The Crested gecko is a 7 to 9 inches lizard that’s native to New Caledonia, which is an island country right off the Australian coast. They can live up to 20 years in captivity and they’re generally some of the easiest geckos to take care of.
These geckos can be found in low shrubs and small trees and they prefer the temperatures to remain between 65F and 80F. They’re arboreal creatures and you’ll need to recreate a habitat that meets all their needs. They prefer roomy enclosures and they’re very active.
In this article, we’ll talk about what exactly do you need to prepare a cage for a Crested gecko and how to take care of it.
Crested Gecko Cage Setup
While Crested geckos are very easy to maintain and their bites are not dangerous, you should still be very careful to not give them the chance to escape. When you’ll try to catch it again it might drop its tail, which won’t grow back as other gecko tails would do.
Crested geckos have special toe pads that give them the ability to move on vertical surfaces without any effort. More than that, their tails can greatly add to their agility and they are naturally excellent jumpers. This means you will need to be very careful while you’re setting up the cage.
It’s highly recommended to invest in an enclosure that doesn’t have an opening on top. If it has a sliding door or something similar you will be able to clean the habitat a lot easier. You need to ensure that the enclosure has enough air to be properly ventilated but it’s also secure enough to avoid any unpleasant escaping accidents.
If you have the possibility to house your geckos outside, make sure they have a cool place to stay during the day. These geckos are nocturnal so you also might not want to place their vivarium inside your bedroom, especially if you tend to wake up from anything.
Since geckos are becoming more and more popular as pets all over the world, you will also be able to find lots of reptile-safe products. And when you’re getting ready to set up a tank for a gecko but you have no idea where to begin, you can always invest in a Cage Setup Set.
These kits come with everything you need for the enclosure and with clear instructions on how to put everything together. But if you have a big imagination and you’d rather set everything up all by yourself, make sure you don’t forget anything.
What size tank does a Crested Gecko need?
When you’re looking for a tank you need to keep in mind that Crested geckos need a little bit of space. While other geckos of the same size can live in 10 or 15-gallon cages, Crested geckos thrive best if a pair of two have a 30-gallon tank.
Crested geckos need cages that more taller than they are wide. This is because they are arboreal creatures and they love climbing. There should be enough space for them to have multiple hidings both at the top and at the bottom of the enclosure.
If the vivarium is too small, geckos begin to feel trapped and they get very anxious. This makes them very destructive and will start tearing the whole habitat apart. It’s best to give these geckos the space they need and never put too many geckos in a tank that’s too small.
You should also keep in mind that males are very aggressive with each other and territorial. This means they will attempt to kill one another if you place them in the same tank. And the one who loses won’t have a way to escape.
When it comes to housing them together you need to either house them in pairs of two, male and female or female and female, or a male and two females. They do very well on their own as well. It’s actually recommended to separate them if you notice that they don’t really like each other. That’s a bad fight waiting to happen.
Substrate in the cage
Crested geckos can get sick if they inhale some types of substrates. This is why not too many keepers use sand or other similar types of substrate for their geckos. If you don’t have the time to deal with substrates, it’s ideal to get a reptile carpet instead.
Reptile carpets are little carpets made from natural materials and don’t cause any type of irritation or allergy to your lizard. They can offer a decent look to the cage and is very easy to clean. Spot cleaning is very easy and when it’s time to change it you can hose it down in the garden. There are also machine wash-safe models available.
But carpets don’t look the best and offering a more natural substrate will encourage the gecko’s natural behavior which will make it even more interesting to observe. Most keepers go through various substrates before they find the best match for them and their gecko.
Start by looking at substrates that are safe for the pet, easy to clean, and it would be great if they’d be capable of retaining humidity. The best choices for these geckos are coconut fiber bedding, peat, or moss. They’re excellent for Crested geckos and won’t cause any accidental inhaling or feet scratchings.
If you’re on a budget, you can also opt for paper towels or newspapers. They’re very cheap but they need to be changed daily and they don’t look too aesthetically pleasing. More than that, if you get the wrong ones, your gecko might get skin irritations.
Stay away from paper towels that have been bleached or that have any type of ink on them. The newspaper should also be printed with reptile-safe ink. Crested geckos are known to accidentally ingest substrate while hunting so it’s important that whatever makes their way accidentally inside the gecko won’t hurt it.
Good paper towels are an excellent choice for juveniles as they have a bigger chance to swallow substrate.
Gravel and pebbles make bad good-looking substrates but are hard to clean. You should also avoid non-organic soil substrate and reptile sand.
