ZENformation: Getting a Crestie?

Animal Care Manager Kasey includes the Crested Gecko on her list of five favorite reptiles.

Q: Why is the Crested Gecko a favorite?

Kasey:“I like Crested Geckos because they do not require much for daily maintenance and they are super easy to care for!”

Q: What kind of family is good for a Crested Gecko?

Kasey: I think that Crested Geckos are a great pet for a family with older children that understand they generally do not like to be handled. They are much more of a pet to enjoy watching instead of handling.”

Q: What are their personalities like?

Kasey: “They are very docile but tend to be skittish and apt to jump from your hand. Like other Gecko species, Crested Geckos will drop their tails when they feel threatened to help them escape from a predator. Unlike the Leopard Gecko, cresties will not regrow their tails.”

Q: What are other characteristics of the Crested Gecko?

Kasey: “Cresties are known for their beautiful ‘eyelashes’. These are actually crests of scales that run down both sides of the head, hence the name. Crested Geckos grow to be about 8-10" long (including tail) and most commonly appear in shades of brown, green and red.”

Q: What kind of environment do they like?

Kasey:“Crested Geckos are endemic to the New Caledonia Islands in the South Pacific. They are typically found in the lower-level trees and foliage in a temperate forest climate. Cresties need lots of opportunities to climb and hide, a heavily planted enclosure provides a great way for them to mimic their natural environment.”

Q: What do they eat?

Kasey: “In the wild, Crested Geckos live on a diet of small insects and over-ripe fruit. Fortunately, captive cresties are easy to feed and will readily eat commercially manufactured Gecko diets. I personally like the Rapshy and Pangea diets. They come in powdered form and you just add water to make the consistency like a milkshake. They provide balanced nutrition and are complete diets.

You do not need to feed your crestie additional insects, but it is still encouraged. Feeding insects can allow your crestie to exercise by practicing its natural hunting instincts. For feeder insects you should stick with crickets, roaches, waxworms, or silkworms. Prey insects should be smaller than the distance between your Gecko’s eyes.”

Q: What does the Crested Gecko need for an enclosure?

Kasey:“I think a 2’x2’x2’ enclosure would be best and make them happy. Your new Crested Gecko will also need a substrate, hide, water dish, UVA/UVB light, heater, two thermometers, and enclosure décor including many sturdy artificial or live plants so they can climb.”

Q: What heating do they require?

Kasey: “They need to be provided with a heat gradient just like other reptiles, this should include a cool zone of around 72-76°F and an ambient (air) temp of around 80°F. Nighttime temps can fall between 65-75°F. If you have trouble keeping the enclosure above that temp, you can use a ceramic heater as a supplemental heat source.”

Q: What lighting is best for Crested Geckos?

Kasey:“UVB/UVA light is required for all reptiles, but some nocturnal species, including cresties, do not need UVB/UVA to survive. Many experts agree that low level UVB/UVA is beneficial to your crestie’s overall health. Your Crested Gecko can be kept on a 12 hours on and 12 hours off light cycle.”

Q: What humidity level should their enclosure be?

Kasey:“Their enclosure should be kept at 60% humidity during the day and 80% at night. This can be achieved by daily misting, a misting system, or placing a heavy bowl of water over an under-tank heater. I recommend investing in a misting system.”

Q: What kind of substrate works best?

Kasey: “Crested Geckos need a fairly humid environment, so providing a substrate like cypress mulch is great to use as it retains moisture. Cresties can sometimes be prone to ingesting substrate when hunting live prey and become obstructed, if this is the case with your new pet I would recommend a substrate of coconut fiber covered in sphagnum moss.”

Q: What do Crested Geckos need for stimulation?

Kasey: “Since they are an arboreal species and such great climbers, having long branches for them to climb in addition to plants is beneficial. They can climb many vertical surfaces, including glass, thanks to their amazing toe pads. Their toe pads are covered in thousands of tiny hairs called setae, which are divided into hundreds of smaller hairs called spatulae. Cresties use van der Waals force to “stick” to surfaces with as little as one toe!”

Zen Habitats offers a variety ofenclosures andaccessories to suit your reptile, no matter the species. We would love to help you select the right enclosure setup for you and your pet! Email or call (978) 763-3035.