What is a Crested Gecko?
If you’ve never had a pet fancier than your regular cat, a crested gecko will seem like a complete puzzle. Reptiles are an entirely different breed with different needs and characteristics. If you want to invest in a crested gecko, you better at least learn the essentials.
This will help you provide the optimal care that the reptile needs to thrive for years to come.
The crested gecko is a species of gecko found on the islands of New Caledonia. The crested gecko is a nocturnal animal and is most active at night. The gecko feeds on insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates.
The crested gecko is an arboreal species and is often found in trees and bushes. The gecko is also known to climb walls and other vertical surfaces. The crested gecko has an average lifespan of 10-15 years.
Below, I will go into more detail about crested geckos, so please follow along, if you want to learn more about these interesting pets:
Where Do Crested Geckos Come From?
Crested geckos are only found naturally in New Caledonia, an island country located in the Pacific Ocean, ranking as a French overseas territory.
This means that geckos are constricted to one location with virtually no means of spreading anywhere without human help.
And that’s not about to happen anytime soon since crested geckos are forbidden from export.
The gecko population in the area currently ranks as vulnerable due to habitat destruction, natural predators, human activity, and even invasive species like fire ants.
Fortunately, you can get your gecko from the pet market and individual breeders specializing in growing geckos for profit. All of these animals are legal to sell and own since they have been bred in captivity.
When Did Crested Geckos Become Popular as Pets?
The crested gecko was discovered in 1866, but that’s not when it got the world by storm. That’s when Alphonse Guichenot, a French zoologist, first shine the light on the new species of geckos roaming the Caledonian plains.
The problem was that the gecko population was rather thin, making it difficult to research and study.
The crested gecko was actually believed to be extinct a few decades after that until they were rediscovered in 1994.
That’s when they hit the spotlight again and became extremely popular in the pet industry.
What do Crested Geckos Eat?
Crested geckos have an omnivorous diet, consisting primarily of fruits and insects. They prefer overripe fruits due to being easier to eat and their distinct, more aromatic taste. When it comes to insects, geckos will eat anything so long as it can fit their mouths.
As pets, adult geckos only eat around once every 2-3 days, depending on their appetite, size, and overall disposition.
Juvenile geckos will eat more often, typically daily. In captivity, you need to provide geckos with a well-rounded diet, preferably with vitamin D3 supplementation, to prevent calcium deficiency.
Especially if your gecko doesn’t have direct access to sunlight.
Are Crested Geckos Good Pets?
Yes, crested geckos are good pets, but it depends on what you expect from your pet. Overall, the gecko doesn’t make too much mess, is relatively low energy, doesn’t make noise, and will thrive with optimal care.
You can even hold it occasionally if you want to bond with your lizard, just don’t do it too often.
Geckos aren’t quite fond of being held and can get stressed out if you handle them too frequently.
Other than that, they like to keep to themselves and spend their time hanging out from a branch for the most part.
How Long do Crested Geckos Live?
Crested geckos are known to live between 15 and 20 years in captivity. There is no clear data on feral geckos, though, since the animals haven’t been studied a lot due to their vulnerable status.
The gecko’s lifespan will be influenced by a variety of factors. These include diet, quality of overall care, the habitat’s layout, the reptile’s stress levels, and even genetic pool.
You can control all of these with enough know-how and preparation. Your goal should be to provide the gecko with personalized care to keep it happy, calm, well-fed, and healthy.
Doing so will prevent long-term health issues related to high stress, nutritional deficiencies, or shedding-related problems.
How Big do Crested Geckos Get?
Crested geckos will grow up to 5-8 inches, depending on several factors. The diet is one of the most important ones, but I would say that the lizard’s gene pool counts the most.
This is why you must always get the gecko from a reputed breeder who can guarantee the reptile’s impeccable gene pool. If that’s not right, the gecko will remain small, no matter what else you try.
