Crested Geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) are native to Southern Grand Terre, New Caledonia and at least one small surrounding island (Isle of Pines). Crested Geckos are semi-arboreal, spending most of their time in small trees and low shrubs. They will however, seek out hiding places near the ground to sleep during the day. Crested Geckos feed on both insects and fruits and in most cases can be kept at room temperature. The crested geckos ease of care, unusual appearance, and unlimited breeding potential, has contributed to their exploding popularity.
|Pet Reptile (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) Care Information|
|Years to Maturity:|
|Housing, Feeding and Climate of Rhacodactylus ciliatus|
|Reptile Lighting:||Are there any special reptile lighting requirements?|
|Breeding Rhacodactylus ciliatus|
|What are the reptile health concerns? Is pet insurance recommended? Is reptile health a common problem?|
|Recommended Pet Supplies for Rhacodactylus ciliatus|
nb. All of these can be purchased from an online pet store
Crested geckos have 'sticky' feet and a prehensile tail, which enables them to climb almost any surface and helps them to manoeuvre around their natural habitat with the greatest of ease, they are also very good at jumping. Crested Geckos come in an wide variety of colours and markings. Crested Geckos as so named as they have a fringed crest that runs from over their eyes down their necks and backs, the size of the crest does vary.
Crested geckos can grow up to approx 7-10 inches in length with males being slightly larger.
 Preparing a home for a Crested Gecko
 Housing size
Because Crested Geckos are so versatile and hardy, they can be kept in a number of different types of enclosures. Cresteds can be maintained in simple conditions or in elaborate naturalistic vivariums
Hatchlings to four month old crested geckos can be housed in 10 gallon aquariums or similar plastic keepers. In some cases, young geckos housed in large cages will not eat well. To avoid that we recommend that geckos less than 12 weeks old be housed in cages no larger than a 10 gallon aquarium.
Four month old to adult crested geckos should be housed in a 20 gallon tall aquarium or larger. Three adult cresteds can be comfortably housed in a 29 gallon aquarium. Screen Cages have also been used with great success. Keep in mind that regardless of what type of cage you use, that height is more desirable than length or width, particularly with adult geckos. There are now many glass and screen cages and terrariums that are designed specifically to house reptiles. These reptile specific terrariums have many advantages over aquariums designed for fish, and should definitely be considered even though the cost is a bit higher. They are available at almost all speciality reptile shops as well as large discount retailers.
It is recommended that you use substrates that hold humidity such as cypress mulch, Eco-Earth, Repti-bark or even potting soil, but without the white pellets or chemicals. Paper towels and newspapers, while not aesthetically pleasing, could be used as substrates in a pinch.
A layer of moss is usually added on top of the layer of substrate. Since it absorbs water, it will add to the overall humidity of the cage as well as creating a more authentic-looking envoronment.
In the wild, crested geckos like to hide up in the leaves of trees or within tall bushes. It is best to add plastic plants, those that have bases and the ones with section cups to hide up on the walls, and pieces of cork that look like trunks or branches. Plants not only provide comfort and a hiding spot for your geckos but they also help hold humidity in the cage and add to the overall appearance of your petsâ enclosure.
A shallow dish of water should be provided, to aid in maintaining suitable humidity levels and cleaned should be cleaned and replenished daily. Most Crested Geckos will lick droplets of water from leaves and from other surfaces in their terrarium, rather than drink directly from the bowl.
A photo period of 12 to 14 hours of light is appropriate for most of the year, with ten hours of light being appropriate during the cooling period. Lighting is most easily achieved with the use of fluorescent lights placed directly on the cage top. This will facilitate both the requirements of the geckos and any live plants within the enclosure should you choose to have them. It is unnecessary to use UVB lighting for crested geckos. For large collections consider lighting the entire room with natural or artificial light. Crested Geckos may cease breeding and laying eggs if they are given less than 12 hours of light.
Temperatures for crested geckos should be maintained between 72 and 80 degrees for most of the year. At temperatures of 85 degrees or warmer, crested geckos will become stressed, which could lead to illness or death. Cresteds can tolerate night time temperature drops down into the mid 60's but it is not necessary to provide this type of night time drop.
A two month cooling period is recommended to allow breeding crested geckos to rest. During this period temperatures should be kept at 65 to 70 degrees.
In most situations room temperature is adequate for crested geckos, as long as the temperature stays within 70 to 80 degrees. If you are attempting to breed your Crested Geckos, temps should be kept between 75 and 78 degrees. Use a good digital thermometer with a temperature probe to monitor the environment. If temps cannot be kept in this range, a nocturnal red or blue heat light can be suspended above the cage for 24 hour heat. This type of light also allows for nocturnal viewing. Crested Geckos are not disturbed by this wavelength of light so it will not interrupt their photoperiod..
Ceramic infrared heaters have also been used successfully, however these do not provide any visible light, making it difficult to view the geckos when they are most active.
