Crested Gecko Care Sheet: Habitat Setup, Diet and Health

Crested geckos, also known as Correlophus ciliatus, are unique and fascinating reptiles that have captured the hearts of reptile enthusiasts worldwide. They are small, cute, and easy to care for. But they also have some unique needs and behaviors that you should know before you bring one home.

In this post, I will share with you some basic information about crested geckos, such as their origin, diet, habitat, health, and personality. I will also give you some tips on how to set up a comfortable and stimulating enclosure for your crested gecko, and how to handle and interact with them safely and respectfully.

By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of what it takes to be a responsible and loving crested gecko owner.

Brief History of Crested Geckos

Crested geckos originate from New Caledonia, southern Grand Terre, and the Isle of Pines, located between Australia and Fiji.

The geckos were thought to have been extinct until 1994 when they were re-discovered. Crested Geckos are quickly becoming a popular geckos due to their hardiness, ease of care, and their wonderful temperaments.

Crested Geckos Anatomy

One of the most distinctive features of crested geckos is the series of hair-like projections, or crests, that run along the sides of their head, body, and tail. These crests not only give them a unique appearance but also provide some camouflage in their natural habitat.

Crested geckos come in a wide variety of colors and patterns, ranging from browns and grays to vibrant oranges, reds, and yellows. These colors help them blend in with their surroundings, while their patterns can be quite variable, with some geckos displaying stripes, spots, or a combination of both.


Their large, round eyes give them excellent night vision, which is essential for their nocturnal lifestyle. Crested geckos have no eyelids, so they clean their eyes by licking them with their long, slender tongue. This is just one example of how their anatomy is perfectly suited for life in the trees.

Crested geckos are natural climbers, and several adaptations make them well-equipped for their arboreal habitat. Their toes and feet have specialized structures called setae, which allow them to grip and climb on a variety of surfaces, even glass or smooth vertical surfaces. Their feet also have small claws that assist in climbing and provide extra grip on rough surfaces.

The crested gecko’s tail is semi-prehensile, which means they can use it to help them grip branches and maintain balance when climbing. Additionally, their somewhat flattened body shape enables them to navigate tight spaces and cling to branches or leaves in their arboreal habitat.

Crested Gecko Availability

Hey there, fellow reptile enthusiasts! I’m thrilled you’re considering joining the crested gecko club – they’re truly wonderful little companions. Let’s talk about where and how you can welcome one of these fascinating creatures into your home.

Crested geckos, known fondly among us herp-lovers as ‘cresties’, have soared in popularity as pets over the last few years. They’re charming, relatively easy to care for, and their endearing ‘eyelash’ fringes make them a real hit in the reptile world. And the best part? They’re widely available, so it’s typically quite easy to find one of these cuties to call your own.

Now, where can you find a crested gecko? There are several places to look!

  • Reputable Breeders: This is often your best bet. Breeders can provide you with detailed information about your new pet’s lineage, health, and temperament. Plus, they’re usually a goldmine of advice for first-time owners!
  • Pet Stores: Many pet stores carry crested geckos. However, do some research beforehand to ensure the store has high standards of animal care.
  • Reptile Shows and Expos: These events can be a great place to find crested geckos from passionate, knowledgeable breeders.
  • Rescue Centers: Don’t forget about rescue centers! Many lovely cresties are waiting for their forever homes in these centers.

However, as with any pet adoption or purchase, it’s essential to consider the ethical implications. Make sure your new pet has been bred in captivity, not taken from the wild. Wild populations of crested geckos, native to New Caledonia, should remain undisturbed.

Moreover, it’s also important to check the legal restrictions in your area regarding pet reptiles. In some locations, permits may be required.

Bringing a crested gecko into your home is a delightful experience, but it’s also a big responsibility. Ensure you’re ready to provide a loving, healthy environment for your new pet – trust me, it’s worth it!

