Crested Gecko (Correlophus Ciliatus) lizards are from New Caledonia which is a group of Islands off the coast of Australia. They inhabit the southern forests of the Island and were first discovered around 150 years ago but shortly after seemingly disappeared. The species was assumed extinct until the early 1990’s. However, with their rediscovery, many scientists and breeders brought over specimens to breed and study. These specimens have provided the base for the current reptile trade.
Crested gecko lizards are classified as vulnerable and wild populations are dwindling because of climate change and invasive species. Due to this the capture and exportation of a wild crested gecko is illegal. However, the breeding programs around the world have been very successful and now crested geckos are one of the most available lizards to purchase.
Their easy going nature, small size, and somewhat simple husbandry has launched them into one of most common reptile pets.
Crested Geckos come from temperate rain-forests and when keeping them their enclosure should reflect that environment. The average humidity in the tank should be at least 50% with spikes up to around 80% once or twice a day in order to simulate rainfall. This can be achieved using a cool-mist humidifier or with a spray bottle. When using a spray bottle you don’t need to use too much water. Use just enough to dampen the substrate and leave droplets of water on the surfaces in the tank.
Crested Geckos are climbers and most of the time they like to spend in the hides and high decorations in the tank. Many geckos would rather drink the droplets of water on the leaves then make a visit to the bottom of the enclosure for a drink. However, it is still important to provide them a shallow dish of fresh water. This water allows them to be able to drink anytime as well as provide another means to keep the humidity in the correct range.
Temperature is another important factor of successfully caring for these lizards. They like it to be 77°-80° F (25°-26.7° C) during the day and around the low 70’s at night. Do not ever let the tank’s ambient temperature exceed 83° F (28.3° C) for an extended period of time as this can be very hazardous to the lizard. With that in mind, you can keep the temperature at optimal levels using a ceramic heat emitter, light, or under the tank heater. As with all reptiles, it is important to give the tank different zones for thermo-regulation.
If you decide to go with lights as a heat source there are some benefits to using UVB but use caution; crested geckos are nocturnal and they lack eyelids so harsh bright light that they can’t escape will cause permanent eye damage. At night any light in the cage needs to be turned off so that the lizard can keep its natural cycle for it to remain healthy and less stressed.
Housing is simple! Babies should be kept in a 10-gallon enclosure preferably tall and not long. Anything bigger can lead to complications like dehydration or not eating enough. As adults, they should be housed in a 20-gallon to provide them optimum space. As stated previously the Crested Gecko is an arboreal species so it is important to provide them plenty of things to climb on and places to hide (above the bottom of the tank). They will go to the bottom to hunt for food and drink from the dish during feeding time but will rarely visit the ground otherwise. If you are using a light make sure you use plenty of things in the tank to provide shelter and shade from the direct light.
Feeding a Crested Geckos is relatively straight forwards. In the wild, they are omnivores and feed on both fruits and invertebrates. Today there is a wide selection of easily prepared mixtures that make feeding these lizards quick and simple. All one really needs to do is read the label and make sure that all the essential vitamins and minerals, like vitamin d3 and calcium, are represented. It is always good to offer the occasional meal of dusted invertebrates as well.
Crested Geckos are pretty easy going lizards. Over time with the correct care and handling they handle really well. At worst though they are easily stressed and flighty. It is important to keep this in mind when adopting one of these interesting lizards.
Biting is rare. However when too stressed it is common for the gecko to drop its tail. However, unlike most Geckos, the Crested Gecko does not grow their tail back once dropped.
A Crested Gecko is still perfectly healthy if this happens!
It is easy to determine crested geckos stress levels by paying attention to coloration. When stressed they will darken their skin color which many keepers call “fired up”.
Should You Get A Crested Gecko?
They are great beginner reptile pets for most people. Temperatures very close to the average room temperature makes it easy and keeping the humidity up is simple. Their size is only around 4 inches minus the tail, and 7-8 inches including the tail. They are usually friendly if interacted with regularly and only flighty when not. Either way, they make a good pet as a display animal and can be fun to handle (just make sure not to be too rough as they can be easily injured). If you know how to be delicate and responsible for keeping up their environmental needs they will make a good addition to your home!
Required items for Crested Gecko care (Click links for our reviews of recommendations):
- Tall Enclosure, 10-gallon for babies and 20-gallon for adult
- Plenty of vines, plants, or decorations for the lizard to climb and hide in
- Water dish
- Feeding dish
- Spray bottle or cool mister/humidifier
- A heat source depending on the temperature your house is kept