How Long Do Crested Geckos Live?
If you’ve never had a gecko before but plan on getting one, you have a lot to learn about the species. The simple fact that they’re reptiles places them in a completely different category than mammals in terms of environmental requirements, diet, and even temperament and behavior.
Today, we will discuss how the quality of care can prolong and shorten the crested gecko’s lifespan and how you can find the goldilocks zone. But let’s start with the beginning.
Wild Crested Gecko Lifespan
Wild crested geckos live between 5 and 15 years in the wild. This may sound like a wild gap, but it makes sense, given the gecko’s natural environmental conditions. Wild geckos have a lot of threats to face in the wild, including predation, disease, food scarcity, environmental pollution, human activity, etc.
They are also massively harvested by poachers to be sold on the trading market, making wild geckos a protected category today. Most specimens don’t even reach adulthood for all these reasons.
Captive Crested Gecko Lifespan
Captive geckos have considerably easier lives compared to their wild counterparts. They no longer need to fear predators, have plenty of food available, and can leave at peace in their custom enclosure. This means that your typical crested gecko can live between 15 and 20 years in captivity with good care, optimized diet, and stable and healthy environmental parameters.
This isn’t to say all geckos reach that age, of course. Some may get sick over time, while others have poor genetics, which means their fate is already written. Even so, you should do your best to provide your gecko with the best quality of life possible to give it a good head-start.
Factors that Influence Crested Gecko Longevity
Several factors influence a gecko‘s lifespan and quality of life, including:
– Crested Gecko Genetics
The gecko’s genetic makeup is predetermined, so there’s nothing you can do about it. The reptile’s gene pool will determine almost all of its traits, including coloring, size, growth rate, temperament, and, last but not least, lifespan. This is why knowing your gecko’s parents can help you choose a better specimen with a better gene pool.
This is where sourcing your gecko wisely makes all the difference. If you have high standards, I recommend avoiding commercial gecko shops altogether. You never know what you’re getting or the living conditions your gecko had to endure. You’re better off going for professional gecko breeders who can vouch for the reptile’s quality and background.
It’s a plus if you can meet your gecko’s parents so you can see where the bloodline leads.
– Feeding and Diet
The diet is critical for your gecko’s health, but so is the actual feeding process. When it comes to geckos, how you feed them matters just as much as what you feed them. So, let’s break these 2 points down properly:
- What to feed your gecko – The gecko’s diet should be varied with plenty of live insects, worms, and fruits. The reptile’s main meal, though, should consist of commercial gecko food, perfectly optimized for your reptile’s needs. Then you have the live insects that would provide the protein and fats and fresh fruits like bananas, passion fruit, mangos, and others for additional vitamins, minerals, and fibers. You need to assess your gecko’s nutritional needs properly. For instance, too little fiber can cause constipation, while too much can cause diarrhea.
- How to feed your gecko – Juvenile geckos eat one meal per day, adult geckos eat one meal every 2 days. A typical adult crested gecko should have 3 meals per week, 2 of them consisting of live insects, and the other should be a mix of fruit and commercial gecko food. These are just general recommendations, as not all geckos require this exact same feeding pattern. A key tip here – don’t skip live insects just because they require additional efforts (acquiring them, keeping them alive until the gecko eats them, etc.) Live insects are critical for your gecko’s physical and mental health. They need to practice their hunting skills to stay sharp, energetic, and content.
Keep in mind that although geckos are omnivorous animals, their diet consists predominantly of live insects. I recommend setting up an insect feeder tank to grow your crickets, roaches, or silkworms, which make up for crested geckos’ favorite foods. Also, before feeding the insects to your gecko, gut-load them with vitamin powder for optimized nutritional intake.
Make sure you discuss this issue with your vet to figure out exactly what nutrients your gecko requires.
– Environmental Impact
Your gecko’s temperature, humidity, and lighting should stay between the recommended parameters for the gecko to remain healthy over the years. The ideal temperature range for crested gecko sits between 60 and 80° F. If this sounds like a wide range, that’s because the comfort zone is somewhere in the middle.
