Crested Gecko Setup and Care

Crested geckos are an arboreal species that comes from the temperate rain forests of New Caledonia. These forest have a fairly stable temperature year-round. The temperature ranges from 60-80 degrees, making crested geckos adapted to living at room temperature. The catch about this temperature is, they do not survive long above 85 degrees. If you do not have a way to cool your house off in the event of a heat wave or during the summer months crested will not live long in your care. It is always a good idea to have an emergency plan in the event your AC stops working or you have a blackout in the summer.  I  keep an adequate number of deli cups, a cooler and a way to keep the inside of the cooler at room temperature (room temperature water works great) just in case something goes wrong.

Enclosure:

Since they are adapted to living in trees, crested geckos do best in enclosures that are tall enough to give them room to climb and have decorations they can climb on and hide in. Enclosure size should be appropriate to the size of your gecko. An enclosure that is too large can overstress a small gecko and make it difficult for them to find food and to feel secure. I also recommend housing geckos alone, although some folks have had success keeping pairs or small groups of female (2-3 animals maximum) together.

For small babies under 8g I use 6qt Sterilite containers or Iris Shoe boxes. For geckos in the 8-20g range I use 10qt Iris High Heel Shoe Boxes or Kritter Keepers. My 25g+ through adult geckos live in 55qt Sterilite bins, 12x12x18 Exoterras and Large Sterilite Store-All bins. I prefer the Sterilite bins to the others. For all of these enclosures, I cut out a square of plastic on one side and hot glue a piece of screen over the hole. This allows me to easily mist the geckos every evening and provides adequate ventilation for the geckos.

I use cork bark, foam pipe insulation, and plastic plants to decorate my enclosures. I have found that these materials provide a good amount of cover and climbing surfaces while being relatively easy to clean and easy to replace when needed. I also provide adults with a dry hide on the ground, and a moist hide (AKA lay box) on the ground.

Feeding:

I feed Pangea Complete Crested Gecko Diet every 3 days for all of my crested geckos. I have tried all of the flavors and they seem to like them all equally. I am not a huge fan of the new “with insects” version as it seems to mold faster and is a bit chunkier in solution. Babies get a soda cap half full while adults get about 5ml. I use the small tea light candle holders from Ikea as dishes for the adults. In addition to the CGD I offer insects once each week. I offer crickets and dubia to my crested and give the insects time to eat something healthy (called “gut loading”) before I offer them. I use fruits and veggies as gutload for the insects – mainly apples, oranges, kale, and occasionally sweet potatoes.

Misting:

Misting is the area I find most new Crested owners overdo it. Many feel they need to maintain an exact humidity level or keep the enclosure damp at all times. This is most definitely NOT the case. I mist my geckos once a day. This gives the geckos a period of humidity but allows their enclosures to be dry for the majority of the day. If they are damp for the majority of the day they can develop shedding and respiratory issues. Allowing the enclosure to dry out is another reason I use paper towels as a substrate. The paper towels hold just enough moisture but not too much. I have found that more absorbent substrates such as soil or coco fiber retain too much moisture if they are kept damp, or blow around the enclosure and stick to everything (including geckos!) if they are kept too dry. For this reason I offer a small amount of substrate in a moist hide for all of my adults so they can find a bit of extra humidity during the day when their enclosure is dry if they need it.

Handling:

Crested Geckos tolerate handling very well within reason. I usually recommend no more than 10 minutes of handling at a time a few times a week until you are sure your gecko is used to you and is not overly stressed by handling. It is a good idea to keep in mind that they are a temperate species that cannot handle temperatures above 85 degrees for long. Your body temperature is around 98 degrees, far too hot for the little guys. Keeping them in your hand or close to your body or even close to something that gets warm, like a computer monitor, for an extended period of time could harm or even kill them.