Crested Gecko Care Sheet: The Complete Guide

Crested Geckos are exotic animals from the rainforests of New Caledonia and require specific care requirements.

They’re known as one of the best reptiles for beginners because of their ability to thrive in different environments and their docile temperament.

In this Crested Gecko care guide, I will discuss everything you need to know to provide a Crested Gecko with optimal care and quality of life.

Crested Gecko Care Overview

Crested Gecko Care Overview


Key Characteristics
  • Size: 5 – 8 Inches
  • Weight: 25 – 50 Grams
  • Life Span: 10 – 20 Years
  • Temperament: Calm
  • Living Zone: Arboreal
  • Diet: Omnivore

Tank Requirements
  • Tank Size: 18” x 18” x 36” – 24” x 24” x 48”
  • Cool Area Temperature: 70°F – 75°F (21°C – 24°C)
  • Basking Area Temperature: 82°F – 85°F (28°C – 29°C)
  • Nighttime Temperature: 65°F – 72°F (18°C – 22°C)
  • Humidity Levels: 60% – 80%
  • Substrate: Bioactive | Cypress Mulch | Reptisoil | Paper Towels | Newspaper

Care Schedule
  • Daily: Spot check cleaning | Feeding 3 days a week
  • Weekly: Deep full clean | Temperature check
  • Monthly: Equipment check

Scientific Classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptillia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Diplodactylidae
  • Genus: Correlophus
  • Species: C. Ciliatus
  • Conservation Status: Vulnerable
Crested-Gecko-Sitting On a Rock with Black background

Ideal Tank Set Up Overview


Tank Supplies

50 Gallon Tank

UVA Lighting

Thermometer

Hygrometer

Hide Spots

Water Dish

Substrate

Decorations


Diet

Crickets

Grasshoppers

Waxworms

Silkworms

Mango

Watermelon

Strawberry

Nectar

Crested Gecko Habitat

Crested Geckos (Cresties) are hardy reptiles and can live in a variety of habitats. I recommend enclosures made of glass or plastic for a sturdy structure. And front-opening doors to make access easy for you when interacting with your pet.

Crested Gecko Habitat Size

Cresties are arboreal reptiles, meaning they live off the ground in trees. Because of this, it’s recommended to buy an enclosure offering height rather than width or depth.

Crested Gecko Enclosure Size Requirements
Hatchling Crested Gecko12” x 12” x 12”
Juvenile Crested Gecko18” x 18” x 36”
Adult Crested Gecko18” x 18” x 36” – 24” x 24” x 48”

In my experience, Crested Geckos use most of the space offered to them. So I always say “bigger is better” regarding their habitat size.

Crested Gecko Temperature

Providing a heat source in your Crested Gecko’s enclosure is necessary for them to live happy and healthy lives. If you leave the enclosure at room temperature it can cause illness, such as impaction.

It’s important to note cresties are ectotherms, meaning they’re unable to regulate their body temperature. They’ll use external heat sources to warm up and cool down. Because of this, we need to provide a thermogradient.

To create a thermogradient you need a UVA bulb (basking bulb) placed at the top of the enclosure and a natural gradient will occur from top to bottom. Your crestie will then move to the top of the enclosure to bask and warm up, and move down the enclosure when it wants to cool down.

Pro Tip: Provide plenty of branches to allow your crestie to roam freely throughout their enclosure.

Crested Gecko Temperature Requirements
Basking Area (top of enclosure)82°F – 85°F (28°C – 29°C)
Cool Area (bottom of enclosure)70°F – 75°F (21°C – 24°C)
Nighttime Temperature65°F – 72°F (18°C – 22°C)

It’s important to regularly check the enclosure’s temperatures to ensure they’re at the correct levels.

Crested Gecko Lighting

Crested Geckos are both nocturnal and crepuscular, meaning they’re more active at night, dusk, and dawn. But this doesn’t mean we don’t need to provide them with any lighting.

