One adult requires at least a 1.5 - 3 foot tall enclosure. As an arboreal species the need more height than width. When it comes to choosing the enclosure favourites to consider are; large plastic storage boxes with lids and custom ventilation, glass terrariums, acrylic systems and sealed fibreglass. Try to avoid wooden enclosures. Crested Geckos require high humidity and this tends to cause problems in wooden enclosures.
A male can be kept with females but never with another male, when males are kept together at maturity they will fight for dominance and this can turn nasty. Provide several hiding places throughout the enclosure because crested geckos are considered crepuscular they will need to hide up during the day.
Exoterra glass terrariums are a popular enclosure option
Twisted branches running diagonally across the set-up and vertically provide great climbing facilities, firm favourites tend to be cork bark and cork branches. Ensure there is lots of foliage, really provide them some cover. Artificial plants tend to work better for beginners and are easier to keep and clean than real plants. However real plants can be used in combination with bio-active setup should you wish.
There are loads of options out there that are suitable for crested geckos, it's really a case of deciding which option works for you. Some common, safe substrates are Coco Coir, large orchid bark (too big to ingest), bio-active soil mix, Crestielife, leaf-litter, paper towel or paper sheet. Paper towel or paper sheet tends to be the most simple substrate, however it does need replacing most frequently. Our personal substrate of choice is reptile safe Coco Coir. Its cheap, simple, holds humidity well and looks great!
The optimum air temperature should be kept between 19'C and 26'C. To achieve these temperatures, you can use a number of different heating methods including; a heat mat along the side of the tank, ceramic heat emitters, deep heat projectors or infrared heat lamps above the enclosure. When providing a heat source in this way ensure it is connected to a suitable thermostat for the type of heater you are using - always check with your retailer first. Ensure that hot spots do not exceed 30'C. In many cases however, most room temperatures are between 20'C and 23'C so double check this first and you may not need additional heating.
Locate the enclosure out of direct sunlight to avoid accidental overheating. If temperatures drop to 18'C its not too dangerous providing it isn't exposed to this temperature for a prolonged period. If you expect low temperatures to continue for a day or more, consider providing additional heat source described above. Similarly if temperatures each above 29'C this can cause stress for the animal triggering it to become ill, if this is likely to occur take precautions to cool the enclosure, or move it to a colder area. In emergency situations, i.e. national heatwave additional spraying can help cool the enclosure.
Here at Crestiezoo we thermostatically control our rep'room at a stable 21'C over the winter, gradually rising to maximum day time temperatures of 28'C in the summer. We believe a seasonal change in temperature is important for the animal, particularly when it comes to cycling for breeding.
Humidity is really important for the health of your gecko, but it's important to remember humidity needs to fluctuate! This is a common mistake by many new keepers who desperately try and maintain constant 80-90% humidity levels. In reality you want the humidity to gradually drop and dry out as the day goes on. We've found the most simple way to achieve this is to generously spray the enclosure with water late afternoon/ early evening. This ensures that there are water droplets present when your gecko becomes active. During warmer weather we add an additional spray down first thing in the morning, helping stop the enclosure drying out too quickly. This is where substrate choice can be helpful!
The jury is still out on this issue, and many keepers do things differently. A lot of Crested Gecko keepers and breeders (including us) have experimented with UV light levels in a bid to find evidence either for or against the need of UV lighting for crested geckos. However the results are still inconclusive and we know that Crested Geckos are happy enough without UV lighting. In our educated experience Crested Geckos do not need UV light. That said, it is widely accepted that exposure to UV may help them to distinguish between night and day, and possible aid in prevent MBD. If you decide to use UV lighting place the light above the tank so as not to increase the Set-up temperature. Use a low UV bulb, typically 5% is sufficient so the UV value is not too strong.
Clean the full tank once a month with a good quality reptile/ small animal safe disinfectant. This will remove any harmful bacteria that might build up within your pets enclosure due to spilt food, fecal matter or dead feeder insects. The monthly cleaning should also see that you replace the substrate within the tank with fresh (If you are using Kitchen Roll for the substrate remove and replace this once a week). Use this opportunity to clean down any hides, foliage and branches.