Crested Gecko Size


On average, adult crested geckos measure about 7-10 inches from snout to tail end, with their weight ranging from 35 to 50 grams. Males tend to be slightly larger than females, but the difference is usually minimal.

These measurements make them a perfect medium-sized pet that won’t demand too much space, but still provides a significant presence in your terrarium.

Crested geckos are usually full-grown by 18 to 24 months, but this can vary depending on factors such as diet, temperature, and overall health. Providing a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamins, maintaining optimal temperature and humidity, and regular vet checks are all key to ensuring healthy growth for your crestie.

Throughout their growth, crested geckos keep their chubby cheeks and round bodies, traits that add to their charm and make them one of the most loved reptile pets. Each stage of their growth has its own unique beauty and challenges, making the journey all the more exciting.

Crested Gecko Life Span

Crested geckos are known for their impressive lifespan, especially compared to other small pets. In captivity, with the right care and environment, they can live up to 15 to 20 years! That’s right, two whole decades of companionship with these fascinating creatures. It’s not unheard of for some particularly hardy individuals to exceed this age range. Isn’t that something?

Crested Gecko Housing

Crested geckos love to climb, so a tall enclosure is essential. For a single adult, I recommend an enclosure that’s at least 18x18x24 inches. This gives your gecko ample room to roam and show off its acrobatic prowess.

If you plan on housing more than one gecko, you’ll need to increase the size accordingly to prevent territorial disputes. Trust me, a happy gecko is a gecko with plenty of space!

There’s a variety of enclosures to choose from, including glass terrariums, PVC enclosures, and mesh cages. Each has its own pros and cons.

Glass terrariums are great for maintaining humidity and offering a clear view of your gecko, but they can be heavy and challenging to move.

PVC enclosures are lightweight and retain heat well, but they’re not as transparent.

Mesh cages offer excellent ventilation, but they can make maintaining the right humidity level a bit tricky.

In my experience, glass terrariums are a solid choice for crested geckos, thanks to their humidity-retaining properties and the visual connection they offer. But remember, the best enclosure is one that fits your gecko’s needs and your living situation.

Crested geckos thrive when their habitat mimics the lush forests of New Caledonia. Furnishing the enclosure with branches, vines, and plants—both real and artificial—creates a dynamic climbing environment and provides plenty of hiding spots for your gecko.

I’ve found that arranging branches at various angles and heights makes for a more enriching space. And don’t forget a hideaway or two; even the most adventurous gecko appreciates a private retreat.

Over the years, I’ve found that seeing my geckos explore and interact with a well-designed enclosure is one of the most rewarding parts of keeping these fascinating creatures. It’s like a slice of their natural habitat right in my living room!

Crested Gecko Lighting and Temperature

One of the most important aspects of crested gecko care is maintaining the right lighting and temperature conditions in their habitat. Remember, we’re trying to replicate their natural environment as much as possible, and these critters hail from the warm, tropical regions of New Caledonia.

Ideal Temperature Range

Crested geckos are comfortable in a temperature range of about 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. When the sun goes down, a slight drop to around 65-75 degrees is just perfect for them. But let me tell you, they’re not big fans of heatwaves. Temperatures above 85 degrees can cause serious stress and health issues, so keep a close watch on that thermometer!

Lighting Requirements

While crested geckos don’t require specialized UVB lighting like some reptiles do, they still appreciate a normal day-night cycle. That means about 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. If your geckos are in a room with natural light that follows a regular pattern, you’re golden!

Now, how to keep these conditions steady, you ask? A good-quality thermometer is your best friend here. I personally use digital ones that monitor both temperature and humidity. For temperature regulation, a low wattage heat lamp or a ceramic heat emitter can do the trick if your room temperature tends to be on the cooler side. Just remember, the heat source should be outside the tank to prevent your gecko from getting too close and risking burns.

