat a small damp cotton bud can be used to remove patches of dried skin. If the problem persists a reptile vet should be consulted.
Potential Health Problems
MBD – Metabolic bone disease. This is an incurable condition, although can be managed, but with correct care it is easy to avoid. This condition is caused by a lack of calcium in a gecko’s diet. If there is not enough calcium in the diet the body will take what it needs from its own bones, the results can be devastating. The symptoms vary from, kinked or wavy tail, bumps and humps to the spine, lose of stickiness (although this can be a sign for a few things so should be coupled with one of the other signs before taking any action.), unable to climb or move with ease, fits or irregular twitching may start to happen or swelling of limbs. If this condition is suspected a reptile vet should be consulted.
FST – Floppy tail syndrome. There is some debate as to the cause of this condition, but many think it may be caused by MBD. FTS is when the weight of the tail can’t be held by the cresty resulting in the tail flopping to one side or even over the cresty. This condition can’t be cured and I do not recommend removing the tail, as this can only cause more stress to an already unwell animal.
The information contained in this care sheet reflect the opinions and methods of the mentioned breeder, based on their expertise and long-established experience.