Household surface sprays should be avoided. If you have used one please ensure it has been thoroughly washed off before returning your animal, and allowed to air for several hours. These disinfectants may be harmful to your pet. Never use bleach products.
Clean the food bowls and water bowls daily.
The understanding of Crested Gecko diets has came on a long way over the past 10 years in particular, with many many products available that are marketed for Crested Geckos. But are they all created equal? The short answer is no. As of writing this guide, there are two stand out victors when it comes to Diets - Repashy and Pangea. At Crestiezoo we find that Repashy offers better value for money, particularly on larger quantities, but both diets are GREAT! These feeds should form your animals staple diet and be fed every 2 days. Because these diets are 'complete' you can feed this diet exclusively i.e. you don't need to supplement with additional live food or fruit.
Live food is a great supplement on top of your animals staple diet. There are lots of live food options out there but we tend to stick to Crickets and locust. Many keepers also use mealworms but we find their exoskeletons are tougher to digest, particularly for young geckos in cooler months, so tend to avoid using them. At Crestiezoo we feed crickets/ locust once a week (this helps them grow faster ). When feeding insects its important to ensure that they are properly gut loaded and dusted, for added nutritional value. We keep our bugs well fed and dust them with calcium + D3 before offering them up to our geckos.
Sometimes its nice to give your gecko a little treat, and what better way to do that than with fruit! We occasionally mix in a bit of fresh pureed fruit into our Repashy mix. Firm favourites of ours are Mango, Melon, Fig and Papaya. Give them a good blitz to puree them and add a little extra water if needed.
Just like every other animal your geckos will need water! Ensure that your enclosures each have a small, shallow water dish present. While it is true that many geckos will drink droplets of water from their enclosure they will also drink from a bowl, and this is particularly important between sprays. Fresh water should be offered with every feed, do not let dirty water sit there. When it comes to what water to use, for most areas of the UK tap water is fine and perfectly safe. However you may find that bottle water produces less water marks particularly if you are in a hard water area.
There are a couple of options available for sexing crested gecko's. One way is more accurate but less visible, and the other is more visible but less accurate at young ages.
1. The hemi penal bulge. If there is a hemi penal bulge below the vent on a crested gecko, that resembles male gentiles of most animals then you can safely say it is a male. However if the gecko is below 8months old these bulges are not really present, at this age they would be very slight bulges. This method allows you to check adults with 100% certainty but sub adults with 65% certainty depending on size and age. With juveniles it would be nearly impossible to tell.
2. For sub adults (between 5-9 months) it is best to check pores. These pores can be located in a line that runs between both of the hind legs, from one to the other. At this age they will look like normal scales however upon a close inspection using a 10x (or above) jewellers loupe, you should see a dark spot on each scale. If these pores are visible then you can say your Crested Gecko is male with 90% certainty. As you become more confident at sexing you will rarely get it wrong.
Male: This is an example of a sub adult male, the highlighted area is where you will see the pores. As you can see there are small dark spots on the scales within this region, these are pores
feMale: This is an example of a sub adult female. If you look at the same area as highlighted on the male, you will see there are no dark spot which mean there are no pores. If you require any more information please feel free to contact me whenever you need to. If you wish to see larger pictures for help with sexing I can provide them upon request.
As with any animal, if you notice that your gecko is unwell seek the advice of veterinary professional. We've been keeping a long time, and as a result we have experienced various problems, directly or witness them in others collections. Below is a few of the more common problems:
Occasionally they may have a trouble shedding, this is usually caused by insufficient humidity and hydration levels. If you notice your gecko is having trouble try starting with lightly misting your gecko and increasing humidity in the tank. In some more tricky cases it might be worth isolating the gecko in a small plastic tub. While isolated try saturating the humidity with tissue paper and generous spraying. Place the gecko somewhere warm (within safe temperature ranges) and let the humidity work for several hours. If it still needs help shedding then use a damp flannel cloth and gently try to rub the skin off, RUB VERY GENTLY!
