When it comes to reptiles, it can seem like a good idea to have more than one.
You visit pet shops and notice they have multiple crested geckos living in one small enclosure.
Is this safe, and can you recreate this same scenario at home?
Crested gecko cohabitation is a bit complicated, so it helps to know what the potential benefits are.
As a general rule, crested geckos should not cohabitate. They are solitary creatures, and cohabitation can lead to fighting, injuries, and hatchlings. Owners will have a difficult time managing the health of geckos who share a cage.
Before you decide to get another crested gecko for your enclosure, here are the basics you need to know about whether they can safely cohabitate.
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Should Crested Geckos Cohabitate?
In the pet trade, many people wonder whether their reptiles require separate enclosures.
Pets are a bit different than those lizards you may find in the wild.
However, it is important to go back to their nature in the wild to determine if two crested geckos can safely cohabitate together in your home.
If you were to happen upon a crested gecko in nature, you would find them living a solitary lifestyle.
Female crested geckos are commonly cohabitated in captivity, but they would never live together in the wild.
Males and females will come together for the sole purpose of procreation.
After they finish, the two will part ways and never meet up again.
Keeping multiple geckos in one cage can spell disaster if you do not know how to do it properly.
They are used to being solitary creatures and value their alone time.
If you want to house multiple crested geckos together, there are a few things you have to keep in mind.
Considerations for Gender Cohabitation
Gender is the biggest thing you must keep in mind if you plan to house crested geckos with others.
Their behavior patterns play a large role in whether these creatures can safely be kept together.
If you want to keep separate enclosures to a minimum, you have to know how to safely group them.
First, you should never keep male crested geckos together.
This is potentially difficult to determine if you are dealing with unsexed crested gecko babies.
Males are quite territorial, which leads to fights, injuries, and even the occasional death.
As your babies grow into adult crested geckos, you need to keep tabs on their sex.
Males should be separated immediately.
You can learn how to sex crested geckos in this post so you’re certain of what gender crested gecko you’re putting into your enclosures.
Females crested geckos tend to be a bit more docile and may be housed together.
They are less likely to fight with one another and cause long-term harm.
A female crested gecko group will establish a hierarchy, with one being dominant over the others.
However, even this does not usually end in fights.
Some owners believe they can house up to four to five females in one enclosure, but smaller groups tend to be better.
Some people will attempt to house a male and female pair together.
Only do this if you are positive you want to breed them and create a new habitat for the crested gecko babies.
Unfortunately, this is still not a long-term solution for your breeding pair.
Females will still need time to cool off and unwind after mating.
The male gecko may chase her around too much and cause undue stress.
It is best to keep them together only for breeding purposes and then separate them again.
If you’re not sure what gender your gecko is check out our article on how to tell if your crested gecko is male or female.
Cons Of Crested Gecko Cohabitation
If you are ready to learn more about the care requirements of your crested geckos, you might want to start by learning all of the reasons not to force them into cohabitation.
Here are the drawbacks to housing multiple geckos in one terrarium.
Monitoring for Injuries
Keeping solitary creatures like a crested gecko in a confined space with others is a recipe for disaster.
Male geckos are almost certain to fight with another.
Even if you are not yet sure your crested gecko is a male, you run the risk of finding out the hard way when someone gets injured.
Baby crested geckos are less likely to injure one another, but adults will not hesitate.
Every time you walk past the cage, you will find yourself checking for injuries or breaking up fights.
If the fights are extreme, it could even result in tail loss.
Keep in mind more injuries also means more veterinary bills for serious wounds.
Taking your crested gecko to a veterinarian who specializes in exotics is not going to be cheap.
You will be paying for the exam fee, wound care, and any medication they might prescribe to combat infection in open wounds.
Not to mention, you will still have to purchase a separate enclosure for the injured gecko, who certainly can’t go back to his old habitat.
Competition for Food
Do you worry whether your crested gecko is getting enough food?
If you are already concerned your gecko may be on the lean side, they might not be able to skip a meal.
Putting up multiple food stations can help, but it will not solve the problem altogether.
Some will gobble up fresh food as soon as it enters the cage.
If another crested gecko prefers to eat only when hungry, it may miss its opportunity to eat.
