The crested gecko, sometimes known as the eyelash gecko, is native to the French territory of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. They are low-maintenance pets, making them ideal for first-time lizard owners or children learning about animal care. Crested geckos were designed to climb and jump. Your geckos will thrive if you offer them plenty of space and climbing options.
After you’ve purchased your crested gecko’s terrarium, prepped the substrate, and installed lighting, humidity, and warmth, it’s time to add some extras. This essay will go through how to choose the best non-toxic plants and branches for a crested gecko’s vivarium.
Plants and other decorations can help to make your crested gecko’s vivarium more lifelike, giving your gecko somewhere to hide, climb, and, of course, relax!
Each owner has his or her own arrangement, which is mostly determined by the amount of space available in the terrarium. With a smaller terrarium (10-15 gallons or even a Kritter Keeper), you’ll need to make better use of the available area.
Are plants necessary in the terrarium of a crested gecko?
Crested geckos are a type of display lizard that looks well in naturalistic settings with plants and branches. It is critical to have plants in the vivarium of a crested gecko.
This is because crested geckos spend most of the day hiding from bright light in the leaves, exercising, and generally resting.
Because crested geckos are arboreal (live in trees), you must provide plants and branches for your gecko to climb.
Choosing Between Fake and Live Plants
When it comes to plants for your terrarium, you have the option of using fake or artificial plants or actual plants. Artificial plants, depending on their quality, can look nearly identical to actual plants. Both artificial and live plants have advantages and downsides.
My advice is to acquire live plants that are easy to care for and offer your crested gecko a naturalistic look and feel.
• they don’t need to be watered
• they do not necessitate the use of lights
• Artificial plants cannot die.
• The plants will not need to be trimmed.
• no completely naturalistic appearance
• not the same texture as live plants
• no natural odor
• can cause pain when sharp edges are present
Plants that are alive
• the plants lend a naturalistic appearance
• a range of colors and textures
• enhance air quality
• increase humidity
• they must be watered
• They require appropriate illumination.
• Live plants have a chance of dying.
• They must be trimmed on a regular basis.
Safe Live Terrarium Plants for Crested Geckos
When purchasing live plants for your crested gecko terrarium, keep the following criteria in mind:
Certain plants or components of plants are toxic and dangerous to your animal. It is critical to understand which plants are safe to utilize.
Plants may grow in both dry and humid conditions. Because a crested gecko terrarium will have high humidity (up to 60 or 80 percent), you’ll need terrarium plants that can withstand this.
Some plants grow well and demand high temperatures, but others can live in lower temps.
Certain plants demand a lot of light, while others may grow in complete darkness. If you don’t want to use lights in your terrarium, you’ll need to find a plant that can survive on low to medium levels of (indirect) light.
The stiffness of the leaves:
Because your crested gecko would jump and climb on the plants, the leaves must be sturdy and not easily broken. Plants with thin leaves are normally unsuitable, although they can make an excellent decorative element.
The plants listed below are thought to be good for crested geckos and can be safely utilized in a vivarium.
The safest live plants to keep in a crested gecko’s vivarium
The finest living plants for crested geckos should be both safe to eat and provide climbing and hiding support.
Some plants you may choose will be purely aesthetic and will not provide climbing support.
Climbing and shelter will be provided by other plants and branches. You must ensure that they are durable and that the leaves are wide and strong enough not to break or bend.
• Pothos — a lovely plant with broad leaves. You may also insert a branch or vine beneath the leaves to allow your crested gecko to climb beneath them.
• Dracaena plant – another lovely plant that crested geckos may hide beneath. Choose smaller cultivars, such as Dracaena compacta Janet Graig, to fit in the vivarium.
• Ficus benjamina, often known as a weeping fig – ensure that the branches are robust enough to support your crested gecko, or lay a branch beneath the leaves.
• Peperomia, particularly Peperomia orba
• Bird’s nest fern, or Asplenium nidus
• Sansevieria, crested geckos like Sansevieria trifasciata, also known as Mother-in-law tongue or snake plant, since it is easy to care for and has thick, strong leaves.
• Moss – utilize sheet moss, mood moss, or forest moss on top of the substrate. Covering the soil with moss reduces the possibility of your crested gecko ingesting the substrate (read more about substrate here). Moss can also be used to disguise plant containers.
• Lucky bamboo – in a pot or vase that is securely fastened to prevent bending. It is safe for your crested gecko to walk on.
• Bromeliads — Bilbergia or Cryptanthus are both lovely decorative plants.
Packs of live plants can also be purchased, for example, at Josh’s Frogs. Make certain that the plants you choose are appropriate for the size of your terrarium.
Terrarium Plants That Are Toxic
Many plants contain poisonous compounds that can cause health problems and, in severe cases, death. These compounds are the plant’s natural defensive system. Calcium oxalate crystals are one of the substances that can create issues. When these compounds are swallowed by small animals, they are known to cause mild to severe health problems and even death.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of hazardous plants to avoid in a crested gecko terrarium. I recommend visiting the website of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) for a complete list of poisonous and safe plants for animals (although mostly mentions toxicity in relation to cats and dogs).