In my own setup, I use a ceramic heat emitter with a thermostat during the colder months. It keeps the enclosure at the ideal temperature without disrupting my geckos’ day-night cycle. It’s worked like a charm for me!

Crested Gecko Substrate

Choosing the right substrate for your crested gecko is crucial for their health and happiness. It’s not just about picking something that looks good – it’s about creating an environment that mimics their natural habitat and supports their unique needs. Let’s explore some options together!

1. Paper Towels or Newspaper

Starting with the simplest option, paper towels or newspaper make an excellent substrate, especially for beginners or for quarantine enclosures. They’re cheap, easy to clean, and pose no risk of impaction if ingested. The downside? They aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing or naturalistic option.

2. Reptile Carpet

Next up is reptile carpet. It’s reusable, easy to clean, and provides a nice grip for your gecko to walk on. However, their tiny claws can get stuck in the fabric, so regular checks are important.

3. Coconut Fiber

Coconut fiber, also known as coir, is a popular choice for its natural look and feel. It’s great at retaining moisture, which helps maintain humidity levels. However, it can be messy and, like any loose substrate, there’s a risk of impaction if your gecko ingests it.

4. Bioactive Substrate

Lastly, let’s talk about the gold standard: a bioactive substrate. This is a mix of soil, moss, and leaf litter, populated with beneficial microorganisms that help break down waste, just like in nature. It’s the most naturalistic option and great for humidity, but it does require more maintenance and a higher initial setup cost.

When I set up my first bioactive enclosure, I was amazed at how it transformed my gecko’s behavior. They became more active, displayed more natural behaviors, and just seemed happier overall.

No matter which substrate you choose, cleanliness is key. Regular spot cleaning and full substrate changes are essential to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. Also, always make sure your gecko has access to food and water dishes that are off the ground to minimize the risk of substrate ingestion.

How to Build a Bioactive Enclosure for Your Crested Gecko

Creating a bioactive enclosure for your crested gecko can be an immensely rewarding project. It not only provides a beautiful, natural-looking habitat for your gecko, but it also creates a mini ecosystem that works together to keep the environment clean and healthy.

Components and Materials

Creating a bioactive enclosure is like crafting a small slice of nature in your home. Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Enclosure: A glass terrarium, size dependent on the age of your gecko.
  2. Substrate: A mixture of organic soil and coco fiber is a great base.
  3. Plants: Choose reptile-safe plants like pothos, bromeliads, and ferns.
  4. Clean-up Crew (CUC): These are small insects like springtails and isopods that help break down waste.
  5. Decor: Items like branches, cork bark, and leaves for your gecko to climb and hide.

Each of these components plays a critical role in creating a thriving bioactive environment. For example, the plants help to maintain humidity levels, while the CUC keeps the substrate clean by breaking down waste.

Step-by-step Guide

  1. Prepare the Enclosure: Start by layering your substrate at the bottom of the terrarium.
  2. Planting: Place your plants in the enclosure. Remember, crested geckos love to climb, so placing some plants higher up gives them more vertical space.
  3. Adding the CUC: Introduce your clean-up crew to the substrate.
  4. Decorate: Add your decor pieces, ensuring there are plenty of hiding spots and climbing options for your gecko.
  5. Introduce Your Gecko: Once everything is set up, you can introduce your crested gecko to its new home!

Care and Maintenance

Maintaining a bioactive enclosure requires periodic checks on the plant health and clean-up crew population. Water the plants as required, and remember to keep the humidity levels appropriate for your crested gecko. If you notice the clean-up crew population dwindling, it might be necessary to introduce more.

Crested Gecko Diet

Crested Gecko Happily Eating

Crested geckos are omnivores, which means they need a mix of both insects and fruit in their diet. They need a good dose of calcium and vitamins, just like we humans do! Lack of proper nutrition can lead to problems like Metabolic Bone Disease, which trust me, you want to avoid. Been there, seen that, and it’s not pretty!

