What’s the difference between a gargoyle gecko and a crested gecko?
Which one is better for a pet owner?
So you’re looking to adopt a new lizard, but you’re torn between two similar yet distinct species: the crested gecko and the gargoyle gecko.
These adorable pet reptiles appear to be very much alike at first glance, yet their personalities, diets, and care requirements vary.
Let’s break down each category and look at the pros and cons of each species to help you choose the perfect lizard to take home.
Table of Contents
Gargoyle Gecko Vs. Crested Gecko: What’s the Difference?
To a less experienced reptile owner, the gargoyle and crested geckos don’t seem to have many differences at face value.
However, they are each a unique species with their personalities, diets, and care needs.
Both the gargoyle gecko and the crested gecko are native to the same area.
They come from New Caledonia, a French territory made up of multiple islands off the eastern coast of Australia, and are both members of the Diplodactylidae family of geckos.
Before 2012, crested geckos were lumped into the same genus as gargoyle geckos, Rhacodactylus, a group of medium-sized geckos found in New Caledonia’s group of islands.
They are now classified as part of the genus Correlophus, which includes three other similar species.
These geckos both primarily live in rainforests and are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time climbing trees and branches.
Regardless of which lizard you choose, the enclosure you create for them will need to mimic their natural habitat as closely as possible, and their diet must also be composed of the foods they tend to eat in the wild.
Physical Size and Appearance
Gargoyle geckos, also known as New Caledonian bumpy geckos, are medium-sized lizards, ultimately reaching a weight of around 60 to 70 grams at adulthood.
They have large, bulging eyes and triangular-shaped heads which lack the eyebrow crests present in crested geckos.
When measured from nose to tail tip at their adult size, they grow to lengths of about 8 to 9″ inches (23 cm).
They are a slightly heavier gecko than the crestie, so they are slightly less acrobatic and agile than their eyelashed counterparts.
These exotic geckos have vivid, elaborate colors and patterns which blend in well with their natural environments of brown and green foliage.
In captivity, they have developed a variety of beautiful color morphs thanks to the careful preservation and breeding of reptile breeders over the past few decades.
Nowadays, gargoyle geckos are easily found in shades of bright red, orange, brown, beige, and white from breeders and pet shops.
Crested geckos, sometimes referred to as eyelash geckos, are also medium-sized lizards, but they are slightly smaller and shorter than gargoyle geckos.
Upon reaching adulthood, they grow to an adult weight of around 50 to 60 grams.
When measured from nose to tail tip, they typically reach anywhere from 5 to 8″ inches (20 cm) long.
Their most striking feature is their eyebrow crests resting atop each of their large, bright eyes with slender pupils.
This is the origin of their namesake and their nickname, “eyelash” geckos because the crests look like long eyelashes when viewed from the front.
These geckos are usually brown or beige in coloration, but in recent years reptile breeders have expanded this array of colors to orange, red, white, and yellow with varying patterns like spots and stripes.
Crested geckos now have a wide array of morphs and patterns you will be able to choose from if you decide this lizard is right for you.
Personality and Temperament
While both lizards are considered great options for beginner reptile keepers due to their calm and friendly personalities, gargoyle geckos are slightly more reclusive and take more time to socialize.
They are also known to be more aggressive and territorial, so if you are hoping to cohabitate multiple geckos, this particular lizard will be more difficult to contend with because it is known to display aggression towards other members of its species.
Most reptile experts recommend a separate enclosure for each of your gargoyle geckos if you plan on adopting more than one due to their territorial nature.
In addition, gargoyle geckos spend more of their time hiding away in the corners of their enclosures and aren’t as active as crested geckos.
If you are interested in watching your pet frequently explore their tank, you could end up disappointed when your rather secretive gecko spends most of its time in its hide or under the leaves and branches in its enclosure rather than exercising out in the open.
Still, gargoyle geckos make great companions and enjoy human companionship, even if they take more time to warm up to their owners than the average crested gecko.
Crested geckos, also known as “cresties,” are a very popular option amongst novice and expert reptile owners alike, thanks to their goofy, wide-eyed expressions and curious, friendly personalities.
They are easy to handle, enjoy spending time with people, and are less aggressive and territorial overall than gargoyle geckos.
They are friendly geckos and spend lots of time climbing around in their tanks on any foliage supplied to them.
Crested geckos are also lighter in weight than gargoyle geckos, making them more acrobatic and better suited to scaling branches and platforms as they traverse their enclosure with ease.
Because they are also quite outgoing, they greatly enjoy spending time out in the open rather than hiding.
Generally, these pet lizards are friendlier and more active than the gargoyle gecko, but their individual personalities still vary from lizard to lizard.
For first-time reptile owners who want to handle and interact with their pets more frequently, this could be the right choice.
Lifespan in Captivity
In captivity, the gargoyle gecko is capable of living up to 20 years or more if kept in optimal conditions and provided a balanced, healthy diet.
However, most gargoyle geckos live to be around 15 years old because of variations in genetics and quality of care.
Compared to other geckos and reptiles in general, this species has a relatively long lifespan and should be considered a long-term responsibility as they require ongoing care.
Keep this in mind when deciding which of these lizards is the right choice for you.
The crested gecko also has a fairly long life span in captivity.
This species has been observed to reach 20 years of age or older in rare instances, but they typically live around 15 years due to, once again, differences in genetics and the quality of care they are given.
This lizard is also quite the undertaking if you are considering adopting it as a new pet.
