Why is My Crested Gecko Curled Up?

Crested geckos don’t communicate like other animals. A crestie is typically quiet and has a perpetual charming smile on its face. However, there are other signs you can use to decipher your gecko’s emotions. Body posture and behavior tell us a lot about how geckos feel.

What if your crested gecko is curled up and just lying around lazily? These are some of the behaviors that leave many gecko owners puzzled. Is this good or bad? Should you do something about it? We’ll elucidate this mystery in today’s article. Keep reading to find out all the answers!

Reasons Crested Geckos Curl Up

Crested geckos have flexible spines and tails that allow them to bend and curl up in impossible positions. Who knew that geckos and cats have so much in common? Jokes aside, this behavior is quite common in cresties.

Maybe the gecko’s body looks constricted and uncomfortable to us. But for them, curling up into a ball is natural. For the most part, this behavior is instinctual and harmless. Sometimes though, it might be a sign of an underlying problem.

Let’s look at the most common reasons crested geckos curl up. This will give you a better idea of whether your pet is peachy or in a sour mood. In no particular order, here are the most probable reasons behind this peculiar behavior:

– Normal Sleeping Behavior

Crested geckos sleep in all sorts of weird positions. Sometimes they sleep upside-down; sometimes, they loll sprawled on the ground. And sometimes, they curl into a ball. Bonus points if your gecko is curled up into the tightest, most uncomfortable-looking spot in the vivarium.

Check on your pet to see if it does this every day. Crested geckos are nocturnal, so they will hide and assume a sleeping position when there’s light in the enclosure. Geckos don’t have eyelids, so they can’t close their eyes to shut out the light. Curling into a ball makes it easier for the gecko to guard its eyes against the light.

If your gecko resumes normal activity at night and maintains a good appetite, that’s probably what’s happening. Since curling up isn’t a bad thing, you don’t have to do anything to fix this behavior. Consider adding a few hideouts in the enclosure if you haven’t already. The extra shade will help your gecko sleep without covering its eyes.

– Protection from Predators

The belly is the most sensitive area, especially for geckos. The skin on a crestie’s abdomen is thin and sensitive. It’s a natural, instinctual behavior for geckos to guard this part of their bodies. The gecko is especially vulnerable while at rest. It makes sense to curl into a ball and keep the most vulnerable spot protected while sleeping.

Besides sleeping, Cresties instinctively assume this position when they feel threatened. Even if there are no other geckos in the enclosure, perhaps other things in the environment keep your pet on edge. Remember, cresties are very shy and skittish animals. They get scared and stressed easily.

Is your gecko defensive? Does it run away when you approach the enclosure? Then, the curled-up posture shows your pet is feeling tense. Factors like noise and excessive handling will foul your gecko’s mood. Make your gecko comfortable, and the tense posture will disappear.

Try moving the vivarium to a quiet, low-traffic area in your home. Don’t handle your crestie too much or too often. Although they’re gentle, reptiles don’t like interaction as much as other pets. Excessive handling stresses them out, and they might avoid you in the future!

– Lack of Entertainment

Do you ever get so bored that you feel yourself falling asleep? Maybe your gecko is feeling the same. If there’s nothing to do in the vivarium, your pet has no other choice than curl up and sleep the boredom away. A lack of entertaining activities drains your crestie’s appetite for life.

In the long term, this can lead to aggressive behavior, stress, lack of appetite, and other problems. So, make sure your crestie has stuff to do to keep entertained. As an arboreal species, crested geckos need plenty of climbing spots in the vivarium. Vines, logs, ledges, boxes, rocks, anything will do. The more opportunities to play and explore, the better!

– Health Problem

The curled-up position can sometimes be a sign of health problems. If so, this behavior will be accompanied by other symptoms, such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Hiding frequently

Most health problems result in negative behavior changes. The physical symptoms vary depending on the underlying health issue. Potential health problems in crested geckos range from dysecdysis (incomplete shedding) to infections to bone problems. If your gecko’s acting strange, you should consult a reptile veterinarian to figure out the cause of the problem.

– Inadequate Environment

Does your gecko always curl up at the bottom of the vivarium? Did the crestie stop climbing around? Maybe something about the environment is off. Reptiles have very specific temperature and humidity needs. If you don’t meet these needs, your crestie will be uncomfortable.

Maybe your gecko’s trying to make the best of the enclosure, and only some parts of it feel comfortable. Ideally, the air in the enclosure should be at a stable 70-80% humidity. The substrate holds most of the humidity in the vivarium. If the enclosure isn’t humid enough, the gecko will curl up on the substrate to stay nice and moist.

The temperature might also be too high or too low. The ideal temperature for crested geckos is 72-78°F. If it gets too hot, your gecko will curl up on the substrate in the coldest spot in the enclosure.

The moisture at the bottom helps them cool off. If the enclosure is too cold, your gecko will favor the warmest spot in the vivarium. In this case, you’ll find your gecko curled up on a heating rock or the side with the heating pad.

Finally, your gecko’s enclosure might lack enrichment. As I’ve mentioned in the previous point about entertainment, cresties are arboreal. They need dense foliage and other vertical décor to climb and stay active. If you don’t provide these things in their environment, they have no choice but to sulk on the ground.

Tips on Keeping Your Crested Gecko Happy and Healthy

A healthy crested gecko is friendly and active. They like climbing, leaping around, and exploring their surroundings. Your gecko will also have resting periods when it curls up and lies around lazily. However, you can minimize this behavior by offering your gecko optimal living conditions.

Consider the following tips to keep your crestie happy, healthy, and energetic:

  1. Provide the right enclosure size. An enclosure too small prevents your gecko from moving freely. The minimum enclosure size for a single crestie is 12x12x18”.
  2. Maintain appropriate enclosure parameters. This includes a temperature around 72-78°F and 70-80% humidity.
  3. Provide enrichment to encourage natural behaviors. Include plants, logs, climbing ledges, and vines for your gecko to climb.
  4. Feed your pet 3-4 times a week. Provide a nutrient-rich meal powder and vitamin D3 and calcium supplements.
  5. Keep the enclosure clean to prevent infections and other health problems. Daily spot cleanings and a weekly deep clean should suffice.
  6. Allow 12-14 hours of darkness for your gecko to stay active. Include hideouts where your gecko can sleep throughout the day.
  7. Closely monitor your gecko’s health. It’s good to catch things early in case your gecko gets sick. Prompt treatment is always the best. Beware of behavior changes like lethargy, hostility, or lack of appetite.
  8. Prevent stress by keeping the enclosure in a quiet, low-traffic room.
  9. Interact with your gecko daily, but no more than 15 minutes at a time. Your gecko needs to spend time with you to get used to your presence. But avoid overdoing it to prevent stress.

Conclusion

Your crested gecko’s posture and behavior can tell a lot about how your pet feels. Typically, when a gecko curls up, it feels cozy and ready to sleep.

However, if your gecko seems lethargic, lacks appetite, and doesn’t play anymore, something else could be going on. Other possible causes include stress, lack of entertainment, improper environment, and health problems.

Crested Geckos   Reptiles   Updated: December 2, 2022
avatar I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets.

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