Heating Requirements For Enclosure
Crested geckos are cold-blooded creatures so they need to regulate their body temperature. You should ensure that the daytime temp is between 72F to 80F and the nighttime temp between 65F and 75F. These are nocturnal geckos so you won’t have to worry about extremely hot basking areas, but they’re still needed and should remain at around 75F.
If the habitat is big enough, it’s ideal to have a few hiding places for each gecko. A hiding area in the heat, one in the cold, and one in between if you can (not a must). This will give the geckos the chance to choose which of the hiding places they prefer.
To know exactly what the temperature inside the vivarium is you can use a temperature gauge. It will also help ensure that the enclosure will not overheat or get too cold. These geckos can’t stand very high temperatures and they can get very anxious.
If you want to observe the geckos at night, you can use are nighttime bulb that can also be used as a heat source. But whatever you do, you should never place any heat source on the top of the tank. These climbing creatures could get too close and suffer burns.
Humidity Requirements in a Vivarium
When it comes to humidity, you will need to maintain it between a moderate and high level. If the humidity gets too high the geckos can start to develop various bacterial health issues. And if it’s too low, they will start having skin issues and trouble shedding.
It’s ideal to maintain 60% during the day and 80% during the night. You can get a spray bottle and start spraying the habitat from time to time to ensure the humidity level is maintained. But this can be a lot of work and it can be very bad when you’re away from home for a few days.
This is why you might want to consider investing in a hygrometer and an automatic mister. The mister can be set on schedule and it will maintain a specific level of humidity. And the hygrometer is used to ensure the humidity remains stable and your geckos remain healthy and happy.
While Crested geckos are nocturnal beings and don’t require special UVB lighting, many experts suggest that a low level of UVB lighting can be beneficial. You’ll have to make sure the level remains under 5% and it will be great for the gecko’s overall health.
Whatever type of lighting you choose to use, it’s important to monitor how much heat it adds to the tank. You might end up overheating the enclosure if you’re not keeping up with it. To avoid anything happening to the geckos in an accident like this it’s recommended to provide a hideaway for each gecko away from the light.
These creatures need between 12 and 14 hours of light each day. This will help their body clock stay normal and the geckos will know when to sleep and when to eat. You can use an automatic system that turns the lights on and shuts them off exactly on time, even when you’re away from home.
After you placed the chosen substrate inside the cage it’s time to start with the decorations. Since Crested geckos love climbing, you should provide as many climbing opportunities as possible. It’s ideal to offer a mix of cork bark, bamboo, branches, driftwood, and vines.
If you’re getting a reptile carpet as a substrate and you want to keep the whole vivarium with fake plants it isn’t a problem. The geckos will still use the plants to hide. But if you have a bio-active substrate, you can also get live plants. This includes dracaena, pothos, philodendron, ficus, etc.
Many keepers advise that you change the placement of the decorations and the hiding areas so the geckos could have some mental exercise as well. It would be nice to make them feel like they’re in a newer home every few months.
How often do you need to clean a Crested Gecko’s cage?
Daily cleaning is very important and it includes removing all the poop from the enclosure. You should also wash the water bowl and refill it with fresh, filtered water. The rest of the cleaning depends on what type of vivarium you set up and what kind of substrate you’re using. The amount of geckos is also important.
If you have a bio-active vivarium, you will have to take everything out, disinfect, and put back together twice a year. Tanks with three geckos will need you to deep-clean the cage every 3 or four months. This is the best type of vivarium for your Crested geckos and the easiest to clean.
However, if you use other types of substrate, you might have to clean it twice a week, weekly, or monthly. Paper towels and newspapers need to be changed at least once a week and almost daily if you have more than two geckos in one enclosure.
Coconut fiber with sphagnum moss can be changed once a month, especially if the tank only has one Crested gecko. The sphagnum moss serves as a great barrier between the substrate and the gecko so you won’t have to worry about accidental eating hazards.
You should also be very careful when you feed the geckos. They might leave some parts behind and you’ll have to clean them out in the next hour or so. If you don’t, they might rot and when your gecko eats them he might get very sick.
Crested geckos are incredibly easy to take care of and they can be very interesting to observe. Unfortunately, they don’t really like handling so you need to be careful. They’re escaping artists and will try to jump from your hands, which will result in injuries.
They’re excellent as first-time geckos and for children. Even if they get angry while you’re handling them, their bite is not strong enough to even cause bleeding. And with time, you might even get your gecko to like hanging out in the palm of your hand. After all, they can live up to 20 years so you have plenty of time to bond with them.