If you aren’t accustomed to crested geckos and their temperature requirements, you basically have 3 temperature areas to consider:
- Basking area – 80-85-90 °F. This area is typically at the top of the enclosure, and it’s where geckos spend little time regulating their internal temperature. Figure out the exact values that fit your gecko’s preferences for optimal comfort.
- Dwelling area – 72-75 °F. This is located in the middle of the enclosure, where the gecko will spend most of its time (remember, your gecko’s enclosure should be set up vertically.) The 72-75 range is ideal for optimal comfort, but the lizard will alternate between the other 2 areas as well occasionally.
- Cold area – 60-71 °F. This is the substrate zone where geckos go to cool off in case they’re too warm. You can even drop the temperature below 60 °F, so long as the other 2 zones are set up properly.
This temperature gradient is critical for geckos as it allows them to self-regulate their body temperature properly.
When it comes to humidity, aim for values between 60% and 80%. The ideal range is between 65% and 70%, with a boost during shedding. Get a hygrometer and a thermometer to make sure you have accurate readings.
– Stress Level
Geckos can get stressed for numerous reasons, including new home, improper layout, rough handling, inadequate diet or environmental parameters, etc. Your gecko will let you know of its discomfort via hissing, tail waving, gaping its mouth, hiding, or even biting.
Continuous stress can affect the lizard’s quality of life, drop its immune system, and leaving it prone to diseases and parasites.
Remember, geckos are shy and lone animals that prefer solitude and peacefulness. They don’t like being handled too much and require precise environmental conditions, layout, and diet to thrive. If your gecko shows signs of stress, figure out the cause and look for an immediate solution.
You’ll be happy to hear that I’ve already discussed everything gecko stress-related in another article you might want to check.
– Diseases and Parasites
Geckos are prone to some health problems depending on their diet, genetic predispositions, and quality of care. Leaving dead insects and food leftovers in their habitat and not cleaning their enclosure as you should make for a good recipe for disaster.
Food residues and gecko poop make up for great nutritional sources for bacteria, fungi, and various parasites that will then spread and infect your reptile.
To prevent these problems, clean your gecko’s habitat properly, daily and monthly, and monitor your gecko’s health regularly. I’ve written an article about in-depth gecko enclosure cleaning as well. What were the chances, right?
Male vs Female Crested Gecko Lifespan
Gecko males live longer than females simply by virtue of biological (dis)advantages. In short, females use their own nutritional resources to produce eggs, which diminishes their quality of life. There’s little you can do about it; it’s just how nature works. The act of producing the eggs can also result in complications, often causing death among females.
And then you have the males in a corner, chewing on their crickets. So, if you want a longer-living gecko, get a male.
Do Crested Geckos Live Longer in Pairs?
The simplest answer is no. The longer one is – in most cases, quite the contrary. It’s simple if you think about it. Geckos are solitary animals that require no company. They are also temperamental and territorial, so they don’t appreciate company, not even that of their own species.
Pairing 2 males is out of the question unless you want to see a gecko die. Pairing 2 or more females could work, but the situation isn’t that much better there, either. Geckos are simply not meant to share space and may get stressed, aggressive, or territorial towards one another. They will compete over space, food, and water and can get extremely dominant and violent.
If anything, keeping geckos in pairs or even groups will actually decrease their lifespans.
This being said, some people have succeeded in keeping crested gecko groups (female-only, of course), but I don’t recommend it. It’s too much trouble, and the outcome is almost always negative.
Geckos require special living conditions, but they’re not difficult to keep. Just get a gecko specimen with good genetic baggage, keep it in a personalized enclosure that mimics its natural ecosystem, and feed it a varied and nutritionally-rich diet. Your gecko won’t need anything beyond that except some peace and a bit of love. A tiny bit because everything beyond that is too much.