Crested Gecko -
Correlophus (Rhacodactylus) ciliatus
Please note: These are general recommendations; they are not meant to be construed as veterinary advice, and may not be appropriate for your pet. Be sure to schedule a visit with your local veterinarian to discuss the best care for your animal!
Crested geckos are small, adorable lizards with big eyes! They are native to New Caledonia in the southwest pacific. They were thought to be extinct for many years, until they were found again in the wild in the mid 1990’s. Crested geckos live in trees in the wild, and are nocturnal. This means they spend much of the daytime hours hiding among leaves and taking a nap!
Crested geckos eat a combination of soft (non-citrus) fruits along with the occasional insect. Fruit can take the form of peaches, bananas, and other soft (non-citrus) fruits. Commercially prepared diets are also available, and are the simplest option for feeding.
Insects from the store are low on nutritional value, so you should gut-load insects by feeding them (the insects) an insect diet for 1-2 days before feeding the insects to your gecko. Dusting insects with calcium (a few times per week) and vitamin powder (every 1-2 weeks) is usually required to make a fully balanced diet, but it is easy to over-supplement; be sure to talk to your veterinarian about the right supplements for your gecko! Geckos eating commercially prepared crested gecko food will require less supplementation.
Like many reptiles, crested geckos can get Metabolic Bone Disease (also called nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism, which is much too long to say) if they don’t get the right amount of calcium and phosphorous in their diets. Again, be sure to talk to your vet about proper diets and supplements!
Crested geckos require high humidity levels (50-70%) in their enclosures. Daily misting of the cage, along with water dishes, can help keep up the humidity. However, high humidity is also a good way to grow mold! It’s very important to clean the cage regularly to keep your gecko healthy.
Crested gecko enclosures are a bit cooler than most other lizard cages. The enclosure should be kept in the mid to upper 70s F during the day (a bit warmer than room temperature). In warm areas, this may mean you actually need to move the cage to a cooler room if the house is getting too hot!
Because crested geckos are nocturnal, they are not thought to require UVB light, as long as they are getting enough Vitamin D3 in their diet. Some experts recommend a low level UVB light to supplement possible dietary deficiencies.
Geckos like to hide during the day, and need a variety of hiding spots throughout the cage. Silk plants (fake plants) can be a good way to provide hiding spots that are easy to clean. Sticks and branches can add nice climbing options for geckos, who like to hang out near the top of their enclosures.
Crested geckos can use a variety of substrates (ground cover) in their enclosures. Clean newspaper or reptile carpet are two easy and safe options. Bark and related substrates can help make an enclosure appear more natural, but will need to be replaced periodically to prevent mold growth.
Like all animals, crested geckos need fresh water every day.
Did you know crested geckos can shed their tails? A gecko can drop its tail (called autotomy) when stressed or if the tail is grabbed. The tail can then distract potential predators while the rest of the gecko runs away! But losing a tail is very hard on the poor gecko, so it is important to never grab a gecko by the tail. Unlike other lizards, crested geckos do not regrow their tails once they are lost!
Be sure you wash your hands well after playing with your gecko to make sure you don’t get germs! Salmonella is particularly of concern for reptiles. Salmonella can live on and around your reptile without actually affecting your animal, but still is a risk to people. We cannot completely get rid of the salmonella in most cases, so it’s very important to always make sure you wash your hands after handling a reptile, and do not allow a reptile to roam freely in the house!
Dr. Chuck recommends crested geckos go to the veterinarian at least once per year to make sure they are healthy and happy!