When it comes to food, you’ve got two main choices: commercial diet and homemade diet.

Commercial Diet

There are several great commercial diets available, like the Repashy Crested Gecko Diet or Pangea Fruit Mix. These are formulated to provide all the nutrients your gecko needs. It’s a time-saver and ensures balanced nutrition. Just mix with water and voila – dinner is served!

Homemade Diet

On the other hand, you can prepare food at home. I’ve done this myself when I wanted to treat my geckos to something special. A homemade diet can include pureed fruits (like bananas, peaches, and berries) and gut-loaded insects (like crickets and roaches). Remember, variety is key here!

Now, each option has its pros and cons. Commercial food is convenient and nutritionally balanced, but can be pricey. Homemade food is cheap and fun to prepare, but time-consuming and you’ll need to be careful to get the nutritional balance right.

Feeding Schedule and Portion Sizes

So, how often and how much should you feed your crested gecko? Well, young geckos (under a year) should be fed every day, while adults do fine with food every other day. Portion size, you ask? Picture a bottle cap filled with food – that’s about right!

I’ve kept crested geckos for years and I can tell you, feeding time is one of the highlights of my day! There’s nothing quite like seeing your gecko’s eyes light up at the sight of their favorite treat. And oh, the satisfaction when you see them growing and thriving on a diet you’ve provided!

Crested Gecko Water and Humidity

Crested geckos hail from New Caledonia, a tropical paradise where humidity plays a big role. This is particularly true when it comes to their shedding process. You see, without the right humidity levels, our crestie friends can struggle with shedding, leading to stuck shed which can cause discomfort or even health issues. I learned this the hard way with my first gecko, Gizmo, who had some trouble shedding until I got the hang of managing his enclosure’s humidity.

Ideal Humidity Range

So, what’s the magic number, you ask? Crested geckos thrive when the humidity levels in their enclosure hover between 50% and 70%. However, this can vary depending on their age, health, and even the time of day. For instance, juvenile geckos need higher humidity compared to adults. And keep in mind, it’s natural for humidity to dip a bit during the day and increase at night, just like in their natural habitat.

To keep an eye on the humidity levels, I can’t recommend a hygrometer enough. It’s an easy-to-use tool that gives you a quick read on the humidity in your crestie’s home. I personally use the [insert recommended hygrometer], which has been a real lifesaver.

When it comes to maintaining the right humidity, there are a few methods that work wonders. Misting systems are fantastic, but if you’re on a budget, a good old spray bottle will do the trick. Aim for a light misting once or twice a day, and you’re golden. I’ve also found that including live plants in the enclosure helps maintain a natural, stable humidity level. Plus, they make the enclosure look pretty cool, don’t they?

Water: More Than Just Hydration

Water isn’t just for keeping your crestie hydrated; it’s also part of their daily enrichment! They love to lick droplets from leaves or the sides of the enclosure. You can also provide a shallow water dish, but make sure it’s not too deep to prevent any unfortunate accidents.

Potential Risks and Solutions

Keeping a close eye on your crested gecko’s behavior can alert you to issues with humidity. If you notice your gecko having trouble shedding, or if their skin looks dry or dull, it’s a good sign that the humidity may be too low. On the flip side, too much humidity can lead to respiratory issues or fungal infections.

If you spot any of these signs, don’t panic! Adjusting the misting schedule or adding a few more plants can often solve the problem. Of course, if the issue persists, consult with a trusted exotic vet.

Remember, every gecko is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. So, don’t be afraid to experiment, monitor, and adjust until you find the sweet spot for your scaly friend. Here’s to happy, healthy geckos!

Crested Gecko Handling and Temperament


If you’ve made it this far into your crested gecko care journey, you’re likely wondering how to best handle your scaly friend.

Crested geckos, or ‘cresties’ as I lovingly call them, are known for their relatively laid-back nature. Unlike some reptiles that may require a careful approach, cresties are usually quite tolerant of handling. Their gentle, amicable demeanor makes them a great option for first-time reptile owners, but remember, every gecko has its unique personality.

