Are Crested Geckos Easy to Care For?
Crested geckos are cute and hardy reptiles currently making waves in the pet industry.
They come with an impressive variety of patterns, colors, and traits which is why increasingly more people are attracted to them. But are crested geckos easy to care for?
If you’ve never owned a crested gecko or a reptile before, you may be caught off guard by the gecko’s care requirements.
It’s not to say the gecko is difficult to maintain, but it has some special needs, to put it like that. It’s nothing you can’t handle, though, with the right guidance and adequate preparation.
Are Crested Geckos Good for Beginners?
Yes, crested geckos are great for beginners for several key reasons:
- They are hardy – Crested geckos don’t get sick too often and don’t have any genetic-specific disorders lurking in their gene pool. They are healthy and resilient creatures, provided they get adequate care over time. This brings us to the crux of it. The only diseases that the gecko struggle with relate to a poor maintenance routine. They might get respiratory infections when lacking proper humidity or experience obesity in the case of overfeeding. All these problems are easily preventable once you learn how to care for the gecko properly.
- They are cheap to maintain – Crested geckos don’t have any special care requirements and won’t be expensive to keep in the long run. They only eat once every 2-3 days as adults, don’t create too much mess, and aren’t too picky about their food. Some overripe fruits and live (preferably) insects with some calcium and D3 supplements and they should be fine. Other than that, you only need to clean their environment occasionally and prevent mold via regular maintenance, and your geckos will thrive.
- They are easy-going – Geckos are nocturnal animals, so they will be more active during nighttime. They like to rest during the daytime and aren’t too energetic in general. They don’t need too much space since these reptiles aren’t overly active and will remain comfy and happy with sufficient hiding areas and climbing spots.
Crested geckos are also sweethearts since they won’t create any trouble in their environment and remain relatively low-energy during the day.
All these factors recommend geckos as the ideal pets for beginners, even those who have never had a reptile pet before.
The gecko’s adaptable and easy-going nature will allow you to get up to speed in no time.
Are Crested Geckos Low Maintenance?
Yes, crested geckos are low-maintenance pets with easy-to-meet requirements. Geckos thrive at room temperature, don’t need any excessive lighting, and only eat once every couple of days.
They also don’t create too much mess around their habitat, so you won’t do too much cleaning either.
All these aspects recommend the gecko as the ideal pet, despite the fact that you can’t really interact with it too much.
Geckos don’t like being handled and might get fidgety when held. They won’t bite but are rather shy and prefer to be left alone for the most part.
This is a small and fair trade for which the gecko will reward you with its everlasting presence. After all, geckos can live up to 20 years with optimal care and maintenance.
So, if you’ve never had a crested gecko before or even a reptile for that matter, what should you know about caring for one?
Fortunately for you, I’ve compiled a list of several tips to consider in this sense.
5 Tips for Beginner Crested Gecko Owners
As I’ve already mentioned, crested geckos are really low-maintenance pets compared to even mundane options like cats.
Geckos don’t have fur, so you don’t need to clean the house regularly, and they don’t roam the room, knocking over everything that dares to stand.
They will remain constricted to their small terrarium, and they will love it that way.
However, they do require some long-term maintenance to remain healthy, happy, and calm over the years.
There may be more tips to consider, but I’ve boiled them down to 5 basic ones that are vital to your gecko’s well-being.
1. Crested Geckos Require High Humidity
Geckos love water and humid environments, which is typical for reptiles in general. However, geckos might take that preference up a notch.
These small reptiles prefer higher humidity levels than others in their family. I recommend boosting the geckos’ humidity levels up to 70% to keep them healthy and satisfied.
You can typically achieve this by spraying the gecko’s habitat 2-3 times per day or however often necessary.
As a general rule, warmer environments require more frequent spraying.
That being said, you might not always be able to do that. Maybe you’re out working, or you simply lack the time necessary to perform the task.
In that case, you should have several ways ‘automatic’ systems in place to keep the humidity levels stable.
Here’s what I mean by that:
- A water bowl – Have a water bowl in your gecko’s enclosure. The water will evaporate gradually, keeping the humidity levels stable. The gecko will also require a clean water source to drink and even bathe occasionally.
- Consider the right soil – The ideal substrate for crested geckos should do 3 things right: retain humidity, be easy to clean and be safe. The first point is self-explanatory as the substrate needs to retain humidity and release it slowly into the air. The substrate should also be easy to clean since geckos will poop, albeit not as much as other pets. It should also be safe since geckos will often grab mouthfuls of the substrate when eating. So, avoid gravel to prevent your geckos from choking. I recommend soil since it’s great for retaining humidity or other variations like coconut husk or cypress mulch.
- Spraying water – This method is an easy way of increasing the environmental humidity but also providing geckos with drinking water. That’s because geckos also drink water from the plants inhabiting their enclosure. You should spray the gecko’s environment at least 2 times per day.
These 3 methods are necessary to keep the gecko’s habitat moist and humid, but be wary.
Use a reliable hygrometer to monitor the humidity in the terrarium and always clean your reptile’s habitat regularly.
Mixing humidity with higher temperatures will almost always result in mold over time. Especially when throwing reptile feces, food residues, and dead organic matter into the mix.
2. Crested Geckos Need Plenty of Space
The notion of ‘plenty of space’ may be subjective here since 20 gallons is enough for an 8-inch gecko.
So, 20 gallons isn’t particularly a lot of space, but it is for the gecko. Especially when you consider that geckos aren’t exactly too active, to begin with, so they don’t need excessive space to feel comfortable.