Whenever you decide on the perfect species of reptile to adopt, lifespan is by far one of the most important factors as it determines how much time you will need to commit to its care and the financial investment required.
Overall, both of these lizards are known for their relative ease of care and suitability for beginner reptile keepers but given their long lifespans; you will need to determine for yourself if you are able to take on 15 to 20 years or more of care and maintenance.
Gargoyle geckos are an omnivorous species, and they typically eat a variety of insects and fruits.
Many gargoyle gecko owners choose to feed their lizards a powdered diet which is intended to be mixed with water to form a mushy slurry.
By far, the most well-known brand of pre-formulated gecko food is Repashy, a nutritious and inexpensive mixture of powdered insects and fruit.
While this powdered diet contains almost everything you need to keep your gecko healthy, the majority of reptile keepers choose to supplement this diet with live insects like crickets and roaches from time to time to keep their lizard’s diet interesting and varied.
You could even give your gecko the occasional fruit for them to bite chunks off of as an extra snack.
Like many other reptile species, they also require an additional calcium supplement with vitamin D3 to help keep their bones and muscles healthy.
You could either mix this into their powdered diet or simply sprinkle it on top of any live insects or fresh fruit you give to them.
Baby food is also a great option, provided it is organic and has no added sugar or preservatives.
Overall, feeding your gargoyle gecko is a fairly simple task as they can eat many different types of bugs and plant material.
Crested geckos and gargoyle geckos are very much alike when it comes to their dietary needs.
They are also omnivorous and greatly enjoy a varied diet of insects and fruits.
Again, powdered diets like Repashy are an excellent choice as they are simple to prepare, requiring only a small amount of water to form a delicious smoothie perfect for a crested gecko diet.
You could certainly choose to feed your crested gecko a solely powdered diet, but your pet will be much happier if you supply them with live insects and fresh fruit as an additional treat.
These lizards are not very picky eaters and love variety in their diets.
You will also need to add a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement to your crestie’s diet to maintain their bone and muscle health.
Mixing this in with their powdered diet is fine, but you could also easily pour it onto the live insects and fruit you feed them.
In terms of their overall diets, gargoyle geckos and crested geckos are very similar and have no significant differences.
You will notice many powdered food formulations intended for these geckos will have pictures of both species on the labels and are fine to use interchangeably for either type of lizard.
Enclosure Size and Setup
For your gargoyle gecko, the enclosure you purchase for them should be taller than it is wide.
Tall enclosures are best because gargoyle geckos are mostly arboreal and need lots of room to climb.
Their tank will need lots of vines and branches for them to scale as they would in their natural habitats.
Many reptile owners enjoy these lizards because of the small amount of space they require to thrive.
A 10- to 20-gallon enclosure is a decent size for your gargoyle gecko as long as they have lots of foliage to hide in and explore for enrichment.
The next important factor in their terrarium setup is their temperature and humidity requirements.
These are rainforest lizards, so they will need a heat source to keep the tank at around 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).
They also require a constant humidity level of around 60% to 70%, which is maintained by frequently misting the tank with water and setting up a hygrometer to monitor the percentage.
Their UVB requirements are minimal, and a 5% output or less is fine to keep your gargoyle gecko’s bones strong.
For the heat source, a 25- to 50-watt bulb is usually sufficient.
Since these geckos are arboreal and somewhat reclusive, be sure to set up plenty of branches, hanging plants, and heavy foliage for them to climb and hide away in if they choose to do so.
A bioactive enclosure is a perfect setup if you’re willing to put a bit more effort into their habitat, but this type of terrarium is quite complex.
The setup for a crested gecko is very similar to the setup for a gargoyle gecko.
They don’t need much space, and a 10- to 20-gallon tank is fine as long as it’s tall enough to allow them to climb and explore their tank.
Once again, a bioactive setup is the best option, but it isn’t necessary for them to thrive as long as they have ample plant coverage and all of their other care needs to be met.
Crested geckos of all ages require small amounts of both heat and UVB lighting to stay healthy and happy.
A bulb with about 5% UVB output is more than enough for these lizards, and a heat emitter or bulb of around 25 watts or so is just fine.
A temperature of around 80° degrees Fahrenheit (28° C) is adequate.
A humidity level of around 50 to 60% is also necessary for this species, and this is easily achieved by misting the tank with water as needed.
Crested geckos benefit from plenty of ledges, plants, and platforms for them to climb on regularly.
They are a bit more outgoing and less shy overall than gargoyle geckos, so keep this in mind if you want to frequently observe your gecko in their tank.
You will notice crested geckos are slightly more active than gargoyles, also, and many reptile keepers find them to be more enjoyable to watch.
Overall, the setups required for crested and gargoyle geckos are nearly identical, so if you’re worried about enclosure setup, you’re going to have around the same amount of work and effort involved in this aspect of care for either species.
Final Thoughts: Which Gecko is Right For You?
If you’ve perused this article and still aren’t quite sure which gecko species to choose, it might be wise to ask yourself which type of gecko you like more.
There are many factors to consider when deciding on a new pet, so take some time to consider each option carefully.
They are both quite popular geckos among beginner and expert reptile keepers alike.
You might end up realizing you want a different species of lizard or reptile entirely.
You could end up getting one of each lizard described in this article!
Either way, adopting a new pet takes time, and careful consideration of all of the factors involved, such as care, diet, personality, and your personal preferences.