Crested Gecko Care
These charming little geckos literally came back from the dead in 1994, and have gone on to become one of the most widely kept gecko species in the world, easily as popular as that long time favourite, the leopard gecko.
They are native to New Caledonia, a small group of islands North of New Zealand, on the main island of Grand Terre and small colonies have also been discovered on the Isle of Pines, just off the coast.
Despite being arboreal (living in trees), they tend to be found lower down than the canopy, under three metres. It is cooler down here, and certainly in captivity the crested gecko does not do well at higher temperatures. They also avoid the trunks of the trees, staying further out on the ends of branches to avoid being eaten by larger geckos.
Crested geckos are omnivores, feeding on a mixture of overripe fruit, insects, and nectar; it’s entirely possible that they play a role in pollinating plants in their native range, although unfortunately there has been very little research done to confirm this. They appear to prefer plant based foods to insects, although they can be very proficient hunters when they want to be.
Like many species of gecko, the crestie can shed its tail in order to escape predators, a process known as autotomy. Unlike many other species, however, the tail does not grow back once lost. Most breeding females are tailless.
Because they prefer a lower background temperature and fairly high humidity these geckos thrive in glass terrariums. The fact that they are quite happy to live on a diet of powdered food makes them an excellent choice for someone who does not want to go to the hassle of keeping feeder insects, although they do grow faster when they have some insects when they are growing and do benefit from the enrichment of live food. That said, some of the newer powdered foods do have a higher protein content from insects, so they would be more than sufficient. If feeder insects are used, they should always be dusted with a good calcium or multivitamin/multimineral powder.
The minimum we recommend using is a terrarium measuring 45 x 45 x 60cm (18 x 18 x 24”), this is a tall terrarium which suits their arboreal (tree climbing) life style. Taller and wider terrariums are available, and more space is always beneficial. UVB light can be provided with either a good quality compact bulb, or a small T5 tube – needless to say, they should always have access to shade.
Although they do come from a tropical island, their lifestyle of staying in shady areas at the end of branches where there is a good breeze means that these geckos like it a little cooler than most other geckos. Room temperature (22ºC to 24ºC) is absolutely fine for background ambient, but like all reptiles they do appreciate a temperature gradient, and a warmer area where they can go to raise their body temperature to aid with food digestion. Deep heat projectors are a brilliant source of heat that can be controlled by a dimming or digital thermostat for day and night temperatures. The UVB light will also give out a small amount of heat. If the terrarium is in a particularly cold room, supplemental day time heat can be provided by a low wattage heat bulb above the mesh top. If this is used, it is imperative that temperatures are closely monitored using a good quality digital thermometer.