The Crested Gecko, also called Eyelash Gecko or Cresties, live wild in New Caledonia; a group of French territory islands located off the East coast of Australia. They are an arboreal lizard, which means they spend most of their time in trees and they enjoy a warm and humid environment.
Since Cresties are one of the most popular arboreal gecko species, they are fairly easy to obtain, however, it is only in the last few decades that their popularity has increased. They were once considered a rarity in captivity and until 1994 were believed to be extinct in the wild. Crested Geckos can be purchased from several sources:
- Pet stores
- Private breeders
- Reptile Rescue Center
The most important thing to remember when purchasing a gecko is to be sure of the seller’s reputation and care towards their animals. Any respectable seller or breeder will have as many questions of you as you have of them. If their Cresties seem lethargic or are displaying any signs of illness, walk away.
When bred from healthy parents and cared for with the appropriate diet and habitat, a captive Crested Gecko can live between 15 and 20 years. They are considered mature around 15 to 18 months of age.
Crested Gecko Appearance
An adult Crested Gecko measures between 4 and 4.5 inches in the body, with an additional 3 to 4 inches in tail length. There is no significant difference in size between males and females. They have large triangular heads, protruding eyes with crests that look like eyelashes and flat webbed feet. The pads on their feet are covered in protrusions called lamellae which help them grip to most surfaces.
There are currently 37 recognized Crested Gecko morphs, however, since this species were only rediscovered less than 30 years ago, private breeders are constantly producing new color and pattern combinations.
Morphs describe the color, patterns or combination of color and pattern. For example, Patternless Cresties display shades of red, yellow, orange and buckskin plus others in between. Tigers exhibit similar body colors but with patterns akin to tiger stripes. Some tiger morphs show only faint stripes, whereas others show much darker stripes, also known as ‘brindled’ or ‘super tigers’.
There are currently no black, near black or ‘albino’ colored morphs of Crested Geckos. Since the selective breeding of this species has only been ongoing since 1994, there will no doubt be new recognized morphs over the coming years.
Owning A Crested Gecko Video
Here’s a neat video showing a day in the life of owning a little crestie.
Crested Gecko Enclosure
Since Crested Geckos are arboreal, they need a vertical vivarium allowing for decorations such as branching and climbing vines. A vivarium should measure at least 45cm wide, 60cm tall and 45cm deep as a minimum. Glass is preferable over wood due to the high humidity required. As hatchlings tend to shy away, start with a small enclosure, and increase the size as your Crestie grows.
Crested Geckos are ectotherms, which means they control their body temperature using their environment. You need to create a thermogradient within your Crestie’s vivarium. This means there should be a cooler end, set between 20 and 24°C (68-75°F) and a hot basking end, between 26 and 28°C (78-82°F). the ideal night temperature is 18-20°C (64-68°F) which can be achieved with a non-light emitting source such as a pad or ceramic heater.
Crested Geckos live wild in tropical rainforests and their captive bred counterparts have retained that need for humidity. You will need to set humidity boots between 50 and 80% which can be measured using a hygrometer. The easiest way to humidify your Crestie’s vivarium is to mist it using a simple spray bottle.
As they are adapted to live in a climate with high rainfall, Crested Geckos get their water from droplets off leaves or from hollows in tree branches. Having decorations like this are great for natural behavior, but you a should also provide a small dish of fresh water.
When attempting to handle Cresties, you should never just grab them and never from the tail. Their tail is prehensile, which means they can detach it, but unlike other gecko species, Crested Geckos cannot regrow their tail. Correct handling is done by allowing your gecko to crawl onto a flat hand.
Shedding is normal for geckos and may happen roughly once a month in adults, but more frequently in juveniles as they are continuously growing. Geckos tend to eat their sheds and may shed most often at night, so it may appear as though your gecko never sheds. If it looks like there is skin stuck, especially around the limbs and toes, you can gently place your Crestie in a shallow bowl of tepid water and help rub the skin away. Never pull at the skin as this can damage the new skin underneath.