Lighting is important to regulate their circadian rhythm. This study by Dr. Frances Baines shows Crested Geckos benefit from 14 hours of light per day in the summer months and 10 hours of light per day in the winter.

Cresties don’t need any light source at night, they have amazing eye function in the dark. Even lights labeled specifically for nighttime use such as blue, red, and black bulbs are not recommended. They’ll only disturb their sleep pattern and will lead to stress.

UVB Lighting

UVB lighting isn’t needed for Crested Geckos to survive. But, studies have shown it improves their overall health and quality of life. For example, it helps with Vitamin D3 synthesis. Promoting healthy bone growth and combatting metabolic bone disease.

For these reasons, I recommend the use of UVB bulbs. You’ll need a UVB T5.0 bulb for the best results, these are for reptiles native to woodland habitats.

Crested Gecko Humidity

Crested Geckos are native to the rainforests of New Caledonia, because of this we need to replicate the humidity levels as best as possible.

You’ll need to create relative humidity levels between 60% – 80%. This can be easily achieved by conducting regular misting and providing moisture-retentive substrates.

Be careful not to mist too much, as too much moisture in the enclosure is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. I recommend allowing the humidity to drop to around 40% – 50% before misting again. 

We can monitor the humidity levels within the enclosure by using a quality digital hygrometer.

Crested Gecko Substrate

Substrate is another way of saying “bedding” or “flooring” We use it to cover the floor of the enclosure.

Ideal substrates are capable of holding water to allow the humidity levels to remain at the needed levels.

Examples of water-retentive substrates are reptisoil, cypress mulch, and bioactive. I recommend having the substrate around 3” 6” in depth to allow burrowing opportunities.

You can also use cost-effective substrates like paper towels or newspapers. These make the cleaning process faster but aren’t a natural substrate and don’t aid with raising humidity levels. Because of this, you may need to do more misting when using substrates like these.

Crested Gecko Substrate Options
Water Retentive SubstratesCost Effective Substrates
ReptisoilPaper towels
Cypress mulchNewspaper
Bioactive

Crested Gecko Cleaning Schedule

You need to maintain the hygiene of your Crested Geckos habitat to keep them healthy. You’ll need to conduct daily spot checks for feces, leftover food, and spoiled substrates.

Then once a month you’ll need to do a full clean. Below is a checklist for conducting full enclosure cleaning.

  1. Wash hands
  2. Remove Crested Gecko from the enclosure
  3. Remove all waste food, feces, and spoiled substrates
  4. Use reptile-safe disinfectants on branches, rocks, and the enclosure walls then rinse off thoroughly
  5. Return Crested Gecko back into the enclosure
  6. Wash hands

Reptiles carry Salmonella so routinely washing hands before and after interaction is good practice to prevent the spread of infection.

Crested Gecko Diet

Crested Gecko Being Held and Fed with a Pair of Tongs

Crested Geckos eat an omnivorous diet consisting of insects and fruits. However, you can feed them a commercially made powder to feed them instead of insects. It provides all the necessary nutrition necessary for healthy growth.

I prefer to offer a varied diet offering insects and commercially prepared food to allow them to use their hunting instincts. I recommend using foods from Repashy, Pangea, and Arcadia.

Crested Gecko Feeding Schedule:

  • Baby Crested Gecko: Everyday
  • Juvenile Crested Gecko: 4 days a week
  • Adult Crested Gecko: 3 days a week

Important: When feeding your Crested Gecko, make sure the food is no larger than the space between their eyes to prevent choking hazards.

Always have a shallow dish with fresh water available in their enclosure for them to drink from. Sometimes your crestie will drink water droplets from your misting instead of the water dish.

Crested Gecko Food

Crested Gecko Safe Food Table
InsectsFruits
CricketsMango
MealwormsWatermelon
GrasshoppersStrawberries
RoachesNectar
WaxwormsPollen
SilkwormGrapes
NightcrawlerFig

How To Handle Crested Geckos

When you bring your Crested Gecko home for the first time, you shouldn’t handle them for 3-4 weeks. This is to allow them to settle into their new home and get into a feeding schedule without stress.

