Origin: New Caledonia
Size: 4-4.5″ snout to vent; 8″ with tail
Lifespan: about 15-20 years
Housing: For hatchlings up to about 4 mo. of age, I like to keep my cresteds in a simple setup. I use a medium-to-large size Kritter Keeper with a paper towel as substrate and branches with silk leaves woven around them for climbing. The smaller space of the Kritter Keeper allows the hatchlings to find their food easily. As they grow up, the size of their enclosure increases.
I mist my hatchlings 2x a day and my adults 1x a day in the evening. The hatchlings are kept a little moister so they don’t have problems shedding their new skin. They lick the water off the silk leaves, but a shallow water bowl can also be provided.
As with any other reptile…bigger is better when it comes to enclosures. Crested geckos are arboreal and prefer a cage that is taller. If you give them enough room with plenty of branches to climb on, you’ll find that they love to jump. Branches should also be in abundance to prevent the onset of floppy tail syndrome which can occur when a gecko (who usually doesn’t have enough climbing branches) hangs upside-down on the glass and his/her tail flops over it’s back. This can deform the pelvis and give them a crooked appearance or they can also develop a “hump” in their back. Insufficient calcium supplementation is also thought to be a culprit when it comes to floppy-tail so be sure your gecko is getting adequate calcium.
When the geckos are full grown, I usually keep the same simple setup, but I upgrade to a larger cage. Some people choose to have a naturalistic setup, but I have had trouble with these in the past. You run the risk of having your crested ingest some substrate (coconut~bark bedding, etc.) and getting an impaction. In my case, I lost a very beautiful male. If you decide on a naturalistic setup, please do so with caution.
Temperature: 72~82 degrees. Anything over this will stress your crested and could possibly lead to death.
Feeding: My geckos are fed an alternating diet of crickets one day and non-insect food the next (baby food, “Super Mixture” with Herptivite added, or Clark Tucker’s “Frugivorous Gecko Diet”). Crickets are dusted with calcium 2x a week by placing them in a bag, adding Rep-Cal, and shaking them until they have a light calcium coating. Do not over-supplement your geckos b/c it is possible for them to overdose.
The length of the insects you feed to your geckos should be no larger than the width of your gecko’s head to prevent choking. Be sure that the crickets have been properly gut-loaded before feeding them to your geckos to increase the nutritional content. Commercial cricket food is available at local pet stores, or you can feed them fresh fruits and vegetables from your house.
On the days my geckos don’t get crickets, they are fed either a baby food mixture of peach, banana, or apricot baby food with Herptivite, Clark’s “Frugivorous Gecko Diet”, or they receive what I like to call “Super Mixture”.
“Super Mixture” Receipe:2 bananas
3 med. apricots
5-7 strawberries (I only use the inside of the strawberry…the seeds are cut off)
low-fat plain yogurt
1 jar chicken baby food
Blend everything together and…voila! Super Mixture is born. This receipe was given to me by a friend, and I have to say that it’s worked out great. I changed it a little (I cut off the strawberry seeds because I’ve heard some weird things), but the cresteds love it! Every one of my geckos lick their dish clean when they get this stuff. Keep in mind that the receipe can be reduced and it’s not set in stone, you can add another peach, take away a banana, etc. Prepared like this, it lasts me a while, and I have a lot of geckos.
Clark’s “Frugivorous Gecko Diet” has 60% pure fruit and you can choose from 2 different levels of protein. All the vitamins, minerals, supplements, etc. are already in it, so all you need to do is add water, mix it up, and you’re ready to go! My geckos go crazy for this stuff. It has a wonderful smell and smoothie-like texture that they love. It’s an easy meal to prepare on non-insect days.
There is also a diet made by Sandfire Dragon Ranch called “Crested Gecko Diet”. This is a meal replacement powder (MRP) that once your geckos eat it, you don’t need to give them anything else (no crickets, no supplements, etc.). You can switch your geckos over to it by mixing it in with their baby food and slowly increasing the diet until they’re eating it exclusively, or by coating crickets in it to get them used to the taste.
Breeding: First you have to sex your crested geckos. The males will have an obvious hemipenile bulge, the females will not. Once you are sure that you have a male and a female, it’s as simple as putting the two together. Add an egg-laying container (I use Glad Ware) with moistened perlite or moss to their cage for the female to deposit her eggs. Females will lay eggs every 3-4 weeks. Be sure to give them a cooling-off period or they can become calcium deficient.
Once the eggs are laid, place them in an incubator (I just use a regular tupperware with holes punched in the lid) with moistened perlite and bury the eggs 2/3 of the way. DO NOT ROTATE THE EGGS! Fertile eggs are white and feel like chicken eggs, only a little softer. Unfertile eggs are usually yellow and somewhat transparent. Eggs that are bad will mold and stink. Another way to check if your eggs are fertile are to candle them. I use a simple pen light after the eggs have incubated for about a week and gently place it next to the egg. If it is fertile, you will be able to see veins inside the egg. Below is an example of a candled egg that is about 1 1/2 months along.
Do not throw away an egg until you are positive it is bad. Sometimes it takes longer for the veins to show up. I’ve even candled eggs that are about to hatch and you can clearly see the baby inside…very rarely have I seen it move (but it sure is neat when you do!).
Babies usually hatch between 60 and 100 days. My average is about 75 days and I incubate at room temperature (72-74 degrees). There is some speculation that incubating eggs at certain temperatures will produce the desired sex (Temperature-Dependent Sex Determination a.k.a. “TSD” or “TDSD”). Low temperatures for females, high temperatures for males. I haven’t been able to tell one way or the other, but I try to keep my eggs cool just in case.
Other: Crested geckos kept in groups will usually be pretty vocal at night. When you’re in the same room, you will be able to hear chirps and barks. One sound is like a wet finger running over glass, kind of like a “Wah” sound. I’ve noticed they usually do this while having physical contact with another gecko (copulating, etc.).