Crested Gecko Care Sheet
Heating and Lighting:
Crested Geckos require low levels of UVB lighting for 10-12hours of the day, this should be between 2-7% UVB and 10-30%UVA, and example bulbs would be an arcadia 5% euro range bulb or a 7% ARC-POD. A low wattage heat bulb (40-50w) in either moonlight blue or infrared is the best heating option as it will raise the ambient air temperature in the enclosure to within the preferred range. Find Crested Gecko Lighting here.
Temperature Preferences in Captivity:
Crested geckos will survive being kept at room temperature in captivity but this is not optimal and it tends to slow down their growth rates and affect their digestion. The optimum temperature range is between 22-27C, we prefer to keep ours at around 25-26C. It is important to note that if the temperature exceeds 28C crested geckos do not fare well and prolonged temperatures above 30C will prove fatal.
On a day to day basis we change the water in crested gecko enclosures so that it is fresh, and using a mister we will give a light spray of water round the enclosure either once or twice per day, we also spot clean any visible waste such as poo’s or uneaten food and provide with fresh food.
Crested geckos are omnivorous meaning they will eat a variety of different things. In the wild they would eat insects, nectar and rotting fruit. Therefore we need to cater for their dietary requirements as best we can in captivity. We feed both live insects and REPASHY crested gecko diet (which is a powdered diet you make up using water, this replaces the fruit and nectar that they would eat in the wild). We tend to use crickets as a feeder insect as they are active at the same time as the geckos. The feeding routine we use is on day 1 we put live food in, on day 2 we put artificial diet in, on day 3 we leave the artificial diet in but don’t add any more food. By day 4 we remove the artificial diet and add live food (therefore repeating the process every three days). As far as quantities go we recommend adding about 15-20 crickets every three days per gecko and a tablespoon of artificial diet every three days per crested gecko. If you find your crested gecko isn’t eating as many insects and the number in the enclosure is gradually increasing adjust the amount you’re adding by reducing it a bit. Do make sure that there are enough insects for your gecko to be able to find them; at any given time if you can’t visually count at least 10 insects chances are your gecko/s are struggling to find them.
We recommend supplementing every insect feed by dusting the insects in Nutrobal (calcium and multivitamin supplement), you do not need to add any additional supplementation to the Repashy artificial diet. If you are using T5 High output UVB lighting, use calci dust or another similar calcium supplement without vitamin d3 in it.
Many people refer to crested geckos as being nocturnal but in truth they are actually crepuscular which means they are most active at dusk and dawn however they do remain active throughout the night.
Crested geckos shed approximately once per month, so long as you are misting the enclosure and the relative humidity in the enclosure reaches 70-85% after misting then they should not have any issues shedding. Like most other geckos they will eat the shed skin so often you will not even notice that they have shed. Do make sure to check the tips of the toes, tail and round the head for any stuck shed which may need carefully removing.
If kept under optimum conditions crested geckos grow at a remarkably fast rate, when they hatch they weigh approximately 1g and within 6 months they will weigh 15-25g and should reach adult size between 12-18 months of age at approximately 40-45g in weight. They reach sexual maturity at around 18 months of age but have been known to breed from 12 months.
As well as spot cleaning the enclosure daily, every 6-8 weeks the crested gecko should be removed from the enclosure and the whole enclosure should be emptied of all the furnishings and substrate. Disinfect the enclosure and furnishings using a reptile safe disinfectant such as F10 veterinary disinfectant or either Tamodine-E or Ark-klens. All of these disinfectants are effective in their cleaning action without leaving harmful residues. Fresh Substrate should be added and the enclosure reconstructed before replacing the crested gecko.
Crested geckos are great for handling and tame down really well. They can drop their tail (autotomy) if they are handled roughly or if their tail is pinched or pulled but this scenario is unlikely as their tail is prehensile (they can grip with it) so they do not drop it easily.
If correctly cared for crested geckos are one of the easiest geckos to breed, once the geckos are over 18 months old and 40g in weight they will normally breed themselves without any special additional consideration. Make sure that there is at least 3 inches of damp substrate in the base of the enclosure and the female will deposit her eggs there. They lay 2 eggs once per month for approximately 6-7 months of the year usually starting in the spring. The eggs need to be incubated in damp vermiculite at 24-27C for the best chance of them hatching in approximately 8-10 weeks. During breeding season monitor the weight of your females and make sure they do not drop below 80% of their pre-breeding season weight. If they lose more than 15-20% of their weigh then separate them from the male to reduce further egg production. Once mated at the beginning of the season they are able to retain sperm and lay fertile eggs for the duration of the season so even when separated from the male they may still produce a couple more clutches of eggs. Eggs production slows down from around 7-8 years of age but it is unclear whether they undergo breeding cessation in old age like their close relative the New Caledonian Giant gecko.
