Crested Geckos

a close up of a Crested Gecko's head as they lick their face

Crested Geckos are native to an island in the South Pacific, and are an average sized Gecko. They are omnivorous, eating insects and plants along with fruit and vegetables. Fortunately they’re not very picky eaters and will usually eat whatever you give them.

They are very agile and quick, and can climb walls, even glass! 

Crested Geckos can make a lot of noise, and will vocalize for a number of different reasons. They are nocturnal, meaning they’re active at night, and this can be a problem for some. If you have a Crested Gecko that likes to vocalize at night it might make it harder to sleep. Because they’re active at night they don’t always make the best pet for children.

Crested Geckos eyes are very sensitive to light, hundreds of times more sensitive than human eyes. and will find somewhere dark to hide if exposed to it. During the day they like to hide somewhere dark. They don’t have eyelids so the daylight can be stressful for them. But there are some reports that low amounts of UV light might be good for them.

Crested Geckos are very calm and laid back, and usually only become aggressive if provoked. They are very quiet and shy, and will usually remain hidden until they feel safe. They are very fast, and will hide if startled.

Crested Geckos are very easy to take care of, and require little maintenance. They are very low maintenance pets, not needing much beyond water and food (once you have a habitat set up for them). You can purchase a young Crested Gecko from a reptile store or breeder for between $50 to $100.

Crested Gecko Information

  • Average Length: 7 to 9 inches
  • Average Weight: 1 to 1.2 ounces
  • Skin Appearance: Solid or patterned
  • Skin Colors: Brown, Tan, Peach, Orange, Red or White 
  • Grooming Needs: Low Need
  • Shedding: Once every few months
  • Sensitive to Touch: No
  • Biting Tendency: No
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: No 
  • Good Pet: Yes
  • Safe with Children: Yes
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes
  • Suitable for First-Time Pet Owners: Yes
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Respiratory Infections and Stomatitis 
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 15 to 20 years

Physical Appearance of Crested Geckos

a close up of a Crested Gecko as they look right at you

Crested Geckos have diverse colors and patterns. The most common colors are tan, cream, and brown. Less common colors are red, orange or white. Crested Geckos may have darker spots or stripes on their body. 

While the color is genetically fixed in most Gecko species, it varies in Crested Geckos. Young hatchlings will have varying colors, with some similarities. Continuous experimentation by breeders have resulted in several color varieties.

Some common color variations of Crested Geckos are:

  • Solid color without any patterns
  • White variation with yellow or white on their crest
  • Tiger variation that has striped bellies and darker stripes on lighter skin.

They can change their skin colors to camouflage with their surroundings. Depending on their mood they can change to darker or lighter shades. A sleeping Gecko will be a darker shade and an active and alert Gecko will be lighter.

Crested Geckos have ear holes on both sides of their pointed head. They have large beady eyes with small spiny lashes above their eyes. Crested Geckos don’t have eyelids and the spiky lashes help protect their eyes. These Geckos are called Eyelash Geckos because of their unique characteristics. Their pupils widen at night and look like a small slit when it is bright during the day.

The most common characteristic of Crested Geckos is the crest on their head. The crest is spiky and can vary in size. Their crest begins just above their eyes and can go all the way to their tail.

Crested Geckos have circular toe pads that let them hold and climb surfaces.

They can get up to 9 inches long, and almost half of that length is their tail. Their tail can be used to grab branches.

Temperament of Crested Geckos

a close up of a Crested Gecko standing on a leaf

Crested Geckos are calm, generally non aggressive lizards. They are active at night and usually spend their days hiding underneath tank decorations or basking.

While they are fairly peaceful, some male Crested Geckos can become territorial and fight with other males. We recommend keeping only one male Crested Gecko per enclosure but one male can be kept with 2 or more females.

Crested Geckos like to jump and should be handled carefully to make sure they don’t jump out of your grasp or get injured. They tend to get stressed while being handled and should be handled only for short durations, five minutes or less.

Crested Geckos may drop their tail if they get stressed. While many Gecko species can regrow their tails, Crested Geckos don’t and it’s completely normal. They can live a healthy life without their tail.