That being said, you should have at least 20 gallons of space for one gecko and increase the space with every other gecko coming into the mix.
But this is not the main discussion point here. The main point is the enclosure’s format. Geckos are vertical reptiles, so consider a tall terrarium rather than a long or wide one.
These lizards are born climbers and like to rest above the substrate. This is part of their biological predisposition towards avoiding ground-lurking predators, which is why the gecko will always feel safer at a reasonable height.
Decorate its environment with branches and other elements that the gecko can use for climbing and resting.
And always be wary of the reptile’s climbing capabilities. Geckos are highly proficient at conquering new heights and will climb out of their habitat, given the opportunity.
3. Feed Your Crested Geckos Various Food
Geckos are omnivorous lizards, so they will consume both fruits and insects.
The word of the day is ‘variety.’ Geckos require a varied diet so that they can gather all of the necessary nutrients they need to grow and remain healthy over the years.
When it comes to feeding geckos adequately, consider the following:
- Commercial foods are always a good option – The reptile food market is quite varied, providing multiple options depending on your reptile’s type, size, and food preferences. Gecko food is widely available and comes with a variety of plusses. On the one hand, it’s ready to eat, making it a great option in case you don’t have time to prepare your geckos’ meals yourself. On the other hand, it’s always optimized in terms of nutritional value. So, store-bought feeder crickets, for instance, are always packed with complementary vitamins and minerals vital for your gecko.
- Avoid wild-caught food – While catching wild insects to feed your gecko might seem appealing at times, the risk is not worth it. Feral insects often carry parasites and dangerous chemicals that could transfer to your gecko when ingested. Stay on the safe side and only provide geckos with verified, high-quality food that will keep them healthy long-term.
- Consider feeder insects – Feeder insects are readily available in gecko-oriented shops, but I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about home-grown feeder insects instead. It won’t make for a substantial investment, and you can choose the insects to grow, providing your gecko with a reliable food source. This way, you can control the insects’ nutritional content yourself and eliminate the risks of parasites and dangerous chemicals.
- Ensure adequate supplementation – Geckos need food diversity to remain healthy long-term. Unfortunately, that may be difficult to achieve in a closed environment like a terrarium. After all, you don’t have an unlimited supply of different insects and fruits available, so you will usually feed your gecko pretty much the same things. This could cause nutritional deficiencies in the long run, provided you fail to approach the situation correctly, that is. To avoid such issues, supplement the gecko’s diet with calcium, D3, and other vitamins that the reptile may need to thrive.
- Consider live food – Many gecko owners feed their reptiles dead, ready-to-eat insects, which is fine technically speaking. But I would recommend feeding them live insects whenever possible. This allows geckos to practice their hunting behavior which will keep them active and happy over the years.
- Feeding frequency – Juvenile geckos require daily meals since they have a faster metabolism, but adults don’t need to eat daily. An adult gecko only requires food once every 2-3 days. To keep the reptile satiated, allow it to eat as many insects and fruits as it can in one session. This should provide it with sufficient nutrients for days.
4. Keep Your Crested Geckos in Small Groups
Geckos have a healthy social sense, so they do well in small groups. However, you should never have more than 1 gecko male in the same habitat.
Males are extremely territorial and will compete over anything worth their while, including food and females.
If you’re looking to create a stable gecko society, have 1 male and 2-4 females, depending on your preferences.
Always make sure to have sufficient space for all the geckos to prevent overcrowding and keep your reptiles comfortable.
5. UVB Light is Important for Crested Geckos
This point is the reason for contention among different gecko owners. Some believe that UVB lighting is necessary for geckos since it makes them more active.
Others claim that the UVB lighting isn’t really necessary, since the gecko only needs the natural light of the day.
Whatever your opinion might be, you can’t escape falling into one of these 2 categories.
I, for instance, fall into the latter. I consider the UVB lighting as being optional, not something that geckos absolutely need.
That being said, all reptiles, and all animals in general, require stable temperatures and specific light intensity.
This is to regulate their circadian rhythms and support their physiological processes adequately.
So, while you might not invest in UVB lighting, you need to provide your gecko with proper access to natural light. That’s because the UV spectrum contains 3 primary light lengths: UV, UVB, and UVC.
Out of all these, UVB is the one that aids in the synthesis of vitamin D3, which is necessary for calcium absorption.
This is a vital piece of information, given that crested geckos will often experience calcium deficiency. It’s probably where the ‘UVB lighting is essential for geckos’ opinion comes from.
So, if your gecko’s terrarium doesn’t have direct access to sunlight, yes, a UVB lighting source is necessary for D3 synthesis. If not, regular sunlight is sufficient.
Crested geckos are hardy and easy to maintain. They only eat once every several days, don’t make too much mess, and will thrive at room temperature, provided their environment is humid enough.
If you’re planning to get a gecko community going, consider the following:
- Make sure there’s enough space for all reptiles (at least 20 gallons per specimen)
- Organize the geckos’ habitat vertically rather than horizontally
- Include a variety of climbing and hiding areas for geckos to remain calm and happy
- Never place 2 gecko males in the same terrarium
- Keep the humidity levels between 60 and 70%
- Provide your geckos with a bowl of water and spray their habitat daily
- Offer a nutritious and varied omnivorous diet to keep geckos full and well-nourished
- Avoid handling crested geckos too often since they don’t like it
- Cover the terrarium to keep your geckos inside
Other than that, geckos are extremely low-maintenance, and they make for great pets. They’re also non-allergenic, so they work great with kids if you ignore the fact that they hate being held.
Get your favorite gecko, provide it with optimal living conditions, and the cute reptile will join your family for decades to come.