How to Tell if Crested Gecko is Happy?
Getting a pet is always a huge step for someone who’s never had any. Getting an exotic pet makes for an even bigger move, especially if you’re not familiarized with the species. Crested geckos are highly popular today and continue to rise in value thanks to their cuteness, ease of care, and outstanding morph variation.
But how do you know whether your gecko is happy and healthy, and how can you improve its life quality? Coincidence or not, that’s exactly what we will be discussing today. I bet you didn’t see this coming.
5 Signs of a Happy Crested Gecko
The saying ‘A healthy mind in a healthy body’ couldn’t be any truer for geckos. It’s important to know whether your gecko is happy because this speaks volumes about the reptile’s health and comfort level as well. So, let’s look at the 5 most tell-telling signs that your gecko is in a good mental state:
– Docile Behavior
Geckos are generally docile, but don’t let their innocent and cute look deceive you. These reptiles aren’t exactly tame, so they can showcase irritability and aggression more than other species like leopard geckos. Crested geckos won’t let you come near them if they’re not familiar with you or when in a bad mood which can happen often.
Geckos can showcase a foul mood when stressed, rattled, uncomfortable due to improper environmental parameters, hungry, injured or sick, etc. These issues will make your gecko become grumpier and avoid contact.
Sometimes, it can bite you when attempting to grab it. There’s nothing to worry about because crested geckos can’t hurt you, but the act speaks volumes about the reptile’s state of mind.
So, if your gecko is docile and calm, it’s most likely content and happy, as it should stay.
– Increased Appetite
Geckos eat approximately one meal per day when juveniles due to their accelerated metabolism. They will have fewer meals as they age, as an adult crested gecko eats 3-4 times per week. So, you can tell a lot about a gecko’s health status by assessing its eating behavior.
Sick and stressed geckos may also exhibit low or no appetite, while healthy and happy ones may even show increased appetite. You can only tell the difference by first becoming acquainted with your gecko’s feeding behavior. The standard recommendation is 3-4 meals per week for an adult gecko, but you should also check the meal size accordingly.
Geckos may eat more during one sitting than others and depending on their state of mind. If your crested gecko eats well and leaves almost no leftovers, it’s most likely healthy and in good spirits. Keep it that way by providing your gecko with live food as well. These reptiles love to hunt their own food, which boosts their mind and fitness.
– Easy to Handle
As I’ve already mentioned, crested geckos aren’t exactly the easiest to handle among reptiles. These animals are more solitary in general, so they don’t appreciate the constant handling. Geckos tend to be more dismissive and easily rattled when unfamiliar with you or their environment or unwell.
Healthy and happy geckos will relax on your hand and enjoy the warmth for a bit, so long as you don’t bother them. Your gecko’s breathing, tongue slipping, and gentle movements are pretty good indicators that the animal is comfy in your presence. If not, the gecko will most likely try to run, fidget, and even bite if you prevent it from escaping.
If that happens, place your gecko back in its enclosure to avoid stressing or hurting it by mistake.
– Very Active
Crested geckos aren’t exactly active animals, so the notion of ‘very active’ has a different meaning here. But, even with low-energy animals like geckos, you can tell the difference between lethargy and high-energy behaviors. Geckos are generally low energy during the day, as they prefer to rest at an elevated spot and only move when they need to drink or change their spot.
But they should become fairly energetic at dusk, exploring their habitat for food or even fun. Geckos should have a mixed layout with climbing areas and open spaces for walking. This allows the gecko to stay in shape, which lowers the risk of Metabolic Bone Disease or flappy tail syndrome.
You don’t need to worry about these conditions if your gecko appears in good shape and spirits, but it never hurts to be ready.
– Healthy Appearance
When it comes to your gecko’s appearance, look for the following indicators:
- The skin – Your gecko’s skin should be healthy with vibrant colors, depending on the morph, and smooth to the touch. This shows that the gecko is well-hydrated and healthy, which also translates to happy. The gecko’s skin will become dry and wrinkly if the animal is dehydrated or sick.
- The eyes – Gecko’s eyes should be clear with no visible discharge or swelling. An important note here – geckos exhibit sunken eyes when dehydrated, sick, experiencing an infection, or due to improper shedding. But the sunken eyes effect is also normal when the gecko is sleeping or eating. This is an automatic behavior meant to protect the eyes during those activities.
- The posture and body shape – Healthy geckos should retain a controlled body posture and shape, especially when hanging from their preferred spots. Geckos that suffer from MBD showcase low bone density, which can translate to weak grips, lethargy, and even spine and leg swelling and deformation. The floppy tail syndrome is often a symptom of MDB, causing the reptile to lose control over its caudal appendix. The gecko’s tail will hang over its head or sideways when the animal hangs upside down.
If your gecko checks all these boxes, it’s most likely happy and healthy.
Tips to Make Your Crested Gecko Happy
Now that you’ve determined how a happy crested gecko looks let’s see how you can improve your pet’s happiness and health via several simple approaches.
- Control environmental parameters – Keep humidity levels between 60 and 80% and provide your gecko with a stable temperature gradient. Your gecko’s environmental temperature should vary between 60 and 85-90 F, depending on the time of day and terrarium section.
- Ensure an optimal eating plan – Geckos are omnivorous reptiles, so they consume insects and fruits as their main meals. Offer your geckos customized meals based on their nutritional needs and preferences. Geckos need live insects as part of their diet so they can exercise hunting and remain in peak physical and mental shape. Keep in mind that most geckos require vitamin D3 and calcium supplementation to prevent nutritional deficiencies which related to numerous health disorders, including MBD.
- Create the ideal layout – If the terrarium’s layout isn’t right, your gecko will become stressed and unhappy, despite the optimal parameters and fitting diet plan. Crested geckos need a terrarium layout that would mimic its natural habitat, with open spaces and a vertically-constructed ecosystem. These are arboreal geckos, so they need to climb; it’s not just a preference. As a pro tip – create larger gaps between various branches to incentivize your gecko to practice its jumping abilities. This is great for keeping your reptile in shape and active.
- Monitor the gecko – Always supervise your gecko so you can detect behavioral and physical changes that could suggest infections, parasites, or diseases. Detecting these problems early improves your gecko’s recovery chances and prevents them from aggravating. For instance, Metabolic Bone Disease is reversible in early phases but deadly in later ones.
Plus, you should always adapt to your gecko’s unique personality. Some geckos demand more food or are fonder of cuddling with you than others. Don’t force your gecko into doing something it doesn’t like or want.
Crested geckos are easy-going animals that don’t need extreme care to thrive. But, if you want your gecko to be happy and healthy over the years, you have to consider several of the strategies I’ve presented.