Be sure to supplement the diet with calcium and vitamin D3. We suggest a 1.3 ratio of herptivite to reptical calcium with D3. Place crickets in a tall cup, add the supplements and shake to coat crickets. Do this every other day for young geckos and then taper off to once or twice a week for adults (especially reduce the vitamin supplements). Make sure to offer more calcium to gravid females. You may also offer the supplements in the baby food. Baby food, however, should not be the only type of food given with crickets. You can buy special diets specifically made for the crested gecko such as the very well known Repashy Crested Gecko Diet. These diets are complete and can replace feeding insects or other types of food to these geckos and takes out the guess-work for supplementation.
There are many different formulas people use for breeding and hatching crested geckos. Below we have detailed the process we have used successfully for several years.
Breeding crested geckos is as simple as having at least one healthy adult pair together. Males can usually start breeding at 9 months to a year old and females can breed as early as a year old. I highly recommend waiting a solid 14 months before breeding females. Females should be at the very least 30-35 grams before breeding assuming that they have their tail. Waiting until the female is 40 grams will result in a much more successful first breeding season, for that reason I highly recommend having patience and waiting to introduce the female at 40 grams. Subtract 3-5 grams for tailless females. Breeding groups can consist of one male and up to four or maybe five females. Males kept together will sometimes fight violently.
In order to induce breeding, temperatures should be kept between 75 and 80 during the day and can drop up to 5 degrees at night. The enclosure should be misted lightly once or twice a day particularly in the evening, however you should not soak the cage so much that it doesn't dry up in a few hours. Special attention should be paid to making sure the breeding crested geckos are getting plenty of high quality food. Gut loaded insects and the Repashy Crested Gecko Diet are recommended.
Make sure to dust the crickets with a good Calcium and Vitamin D3 powder (or alternate between pure calcium and calcium with D3) . Check the calcium sacs of your breeding females (located on the roof of the mouth) once per month to make sure they are not getting depleted.
An egg laying container should be used inside the cage for the females to dig in and lay their eggs. The container should be large enough to accomadate the female and allow her to dig down at least 3-4 inches. It is recommended that the egg laying medium be a 50-50 mix of moistened Peat Moss and Vermiculite. However straight Peat Moss works too. A piece of cork bark works well to conceal the container and make the female comfortable laying her eggs. You should check for eggs every
morning while they are breeding and remove the eggs promptly so they do not dry up. Females will lay a new clutch of eggs every 25-35 days. The eggs should be placed in an airtight container with 2 inches of slightly moistened (3 parts water to 4 parts substrate-by weight) vermiculite, perlite, or a mixture of the two. We've recently started using Superhatch, which is a calcined clay substrate that works great for crested gecko eggs. You should open the top of your egg containers once per week for a few seconds to allow for some ventilation.
I keep the eggs at a constant 76 degrees and they hatch in about 60-70 days. Eggs have been hatched at a variety of temperatures ranging from 72 to 80 degrees. I would recommend incubating somewhere in between. Temperature dependant sex determination (whereby the sex of the offspring is determined by the temperature at which they are incubated) has not yet been proven with crested geckos.
If you have a pair or group that is not breeding you should take a look at the key factors such as temperatures, nutrition, cage space, age of the animals, etc.
Determining the sex of crested geckos is easiest on geckos that are over 6 months old. Male crested geckos will develop a very noticeable hemipenal bulge just below the vent. The hemipenal bulge develops on males at between 5 months and 9 months old. Females do not develop a bulge. The photos to the right show the difference between mature males and females.
Sexing sub-adult crested geckos is considerably more difficult. Using a 10x or better jewelers loupe or magnifiying glass, you can look for evidence of poor development in the region just anterior to the vent. Poor development may be seen on males at 5-10 grams but sometimes the pores do not develop until later.
Crested Geckos are among the most handleable of all lizards. They tolerate moderate to heavy handling even when they are relatively young, however you should not handle geckos that are less than two weeks old, or geckos that have recently been purchased or moved. There is a recommended two week acclimation period for newly acquired geckos which allows them to settle in and get used to their new surroundings. Once they are settled in, you can introduce your gecko to handling a little at a time. Five minutes of handling per day for the first few weeks is sufficient to allow your gecko to become used to you and to become less jumpy. Once they are comfortable with you, you can begin to handle them more. We recommend no more than 15 to 20 minutes of handling per day so as not to stress the gecko too much.
If your gecko is jumpy or flighty you can use whats called the "hand walking" method. To do this you simply hold one hand out directly in front of the gecko and allow him to hop, walk, or jump to the extended hand, then you immediately place your free hand out in front again, and so on. Young geckos and newly acquired geckos typically need to be hand walked for several sessions before you can expect them to calm down.
So your wondering how to care for baby crested geckos. Baby crested geckos are cared for the same way as adults with a few exceptions. Babies should be misted twice a day, and should not be overhandled. Always allow newly acquired baby crested geckos to acclimate to their new cage before you begin a handling routine. The acclimation period is usually one to two weeks. Care should be taken to make sure hatchling geckos shed properly.