Crested Geckos as Pets-Everything You Need to Know


Crested Geckos as Pets-Everything You Need to Know

Crested geckos or “cresties”, as they’re fondly called by their proud owners, are a class of pets of their own. That distinguishing skin extension on the top of their heads is not only a physical mark of distinction but also a symbol of merit that makes them a cut above the rest.

For the reptile fan, the crested gecko represents the dream pet. They don’t require a large tank or need you to go out of your way to make them comfortable and happy. Their perky personality and regal looks make them the right companion for anyone looking for a pet without all the hassle that comes with actually owning one.

But before you rush in and make a hasty decision, I advise you to read on. Crested geckos might be tempting as cool pets to own, but they don’t come without strings attached. Here’s a comprehensive guide of the ins and outs of owning a crested gecko.

Is A Crested Gecko A Good Pet?

The short answer is, you bet. Crested geckos are not fussy pets. Forget about your aloof cat or your hyperactive dog. These reptiles are docile and perky at the same time. They’re easy to please with a treat and won’t be screaming for food every day.

The reptiles are quite friendly and can live together in one tank without starting a fight. Provided you don’t put two male adults together, they’ll get along famously. Their housing is simple and the rules are straightforward. Nothing complicated about the life and times of a crested gecko. Even a beginner will have no trouble caring for those cute geckos.

How Long Do Crested Geckos Live for?

Crested geckos are quite new on the pet scene. They only started getting popular as a pet choice in the 21st century. Yet, we can say with conviction that they do live for up to 15 years on average. Proper care is essential if you want them to live longer.

In the wild, they may live for 30 years. But these are rumors and considering their small size and the number of predators that have crested geckos on the menu, we tend to take this number with a grain of salt. Suffice it to say that you’ll have a lasting companion in the cresties that will stay with you for long years.

How Much Does A Crested Gecko Cost?

Cresties are valued not just for their chirpy personalities, but also for the color of their skin. It’s not racist to look for a morph with rather distinguished color designs. After all, you’re not judging by a single color, rather by how complex the design imprinted on its skin looks.

With that in mind, you can expect to fork out anything between $50 and $150. The rarer the morph the higher the price tag. As for upkeep, you’ll mostly need a suitable tank, heating lamps, and a few accessories to keep your crestie entertained and comfortable.

How Big Does A Crested Gecko Get?

Crested geckos come in one size and it’s not formidable by any standard. While other gecko species come in various sizes to suit all tastes, cresties wouldn’t go beyond 8 inches no matter how much you feed them. They’re modest critters and they don’t make any claims of grandeur.

Both males and females have more or less the same size and their tail takes up about one-third of that length. As for weight, it matches their length. The adult cresties would weigh 35 grams on a good day even after a heavy meal.

Do Crested Gecko Bites Hurt?

Not really. Eyelash geckos are they’re sometimes called don’t have sharp teeth. Their teeth are too tiny to make a dent in your skin. You’ll need to have exceptionally thin skin to feel the prick of their small teeth.

It’s also worth mentioning that crested geckos are laid back critters who don’t resort to violence or biting unless provoked. So don’t go pulling their tails or make advances when they’re not in the mood. For the most part, they prefer to run and hide rather than confront and adversary.

Do Crested Geckos Get Lonely?

If by lonely you mean do they seek each other’s company to vent, long for romantic liaisons, or look for good comraderies over a good cricket snack and a drought of sap, then no. They don’t need that kind of socialization to survive or feel content.

Cresties are solitary animals. They only seek the company of the opposite sex during mating season. Once that fleeting time is over, they’re back to their solitary existence chasing crickets and evading predators. A simple but satisfying life, if you ask me.

Do Crested Geckos Carry Any Diseases?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), crested geckos can carry the salmonella virus even though they appear healthy. The problem is they won’t show any symptoms and you wouldn’t suspect that they’re carrying a disease when you handle them.

Many people get the disease from reptiles and since cresties are getting popular as pets in many households, it’s prudent to check your crested gecko isn’t carrying any disease before you make it a permanent member of your family.

Do Crested Geckos Need A Hiding Place?

Like most critters that are hunted by larger, faster, and more skilled predators, crested geckos resort to running and hiding as the best defense mechanism. They scurry among the leaves, climb branches, and hide in any nook or cranny that offers them protection.

Even though the tank you offer them in your home is safe and the likelihood they’ll encounter a predator or a life-threatening situation is next to none, cresties still prefer to have a hiding place in the tank. So go ahead and offer them a few tiny plant pots laid on their sides as hiding places.

How Often Should A Crested Gecko Poop?

Age and diet determine how often crested geckos empty their bowels. Baby cresties have a superfast metabolism and since they eat every day, they’ll also poop every day. Sometimes they’d do it a few times a day too. They’re not shy about it.

As eyelash geckos get older, they learn to control their bowel movement. In general, they eat less frequently so they’ll have no need to use the bathroom that often either. Maybe 3 to 4 times a week would be the average toilet time for an adult crestie.

Do Crested Geckos Stink?

The rule of thumb in the world of odors is, if you perspire, there’s a good chance you’ll smell. Since cresties neither perspire nor keep their hides long enough for them to become breeding grounds for germs, then it’s safe to say that they don’t have a smell.

Of course, this assumes the reptiles are healthy and in mint condition. Health complications and diseases can wreak havoc with their bodies and produce an off-putting odor. To prevent foul odors, take them to the vet for regular checkups and keep their cages clean.