Tips for Handling Crested Geckos

  1. Patience is Key: When you first bring your crestie home, give them some time to adjust to their new environment. Resist the urge to handle them immediately, as this can cause unnecessary stress.
  2. Start Slowly: Once your gecko has settled in, begin with short, gentle handling sessions. Use a calm, slow approach to show them that you’re not a threat.
  3. Building Trust: Gradually increase handling time as your crestie becomes more comfortable with you. Remember, trust isn’t built in a day. It can take weeks or even months for your crestie to fully trust you.

Look out for signs of stress while handling your crested gecko. Rapid breathing, tail waving, or attempts to jump or run away are signs that your gecko is uncomfortable. If you notice these behaviors, give your crestie some space and try again another day.

Remember the Individuality

Every gecko is unique, just like us! Some cresties might love being handled, while others might prefer to be left alone. This is totally normal, and it’s important to respect your gecko’s individual boundaries. Adjust your handling methods according to your crestie’s comfort level.

Crested geckos are delicate creatures. Always handle them with care to ensure their well-being. Avoid grabbing them by their tail, as cresties can drop their tails when frightened. It’s a fascinating survival mechanism, but a tail-less gecko is a sight we’d rather avoid, right?

Common Crested Gecko Health Issues

As we continue our journey in the world of crested gecko care, it’s time we talk about something essential – their health. While these little fellows are generally hardy and easy to care for, they can still face some health issues. Don’t worry, though! As a passionate gecko parent like myself, you can learn to spot these issues early and address them effectively. So, let’s get to it!

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD)

This is a common issue among reptiles, and crested geckos are no exception. MBD typically results from a lack of calcium in their diet or insufficient UVB lighting. Symptoms to look out for include weak or deformed bones, difficulty moving, or a kinked tail. To prevent this, ensure your crested gecko gets a balanced diet rich in calcium and consider using a UVB light in their enclosure.


Impaction occurs when your gecko ingests substrate or other indigestible material, leading to a blockage in their digestive system. This can be serious and even life-threatening. To prevent impaction, use a reptile-safe substrate and monitor your gecko’s feeding closely.


Crested geckos require a certain level of humidity to stay hydrated. If your gecko’s eyes appear sunken or its skin looks wrinkly, it may be dehydrated. Ensure you’re misting their enclosure regularly and providing fresh water.

Tail Loss

Crested geckos are known for their ability to drop their tails when stressed or threatened – a process known as autotomy. While this isn’t necessarily a health issue, it’s still something you should be aware of. Once dropped, their tail won’t grow back, but don’t fret – they can live perfectly healthy lives without it!

Infections and Parasites

Watch out for symptoms like irregular feces, loss of appetite, or lethargy, as these could indicate an infection or parasites. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to consult a vet who specializes in reptiles.

Remember, friends, prevention is better than cure. Regular check-ups and a keen eye for unusual behavior can go a long way in keeping your scaly buddy healthy and happy. And of course, if you ever feel uncertain or worried, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional.

Crested Gecko Tails

Close-up of a crested gecko tail

Crested gecko tails are truly a marvel of nature. Unlike the simple, slender tails of many reptiles, crested geckos sport a broad, flat tail that often displays vibrant patterns. It’s also prehensile, meaning they can use it to grip branches, adding to their impressive climbing abilities. It’s a characteristic that highlights the versatility and adaptability of these wonderful creatures.

However, there’s a curious aspect to crested gecko tails that you might not be aware of—they’re what scientists call ‘fragile’. This means that under stress or threat, a crested gecko can drop its tail as a distraction for predators. It’s a common defense mechanism in the reptile world. But here’s the catch—once a crested gecko drops its tail, it doesn’t grow back. Yes, you heard it right. Unlike many of their reptilian cousins, once a crested gecko loses its tail, it’s gone for good.