Their Compatibility with Children

Crested Geckos don’t usually squirm too much and children can handle them. There should always be an adult to supervise the interactions of your children and Crested Gecko until you know how they will act with each other. Crested Geckos like to jump and children may find it difficult to keep up with your Crested Gecko. Teach your children how to handle them so that they won’t drop your Gecko.

Don’t let children below 5 handle them. Young children may accidentally squeeze or drop your Gecko, possibly injuring your lizard.

Children should always wash their hands after handling the lizard because most reptiles are carriers of infectious bacteria like Salmonella. The bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain in humans. Washing their hands after handling your Crested Gecko or their cage should keep your children from contracting bacterial and fungal diseases.

Living Space for Crested Gecko

Their enclosures should be well-ventilated. A ventilated enclosure is important to keep your Crested Gecko from having respiratory issues. Enclosures with a screened side should allow for enough ventilation. If you live in a warmer climate, you can get an all-screen enclosure to allow for more ventilation.

a close up of a Crested Gecko laying on a purple leaf

Enclosure/Cage Size

A 20-gallon tank should be large enough for an adult Crested Gecko. Young hatchlings can be kept in 10-gallon tanks.

The height of their tank is more important than width or length because they like to climb more than hang out at the bottom.

If you plan to keep more than one Crested Gecko then a larger tank will be needed.

Substrate

For substrate paper towels, coconut fiber, moss or reptile carpet all work well. These are good at absorbing water and help keep the enclosure humid.

Don’t use substrates like pebbles or materials with large rocks. Crested Geckos like to eat substrate like gravel or rocks that can lead to digestive problems.

Decorations

Crested Geckos are lizards that live in trees and their enclosure should have lots of branches or things to climb on like driftwood and bamboo. These will let your Crested Gecko climb and enjoy their enclosure. The branches should be arranged to create different climbing levels for your Gecko.

Their enclosure should also have lots of plants, plastic plants or natural plants. While plastic plants are easy to care for, natural plants will help keep the humidity levels higher. Plants like Dracaena, Ficus, Philodendron and Pothos are all Gecko friendly plants.

Keep the plants in the backdrop because this will create more open space inside their tank. Crested Geckos like open areas because they have more room for climbing.

Best Climate for Crested Geckos

a Crested Gecko climbing on a leaf

Crested Geckos depend on their environment to regulate their body temperature. Their enclosure should have both warm and hot areas. Keeping the heating equipment on one side of their tank will create a temperature gradient across the enclosure.

Temperature

They need a daytime temperature range between 72°F to 82°F. The temperature during the night can lowered to between 60°F and 70°F.

Ceramic heat emitters or incandescent light bulbs work well as heating sources. 

Humidity

Their enclosure should have a humidity level between 60 to 70 percent. Misting the enclosure regularly should help keep the humidity higher. Ideally their enclosure should be misted at night because they are a lot more active at night. 

Lighting

No artificial light is needed for a Crested Gecko’s enclosure. They are nocturnal and all the lights near their enclosure should be turned off at night. Turning off the light replicates their natural living patterns. Many people will use some inexpensive LED strip lights that are dimmed so that they can watch their pet at night.

Crested Geckos don’t need UVA and UVB light because they are nocturnal. 

Water Source 

Crested Geckos should have a shallow water bowl kept inside their enclosure.

Geckos stay hydrated by licking plant leaves. The plants in their enclosure should be misted regularly. 

The Attention a Crested Gecko Needs

Two thermometers should be used,one on the hot and the other on the warm side of the enclosure. Check the readings regularly and make changes if needed.

Keep a hygrometer inside the enclosure to check the humidity levels. Mist the tank if the humidity levels are below the recommended range.

Crested Geckos are not cuddly like dogs and don’t like to be handled for very long.

Health Issues

Stomatitis (Mouth Rot)

Mouth rot, or infectious stomatitis, is an infection in a reptile’s mouth. Mouth rot is very serious and can cause your reptile a great deal of pain, and could eventually lead to their death. Mouth rot is typically caused by an injury to your reptile’s mouth, or their enclosure not being kept at the correct conditions.

