Crested Gecko Care Sheet

DESCRIPTION
Rhacodactylus Ciliatus

The Crested Gecko (R. Ciliatus) is native to New Caledonia.  Cresteds are distinguished
from others in the Rhacodacylus Family in part by the lateral rows of decorative scales
(crests) that run down the backside of the animal.  These crests start above the eyes,
giving them the appearance of having eyelashes, and continue down the neck and back.  
Like many other reptiles, cresteds can be found in a  variety of colors and morphs.

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Crested Geckos were thought to be extinct since the late 1800's until they were      
    re-discovered on the islands of New Caledonia in 1994.  They have since been bred in
    captivity in countries all over the world with great success.  Thus, they have become
    one of the most popular geckos in the pet trade.
  • Crested geckos can lose their tails, like many other lizards.  However, unlike most
    others, crested's tails do not regenerate.  In fact, it would be rare for a crested
    gecko to be found in the wild complete with a tail.  It is quite funny looking but
    interestingly does not adversely affect the life of the gecko.  They are just as good
    breeders, hunters, and pets as those who have a tail.

HOUSING

Cresteds area an arboreal species (tree dwelling).  Therefore their enclosure should be
set up with consideration to height rather than width or depth.  This is their preference,
but is not an absolute necessity.  A 15 gal. aquarium with a full screen top is perfectly
suitable to house a single adult.  Hatchlings and juveniles up to 4 months of age can be
comfortably housed in something as small as a 5-10 gal. aquarium or a plastic kritter
keeper equivalent in size.  
If you plan on housing multiple animals together as in a breeding group, a vertical, full
screen setup would be ideal.  Live plants can be used and seem to be appreciated by the
geckos.  However, breeding females will readily lay a clutch of eggs in the soil of your
potted plant.  This obstacle can be overcome by placing a layer of smooth rocks too large
to be swallowed by the geckos at the base of the plant.  Included in this setup should be
lots of dry branches for climbing arranged at different heights.  An upright tub of cork
bark makes a great vertical hide and don't forget to use a small shallow water dish kept
full of clean water.  As for the bottom of the enclosure, a number of substrates can be
used.  If you are using a glass or plastic cage, I would recommend using a 1" layer of
supersoil brand potting soil, or the ESU's Jungle Mix.  If you are using a full screen
enclosure, I would recommend paper towels or even news paper.  Personally, I don't use
any substrate at all in my breeder's cages.  In a full screen cage it is not necessary.  

HEAT AND HUMIDITY

One of the greatest things about crested geckos, is their ability to thrive at room
temperature.  Daytime temps should reach somewhere between 75-85 degrees F.  Night
time temps should drop no lower than 65 degrees F.  Extremes are between 65-85
degrees F.  The geckos shouldn't be kept at either of these extremes for too long.  70-80
is ideal and if kept at this optimum temperature range, you will avoid under or overheating  
the enclosure.  If temps are dropping below 65 degrees F, a low wattage nocturnal spot
heat lamp may be placed on top of the enclosure.
A relative 50-75 % humidity should be kept in th enclosure at all times.  If desired
humidity levels are not achieved when the animal goes into shed, complications can arise
that can result in the loss of a digit(s), and even stress related death.  Raising the
humidity can be accomplished by lightly misting the cage with a mister bottle once or twice
a day as needed.  Screen enclosures obviously don't hold any humidity of their own, so the
ambient room humidity will have to be monitored.  You can monitor the humidity in the
enclosure or in the room with a hygrometer, a devise that measures the moisture in the
air.  These can be purchased at just about any pet supply store.  

LIGHTING

Crested Geckos are nocturnal, as are most geckos.  It has been debated whether or not
crested geckos, or any other nocturnal gecko really benefits from exposure to UVB
lighting.  It is my opinion that cresteds do not need UVB as they spend their days in the
wild hiding and sleeping until the sun goes down.  However, if you are using live plants in
your setup, they most certainly need exposure to full spectrum lighting and UVB.  In my
breeding facility, I use florescent light to illuminate the entire room where the animals
are kept during daylight hours.  Geckos set their biological clock by the length of daylight
hours.  During the breeding season (Feb.-Oct.) the geckos should have a 12 hour
photoperiod.  During the cooler winter months, reduce the photoperiod to 8-10 hours.  
This will effectively flip the switch in your gecko's brain that says that it is time to stop
breeding and start the cool down, or rest period.

FEEDING

Hatchlings usually start feeding around 7-10 days old.  They will start on 2 week old
crickets and begin feeding on 3 week old crickets within 1-2 months.  A good rule of
thumb is to never feed a gecko, especially hatchlings, a cricket whose body is larger than
the distance between the gecko's eyes.  Hatchlings should be fed 3 or 4 appropriately
sized crickets 4 times a week.  They have veracious appetites and you will be amazed at
how quickly they grow.  The crickets should be dusted at least two of the four feeding
with a calcium supplement such as "minerall" with vit. D3.  One of the four feedings should
include crickets dusted with a multi-vitamin supplement such as "rep-cal".  
Adult geckos should be fed 3 times a week on fully grown crickets.  An adult will likely
consume 5-6 crickets in a feeding.  As with hatchling and juvenile geckos, the crickets
should be dusted with a calcium and multi-vitamin supplement.  Crested geckos will also
feed on nectar fruits such as peach and apricot.  This should be done at least once a  
week.  I prefer not to feed it to my geckos until they are around 4-5 months of age.  
Commercial baby foods work great.  Peach, apricot, pear and banana seem to be their
favorite.  Just mix in a little calcium powder and leave it for them overnight.  It seems to
get bad and mold rather quickly so I do not suggest leaving it in their cage longer than a
day.  There is also commercial diets for fruit eating geckos available by T-Rex and a few
other manufacturers as well.  
Note:  Breeding females should be supplemented every feeding and observed very closely
for calcium deficiency.  Physical signs of the deficiency are kinked or floppy tail, rubber
like jaw, significant weight loss, inhibited use of rear legs, etc.  You can actually check and
see a crested's calcium reserves.  Prompt the gecko to open it's mouth by rubbing at the
corners (be careful not to get bit).  They are located on the roof of the mouth.  You will
see two white sacs.  If you have a breeding female that is showing signs of calcium
deficiency and/or lacking these reserves, you have a problem.  Immediately remover her
from the enclosure, house her separately and do not resume breeding until the next
season.  

CRICKETS AND GUTLOADING

When you purchase crickets from the pet store, chances are they haven't been eating
anything except for the cardboard box they were shipped in.  If you are lucky, the pet
store threw in a piece of potato or two.  Obviously not too nutritious.  
Gutloading is the
process by which you feed your feeders a fortified, calcium rich food, which in turn ends
up in the belly of your gecko.  I use romaine lettuce as their water source, and I feed
them carrots, apples, and commercial gutload foods that you can find at most pet stores.  
Just remember, the better your crickets eat, the better your gecko eats.  




Thank you so much for taking interest in this wonderful gecko species.  Please feel
free to contact me with any questions or concerns you have.  I would be happy to
help in any way I can.

Care Sheet by:
Daniel Vega- Owner
The Gecko Hut
www.thegeckohut.com
thegeckohut@yahoo.com
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