Now, before you start worrying, let me assure you that tail loss, although a little saddening, is not a health crisis. It’s a natural occurrence, and your pet can live a perfectly healthy life without a tail. It’s just one of those quirks of nature we learn to accept as reptile lovers.

Preventing tail loss is all about creating a stress-free environment for your gecko. Gentle handling is a must—never pick up your gecko by the tail. Make sure their habitat is safe, with no small gaps they could potentially get their tail caught in. And remember, sudden changes, loud noises, or other pets can cause stress, so it’s best to keep their environment calm and consistent.

In the event your gecko does lose its tail, don’t panic. The area may look a little raw initially, but with good hygiene and careful monitoring, it will heal over time. Keep the habitat clean, and perhaps consider a vet visit just to make sure everything’s okay.

Crested Gecko Cost

Budgeting for your new pet is an essential part of the preparation process. Here, I’ll provide a breakdown of the costs you can expect when bringing home a crested gecko. It’s crucial to note that while there are initial costs, ongoing expenses are part of providing the best care for your scaly friend.

Initial Costs

  1. The Gecko Itself: Crested geckos are relatively affordable compared to some other exotic pets. Depending on the gecko’s age, size, and color morph, the price can range from $30 to over $200. Remember, never compromise on health and always buy from a reputable breeder.
  2. Enclosure: You can expect to spend around $50 to $100 on a quality terrarium. The price will depend on the size and material of the enclosure.
  3. Lighting and Heating: Proper lighting and heating are critical for your gecko’s health. Expect to spend around $20 to $50 for a suitable heating and lighting setup.
  4. Substrate and Décor: Substrate, plants, hiding spots, and climbing structures can add up to about $30 to $60. Remember, your gecko’s habitat should mimic their natural environment as closely as possible.

Ongoing Costs

  1. Food: Crested geckos eat a diet of commercial crested gecko food, insects, and occasional fresh fruits. Depending on your gecko’s size and appetite, food costs can range from $10 to $20 per month.
  2. Substrate: You will need to replace the substrate periodically to maintain a clean and healthy environment. This can add about $10 to $20 to your monthly costs.
  3. Veterinary Care: Regular check-ups and potential treatments for illnesses can vary widely in cost. It’s a good idea to set aside some money each month for potential vet expenses.

Budgeting Tips

  1. DIY Décor: Consider making some of your gecko’s habitat décor. You can craft climbing structures and hiding spots from safe, non-toxic materials, saving money and adding a personal touch to your gecko’s home.
  2. Bulk Buying: Purchasing food and substrate in bulk can often be more cost-effective in the long run.
  3. Preventive Care: Regular care and maintenance can prevent costly health issues. Always keep your gecko’s habitat clean and provide a balanced diet.


Well, my fellow reptile enthusiasts, we’ve journeyed through the fascinating world of crested geckos together, and I hope you’ve found this guide as exciting as I did while writing it!

From understanding their unique anatomy, knowing the right size of a fully-grown crested gecko, to appreciating their average lifespan, we’ve tried to capture the essence of these amazing creatures. We’ve delved into the specifics of their housing needs, lighting and temperature requirements, and even the intricacies of building a bioactive enclosure. We explored the various substrates suitable for them, the nuances of their diet, and the significance of water and humidity in their lives. The curious case of their tails, their delightful temperament, and the costs involved in their care – we’ve covered it all!

Now, as you embark on or continue your journey as a crested gecko parent, remember, these intriguing creatures depend on us for their well-being. Let’s show them the love and care they deserve, ensuring we provide the best habitat, diet, and overall conditions for them to thrive.

If you’ve any questions or insights to share, I’d absolutely love to hear from you. Your experiences, queries, and suggestions are what make this community vibrant and insightful. So, don’t hesitate to drop a comment or question below. Let’s keep the conversation going!

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