Crested Gecko – Species Profile & Facts
If you’re into reptile pets but haven’t had any so far, the crested gecko is for you. This is, by far, the most adored and common lizard in the pet market, and for good reasons. Crested geckos have adapted to life in captivity better than most other reptiles due to their docile nature and reptile-human bonding ability.
In this article, I will cover everything there is to know about the famous crested geckos in terms of the overall profile, care, and interaction tips. But let’s start with the beginning.
What is a Crested Gecko?
Crested geckos are also known as eyelash geckos due to their trademark eyelashes. This reptile is native to New Caledonia and considered protected in the wild. It was even thought to be extinct until early 1994, when it was rediscovered by Robert Seipp during one of his many expeditions.
The typical crested gecko has a sandy color with big and clear eyes and distinct flank crests around the eyes, head, and across the spine. Hence, the name. The head is slightly disproportionate compared to the body, and the lizard showcases 5 spread fingers with sticky toe pads turning the reptile into an excellent climber.
There’s no denying that crested geckos are cute and make for excellent beginner pets due to their low-end requirements. Temperature, humidity, space, terrarium layout, and food are critical for crested gecko’s wellbeing, and we will discuss all these aspects in detail today.
Crested Gecko Natural Habitat
Crested geckos live in humid and warm environments with plenty of vegetation and exploration opportunities. Geckos don’t have teeth, needles, claws, or any other meaningful self-defense tool to deter potential predators, so they rely on their climbing abilities and camouflage to stay safe. These arboreal reptiles dwell on trees, preferably above ground, to stay away from ground predators.
They also spend much of their time motionless to decrease their presence and render themselves less visible to predators. The crested gecko is always on the lookout for feeding opportunities, using its large eyes to spot insects wandering nearby.
The gecko’s terrarium should replicate its natural conditions to mimic the gecko’s native habitat. Consider opting for a vertical terrarium so that the gecko has plenty of room to climb and explore its habitat. Plants, leaves, and any other decorations are optimal additions, making your gecko’s habitat more diverse and entertaining.
Just make sure you don’t clutter the setup, as it might interfere with your gecko’s movement and make it feel claustrophobic.
Crested Gecko Diet
Geckos are mostly insectivores, so they consume a lot of insects, preferably once the night arrives. Geckos are nocturnal predators, as their large eyes give them better dark vision. Wild geckos consume insects and fruit, depending on what’s available around them, and have a fairly diverse diet primarily because their habitat is teeming with diverse life.
When it comes to captive-bred geckos, the situation is a bit trickier. The entire meal diversity that the gecko can get depends on you, and it’s rather difficult to mimic the gecko’s natural diet without some assistance. This comes in the form of commercial gecko food specifically designed to meet the reptile’s nutritional needs.
Depending on your gecko’s age and the manufacturer, you have multiple commercial food options available. You should always read the label to verify the ingredients and make sure your gecko isn’t missing anything.
However, commercial food alone won’t cut it when it comes to the lizard’s diet. While it is nutritionally optimized, this type of food doesn’t cater to the reptile’s natural hunting and eating instincts. You should always feed your gecko live insects as well to keep the reptile active and happy. The gecko will track and hunt the insects, which will help with its mental state over the years.
Avoid feeding your gecko wild-caught insects because these might be packed with bacteria, fungi, or environmental contaminants. This is less of an issue for wild geckos since the gecko’s natural habitat is less affected by human-specific environmental contaminants.
I advise setting up a breeder tank where you can grow various insects, crickets mainly, to feed your gecko regularly.
When it comes to meal frequency, juvenile geckos eat one meal per day, while adults will be fine with 3 meals per week. When meal time comes, feed your gecko as many insects as it can eat in one go and remove the survivors. Also, keep an eye on your gecko’s eating habits; some may have a healthier appetite than others and may require more food overall.