If you have followed the advice in this care sheet and bought your gecko from a reputable dealer than you shouldn’t have any need for this section as crested geckos are one of the hardiest and disease resistant geckos in captivity. Some of the more frequently encountered problems are dealt with briefly.
1. MBD (metabolic bone disease)
Caused by a lack of dietary calcium or insufficient calcium reserves in egg laying female geckos, may be observed in its mild form as a crinkling of the tail. This is not a sign due to the bones but because calcium ions are needed in the blood to control muscular contractions so the crinkled tail is due to the tail muscles being in a state of spasm. An increased level of calcium in the diet (such as by putting ZOLCAL-D in the water) can easily rectify mild cases. If untreated the animal will continue to deteriorate and will begin to break down its bones in order to gain the calcium ions it requires for metabolic processes. This can lead to the bones becoming weak causing conditions such as bendy leg (exactly what it sounds like) and rubber jaw (again this is exactly what it sounds like), the latter of which can be potentially fatal as the animal can lose the ability to feed therefore appropriate steps should be made to combat it in the short term before veterinary intervention is necessary. This condition is easily preventable and curable in the early stages but serious cases are hard to treat.
2. Floppy Tail
This is linked to MBD but it also appears that some crested geckos are genetically pre-disposed to this condition. This is where the animal’s tail droops over its head or to one side when resting with its head facing downwards on a vertical surface. This is because the pelvic bones have become deformed and the pelvis has twisted and can no longer support the weight of the tail. This condition in its own right is purely cosmetic but some people have reported difficulties in females laying eggs if the pelvis has become deformed. There is no treatment for this condition it can only be prevented by supplying plenty of calcium and lots of hiding places so that the geckos don’t rest head down on the sides of the enclosure.
3. Egg Binding
This is where female geckos are unable to lay their eggs, more often than not this is due to them retaining the eggs due to lack of a suitable nest site, once retained the eggs can harden within the female making them more difficult to lay, therefore they become egg-bound. This condition is fatal if not treated as the eggs will fester and become infected within the female leading to septicaemia and therefore death. Veterinary intervention will be necessary in most cases, OXYTOCIN can be used to induce laying if the case is caught early enough but otherwise surgery may be unavoidable. This condition is very rare if the animals are kept correctly
4.CRYPTOSPORIDIUM One positive factor with crested geckos is that there has, as yet, has never been a confirmed case of crested geckos contracting cryptosporidium, still be careful though, as especially in a collection of animals this can be a devastating disease.
5. Trichomonas infection
This is a bacterial infection caused by there being a bloom in natural gut bacteria levels. This mirrors the symptoms of cryptosporidiosis in that runny mucus like stools will be passed coupled by lethargy and general weight loss in the affected gecko. Can be treated with BAYTRIL or other broad spectrum antibiotics but is often accompanied with a yeast infection which will also require treatment with NYSTATIN. A high trichomonas count can be brought on by other bacterial infections, being kept in dirty enclosures or stress. This condition is contagious to other crested geckos so affected individuals should be isolated and treated accordingly.
Exactly what you think they would be, normally round worms, nematodes or pin worms, cause runny stools and weight loss. Easily treated with a course of PANACUR. If an individual in a collection contracts worms its best to worm the whole collection as they are quite easily transmitted.
7. Eye Problems
I have noticed crested geckos seem susceptible to varying eye conditions which may be developed for no obvious reason, they are rare but if spotted seek veterinary advice. They rarely pose serious health risks even if they are not treatable.
Hopefully none of the last section will be necessary as if quarantine procedures have been performed and advice has been followed.
Tips and Tricks:
- Fruit Puree/ baby food is often recommended but with the artificial diets now available there are considerably better options so I would recommend using these rather than baby food.
- You can mix a little honey into the Repashy artificial diet if you find they are reluctant to eat it.
- Dubia cockroaches and wax moths make a great alternative live food as a treat.
- To remove water marks from the glass in their enclosure the safest thing to use is 50:50 water and white vinegar sprayed onto the glass and wiped off with a cloth.
- Crested geckos take around 2 weeks to settle