Are you thinking about adopting a crested gecko?
Do you want to know more about what it takes to care for one of these critters?
Crested geckos are small, sociable, and easy to care for.
This care guide will give you a general overview of these popular pets.
We’ve got you covered as we discuss their general characteristics, diet, and habitat requirements.
Table of Contents
About The Crested Gecko
The crested gecko is a small lizard native to the island country of New Caledonia, located in the South Pacific between Australia’s east coast and Fiji’s main island.
They are mainly found in the southern part of this country and on the Isle of Pines.
These geckos enjoy climbing and spend a large portion of their time hanging out in trees.
They have microscopic hairs on their toes, and prehensile tails called satae.
This allows these lizards to climb vertically on essentially any solid surface.
Crested geckos are also known as cresties or eyelash geckos.
They get these names thanks to the ridges which run along the top of their eyes and the sides of their heads.
These ridges make it look like the lizards have long eyelashes, accentuating their eyes.
The crests on the sides of their heads start behind their eyes and run down the length of their bodies, all the way to the tail.
Cresties come in countless morphs or phenotypes.
Phenotypes are the observable traits and characteristics of an organism.
Cream, buckskin, red, and olive green are only a few of the many colors these geckos may be.
Some of these lizards are one solid color with little to no patterning, while others are multiple colors with pinstripes, tiger stripes, or dalmatian spots.
These lizards do not have eyelids.
They will use their tongues to keep their eyes moist and remove debris from the eye.
Crested geckos are among some of the smallest pet lizards, with mature adults only measuring between 7-9″ inches (23 cm) from head to tail.
When baby cresties hatch, they measure between 2-3″ inches (7.5 cm).
These hatchlings will only weigh around two grams.
These lizards are considered juveniles until they weigh approximately 16 grams.
Adult cresties generally weigh between 40 and 60 grams.
These geckos are considered mature or fully grown once they reach 18 months.
Female crested geckos are almost always larger than their male counterparts.
These geckos can tail drop, meaning they can detach their prehensile tail at will.
This will only occur if the gecko is overly stressed or is experiencing extreme fear.
Tail dropping is a defense mechanism which allows the gecko to distract its predator and escape.
The downside of tail loss is a crested gecko’s inability to regrow its tail.
Unlike many other geckos, this species cannot grow a new tail once it has dropped its original tail.
A pet crestie with a tail nub will survive; however, if your gecko felt the need to drop its tail, you may want to consider what stressful situations it endured leading up to the event.
And if you would like to learn more about handling crested gecko tail loss we have a dedicated post on the topic.
With proper care, cresties in captivity may live to be 15 or 20 years old.
This is an impressive lifespan for a pet gecko, making it even more enticing for reptile lovers.
When adopting a pet, you generally hope for it to be in your life for a considerable length of time.
With these geckos, you may be able to enjoy up to two decades of companionship.
Crested geckos are very docile and often enjoy socializing with their owners.
Many crestie owners suggest spending time holding your gecko every day to form a lifetime bond.
It is important to note these geckos are tiny as babies and juveniles, so it is best to be extremely gentle and refrain from handling them until they have completed a two-week acclimation period.
Although these geckos enjoy spending quality time with their owners, they are sometimes skittish, primarily if a trusting bond has not yet been formed.
Cresties are jumpers and will likely attempt to jump from your hand if they feel stressed or threatened.
Because of this, it is best not to hold your gecko too high in the air to avoid possible injury.
Knowing this, start slow with your gecko.
Place your hand in front of your crestie and allow it to climb onto your palm at its own pace.
A great way to build trust is through hand walking.
This is essentially a hand treadmill, where you continually place one hand in front of the other and allow your gecko to walk across your palms.
Depending on the bond you have with your pet and your gecko’s behavior, you may be able to hold it for longer periods.
Many experts suggest keeping handling sessions to 10 minutes or fewer to avoid stress.
However, some crested gecko owners report handling their geckos for 10 to 30 minutes every day to keep their bond.
Crested Gecko Diet
Crested geckos are omnivorous, meaning they consume both insects and plant matter.
These lizards have a very manageable diet throughout their entire lives.
As babies and juveniles, it is recommended crested geckos be fed every day.
As adults, their feeding schedule should consist of meals three to four times per week.
And we have a post going into more details on how often to feed crested geckos if you want more information on feeding schedules.
The easiest way to feed your crestie and ensure it is consuming a balanced diet is by providing commercial crested gecko food.
A well-balanced crested gecko diet will consist of commercial gecko food and some occasional insects and mashed fruit.
Since these lizards are relatively easy to care for, many crestie owners are intermediate hobbyists at most.
Because of this, it is sometimes difficult for owners to ensure their pet is receiving all of the essential vitamins and minerals it relies on.
Pellets and powders are available for purchase made specifically for these geckos.
One of the most popular crested gecko foods we recommend is the Pangea Fruit Mix Complete Diet.
It’s healthy and affordable!
Pangea fruit mix complete diet is a powder packet containing a variety of fruits and insect protein.
These packets come in various flavors with just fruit or fruit and insect combinations available.
Some advanced hobbyists may choose to feed their crestie mainly fruits and insects, with vitamin and calcium supplements added for nutrition.