Crested Gecko Behavior
Crested geckos are docile and shy, preferring to spend their time in cover, laying motionless on a branch. They prefer to live alone, so don’t even think about pairing 2 crested geckos unless their male and female for breeding purposes. Even then, you should separate them as soon as the mating process is over to prevent their territorial instincts from kicking in.
When it comes to gecko-human interactions, geckos are typically docile but aren’t exactly fond of petting. You can hold and play with them for a bit, but try to minimize the length and frequency of these sessions. These reptiles prefer to be left alone for the most part. Constant petting and handling can stress the gecko and may cause it to jump or attempt to flee.
Holding it tight can even cause the gecko to lose its tail as a defensive mechanism which is never ideal.
Crested Gecko Lifespan
Crested geckos typically live between 10 and 20 years, depending on their genetic makeup and quality of care. While diet and environmental parameters play a critical role in the reptile’s health and lifespan, I consider stress as being the most impactful factor.
To put it simply, a happy gecko is a long-living one. Make sure your gecko is free from stress by:
- Keeping its environmental parameters stable
- Reducing the petting sessions to a minimum
- Providing an optimized diet and sufficient water
- Minding humidity levels to aid with shedding and overall comfort
- Avoiding loud noises or constant sudden movements near the reptile’s terrarium
Crested Gecko Size
Crested geckos can reach between 7 and 9 inches in length, tail included. The gecko will typically reach its full adult size when it’s 18 months of age. Several factors will influence the gecko’s growth rate and size, including diet, habitat, stress levels, sickness, and genetic pool.
Make sure you’re getting a healthy gecko and provide it with optimal care to keep it in good shape.
Crested Gecko Reproduction
Fortunately, crested geckos are very easy to breed in captivity, although they require specific conditions to get in the right mood. The gecko’s breeding season begins in the spring and continues through fall, lasting for an astounding 8-9 months period.
The female is typically ready to breed when it reaches 9 months, while males must be close to 2 years of age. Males will be apt to reproduce before reaching the 2-year mark, but they may not exhibit reproductive interest by that time.
Since you’re the one deciding when to breed your geckos, I advise waiting for females to reach at least 1 year of age, preferably 1 and ½ years, just to be sure. That would be 2 years for males.
The mating-and-reproductive process itself is simply but takes quite the time. You may need to house the 2 geckos together for up to a month, during which the female will lay 2 eggs every 30-45 days. But before that, you have the mating process, which is a mix of courting and violent copulation. The male will chirp and emit various sounds to peak the female’s interest and move its head left and right to let his intentions known.
The copulating act itself may appear violent, as the male forces itself onto the female and may even bite it in the process. The 2 will remain interlocked in their love embrace until the insemination process completes.
You know that the female is ready to lay the eggs once she starts digging in the soft substrate. I recommend removing the eggs immediately and placing them in a controlled setting where you can adjust and monitor the temperature, humidity, and other parameters.
Do Crested Geckos Make Good Pets?
Yes, crested geckos make for great pets, so long as you treat them well. These reptiles can live decades in the ideal conditions and with proper care along the way.
The 3 most important factors contributing to the gecko’s wellbeing are temperature, humidity, and diet, although there are others worth mentioning. These include their habitat’s layout, the overall maintenance, your interactions with the lizard, etc.
How Much Does a Crested Gecko Cost?
A common crested gecko will vary in price between $50 and $100. The price generally depends on the morph, age, the seller, the reptile’s availability in your area, and even gender. But I would say the gecko’s morph makes all the money.
The reason is that crested geckos have been subjected to extensive selective breeding over the years, resulting in numerous morphs being available today. Some are extremely rare and can increase the reptile’s price up to $500-$5,000, depending on the morph’s rarity and exquisite factor.
Geckos are amazing animals that make for great beginner pets. Your gecko will become a family member over time and will thrive with good care and love. Just don’t expect the lizard to return your emotional attachment since reptiles are incapable of such emotions.