Can I Leave My Crested Geckos Alone for a Week?
Crested geckos are notorious for being low maintenance and do not require 24/7 care and assistance. So long as the environmental parameters are stable and the gecko has sufficient water and food, it doesn’t need much else from you.
But can you leave your gecko alone for a week or maybe even more? These situations may sometimes arrive, and you better be prepared for them. Fortunately, your gecko will do better in your absence than other pets that may need daily care. Even so, you have several pointers to consider before kick-starting your vacation.
Preparing Your Crested Gecko for Vacation
Crested geckos require specific environmental conditions and stable parameters to thrive. Temperature and humidity are the most important, but others are worth mentioning as well. If you’re getting ready for your much-needed, week-long time off, here’s what to do before leaving:
– Cleaning the Enclosure
You typically need to clean your gecko’s habitat pretty much daily. This involves some routine maintenance job like removing feces and uneaten food and cleaning the tank’s walls if needed. The daily maintenance job shouldn’t take more than several minutes because geckos aren’t exactly messy animals. They only poop when they eat, for instance, which is about once every two days.
However, since you will be gone for a week or maybe more, you need to clean the reptile’s enclosure more thoroughly. I suggest replacing the substrate altogether and performing your normal monthly cleaning routine. This involves removing the gecko from the habitat, dismounting all of the decorations and other elements, replacing the substrate, and disinfecting everything.
You should do this even if there is no visible dirt or dead matter visible. Your gecko’s habitat is humid and warm, so it most likely has a variety of bacteria, fungi, and mold underneath the substrate. And it’s plenty of time for them to grow and spread through the habitat in a week’s time.
– Set Up a Misting System
Geckos require a stable humidity level between 60% and 80%. Geckos risk dehydration if humidity drops too low, which will most certainly happen during a 7-day timeframe if you don’t take necessary precautions. An automatic misting system is a great choice in this sense because it keeps humidity levels stable throughout the day.
You can also use a humidifier instead, depending on the situation. Also, if you could have someone in your family come and replenish the reptile’s water bowl, that would be invaluable as well.
– Set Lighting on a Timer
Geckos require a healthy day/night cycle to maintain their normal physiological functioning and get proper rest. Keeping the lights on or off constantly will disrupt the reptile’s biological rhythm and confuse and stress the animal out. Geckos are nocturnal animals, so they regulate their behavior based on the available light in their ecosystem.
If you don’t have an automatic lighting system, which you better have, move the terrarium close to an open window. This provides the gecko with natural light and a steady day/night cycle. Just makes sure that:
- The terrarium isn’t in direct sunlight – Direct sunlight will ruin the entire temperature gradient in the tank, taking away your reptile’s ability to regulate its body temperature. This will lead to dehydration and temperature shock, which can even kill your gecko by the time you’re back.
- The nature day/night cycle matches that of your gecko – If your gecko’s terrarium was in a room without natural sunlight and had specific day/night cycle hours, you don’t want to mess that up. Make sure that the natural cycle matches whatever your gecko is already accustomed to.
This being said, I recommend investing in a proper UV system to keep your gecko healthy and happy. This makes it easier to regulate the reptile’s biological cycle no matter the terrarium’s location.
– Checking the Equipment
Make sure everything works properly and is in peak condition. You don’t want your misting system or humidifier to misfire during your absence, as this can have dire consequences. The same goes for the heating system and any other unit you may have.
– Get a Surveillance Camera
I would say this is a must when leaving home for a week or more. The camera lets you detect any problems with your geckos so you can act quickly. Maybe there’s no one to take care of your gecko in your absence. But you can find someone to run over there and fix whatever problem may arise while you’re gone.
The surveillance camera is a great tool to have in cases of emergency.
How Long Can Crested Geckos Go Without Food?
Crested geckos are adaptable animals. They only eat approximately 3-4 times per week as adults and can go without food for quite a while before experiencing health problems. Your typical crested gecko can survive without food for about 2-3 weeks, depending on the gecko’s age, condition, and how much food it had in the beginning.