A crested gecko may drop its tail, it's an evolutionary survival tactic to avoid predators. The good news they only do this once! The bad news, it doesn't grow back. There can be a number of triggers ranging from rough handling, cohabiting with an aggressive gecko, accidental trauma or a loud unexpected noise to name a few. The reality is this is not as common as it may seem, so don't be afraid of their tails! They won't just drop if you touch it. If your gecko drops it's tail don’t panic, loss of a tail is not harmful or serious the wound will heal quickly on its own.
Floppy tail syndrome
Floppy tail syndrome (FTS) can also occur when the tail can no longer stay straight at its base and comes off at a slight angle. It is not usually serious and will not effect breeding for males. Again however FTS it is permanent. There may be some link with egg binding in females with FTS, where the hip actually deforms slightly, however this is anecdotal and uncommon. It is advised not to breed a Crested Gecko female with FTS. FTS is usually caused by inadequate setups with too little horizontal hiding places, forcing the gecko to sleep vertically facing downward. This is typically an easily preventable condition with the correct setup.
Metabolic bone disease
is an umbrella term referring to abnormalities of bones caused by deficiencies. The most common cause of MBD in reptiles is a lack calcium and/ or vitamin D3. This results in bones becoming slightly softer, and in most cases miss-shaped. One of the earliest signs of MBD is a “kinked” tail, MBD usually starts at the bodies extremities so the legs and tail are the first to be effected. It can however spread to the spine and skull, these can cause serious problems for Crested gecko. If you notice your gecko is beginning to get swollen joints or a slightly kinked tail ensure you supplement efficiently with calcium, D3 and CGD. Early on with MBD, when not correctly supplemented the body will take the required nutrients from joint fluid which can lead to a kinked tail and swollen elbows, this can be reversed and does not mean miss shaped bones.
However If you notice bent/ kinked legs or severely wobbly tail take it to the vets. It may be that once it reaches this point the bones are permanently miss-shaped. In some rare and more extreme cases MBD can effect the jaw first, causing the lower jaw to “hang” un-naturally, you need to take it to the vets ASAP. Vet treatments may include splints, bindings and injections to help negate the effect of MBD and prevent further damage. Once you have seen the vet, proceed to supplement extra Calcium and D3. Feeding the correct CGD diet will prevent this problem ever occurring.
Crested geckos are susceptible to many parasitic organisms. A lot of parasites only affect their specific “host” species. There are some parasites that require an intermediary host (like an insect that in turn gets eaten by the reptile) in order to complete the lifecycle. Even if you remove the original secondary host, it’s possible the parasite can migrate to a new one. Other diseases are spread by bacteria (especially salmonella), viri, and fungi. Wild-caught animals are the most likely to host and pass on parasites to others. Even captive bred animals can carry parasites at levels that may not be detected in one or two faecal exams, or they might not cause undue hardship on the animal so they appear healthy. Mixing animals even of the same species carries risk of parasite transmission.
Some of the most virulent and deadly parasites are protozoa: unicellular eukaryotic organisms that include amoeba (like deadly entamoeba), coccidia, Cryptosporidium and so-called “worms” (nematodes that live in the intestine). If you suspect parasites please consult a veterinary professional.
Entamoeba (Amoeba) – has been known to decimate crested gecko collections relatively quickly. Signs include rapid weight loss. Can be treated with Flagyl (metronidazole) with great success
Pinworm (Nematode) – a common affliction in cresties; outbreaks generally present with visible worms in the feces accompanied by a worse than usual smell. Treated with Panacur (Fenbendazole) with great success
Cryptosporidium (Sporozoan) – another “wasting disease” caused by protozoan parasites. Can be treated with paromomycin but the gecko will always be “cryptopositive”. May shed the parasite and infect other reptiles. Very rare diagnosis in Crested Geckos, but possible.
This can and often is a deadly issue, however with the correct substrate and a watchful eye is a rare concern. There is not much in the way of treatment for this problem, so it is best to prevent the problem occurring in the first place. Impaction occurs usually when large quantities of abstract shape substrate is accidentally ingested and causes digestive complications.