Crested Gecko Sleeping Habits (Nocturnal Patterns)

Before purchasing a crested gecko to keep as a pet, it is essential to research its sleeping habits.

Diurnal animals are active during the day, nocturnal creatures are active at night, and some species are in between the two as crepuscular animals.

Crepuscular animals are the most active at dusk and dawn, and they have periods of activity throughout the night.

Which of these categories does the crested gecko belong to?

Crested geckos are crepuscular reptiles with nocturnal patterns of activity. These geckos tend to sleep during the day and become more active at dusk. Crested geckos will be active during the night with very brief rest until dawn the next day.

If you had planned on spending time with your new pet during the day, you might be disappointed to learn the crested gecko is more active during the night.

Read on to learn more about the sleeping habits of crested geckos, including details on when they sleep and what they do while awake.

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Crested Gecko Sleeping Habits

Not every crested gecko will have the same sleeping habits.

Some crested geckos have more energy than others, so they may sleep less.

Crested geckos might wake up at different times or take more naps.

When Do They Sleep?

On average, a crested gecko will sleep for up to 12 hours during the day.

This 12-hour-long period of sleep is sometimes broken down into short periods of 3-4 hours of sleep followed by short bursts of activity.

This sleep cycle will repeat throughout the day, with these short periods of rest totaling up to12 hours of sleep.

How Do They Sleep?

Since crested geckos do not have eyelids, it may be difficult to tell whether or not your lizard is asleep.

The only way to know if your crestie is asleep is to watch its eyes and crest.

When a crestie is awake, its pupils are dilated wide. 

During sleep, a crestie’s pupils narrow down to tiny vertical slits.

The gecko’s crest will also stand up when the lizard is awake. 

When a crestie is sleeping, its crest will naturally droop downward.

Where Do They Sleep?

In the wild, crested geckos will sleep and hide underneath leaves and tree bark.

A captive crested gecko will sleep wherever it can, but the lizard prefers to sleep in hidden areas.

When your crestie is asleep, you will probably find your pet underneath tree bark, in an artificial hide, or between the leaves of the plants in the enclosure.

It is much less common to see your crestie sleeping out in the open, but this can occur if the reptile feels secure enough in its enclosure.

What Do Crested Geckos Do When They Are Awake?

Since crested geckos are more active at night, you may miss seeing what they do when awake.

At night, your crestie will likely spend a majority of its time exploring the enclosure.

The gecko may climb on the enclosure walls or climb and jump on the branches of the terrarium plants.

Crested geckos may also spend some of their awake time hunting for food and water. 

It is best to feed your crestie in the evening when it will be the most active.

Your crestie may also make barking or chirping sounds when it is awake.

The gecko is more likely to make a bit of noise when living in the same room or enclosure as other geckos.

A crestie will also make noises when it is unhappy, scared, or stressed.

If you notice your crestie making more noise than usual, it is important to determine if something is wrong with your gecko.

Why Is My Crested Gecko Awake During the Day?

Most crested geckos sleep during the day, but it is not uncommon to see a more energetic crestie awake during the day.

There are several reasons your crestie is awake during the day. 

These causes may indicate something is wrong with your crestie, and the situation will need correcting.

In this section, we name the most common reasons for a crested gecko to be awake during the day and how to solve these issues with your pet’s sleeping pattern.

Being Introduced to a New Environment

If you have just brought your crested gecko into your home, the animal will need some time to acclimate to its surroundings.

One of the biggest mistakes new gecko owners make is handling their new pet before the animal is ready.

A new environment is unfamiliar and very stressful for a crestie.

The extra stress may disrupt your crestie’s sleeping habits until it gets settled into its new home.

Keep your crestie in a quiet room away from high-traffic areas and other pets to avoid any added stress.

Do not make any sudden movements when approaching your crestie during cleaning or feeding time.

Your crestie will eventually get comfortable in its new environment and resume more consistent sleeping habits.

There is Too Much Light in the Room

A crested gecko uses light to regulate its circadian rhythm and maintain a steady sleep pattern.

Ideally, a crested gecko should get 12 hours of light during the day and 12 hours of darkness at night.

Check out our guide to crested gecko lighting requirements.

To simulate changing seasons, gradually adjust to 10 hours of light during the day and 14 hours of darkness throughout the evening and night.

If there is too much light in the room at night, it will disrupt a crestie’s sleep cycle. 

This disruption may cause the gecko to be awake at odd hours during the day.

While you may want to see what your gecko is doing at night, avoid using night lights or moonlight bulbs in the enclosure.

The Crested Gecko is Stressed

A stressed gecko is more likely to be awake during the day.

The stress may be caused by an underlying fungal or bacterial infection or another illness such as metabolic bone disease.

Metabolic bone disease will rob the crestie’s body of vital minerals and vitamins the animal needs for proper sleep.

You can learn more in our post dedicated to MBD in crested geckos.

To avoid the possibility of fungal or bacterial growth in the enclosure, you will need to maintain optimal humidity levels.

Average humidity levels during the day should be between 50%-60%. 

Increase the humidity at night up to 80% by misting the plants in the enclosure.

Bacterial skin infections and other diseases are very dangerous for your crestie.

If the crested gecko is in pain, it will also have a difficult time getting any rest.

When a crested gecko is awake during the day, and you notice the animal is not active and lying around a lot, you need veterinary care.

These symptoms may indicate an illness or disease in your crestie.

The Crested Gecko Is Hungry

Crested geckos need a varied diet to provide them with all of their nutrition for healthy growth.

A crested gecko will not get all of the nutrients it requires from eating only insects.