Symptoms of mouth rot in your reptile are:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Blood in your pets mouth or their water bowl
  • Swollen areas in their mouth
  • Weight loss

The first step to fixing the problem is finding out if they injured their mouth on something, or if their enclosure’s conditions are not right. If their mouth is injured you should get them to a vet to have them look at your reptile. If the problem is environmental then fix the problems in their enclosure. 

No matter what the cause of your reptile’s mouth rot, you’ll still need to take your reptile to your vet because the treatment requires prescription antibiotics. Surgery may be required depending on the severity of the mouth rot. Because this infection kills tissues in your reptile’s mouth, areas may need to be removed, including teeth. It’s better to prevent this problem before it happens by keeping your reptile’s enclosure at the conditions they need to be happy.

Mites

Mites are tiny black insects that are parasites. They feed off the blood of your reptile, and they can be quite the pain in the butt to get rid of once you have them. Most times they will be caught and sold already having mites, or they’ll get them from another pet.

Symptoms of mites on your reptile:

  • Long soaks in their water
  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on your reptile or objects in their enclosure
  • Tiny black specs on you from handling your reptile

We recommend contacting your vet to find out what treatment they recommend for killing mites. Keep in mind that mites don’t tend to stay in one place, and any other snakes or reptiles kept in the same room could be infested with mites as well. Distance between pets is key, just as washing up between handling pets is key to not spreading mites from pet to pet.

Ticks

Ticks are blood sucking parasites that are just as bad for your lizard as they are for people. They can pass on quite a number of terrible diseases to your reptile. Depending on what the ticks carry, or if left untreated, they can cause your reptile to die.

Symptoms of ticks on reptiles:

  • Rubbing on objects in their enclosure
  • Long soaks
  • Weight loss
  • Red spots or deformities on their skin

Usually with the above symptoms, especially red spots on their skin people will be suspicious of either ticks or mites. Ticks are a lot easier to see than mites are and with a close inspection of your reptile you should be able to spot them pretty easily.

The treatment is fairly straightforward and can be done at home, or you can have your vet do it. Once you find a tick attached to your lizard, rub it with rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball, then use tweezers to pull the tick off. Using alcohol first should help the tick release their grip and make them easier to pull off. If you are at all worried about diseases your reptile might have gotten from the ticks you can have your vet take a look and they may prescribe medication based on what they find.

Grooming and Care

Crested Geckos are easy to care for and more friendly than other Gecko species, making them a great reptile for beginner pet owners

Remove uneaten food a few times a week. Spot clean the substrate daily and replace the substrate once a month.

Clean and replace the water bowl with fresh drinking water every day.

Feeding A Crested Gecko

mealworms are great food for Crested Geckos

Crested Geckos are omnivores and should be fed insects, fruits and vegetables. They aren’t picky and are easy to feed. Commercially available Gecko food is good for them.

Feed them live insects like roaches, silkworms, wax worms and crickets. The size of their food should be smaller than the distance between your Gecko’s eyes.

Always gut-load insects before feeding them to your Geckos. Gut loading involves giving nutritious food to feeder insects before feeding them to your lizard. When your lizard eats the insects, the nutrition is passed on to them.

Don’t give your Crested Gecko wild caught insects because these might have been exposed to pesticides that can be harmful to your Gecko.

The insects should be dusted with calcium and Vitamin D3 supplements once a week. Juveniles should be fed every day while adult Crested Geckos should be fed every other day.

Feed them treats like peaches, mangoes, pears and bananas. Chop and mash the fruits before feeding them to your Gecko.

Related Questions:

How do Crested Geckos Communicate?

Crested Geckos communicate with other reptiles by using a high-pitched chirping sound. They can make this sound when they feel threatened. Sometimes they will change the color of their skin to interact with other reptiles.

Why do Crested Geckos Lick Their Eyes?

Crested Geckos don’t have eyelids and lick their eyes to keep them clean. Licking their eyes is common for them and helps them keep their eyes healthy.