However, keep in mind that only young and healthy geckos can reach that threshold without any drastic health issues. If your gecko is too young, too old, sick, or with a weak immune system, you might not want to test its limits. Feed your gecko well before you go, and speak to someone to feed it at least once more until your return.
Most importantly, don’t leave food in the gecko’s enclosure in hope that it will eat it the following days. The gecko’s habitat is humid and warm and any food left there is bound to spoil and become a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria.
Care for Crested Gecko While on Vacation
If you can’t afford to leave your gecko completely alone, you should explore other options. These include:
– Ask a Responsible Friend
This should be your first option, even if your friend isn’t too acquainted to geckos or reptiles. It doesn’t matter because geckos don’t need too much assistance, to begin with. Your friend should only spray the gecko’s habitat at least once or twice per day, feed it 3-4 times per week, according to your instructions, and remove the feces whenever necessary.
This is routine work that doesn’t require much knowledge or effort. Also, make sure that your friend or family member tasked with the job knows how to check environmental parameters and tweak them accordingly. Temperature and humidity can fluctuate at times, and it’s great to have someone fix those while you’re gone.
– Take Your Pet With You
This is always an option if you have the means to make it work. You can get your gecko with you, but you need to make arrangements to minimize the animal’s stress while on the road. I recommend grabbing the entire terrarium, if possible, and keeping the gecko in its own habitat during the trip.
If that’s not possible, and it most likely isn’t, get a deli cup or something similar to house the gecko while on the road. Dig holes into the lid to allow for better aeration and keep the gecko far from the air conditioning. The gecko won’t mind the unfamiliar temperatures so long as they’re not extreme.
Remember not to feed the gecko while on the road. Most reptiles regurgitate their food due to stress or the car’s vibrations. Reassemble your gecko’s enclosure and accommodate the reptile once you arrive at your destination.
– Hire a Pet Sitter
I would recommend this one as the ideal move, especially if you have a trustworthy person for the job. I advise starting with family members and friends and moving to neighbors or local pet sitters as a last resort. The sitter can care for your gecko according to your recommendations, making sure that the animal is well and comfy until your arrival.
As pro tips – always rely on someone you can trust and have a surveillance camera in place. You never know…
Things You Should NOT Do
Now that we’ve established the things you should do when leaving your gecko at home, here are those you shouldn’t do:
– Overfeeding Your Gecko
This sounds like self-explanatory, but it actually isn’t. Many people overfeed their geckos before leaving, thinking this will keep the reptiles full for longer. In reality, overfed geckos experience health problems and may even regurgitate their food shortly after.
So, now you have to deal with a gecko with digestive issues or an empty stomach after it just threw all of its food away. Geckos aren’t machines, but living animals, so treat them as such. Don’t overfeed them, no matter how long you will be missing.
– Leaving Live Insects in the Tank
This is another point which we’ve already discussed briefly previously. Some gecko owners throw a lot more live insects in the tank than the gecko can eat. They will eat what they need and ignore the rest, presumably, to eat them later. The problem is that the live insects that remain will move around the habitat, peaking the geckos’ interest and disturbing their peace.
This will either cause the geckos to attack them and overeat in the process or stress the reptiles out. Geckos require peace after a heavy meal so they can digest in peace.
– Leaving Fruits in the Tank
Leaving fruit leftovers in the tank is even worse because these will begin to rot away fairly fast. They will attract fungi and bacteria in the process and cause your gecko to get sick if the reptile decides to eat them after a couple of days. Even if they don’t, the rotten fruits will impact your gecko’s wellbeing simply by being there for several days.
The accumulated bacteria and fungi will thrive in the humid and warm ecosystem and infect the whole environment by the time you return. Your gecko’s habitat should be clean of any feces or food residues at the time of your departure.
A healthy adult gecko should have no problems surviving in your absence for 1-2 weeks. Just make sure you follow my recommendations and, preferably, have someone check on your pet occasionally to ensure everything’s fine.