Crested Gecko Caresheet

Below you will find a crested gecko (Correlophus ciliatus) caresheet written by Kodie and Chris of The Lizard Horde. It contains all of the information you need to know about keeping cresteds in captivity. The care for gargoyle geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) is exactly the same. This information was put together after extensive up-to-date research on the subject to provide the absolute best information on caring for your reptile.

In addition, these are also the guidelines we follow to take care of our own animals. We guarantee any animal purchased from us was raised with excellent care and specialized attention.

If you have any further questions, feel free to send us an email. We are always happy to help!

General Information

  1. Crested Geckos are arboreal geckos native to the island of New Caledonia. Their scientific name is Correlophus ciliatus (formerly Rhacodactylus ciliatus). The “cilia-” in their scientific name refers to their eyelashes and spikes that crown the head. They have sticky feet that allow them to climb various surfaces easily. Since they were considered extinct until 1994, it is unknown exactly how long their lifespan is. There are wild caught, adult geckos from 1994 who are over 16 years old.

  2. Cresteds have a semi-prehensile tail which they have the ability to drop if frightened or grabbed by their tail. Unlike most geckos, their tail does not have the ability to regenerate once dropped. Strangely enough, they are perfectly fine without a tail as it does not affect their life. Not to mention, most adult crested geckos are found without a tail in the wilds of New Caledonia.

  3. The fun thing about crested geckos is that each one has their own personality. Some geckos are naturally tolerable to handling while others are not. With proper, occasional handling, they can become used to being picked up or even come to the front of their enclosure when you approach them. As with any animal, caution should be considered when handling your gecko. Young geckos are more delicate to temperature, humidity and handling than adult geckos, but regardless, cresteds are found to be a very hardy species.

Diet

  1. Crested Geckos should be fed primarily Allen Repashy’s Crested Gecko Diet (CGD), which is a meal replacement powder specially formulated for this species that is then mixed with water. The current ratio of powder to water is 1:2 by weight.

  2. Calcium-dusted insects, such as crickets and roaches, may be fed occasionally once the gecko has accepted a primary staple of CGD.

  3. Some people are told that it is okay to use baby food as a diet for crested geckos. Absolutely DO NOT feed your gecko baby food as a meal or treat. Please! Baby food is the number one leading cause of metabolic bone disease (MBD) in crested geckos, a condition where the bones and muscles become weakened and deformed. MBD is irreversible. Once the damage is done, its done. If a current diet of baby food is not changed, it will ultimately lead to death.

Temperature and Humidity

  1. Temperature range should be 68-80 degrees Fahrenheit with seasonal variations of five degrees. At the extremes of this temperature scale, you really want to allow the animals to be able to move to a localized area of their habitat where temperatures are 68-78 degrees.

  2. Humidity range should be on a daily cycle anywhere from 70% - 100% after misting the entire enclosure with a spray bottle. It should then cycle down to 40% or 50% before you spray their terrarium again. Misting should take place when the lights go out in the evening. Depending on your localized climate, the amount of times you will have to mist could change. For example, if you live in a humid climate, you may only need to provide a water bowl and spray once every two days. If you live in a dry climate, you may actually have to spray two or three times a day and also use a water bowl. At our home, it is acceptable to spray only once a day.

  3. Humidity is important so that your gecko can shed by itself with no problems. They will eat their shed while they pull it off. If there is any stuck shed after he/she is finished, place him in a small container with a lukewarm, wet paper towel for a few minutes then attempt to pull it off yourself. Lack of humidity may cause shed to get stuck in their toes, causing them to not be able to stick to the glass. Proper care should be taken to remove this shed.

Housing

  1. A single adult crested gecko should be provided 10 to 15 gallons of tank space, orientated vertically, with lots of climbing “furniture” spread throughout their home. A hide (such as a coconut, cork bark hollow or cave) should be provided for sleeping quarters during the day. Fake or live plants (bromeliads, ficus benjamina, pothos, etc.) need to be supplied to maintain proper humidity and provide the geckos with optional concealment.

  2. Mixing multiple species in the same habitat is frowned upon in the reptile community. There are too many safety risks involved to start with. Crested geckos do fine, if not better, living without a companion. Male crested geckos should definitely not be housed together as they will fight (sometimes to the death). Female crested geckos may be housed together on rare occasion, but most of the time they do not get along. We do not house our unsexed hatchlings together in order to avoid tail nips and loss.

  3. Housing a male and female together will ultimately lead to breeding and added stress to the female. You will most certainly end up with at least ten eggs that will hatch into baby geckos that you will need to find homes for.

Ground Cover (aka Substrate)

  1. Paper towels are the easiest choice for maintenance and they hold a good amount of humidity. If you are looking for a cheap natural substrate, we recommend going to your local home and garden store and picking up organic dirt (with no fertilizer or additives) and non-silica based sand, thoroughly mixing the two with a ratio of 75% dirt and 25% sand. Sphagnum moss patches can be thrown on top to help with humidity and give it a naturalistic appearance. Otherwise, we recommend Zilla’s Fir and Sphagnum Moss bedding.

Morphs and Patterning

  1. If you are looking to purchase a crested gecko for a pet with no intent to breed, choose whatever morph that you have a preference for. However, if you plan on breeding crested geckos to sell in the future you should have some knowledge of what is currently desirable in the reptile market. For example, as of July 2012, the current morphs that are most wanted are patternless reds, red or yellow super dalmatians, and 100% pinstripes with lateral and dorsal lines. The reason for this is because each female crested can produce about ten hatchlings a year. Since you’ve bred these animals, you are now responsible for finding them homes. This can be difficult if the morphs you bred are not currently desired by a wider audience. Keeping this in mind over all, there is nothing wrong with breeding projects that YOU find aesthetically pleasing!

  2. Some crested gecko morphs include: pinstripe, phantom pinstripe, patternless, dalmatian, super dalmatian, tiger, brindle, harlequin, flame and white fringe.

  3. Traits that areis also very desirable include: large crests on the head and raised crests along the body.

Gender

  1. It is impossible to tell if a baby gecko is male or female until they are about one to one and a half years old. Experienced breeders may be able to sex a gecko with the use of a photo loupe but even then it is only a probable guess, not 100%. Males are characterized with a bulge near the base of their tail while females are characterized with a lack there of. Males also have a row of pores on their underside near their vent which is what the breeder is looking for when trying to sex a young gecko.

Breeding

  1. When of the proper weight, these geckos breed very well in captivity. Males and females should be at least thirty-five grams before being bred. More than forty grams is recommended if this is your first time breeding them.

  2. After one successful copulation, females will lay every thirty days for the rest of the year until temperatures cool for the winter.

  3. This can be a very stressing time for a female gecko, so a calcium increase in their diet may be necessary.

  4. A moist lay box of dirt and sphagnum moss must be supplied for the female to dig in and lay her eggs. She will cradle the two eggs between her back legs for a few hours after laying. When she leaves them alone, it is safe to remove them from the lay box and place them into the incubator with care. Be careful not to turn the eggs as it may damage the embryo inside.

Egg Incubation

  1. Eggs should be incubated at a temperature of 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Hotter incubation temperatures means faster hatchlings times. This may actually be harmful as it is proven that longer incubation times means a more developed gecko. We recommend incubating at 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit, which usually takes 80-100 days of incubation to ensure well-developed hatchlings.

  2. Newborns and hatchlings should be housed in smaller sized Kritter Keepers with paper towel substrate for safety reasons. As stated previously, unsexed geckos can be housed together but risk a high chance of tail nips and loss.