The substrate at the base of the vivarium should be spot cleaned regularly to remove waste and replaced completely once a month. Due to the high humidity, the substrate can become waterlogged, which is the perfect environment for bacteria. To clean, take out your gecko, all decorations, and the substrate. Spray the sides and base with a reptile-friendly disinfectant, leave for 30 seconds and then rinse and dry with a paper towel.
Crested Geckos need a substrate that will hold humidity. The best options are soil mixes with a layer of moss or leaves. Alternatively, you can use Coconut Fiber substrate or Cypress Mulch. These will be available from reputable reptile stores.
It is important that you can create areas of light and shade in your vivarium. The light should be fitted at the top of the vivarium. Geckos need UVa for their vision and to stimulate their appetite. UVb enables them to produce Vitamin D3, which they need to store and use calcium. If they have a D3 rich diet, they will not need a UVb light.
Crested Gecko Health
Captive reptiles are at risk of developing Metabolic Bone Disorder due to a deficiency in vitamins and minerals, most commonly Calcium. This can be avoided by providing a D3 rich diet or fitting a UVb light in the vivarium.
If the humidity is too low, Crested Geckos can suffer from a lack of ‘stickiness’ on their toe pads. This means they will not be able to grip as well and will be at risk of falls and limb injuries.
A healthy Crested Gecko will have bright eyes and their pupils will be reactive to light; smaller in light and larger in the dark. Their skin will be smooth and there should be no blisters or kinks in the tail.
Crested Gecko Food & Diet
Cresties are omnivorous so they need a balance of mashed fruit and live invertebrates. Fruits that are safe include pear, mango, blueberries, and strawberries. Never feed citrus fruits or banana as they interfere with Calcium uptake.
Crickets are the best insect for geckos. They should be the width of your gecko’s head, given three times a week and coated in a powdered supplement you can purchase from any pet store. Alternatively, you can be complete powdered diets that are balanced with insect, fruit and supplement ingredients and are simply diluted in water.
Behavior & Temperament
Geckos are nocturnal and tend to hide during the day, so do not be concerned if you do not see much of your gecko. They are best kept alone, but females can live together well, as can a single male with females. Never keep multiple males together as they will fight.
Crested Gecko FAQ
- How much does a crested gecko cost?
Price varies depending on gender, age and morph. Geckos can be anywhere between $30 and $300. Private breeders may charge more if they have rare morphs.
- Is a crested gecko a good pet?
If you have not owned a reptile before, they can take some getting used to and their vivarium requires a near constant lighting, so your electricity bill will be high. Otherwise, they are relatively easy to care for.
- Are crested geckos good for beginners?
A beginner should have no problems with a Crestie, provided advice is followed from the breeder or pet store and your vet.
- Do crested geckos bite?
They can and do bite if they feel threatened, but a bite will not hurt or break your skin.
- Do crested geckos smell bad?
No, they do not smell, but they vivarium will have a bad odor if not cleaned regularly.
- Do crested geckos get lonely?
No, they can live quite happily on their own.
- Do Crested Geckos swim?
They are able to swim, but do not choose to unless they have no other option.
- Does a crested gecko need a heat lamp?
Yes, a heat lamp should be located at one end of the vivarium for basking purposes.
- How often should a crested gecko poop?
Generally every other day, sometimes less often.
- Can crested geckos see color?
Yes they can see color and they can see more shades of grey than humans.
- What human food can crested geckos eat?
Only mashed fruit including blueberries, strawberries, pear and mango. They should never eat citrus fruits or banana.
- Do Crested Geckos need live food?
They can be fed on a gecko-specific powder diet which is diluted with water to make a paste similar to nectar. This diet contains the nutrients they would get from live food.
Whether you are a beginner to reptile care, or you have spent a lifetime around them, Crested Geckos are a great pet. Provided you follow the care plan given by the breeder or pet store, you can have as long as 15 years with your Crestie! They have a generally placid temperament, are great for children and are relatively low maintenance.
If you are considering getting a Crested Gecko for the first time, be sure to do your research and check out several breeders, pet stores or rescue centers before making your choice. Most of all, enjoy your Crestie because he will be with you for a long time.