If you choose to go this feeding route, be sure to include a pinch of calcium powder as a garnish.
While it is possible to manage a healthy diet with mashed fruit, baby foods, and feeder insects, it is generally suggested to stick to commercial gecko food for most of your pet’s food source.
And if incorporating something like baby food sparks your interest we have a post on feeding baby food to crested geckos you’ll enjoy reading.
Good Foods For Crested Geckos
The table below contains a list of good fruits, insects, and vegetation to feed your crested gecko.
|Figs||Roaches||Dandelion Greens||Butternut Squash|
|Apricot||Waxworms||Mustard Greens||Sweet Potato|
Like most reptiles, the most critical aspect of the crested gecko’s diet is the calcium to phosphorus ratio (Ca:P).
An idea Ca:P ratio is 2:1, so you should strive to only feed your pet foods with a ratio equal to or better than this.
Interestingly, crested geckos have calcium sacs on the roof of their mouths.
These calcium sacs, scientifically known as endolymphatic sacs, allow the animal to keep this mineral in reserve.
You will want to monitor these calcium sacs and check their reserves from time to time.
This will help to ensure your pet is storing appropriate amounts of calcium.
If the calcium level in the reserves is low, you will need to add more calcium to their diet and check the Ca:P ratio of the foods you are feeding it.
If you are feeding your gecko a commercial diet, you will not need to add vitamin or mineral supplements to your pet’s meals since these reptile foods are formulated to fit the specific needs of crested geckos.
No matter what diet you end up feeding your pet, it is essential to remove any uneaten food from the enclosure once the meal time has ended.
Crested Gecko Tank Setup
Cresties are nocturnal, crepuscular creatures.
This means they are most active at dawn and dusk.
During the day, you will likely find your pet resting under leaves or hanging out on a branch.
Since these reptiles are nocturnal, they have no need for UVB light.
Many owners opt for both a red and blue heat light.
Zoo Med, a highly regarded reptile company, sells a combo-pack of 60W Day and Night Reptile Bulbs.
The daylight blue bulb provides adequate heat without raising the cage temperature too much.
This artificial light mimics the topical daylight these lizards would experience in the wild.
It is suggested to maintain 12 to 14 hours of light per day.
The nightlight red bulb is a type of light which provides heat while also slightly illuminating the cage for you to view your pet’s nocturnal activity.
Temperature & Humidity
Cresties thrive at room temperature.
The ambient temperature of the enclosure should rest between 72 and 78° degrees Fahrenheit (26° C) during the day.
The nighttime temperature should be slightly lower, ranging from 69 to 74° degrees Fahrenheit (23° C).
Even with the nighttime drop, these reptiles require relatively stable temperatures.
Proper temperature range is an integral part of their daily care.
If the enclosure temperature rises above 82° degrees Fahrenheit (28°C), crested geckos will become stressed, and they are at risk of developing health issues.
Moderate humidity levels of the enclosure should range between 60% and 80%.
Humidity levels below 50% are dangerous for these reptiles.
There should be a few hours per day where the normal humidity levels reach anywhere between 80% and 100% humidity.
This aids in the skin shedding process and mimics their natural environment.
To achieve this rise in the humidity of the habitat, you should mist the cage at least once per night.
It is essential to keep a humidity gauge and thermometer in the cage at all times to get accurate readings of these levels.
A 20-gallon tank with a screen is generally a good habitat size for these reptiles.
You want a moderately sized terrarium to provide plenty of range for activity.
Males make for aggressive cage mates, so you will want to only keep a single adult gecko per enclosure.
Since cresties enjoy climbing and spend most of their time on branches and perches, a vertical tank is best.
Ideally, you should look for a tank measuring 12″ inches (30 cm) long, 12″ inches (30 cm) wide, and 24″ inches (60 cm) high.
This will allow plenty of space for your plant selections.
If you would rather not have artificial plants, make sure you only place live, non-toxic plants in the tank.
Other cage accessories such as a cork bark hide or a hammock are also great additions to your pet’s habitat.
It is suggested to mist the enclosure at dusk when the geckos become more active.
This will allow for moisture to collect in the tank.
Cresties enjoy drinking the water droplets which fall down the leaves and off of their branches.
Most crested gecko water consumption comes from running water.
Even so, it is still suggested to place a shallow water dish somewhere in the enclosure.
You will ideally switch this water out every day or at least multiple times per week.
Crested gecko substrate should be free of large pebble or gravel.
These lizards may attempt to eat these pebbles, which will lead to impaction.
The best substrates are a reptile carpet, coconut fiber, or moss.
Cresties spend most of their time above ground in the trees, so any of these substrates will work.
For the ultimate setup make sure to read our crested gecko setup guide that goes into deep details on the crested gecko requirements.
Crested geckos make for an excellent pet for both beginner and seasoned reptile owners.
Their ease of care and sociable personalities qualify them as ideal pet lizards.
These lizards do not require excessive lighting or temperatures, and their food is easily accessible.
If you are in the market for a new reptilian friend, we highly recommend adopting a crested gecko.
Check out our other post on the best crested gecko names for when you get your new lizard.