Also available in PDF Format - Crested Gecko Care Sheet (PDF)
These are basic guidelines on how to care for your crested geckos. Mostly things that I've picked up from other breeders and my own research and experience. Since these geckos are relatively new to the captive world, their husbandry is always changing. I strongly recommend reading Rhacodactylus, The Complete Guide to their Selection and Care, by Phillipe de Vosjoli, Frank Fast, and Allen Repashy. Also, keep an eye on forums and reptile magazines for new information. Do your own research!
Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus)
You can make your Crested Gecko cage as simple or as elaborate as you like.
-I like using an enclosure around 18"widex24"highx18"deep for 2-3 adults. An 18"cube will work well for 1-2 adults. Bigger is always better, though. I'm not really a fan of the all-screen enclosures, as the humidity requirements for these guys are too hard to keep when there's too much ventilation. That's just my personal preference, though.
-Do not house males together. They can and most likely will fight, resulting in wounds and possibly even death of one or the other. Small babies and females can be housed together as long as they are the same size to prevent bullying. Even though they can be safely housed together, still keep an eye on them just in case they don't get along. Separate if that happens.
-For a very small baby, I recommend keeping it in something smaller (like a kritter keeper) for a few months to make it easier for the gecko to find its food until it's big enough to be moved into a bigger space.
-For substrate I recommend a coconut bedding like Bed-A-Beast or Forest Bedding. That will help in keeping the humidity higher and wont grow mold. Many other substrates will work, but stay away from any kind of Pine or Cedar!! For babies and sub-adults, I use paper towels - it makes it much easier to change and clean, and you can easily see if they've excreted recently. Poop = eating!
-Your gecko will need something to hide behind/under during the day while they sleep. I use large leafy plants and they usually hide inside the leaves, but anything will work... egg cartons, retail hides, etc.
-These are arboreal geckos that love to climb, hang around and explore! So make sure to include something for them to climb on like branches or vines. If you're using wood found outside, make sure to sterilize it first!
- Crested geckos are most comfortable at room temperature, the exceptions to that are if your house gets hotter than the mid 80’s on a regular basis or cooler than low 70’s. If your home does get cold you can add a heat lamp when the temperature drops. If your house gets hotter than low 80's and you don't have an air conditioner, than I'd suggest looking into a different type of reptile. Overheating can stress out your gecko, and it can be fatal.
-Humidity is best achieved by spraying the enclosure once a day, or after everything has completely dried out; which is usually once a day. I like to spray in the evening just before it gets dark, so the glass still has drops of water on it when they start waking up. They like to lick the water off the glass and decor, but a small water dish inside the enclosure is also a good idea.
-Crested geckos are nocturnal and because of this do not require a UV light, but I use 2.0 UV bulbs in my display tanks because I do have live plants that need the UV. It wont harm the geckos to have it, but they don't necessarily need it. They do need a photo-period, though. Meaning - they need an obvious day/night cycle.
-I do not recommend feeding baby food. The nutritional value of baby food just isn't the same as what your gecko needs. There's an easy to use, all-in-one powdered feed (you add the water) you can use for these guys that's commonly called CGD (Crested Gecko Diet), produced by Allen Repashy that can be found at LLL Reptile and other places online, as well as most pet stores that carry reptile-related goods. Pet stores usually carry it in a small 2 oz jar labeled as "T-Rex Crested Gecko Diet". Most online dealers carry the larger resealable bags, which are useful if you have more than one gecko to feed. It can be used alone, or fed with insects in between feedings. Wonderful for those of you who would love to keep reptiles, but aren't fond of keeping live feeder insects around!
-I feed my geckos every other day using the CGD, about half a teaspoon per adult. I also feed insects about once a week, forgoing the CGD on that day.
-The CGD has enough calcium and vitamins in it on its own that you don't need to leave a dish out of the loose stuff, but I do recommend dusting the insects with calcium. Phoenix worms have enough calcium content that it's not needed.
-Some of my cresteds absolutely love insects, and others wont even look at them, much less eat them. Try different kinds and see what they like. A varied diet is always the best! Soft-bodied insects like phoenix worms, dubia roaches, butterworms, silkworms, and crickets all work great. Make sure the size of the insect is no bigger than the width of the gecko's head!
-Sometimes a gecko will drop it's tail for a number of reasons such as stress, rough handling, bitten by a predator or even another gecko. These guys do not regenerate their tails, but they can and do live full and healthy lives without it! I personally don't think this lowers the value of the gecko, as it's only cosmetic.
-Crested geckos tolerate handling quite a bit better than most other types of geckos, but you still have to make sure not to stress them out with over-handling. Most cresteds like to jump, so when you're holding one, make sure you're standing or sitting in a place that they wont land on something hard if they do end up falling. Keeping one hand in front of the other and just letting them "hand-walk" until they calm down is usually a good idea.