When you begin the process of handling your crestie, do it slowly. Allow them to smell your hand and become used to your scent. Then gradually they’ll become comfortable and begin to climb into your hand. 

I recommend keeping handling sessions short, around 5 – 10 minutes in the beginning. This can then be increased when your bond becomes stronger.

Please note: Like any animal with teeth, Crested Geckos can bite. But this is usually a quick nip and you may not even notice it. If your crestie does bite you, calmly return them to their enclosure as they only bite out of fear.

How Big Do Crested Geckos Get?

Crested Geckos are medium-sized geckos and an adult can range between 5” – 8” in length. Usually, half of a cresties length consists of its tail.

The weight of a Crested Gecko ranges from 25 grams – 50 grams. This is when they’ve reached adult maturity and are capable of reproducing. 

Crested Gecko Behaviors

Crested Geckos tend to have a laidback temperament. When they’re comfortable with their owners they’ll happily interact and play. But some things will change their behaviors and it’s important to understand what these are and what to do when it happens.

Shedding

The shedding process for reptiles is an uncomfortable one, they become itchy, lethargic, and generally irritable. So it’s best to leave them alone and limit handling.


You can help your crestie during the shedding process by raising the humidity levels to soften their skin. Provide rough surfaces like bark or rocks for them to rub against. And provide moist sphagnum hide spots for them to relax in.

Brumation

The brumation process is the reptile equivalent of hibernation, during the colder months when food is scarce and temperature levels are low.

During this time your crestie will become lethargic and spend a lot of their time in the hide spots provided.

It’s important you still offer food when they’re brumating in case they wake up and want to eat. But you’ll need to remove any uneaten food daily to prevent mold.

Cohabitation

Crested Geckos are solitary animals and because of this, it’s best to house them alone. There are risks of fighting for dominance, food, and basking spots.

The only time it’s recommended for cresties to be housed together is during the breeding process.

Enrichment

It’s important to provide enrichment activities for your Crested Gecko in their enclosure. They’ll enjoy climbing, burrowing and even just hanging from vines.

If you don’t provide things for your crestie to do, they’ll become bored and lazy. This will lead to an unhealthy and overweight little reptile.

Crested Gecko Health & Welfare

Healthy Crested Geckos have clear bright eyes and pupils that will react to changes in light. They’ll have smooth skin and have no kinks in their spine or tail.

Disease Concerns

It’s important to recognize what a healthy Crested Gecko looks like and what their feces look like. This will come with time, but here are a few things to watch out for when caring for your crestie.

  • Abnormal feces
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Discoloration
  • Lethargic
  • Loss in appetite

Tailless Crested Geckos

In the wild, Crested Geckos usually lose their tails. It’s commonly referred to as “taillessness”, this is completely normal.

There isn’t anything you can do to prevent it, it’ll either happen or not. But it’s nothing to be concerned with.

FAQs

How Long Do Crested Geckos Live?

Crested Geckos live between 10 – 20 years in captivity. Their lifespan hasn’t been greatly studied due to them only being rediscovered in 1994.

How Much Do Crested Geckos Cost?

The prices of Crested Geckos can vary, you can easily pick one up for $30 – $40. But if you want a specific Crested Gecko morph you could end up paying $400+ depending on the rarity.

Are Crested Geckos Good Pets?

Yes, Crested Geckos are good pets. They’re great for beginner reptile keepers and experienced ones.

Summary

There you have it, a guide on how to care for Crested Geckos. If you’re a beginner and want a reptile pet, a crestie is the one for you.

They’re forgiving with mistakes thanks to their hardy nature and they’re easy to care for requirements. But this doesn’t mean Crested Gecko’s care should be taken lightly. You still need to have a high-quality setup, and routines for cleaning, feeding, and general interaction.