Geckos who have established a hierarchy may not allow everyone to eat.
Resources will go first to those who have established dominance in the enclosure.
Because it’s impossible to keep your eyes on the cage at all times, you might not even notice one or two geckos are being bullied out of their food and other resources.
As a result, you will eventually have at least one crested gecko who is smaller and weaker than the others.
By the time you notice the jarring difference, it may be too late for your malnourished gecko to catch up.
You may attempt to put them in a new enclosure on their own to see if the problem corrects itself.
Once they are in solitary confinement, they might be able to catch up to their peers in size and strength.
It is still ill-advised to put them back in the old enclosure even after they get healthy again.
They are more likely to thrive on their own, as they would in the wild.
Harder to Monitor Health
One of the benefits of having a single reptile in each enclosure is you will be better able to monitor their health.
You will have an easier time monitoring their bathroom habits, the amount of food they eat, and their sheds.
When you combine multiple geckos in one enclosure, there is no clear way to identify who did what.
Health is important if you want to have geckos who live long, healthy, and happy lives.
The crested gecko community knows how important it is to monitor these vital signs.
It may be too late by the time you realize someone is suffering.
Many owners will put their baby geckos into cohabitation until they are old enough to have sex.
Babies can safely be kept together as they tend to be a bit more sociable than their adult counterparts.
Unfortunately, most cannot be properly identified until they are three to four months old.
Some geckos are ready to mate around this same time.
This means you will have at least one additional gecko to house.
Because the baby will be so much smaller than your new adult crested geckos, you will need to get them their individual enclosure, so they do not have to compete for food and resources.
Hatchlings will require more care and attention from you.
If you are not in a position to become an accidental breeder, it is best to keep just one gecko per terrarium, even if they are young.
Need for an Extra Terrarium
Even if you decide to house your geckos together, you might encounter situations with aggressive geckos.
They might nip at tails, bite at crests, and otherwise bully a certain reptile in the terrarium.
Because this is known to happen quite frequently, you need to always be prepared to separate them if necessary.
This means you must have an extra terrarium set up and ready to go if the need arises.
Use this tank to house the bullied crested gecko and nurse him back to health if he sustains any injuries.
Keeping multiple males or female crested geckos together can lead to a stressful situation.
Your gecko may start to exhibit signs of stress such as hiding, breathing heavily, and tail waving.
While these signs may not be hazardous to their health, it is alarming to see your gecko take a downward spiral such as this.
If they are stressed too much of the time, there is a possibility they will drop their tail.
They can live just fine without this appendage, but many owners prefer the look of geckos who have their tails intact.
When the stress levels are too high, your gecko may prefer not to be handled.
Hands-on owners are often disappointed by this turn of events.
This is upsetting to most owners who can visualize the decline of their gecko.
Separate them from the group if you notice this start to happen.
Once they relax and have time to decompress, you might notice they start to be a bit more social with you once again.
However, it is best not to reintroduce them to the group if this happens.
Pros To Crested Gecko Cohabitation
Now you know all of the risks of cohabitation, you might be wondering whether there are any benefits.
Even females often fare better when there is just a single female in the enclosure.
Keeping crested geckos separate ensures you always have a handle on their health.
You won’t have to worry about injuries sustained from fighting over resources or for dominance.
When you do pop in to have a look at your crested gecko, it will be because you love and adore them — not because you have to make sure they are safe from bullies.
A solitary crested gecko does not have to fight for space or resources.
There is less risk for them to become underfed or weak as a result of bullying for space.
If you choose to keep a male in with your female crested geckos, you run the risk of hatchlings, which requires more enclosures.
Keeping your gecko on its own ensures you never have to worry about setting up new tanks for babies.
Crested geckos simply prefer to be on their own.
While it’s possible to technically house female crested geckos together, it is often advised to refrain.
Even females can get pushy about food and keep smaller geckos from getting what they need.
In the end, it is best to keep them apart unless you are okay taking risks with their health.
Your crested gecko will not feel like he is being left out of the fun by spending all of his or her time alone.
In fact, the odds are good they would prefer to be left to their own devices.
Read more about crested gecko tank mates in our other post.