Crested geckos, (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) were thought to be extinct until scientists rediscovered them in 1994. Now they are great pet geckos nearly as popular as leopard geckos and come in beautiful colors and shades.
Crested geckos get their name from the ridges above their eyes. They have long slender tails that can act as a fifth leg. Crested geckos drop their tails almost willingly. These tails will not grow back, but they still look fine.
They only stay about 7-8 inches long on average. Since crested geckos were discovered only recently, we are not sure how long they live, but they probably will live to 15-20 years.
Crested geckos can become very tame. Crested geckos are not very aggressive, but they will drop their tails a lot more often than a leopard gecko. If you pick up your crested gecko, be sure you do not grab it. Crested geckos should feel supported without having legs hanging off.
If your gecko does bite, you have scared it. As long as you respect them, they will respect you.
Crested geckos have a special diet that can be bought at pet stores called crested gecko diet or CGD. It contains all the nutrients a crested gecko needs to survive, but they still enjoy chasing crickets. The diet is a little like baby food. Baby food can be fed, but is not recommended as a staple.
A dish with CGD should be in the tank at all times and replaced when it gets old. Crested geckos will lick it up, even if it looks like they have not touched it. Be sure that your crested gecko does not get fat and lazy, feed a couple crickets a few times a week.
Hatchling and juvenile geckos can live in a ten gallon tank, but adults need to upgrade to a 20 gallon. Since crested geckos are arboreal, a higher tank is preferred over a longer one. Give them more space to climb since they only go on the ground to hunt, or take a sip of water.
Crested geckos are naturally from the rainforest. They need lots of vines and plants in the tank for them to hide in and climb on.
Paper towels make a great substrate because they hold moisture well, and are easy to clean up. These should be used for hatchlings and juveniles, but when they are adults, you will want a fancier setup. Non-fertilized potting soil works well. Bed-a-beast can also be used because both can hold moisture.
Wood chips are not recommended because they can be swallowed and crickets can hide in them. Sand is also not a good idea because it does not hold humidity well.
As long as you provide plenty of places to hide in plants, you should only need one hide on the bottom of the cage.
Heating and lighting are not needed for this species as long as your house stays from 73-76F. Nighttime temperatures should drop 5-10 degrees. Temperatures should never reach 85F or below 60F. UVA and UVB lighting is not needed because crested geckos are nocturnal.
Crested gecko cages should never have humidity lower than 50%. 60-80% is appropriate. Misting a cage twice a day works well, and if you have a dry house, you may need to mist more. The cage should be thoroughly misted for night when they are most active.
A water bowl can be provided, but they can also just lick water for the glass and leaves of plants.
Cleaning is as simple as misting when needed and removing the feces. Every six months you should replace any loose substrate, and paper towels when soiled.
Breeding is fairly easy. Females can breed once they reach 14 months old, and males when they reach 9 months. Once the male and female have mated, they should be separated so the female can have a peaceful place to lay.
The substrate in the female's tank should be paper towel or else she will lay at random places, and you may not find the eggs before it is too late. Provide a lay box for the female with moist non-fertilized potting soil. The substrate should be 4-5 inches deep with plenty or room for the female.
Eggs will come in clutches of two, and when placed into the incubator, they should not be rotated. Each clutch will be laid every month or so. The eggs should be kept in two inches of vermiculate in an airtight container. The eggs should be kept at 75-78F with 90% humidity. They will hatch in 60-70 days.
Hatchlings can be fed baby food and CGD with pinhead crickets. They can be kept in plastic shoeboxes or 5 gallons per gecko. When they reach full size, they should each have their own 20 gallon tank. Their food should contain extra calcium because they are growing bodies.
Crested geckos are a very tamable tropical species of gecko growing in the herp trade. They are relatively inexpensive to keep and purchase. Be sure to do enough research on these reptiles before buying one.
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