Welcome to my introductory guide to Crested Geckos, otherwise known as Eyelash Geckos. They have been referred to as Eyelash Geckos because they have long spikes on top of their eyes that look like eyelashes. They originated from New Caledonia and live in the low shrubs above the forest floor. Crested Geckos are somewhat of a new hobbyist pet and have become popular very quickly. They are very low maintenance pets and don’t require live bugs to survive, which is what makes them such a popular choice!
Fun fact: Some geckos, like Leopard Geckos, can drop their tail and regrow it, while Crested Geckos don’t regrow their tails if they drop it. They drop their tails due to stress or a scare, but don’t be alarmed if it happens. I’ve heard of some people sneezing in the same room as their gecko and them dropping their tails. Just move them to a temporary set up with paper towels and limited plants while they heal.
Setting up Their Enclosure
Crested geckos as pets are most commonly kept in 18x18x24-inch glass (or screen) enclosures as adults, although if you have the extra room, I’m sure they’d appreciate a bigger enclosure, as well! Adults can also be kept in large plastic storage bins with holes drilled into them, as this is a cheaper option.
As hatchlings or juveniles, they can be kept in large Cricket Keepers or small plastic storage bins with holes drilled into them. The reason that younger geckos are kept in smaller enclosures is so that it is not so hard for them to find where you’ve put their food.
For my enclosures, I used coconut fiber for the base layer, which helps to maintain humidity in the tank (I will be touching on humidity later on) and gives a natural look to their set-ups. Another option is to use paper towels on the bottom of their enclosures, although I find it difficult to maintain humidity using paper towels.
As said above, in nature they live in low shrubs above the forest floor, therefore they need stuff to climb on and hide under. It’s best to get some vines, artificial plants with suction cups and pieces of cork bark to decorate their enclosure as to closely resemble their wild habitat.
Some pet owners choose to create bio active enclosures, which consists of using live plants in the tank, although this is not the route I took to set up my enclosures. There are many good YouTube videos demonstrating how to set these up, therefore that would be a good place to look if you would like to take this route.
You will find lots of information on the internet that Crested Geckos require a light on top of their enclosures, although natural sunlight from the window will be enough for these creatures!
Geckos Don’t Enjoy Saunas like We do
Crazy right? Saunas are so relaxing. As a gecko though, high temperatures can be dangerous by causing elevated stress levels and potential death. Many people believe that geckos need heated spots like certain snakes do, although as long as your home stays between 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit, your gecko will be just fine. I wouldn’t panic if the temperature in their enclosure increases a couple degrees over 80, although it is a sign that you need to open a window or mist their enclosure to cool it down.
To maintain proper temperature in their enclosures, as well as proper humidity (which will be discussed next), you will need to purchase a hygrometer. A hygrometer is an instrument that will display the temperature and humidity in the enclosure. In my experience, it is best to purchase a digital hygrometer, rather than an analog one because they last longer and are more accurate.
But They Do like Steam Rooms
Geckos in New Caledonia live in humid forest areas, therefore you will need to buy a mister to spray down their enclosures with water. One thing to note, it is very important that your gecko has a dry period during the day. At night, it is best to mist the enclosure one or twice; just give it a good spray. The humidity will usually increase to about 80-90% and then the humidity will gradually decrease throughout the night, leaving the humidity at about 50% for the duration of the next day. Keeping their humidity increased at night helps them to properly shed, while increased humidity at all times can lead to respiratory issues down the road.
Above, I stated that if it gets too hot in their enclosure, you can open a window to cool them down. While this is super effective, the air that comes in can cause the enclosure to decrease in humidity, so just keep this in mind. You may have to give a light spray mid-way through the day if the humidity drops below 40%. In my experience, putting a sheet of aluminum foil over half of the screen on top of the tank helps to retain humidity.
There are also automatic misting systems that you can install in your enclosures so that on a timer, the tanks will be misted for you. A great investment if you have more than one gecko!
Fun fact #2: Reptiles don’t require as much air as mammals do, so blocking off a part of their air supply, isn’t dangerous for them and can be helpful to keep the humidity at proper levels.
So What Do They Eat?
As said above, they don’t require live bugs to survive. Yes, most of them enjoy a good cricket once or twice a week or a wax worm occasionally as a treat, but it is not necessary for their survival. Crested Gecko Diets (CGD), such as Pangea or Repashy, have all the necessary ingredients for Crested Geckos. Just ensure that it says “Complete Diet” on the packaging. These products are a powder consisting of fruit and insects, which give your gecko all the proper nutrients. I feed my geckos every two to three days, depending on how well they ate the previous meal.
A common problem with geckos is that they develop Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD), which weakens and disfigures their bones, so it is very important that the diet you feed them includes Calcium to avoid this disease. Luckily, Complete diets such as Pangea and Repashy include added Calcium so they are great options for your little gecko. It is also important that if you do decide to feed your gecko live bugs as a treat, that you coat them in Calcium powder so they get all they need for that meal.
The Perfect Pet
Crested geckos are an amazing pet to have due to their simplicity and the low level of maintenance they require. As long as you mist their enclosures once at night (or install a timed misting system), feed them every two to three days and provide them with lots of coverage in their enclosure, they will successfully thrive in your home.
If you have any other questions or comments, please don’t be scared to ask!