• Ivy (hedera helix):
The plant is harmful to humans and may be toxic to feeding insects. If your gecko consumes a bug, he or she may have health problems. However, there hasn’t been much research to back this up.
This is a huge plant family that includes species that resemble the golden pothos and are sometimes misidentified as such in garden centers. According to research, ingesting philodendron pieces can cause health problems.
• Dieffenbachia (dumbcane):
This plant includes calcium oxalate crystals, which are neurotoxic. Small animals have been reported to die after ingesting plant pieces.
• voodoo lily (dracunculus vulgaris):
These plants have a lovely appearance but a foul odor and are harmful to small dogs due to the presence of calcium oxalate crystals.
• Begonias (begonia):
Although some people use begonias for solely ornamental purposes, they are not a good plant to use in a crested gecko terrarium. Begonias, particularly their roots, are known to produce calcium oxalates, which are poisonous to small animals.
Best fake terrarium plants
Fake or artificial plants can be a wonderful method to decorate a crested gecko terrarium while also providing climbing opportunities. Many companies have created fake plants for reptiles. The following are the most popular and best artificial terrarium plants:
• Bamboo bars (Flukers): Bamboo bars are an excellent technique to create a natural-looking terrarium. These bars come in a set of two and are spring-loaded, so they may expand to meet your needs.
• Pothos vines (Fluker’s): These artificial vines look excellent in a terrarium. Suction cups hold them in place. However, several consumers have reported that the leaves occasionally come off.
• (Jungle) terrarium plants (Exo Terra): this is a duplicate of actual terrarium plants that is fastened to the terrarium using suction cups. There are various sizes and even plant types to choose from.
• Forest branch (Exo Terra): this isn’t a true “plant,” but it allows your crested gecko to climb and is a lovely addition to your rainforest terrarium.
• Exo Terra jungle vines: these vines are waterproof and can be bent to build your own vine network for your crested gecko to jump and climb on.
• Terrarium plants (Exo Terra): The brand offers a variety of terrarium plants, including a ficus and a fern. The plants have a weighted base to keep them in place.
What you should know before putting live plants in the vivarium of a crested gecko
- Check that the potted plants are not overly heavy. Secure them to prevent your crested gecko from being crushed if the pots collapse.
- Before putting any live plants in a vivarium, you must first wash them. This is due to the fact that most plants are treated with pesticides, which end up in the soil. Wash the leaves with soap and refill the soil with the same type that you used to create the substrate.
- If you have real plants in your vivarium, you will require artificial illumination. If you only have a few plants, one small full-spectrum fluorescent light should be enough. However, if you have several plants that take up the majority of the vivarium (about 50%), you will benefit from a full-spectrum fluorescent bulb that provides 2.0 or 5.0 UVB. A fixture will require a hood to be installed. A dome or canopy can be used with one or several bulbs. Make sure your crested gecko has somewhere to hide if the lights are on.
- Spraying plant leaves will be beneficial because crested geckos enjoy sipping water droplets from leaves. Furthermore, it will help to raise the humidity levels in the tank.
Is it better to put vivarium plants in pots or directly in the substrate?
If you want to employ real plants, it’s preferable to put them in pots in the vivarium. You can cover the pot in the vivarium with hanging leaves or moss, for example.
If you put a plant in the substrate dirt, it may become tough to care for. The roots may penetrate deeply into the earth, making it difficult to remove the plant if necessary. Plants planted on substrate soil are also more likely to grow quickly.
It will also be tough to water plants that are directly in the substrate. Overwatering the substrate is a common cause of rotting. A drainage level beneath the substrate will help absorb some of the extra water, but overwatering will result in serious damage.
Place potted plants in the vivarium and conceal them with moss, leaves, and hideouts. It’s a good idea to hang live/fake plants with foliage at the back.
Adding Plants to a Terrarium
The first steps
If you are purchasing live terrarium plants, you must first complete a vital step. Pesticides and hazardous substances are commonly found in the soil of plants purchased from garden centers and other stores. These pesticides are commonly used to protect plants from illnesses and insects, but they are toxic to your crested gecko.
As a result, it is critical to wash the plants’ leaves with soap and water and replace the soil.
Planting or potting
Another decision you’ll have to make is whether to keep the plants in their pots or plant them in the terrarium’s substrate.
Potted plants are typically easier to remove from the terrarium, but they can potentially fall over and harm your crested gecko.
Planted plants, on the other hand, will blend in better and will not topple over in the terrarium. Planting, on the other hand, increases the likelihood that your plants will root uninhibitedly beneath the soil.
There are many fantastic plants to add to your crestie’s vivarium if you’re looking for them. Before selecting a plant, do your homework to determine that it is a good fit for your gardening abilities.
You should also take care to ensure that your new plant(s) will fit in your gecko’s vivarium. Whatever plants you choose, your crestie will appreciate a living environment that resembles their natural habitat and allows them to do what they do best: climb!