A healthy crested gecko diet should consist of: 

  • Live, gut-loaded insects 
  • Mashed fruits
  • Calcium supplement powder

If your crested gecko is not getting the nutrition it needs, it may stay awake during the day to hunt for food.

There is no set amount of food to offer your gecko during feeding time.

A good rule of thumb is to offer your crestie food until it refuses to eat anymore. 

If your crestie has eaten and it keeps taking the food you are offering, this means the lizard is still hungry.

Remove any uneaten food from the enclosure to avoid injury and bacteria from food spoilage.

If live crickets are accidentally left in the enclosure, they will bite and cause possible injury to your crestie.

Feed your crestie in a smaller separate enclosure with a simple paper towel substrate for easier clean-up.

The Crested Gecko Has a Lot of Energy

Your crested gecko might be awake during the day because it has an excess of energy.

If a crestie has slept all night, it will have plenty of energy to be awake the next day.

This is not a cause for alarm as long as your gecko is active and alert. 

You may see your crestie exploring the enclosure or jumping and playing around.

Your crestie will eventually tire itself out and will likely need a nap in the afternoon.

If your crestie is awake during the day and you notice the reptile is acting sluggish, there may be something wrong with your pet.

Acting lethargic indicates the gecko did not sleep during the night.

Possible causes for staying awake include stress or pain from an injury or illness.

Why Are Crested Gecko’s Nocturnal?

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Some lizard species, such as the bearded dragon, are diurnal. 

This means the reptile is naturally awake during the day, and it will use this time to hunt for food or find a mate.

Crested geckos, however, are nocturnal, which means they prefer to be more active during the night. 

Cresties are also considered to be crepuscular reptiles because they are the most active during the hours of dusk and dawn.

So why did crested geckos develop nocturnal habits?

There are a couple of reasons for cresties being nocturnal, and we will discuss these below.

A Crested Gecko’s Natural Environment is Warm

In tropical climates, animals tend to be nocturnal to escape the heat of the day.

In cooler climates, animals will be active during the day and sleep during the night.

While a crested gecko’s natural habitat of New Caledonia is very temperate, the reptiles still adapted to preferring the cooler night temperatures.

The darkness at night also helps the crestie hunt down its food more efficiently.

Cresties are cold-blooded creatures, and they require external sources of heat to regulate their body temperature.

Crested geckos do not tolerate high temperatures very well because of their thin skin, so they usually stay in shady areas during the day, avoiding the hot sun whenever possible.

If cresties are exposed to high temperatures for even a few hours, they may suffer from dehydration or heat stroke. 

Temperatures in your crestie’s enclosure should never reach more than 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).

A temperature gradient is necessary in captivity to provide the gecko with places to warm up or cool down. 

A 20-gallon vertical tank gives you sufficient space to create a simple temperature gradient.

Ideal temperatures in your cresties enclosure include daytime temperatures ranging from 72-80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).

Optimal nighttime temperatures should range from 70-75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C). 

If the ambient temperature in the room is within this range, you will not need a heat source at night.

Temperatures during the winter season in New Caledonia are rarely lower than 65° degrees Fahrenheit (18° C), so it is a good idea to keep the enclosure above this temperature at all times.

Crested Geckos Are Prey Animals

Another reason crested geckos adapted to being active at night is their size.

Cresties are typically small lizards, and this makes them susceptible to being hunted by larger animals.

There are also Giant gecko morphs, which produce geckos twice as large as a regular morph.

Despite their mostly small size, crested geckos are one of the largest gecko species.

Common natural predators of wild crested geckos include:

  • Fire ants
  • Cats
  • Dogs
  • Prey Birds
  • Rats
  • Snakes
  • Larger reptiles

While crested geckos cannot escape all of their predators at night, they have a better chance of escaping from them in the darkness.

Crested geckos are also an arboreal species, and their climbing skills give them the advantage they need to get away from a ground-dwelling predator.

Crested geckos hardly spend any time on the ground. 

They prefer to climb trees and hide underneath leaves and bark.

If cresties feel very threatened or scared, they can drop their tails. 

Unlike the leopard gecko, crested geckos cannot regrow their tails, so they will be left with a bump for the rest of their lives.

In captivity, cresties no longer worry about high temperatures or potential predators, but they still retain their instinct to be nocturnal.

What Are The Consequences Of Being Nocturnal?

Being nocturnal has a few consequences you will need to learn about before getting a crested gecko as a pet.

Since cresties are mostly awake during the night, their noises may disturb your sleep if the enclosure is near your bed. 

Like other species of gecko, cresties are known for being noisy lizards.

If you feel sleep disruptions may be a problem for you, consider placing the crestie’s enclosure in a room other than your bedroom.

On the upside, cresties sleep for most of the day, so you will not miss out on interacting with your pet.

This arrangement is ideal for people at school or work for most of the day when the crestie will be sleeping.

By the time you come home in the evening, your crestie will be waking up, and you will be able to use this time for feeding and handling.

The evening is also a great time to bond with your gecko. 

Cresties are solitary creatures, but they will use the time you spend handling them to bond with you.

The location of your crestie’s enclosure is also important because of the reptile’s nocturnal nature.

The enclosure needs to be in a room where it will be exposed to a day and night cycle. 

The room should receive plenty of light for 10-12 hours per day, and it should be completely dark at night.

Providing your crestie with a proper day and night cycle avoids disrupting the animal’s natural circadian rhythms.

Your crestie’s enclosure should also have plenty of hiding places throughout. 

These hiding spots give your gecko more options on where to sleep during the day.

Hiding spots also keep your crestie from becoming stressed because the animal will feel more secure.

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