The diet and habitat conditions are also key in this sense. The gecko needs to receive a complementary and diverse diet since these lizards are prone to nutritional deficiencies.
Regarding the last point, provide your gecko with a natural-looking habitat to increase its comfort level and prevent unnecessary stress.
How do You Keep Crested Geckos?
You should house your crested geckos in a terrarium designed specifically for them. They don’t do well when paired with other animals, so you don’t need to worry about creating a mixed environment.
You can personalize the habitat according to your gecko’s needs, and there are a few factors to consider:
- The adequate terrarium size – 20 gallons are sufficient for one gecko or 30 if you plan on having a pair. This is the optimal space required to accommodate both the gecko(s) and any decorations you might have.
- Decorate the terrarium adequately – Consider having a variety of branches, wood, and various climbing decorations. Geckos are born climbers and like to rest above the ground.
- A good substrate – The gecko’s substrate should retain moisture, since geckos require a humidity level between 50 and 80%, depending on the time of day. It should also be soft since geckos will sometimes bury themselves in it.
- Water and food ledges – These ledges are specifically designed for geckos and other climbing animals. They attach to the terrarium’s walls, allowing the gecko to eat without having to come near the substrate. The water bowl is necessary since geckos drink a lot of water, especially when the temperatures are higher.
- Temperature and lighting cycle – Geckos require a stable and optimal temperature and lighting cycle, depending on the time of day. These are nocturnal animals that rest during the day and are more active when lights go down. Adjust these parameters based on their physiological map, and they will thrive.
Interesting Facts About Crested Geckos
If you’re sold on the idea of getting a gecko, here are some interesting facts about the little reptile:
- They need a smaller space – Contrary to other aquarium or terrarium pets, crested geckos actually do worse the larger their habitat is. Contrary to that, most vivarium animals will grow larger the larger their enclosure is, but geckos make for a special case. If their habitat is too big, they will have difficulties finding food and water since they’re not that active, to begin with. Only consider a 20-gallon terrarium for your geckos to prevent that.
- They don’t regenerate limbs – Geckos will lose their tails as most lizards do when stressed and needing to escape. The problem is that geckos don’t regenerate them the way most lizards do. So, always handle your gecko with care and put it back into its habitat if it begins to wiggle and appear uncomfortable.
- Gecko males hate each other – It’s common for males of every species to display negative emotions towards each other; it’s how nature, competition, and testosterone works. Gecko male, however, take things to a whole new level. Gecko males will fight and kill each other on sight, and they will never get along, no matter how big the environment is.
- Geckos like intimacy – Geckos aren’t exactly your typical social animal. They like to live alone and will display aggression or stress when kept in larger groups. You can keep a gecko male and a female for a bit, especially during the mating season, but you will eventually need to separate them. Otherwise, the male will stress the female by being too pushy, causing her to bury herself in the ground and experience high-stress levels.
- A lot of shedding – Geckos shed their skin weekly when in their juvenile period and every 2-4 weeks as adults. The process will last around 30 minutes, give or take, during which the gecko requires higher humidity levels (up to 80%, although for short periods of time) and peace. Don’t help the gecko shed, and don’t hold the animal during this sensitive period of its life.
- They prefer live food – There are a variety of gecko-oriented foods available on the market, but the reptiles prefer their food live and juicy if possible. Feeding them live insects is ideal since it scratches their predatorial itch and keeps the geckos healthy and active.
- Impressive variety – Despite the gecko population being limited to one area in the world, these lizards show impressive color and pattern variety. To be fair, most of this variety is fueled by human-guided selective breeding, prioritizing certain traits over others. So, it’s fair to say that there’s a gecko for everybody.
In short, geckos are amazing animals that even a beginner can manage successfully. Learn about the species’ requirements, craft the ideal habitat, and start with a gecko.
If everything goes well, you can then bring in another and soon create a solid colony, provided you have the room, capabilities, and willingness to ensure your pets’ safety and comfort.