Crested Geckos (Correlophus ciliatus)
This general care guide applies to other New Caledonian species such as Rhacodactylus and Eurydactylodes spp., with minor adjustments to enclosure size and feeding schedules.
By The Bug Guys adapted from PHILIPPE DE VOSJOLI AND ALLEN REPASHY
Crested geckos are originally from New Caledonia (a group of islands between Fiji and Australia). Crested geckos are ideal reptile pets for beginners, with simple, easy- to-meet requirements. Because crested geckos are primarily tropical tree dwellers, they make outstanding displays in naturalistic vivariums.
Crested Gecko Size
Both male and female crested geckos reach a moderate size of 4 to 4.5 inches snout-to-vent length (SVL), and 8 inches in total length. Crested geckos are sexually mature when 15 to 18 months of age, and at a weight of approximately 35 grams.
Crested Gecko Life Span
Under proper care, plan for your crested gecko to live 15 to 20+ years.
Crested Gecko Housing
An adult crested gecko should be housed in an arboreal, a front opening 18x18x24 or larger paludarium style terrarium like Exoterras are optimal. Larger tanks will allow for better displays and enrichment. Females may be housed together in a larger terrarium, but male crested geckos may fight, particularly when in the company of females, and should be kept solo.
If raising a young gecko or your gecko is injured, a medium faunarium or large vented tub will serve as a temporary nursery. Line the base with paper towel, provide clean silk foliage and a food and water dish with daily light misting.
Crested Gecko Lighting and Temperature
Reptiles are ectotherms (body temperature varies with environmental temperature), so it is important that you provide the proper temperature range for activity and feeding. A thermometer or temperature gun is essential for accurate temperature measurements.
Crested geckos thrive at temperatures of 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, never exceeding 85 and can drop to the 65 to low 70s at night.
The easiest way to provide heat is a low-wattage incandescent bulb during the day, or a ceramic heat emitter, in a reflector dome fixture placed on the screen top over one side of the tank so that the temperature of basking areas (branches) reaches the desired range. You must always keep one side of the tank unheated so that crested geckos can choose a cooler area to regulate their body temperature. You can also use an external reptile heat pad or heat tape on one side of the tank regulated by a thermostat.
If you have live plants in your vivarium additional light can be provided by a fluorescent bulb or LED running the length of the tank. Crested geckos tend to rest in foliage or shelters during the day and are active at night. A low intensity UVB light is beneficial such as Arcadia’s Arboreal 2.5% shade dweller, or a horizontally oriented loop CFL. UVB allows reptiles to metabolize D3 and absorb calcium for proper growth and function. Turn off all visible lights at night to not disturb their circadian rhythm (follow a 12on /12off cycle or with seasonal variance).
Crested Gecko Substrate
Crested geckos spend most of their time arboreally, so a variety of substrates can be used. For a simple bioactive enclosure use a peat-moss-based reptile soil mix that doesn’t contain perlite. Arcadia Earthmix, Retisoil or ABG work well, with clay ball leca as a Drainage layer. This is a great option for growing plants as well. Dwarf isopods and springtails contribute to waste breakdown and return nutrients to the plants, creating a simple bioactive ecosystem.
Crested geckos feel comfortable resting in foliage and like to climb on wood. Cork bark sections provide vertical and angled resting and activity areas. Live or artificial plants in combination with wood and bark will provide the security crested geckos need to rest in the open and add a decorative and bioactive element to the display. Good plant selections include small Ficus benjamina, Sansevieria spp, Dracaena spp., Philodendron and Pothos.
Crested Gecko Food
Complete powdered diets such as Repashy Superfoods, Pangea and Arcadia diets have played a key role in making these among the most popular of lizards kept as pets, because it excludes the need to feed live insects. The powdered diet is mixed with two parts water and offered in shallow dishes three times a week as much as these geckos will eat at a feeding. The diet is allowed to remain 24 hours before removal.
The Bug Guys recommend you also use live or prepared gut-loaded insects for variety along with these diets. Bugs should be lightly coated with a vitamin/mineral supplement that contains calcium and No D3 if you are using UVB lighting, (use a supplement containing D3 only twice a month to avoid overdosing). If you are not providing UVB lighting, provide a D3 supplement with each feeding. Insects should be offered three times a week as a primary diet or once a week as a treat/supplement to the Crested Gecko Diet. *Please consider which diets you are feeding and if they contain D3, and how much, when using UVB lighting or not, to avoid MBD as well as overdosing D3* Follow the schedule on www.arcadiareptile.com.
You can also feed the occasional small mealworm, wax worms, silkworms and phoenix worms that have been poked with a needle (their exoskeletons are difficult to digest) and sparingly as treats, hornworms.
Crested Gecko Water and Humidity
Water should always be available for crested geckos in a shallow water dish. These geckos also require a relative humidity of 50 to 70 percent. In dry areas the tanks should be lightly misted nightly. Inexpensive hygrometers (relative humidity gauges) for use with reptiles are an easy way to keep track.
Crested Gecko Handling and Temperament
Newly purchased crested geckos should not be handled, but first allowed to settle in for three to four weeks to let them adjust to their new environment and to make sure they regularly feed. When you start handling your crested gecko, make handling sessions short, no more than five minutes. Baby crested geckos tend to be flighty and can be injured in the course of handling. For this reason you should wait until they are at least 3 inches SVL before handling. Crested geckos seldom bite and when they do it is of little consequence. A quick nip and let go. If stressed or over handled they can drop their tails (never squeeze an animal!). If the wound is kept clean the area heals without infection it will not affect them, however similar stressful circumstances should be avoided to prevent injury.
Enjoy your new gecko companion!
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask us!
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