Crested Gecko Predators – What Eats Crested Gecko?
Crested geckos are cute and novel animals that continue to make waves in the pet business. But few people know that these reptiles can only be found in New Caledonia and that there are only 3 major crested gecko populations that we know of in the wild. In short, these animals are considered vulnerable, which isn’t that far from the endangered status.
The reason for the dwindling population is isolation. Since it only lives in New Caledonia, this species hasn’t had the time to migrate to other regions, so its growth was hindered dramatically. Another major reason for that was human presence and the introduction of new predators, which circumvented the reptile’s defensive capabilities.
So, let’s talk about that.
List of Crested Gecko Predators
Some of the gecko’s predators are endemic, while others have been introduced by humans, either by accident or intentionally. The top crested gecko predators include rats, snakes, other gecko species (Henkel’s giant gecko), fire ants, cats, dogs, and even some birds.
Fire ants are some of the most effective gecko predators due to their attack methods and the gecko’s unfamiliarity with the insect species. Fire ants were introduced by accident into this new environment, making them rank as pests due to their destructive effect and predation potential. The main problem is that these insects completely outclass the gecko’s defensive mechanisms.
The gecko can’t play dead or run from the platoons of ants, and dropping the tail does nothing. These small, relentless killers use venom to paralyze their prey. In the US, some gecko and lizard species have adapted to the presence of ants within 70 years, growing longer legs to run faster and developing new defensive behaviors.
But crested geckos don’t have time by their side. Fire ants reached New Caledonia sometime in the 1960s and wreaked havoc on the native gecko population.
Cats and dogs are also a major concern as these came along with humans and are unlikely to leave anytime soon. They hunt geckos everywhere, including the trees, which cats are experts at navigating.
How do Crested Geckos Protect Themselves?
While geckos seem cute and harmless, they can defend themselves should the need ever arise. Some of their main defensive methods include:
- Tail loss – All geckos have detachable tails, which they use as distraction while they make a run for it. Geckos can detach their tails at certain vertebrae and have vasoconstrictor mechanisms in place to prevent excessive bleeding. The loose tails can wiggle and move around for up to 5 minutes due to independent nervous impulses in the muscles. This will attract the predator’s attention, allowing the gecko to escape with its life. Naturally, it doesn’t always work, but it does improve gecko’s survival chances. The problem is that, unlike other species, crested geckos do not regenerate their tails. A gecko without a tail loses some of its agility and precision of movement and cannot use the same escape method next time the need arises.
- Camouflage – Crested geckos are arboreal ambush predators. In other words, they climb in trees and remain motionless until the prey reaches its proximity. They also change location at times, depending on the temperature and feeding opportunities, but they generally don’t like to move. This helps them with their hunting tactics, but also with avoiding predation. This is due to the gecko’s duller coloring, helping them blend in their ecosystem. It is not a failproof system, but it’s better than nothing.
- Overall shyness – Geckos aren’t exactly popular at parties. They like to remain in the shadows and will almost always flee if they sense any danger approaching. This is also common behavior among captive geckos when first introduced to their new home. They need time to adapt to the new environment and your presence, during which they might get easily rattled and even aggressive if you attempt to pick them up. Even so, geckos only use aggression as a last resort if they have nowhere to run. Otherwise, they prefer to flee and hide from their potential predator.
- Good senses – Many of the gecko’s predators come out at night, which is also when the gecko is most active. Fortunately, the reptile has very good sight, hearing, and smell, allowing it to often detect the presence of predators before them becoming aware of the gecko’s presence.
- Jumping – That’s right, geckos can jump. It is a critical feature for an arboreal animal that spends its time elevated to avoid ground predators. The gecko can move between branches via jumping, although they don’t do it as often. Jumping is dangerous as it can cause the gecko to fall and injure itself. But, make no mistake, the gecko will jump when threatened or rattled. The same goes for captive geckos, which is why many keepers use terrarium lids to prevent them from getting out.
Finally, when cornered and have no way out, geckos will react aggressively, hissing, opening their mouth, and raising their head to make themselves look bigger. They may also bite if the intimidation doesn’t work, but it won’t do much for them since they have no teeth or biting power.
Do Crested Geckos Care for Their Babies?
No, unfortunately, crested geckos don’t care for their babies. This is another problem that contributes to the wild gecko’s decline. First is the mating and reproductive difficulty. Geckos mature sexually at the age of one, but they often mate past the 18-month mark. The gecko female will produce 2 eggs at intervals of 30-45 days, and the eggs take up to 70 days to hatch.
The offspring has a lot of difficulties to overcome, including a long maturing phase (close to a year.) Now add the fact that most adult geckos kill and/or eat baby and juvenile geckos on sight, and you can see the scope of the problem.
So, if you plan to breed your crested geckos in captivity, make sure you have a nursing terrarium ready. You should always raise the gecko babies separate from the adults to prevent cannibalism.
Are Wild Geckos Protected?
Yes, wild crested geckos are protected by law, and constant efforts are being made to reduce poaching and limit the impact of wild predation. The goal is to support the current population and help it grow over time.
Are Crested Geckos Vulnerable?
Yes, crested geckos are currently vulnerable in the wild, which is why you can’t and shouldn’t try to get wild geckos for your terrarium. Doing so is not only a detriment to the gecko population but also risky on its own. Wild geckos can come with parasites, bacteria, and diseases that hardly makes them good for pets.
Wild crested geckos have rough lives and struggle with many dangers; some natural, others human-related. Value your gecko, only get your reptile pet from professional breeders, and do your best to provide it with the best life it can have. Also, avoid buying wild geckos, as even small actions like these can discourage poaching in the long run.