Crested Gecko

Crested Gecko Care Sheet
Rhacodactylus ciliatus

***Note: This care sheet is intended to inform the owner of the basic husbandry of crested geckos and to ensure their health. Breeding, sex determination, and other more advanced practices are not covered due to the seller’s desire to provide the initial and most important techniques and information to the new owner, first and foremost.

Housing

An enclosure should be chosen which is large enough for the gecko or geckos you are going to house, as well as be able to hold a decent amount of humidity. Glass tanks work much better than screen cages which allow too much moisture to evaporate or escape through the screens. A screen door or top on a glass tank or large plastic tub work quite well.

A small Kritter Keeper is normally a good size for any hatchling, a larger Kritter Keeper for anything around 5-10 grams, and at least a 10 gallon for anything over 10 grams. A 20 gallon tank is recommended for adult crested geckos, as they need ample amounts of room to move around. Taller tanks are desired over shorter ones because crested geckos are arboreal, and enjoy climbing around in the higher parts of the setup. Turning a 10 or 20 gallon tank on its side is a good idea too.

Provide plenty of cover and places to climb for your crested gecko. They seem to feel more secure and stress less easily if they are given sticks and vines to climb on, as well as cork bark slabs and plants to hide behind. Pothos plants are possibly the best species for providing cover, and can be found at most garden centers. Dracaenas, figs, and other plants are good choices as well. Good looking artificial plants and vines can be found for cheap, and are good for folks who do not have a “green thumb”.

Substrates should be chosen based on your individual gecko’s size and whether or not you feed live foods. Peat moss, Bed-a-Beast, and Eco-Earth are good substrates for naturalistic vivariums where live foods are not fed. The particles are small enough that there isn’t a large risk of impaction (pieces of the substrate lodging in the intestines of an animal), but it’s best not to take the chance of your gecko consuming any of the substrate. Stay away from sands, wood chips, or any other really fibrous ground layers. Many people will strictly use just paper towels on the bottom of their cages. They make for easy cleanup, allow for the owner to monitor for droppings, and reduce the risks of impaction to almost zero. This is recommended for about the first month or so anyway, for monitoring the health of the new gecko(s) in a clean environment.

Water and Humidity

Crested geckos need a fairly high humidity, and keeping it within the range of 60-80% for part of the day is normally plenty. A common mistake that people make is keeping the humidity at a constant high amount. What is best is to keep the substrate moist and to also mist the cage (with a spray bottle) a couple of times a day. This will increase the humidity for an hour or more at a time, and then the cage will dry out slightly. This facilitates a good shed and also provides the geckos with a chance to drink the water droplets on the walls and plants.

Always keep a water bowl with clean water for your geckos. Crested geckos will frequently drink from a water bowl at night. Just be sure it is not too deep for the gecko. A deeper water dish could easily cause a hatchling or young crested gecko to drown.

Lighting

Crested geckos do not have any special lighting requirements. There has been much debate over using lights which emit UVA and UVB, but these have not proven to be beneficial or detrimental. Top breeders don’t use any specific lighting to raise their animals.

Heat lamps are more dangerous than helpful for crested geckos. They do not need to bask and do not need a source of heat unless the enclosure drops under about 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

The best reasons to have lighting of any kind would be to enhance plant growth in a naturalistic planted vivarium, or to simulate night and day cycles if no natural light is present. Having timed lights come on for 8 to 10 hours per day helps to keep the gecko on a regular day-night cycle. If there is a window in the room, that should be sufficient for keeping a good daily cycle.

Feeding

Crested geckos and the other Rhacodactylus species are very easy to feed. There are a number of products out there specifically formulated for these geckos. They are called MRP’s (meal replacement powders) intended to be mixed with water and provide a balanced and complete diet. Allen Repashy, the inventor of these diets, produces a line of products which work wonders for the crested geckos. The powders come in foil pouches or bottles and can be found at most pet stores as T-Rex products or ordered online from a list of vendors at http://www.superfoods.repashy.com/.

Since these diets are a balanced meal, live foods are not necessary. However, if live foods are being fed to the crested geckos (crickets, roaches, mealworms, etc), they should be properly supplemented and dusted with a calcium powder of some type. Repashy has another product called Calcium Plus ICB which comes in a powder form and is used to dust the live food items before feeding. Other products such as Miner-all work well also, and so does anything with calcium. Gutloading, feeding the live foods high nutrient diets before feeding to the geckos, is also recommended so that they aren’t just empty calories. Many people feed live foods in conjunction with the CGD diets to aid in growth, since it’s quite possible that live foods provide more protein than the diets alone.

Recommended items to purchase:

• Hygrometer (measures humidity)
• Thermometer
• Scale (down to at least grams)
• Misting bottle