Do Crested Geckos Like To Swim?

Cresties are natural swimmers. Their small size and streamlined body allow them to float in the water and their big hands act as pedals. But just because you can swim doesn’t mean that you like to be in the water. If thrown in a stream or even a bowl full of water, the crested gecko’s first impulse is to swim out of there.

The bottom line is, don’t take your crestie to the pool, drop it there, and expect it to have fun. It will feel betrayed and might sulk for days. Swimming is more about survival as far as cresties are concerned, not about having fun or watching the ladies in skimpy swimwear.

Do Crested Geckos Change Color?

Like a chameleon, cresties use their natural pigments to express their feelings and indicate their moods. So when you see your eyelash gecko firing up its colors, don’t be alarmed. It could be any of these things

  • Stress: a stressed-out eyelash gecko will fire up its colors and show some obscure designs that you probably haven’t noticed there before. Check there’s no other adult male in sight or that no noise or fast movement is causing this stress.
  • Age: newborn cresties have bright red hues that tend to fade as they get older. It’s normal and no action on your part is required to stop this process.
  • Shedding: this is a stressful process and your crestie will appear listless and its colors dull during this time. Don’t worry about it. Once it gets its new skin, it will look as good as new, literally speaking.

Do Crested Geckos Make Noise?

Oh, they’re as noisy as they come. Crested geckos really have a wide range of audio signals that they use liberally whenever the occasion arises. And, boy, do they always find an excuse to practice their voices?

From chirping to barking and even whistling, cresties communicated with their mouths more than other reptiles of that size. When a male crestie gets randy and makes unwelcome passes at a lady crestie, she would not hesitate to bark at him. Chirping is also a sign of discomfort among cresties. Whistling, however, is fine and it’s just them chatting and talking about the weather.

Why Does My Crested Gecko Lick Me?

It’s the same reason your dog gives you a long and deep lick or your cat butts you with its head. It’s curiosity and bonding. Cresties get curious about their humans and their best way to figure out this giant bipedal is to lick its skin.

You can think of it as their howdy. The different smells and textures that the crestie experiences outside the cage peak its curiosity and its tongue is the only way to test this different environment.

What Bedding Is Best For Crested Gecko?

The cage bedding is one of the most important elements to choose when preparing a house for your crested gecko. You’d want to avoid bedding made of loose and tiny indigestible materials such as sand or wood chips. They can block the reptile’s digestive system and cause impaction.

Paper towels, slate tiles, fir bark, moss coco, and mulch are some of the best materials to make bedding for your crestie. Even if they eat some of the substrates, it wouldn’t cause them any harm.

Do Crested Geckos Need To Eat Every Day?

Only baby cresties need to be fed every day. Once they hatch, they need to eat as much as they can so that they can reach maturity. So you can feed them about 3 small crickets every day until they become juveniles.

Juvenile cresties would eat between 3 to 4 times a week. Small crickets and small superworms are their staple diet. As for adults, they eat less frequently but can digest adult crickets and large superworms. Feed them twice or 3 times a week.

How Often Do You Clean A Crested Gecko Tank?

While cresties are naturally clean critters that take care of their own hygiene, they leave it up to nature to take care of cleaning their habitat. In captivity, this duty lies squarely on your shoulders. You’ll need to clean their care regularly.

You can either do daily spot cleaning if you have baby cresties or clean after them 3 to 4 times a week. Deep and thorough cleaning of the cage should be done on a bi-weekly basis. Change their bedding and give the tank a good cleaning once every month.

Do Crested Geckos Pee?

No. Cresties don’t gobble down water the same way we or other larger mammals do. They still get their fair share of hydration and since they don’t perspire, the excess water has to find a way out of their system somehow.

The pee will come out with their poop. So it makes it more convenient for you to clean the mess in one swoop. Spot cleaning is your best option to keep the tank more hygienic, eliminate odors, and keep the eyelash geckos happily whistling.

Do Crested Geckos Eat Their Poop?

No, that’s a myth. I never heard that cresties engaged in this behavior nor have I seen it personally. My eyelash geckos happily leave me their poop to scoop and clean after them. It could be one of those urban legends where some troll posts something on social media and it gains traction.

Your cresties are clean and well-behaved gentlemen and ladies and wouldn’t stoop so low. They are straightlaced and no tendencies for being kinky or venturing into the dark side have been observed about them.

Do You Need To Bathe Crested Geckos?

As a general rule, you wouldn’t need to bathe your cresties. Most reptiles are hygiene-aware and go to great lengths to keep their hides and extremities spotless clean. But that doesn’t mean that the occasion wouldn’t rise when you might need to bathe them.

A messy shedding or coming in contact with squishy food might leave your cute reptile less than perfectly clean. It’s recommended that you give them a gentle bath in lukewarm water. Make sure the bowl is shallow and is lined with a crumpled paper towel to avoid drowning.

Do Crested Geckos Need To Be Misted?

Humidity is more than a luxury as far as cresties are concerned. It’s a basic need for their survival. Their hides get dry in an airconditioned room and that can cause them lots of complications when it’s shedding time.

To keep your reptiles happy, drench them with lukewarm water. This process is called misting. You can also mist the cage to keep humidity levels between 60 and 80 percent. This resembles their natural habitat and keeps their colors bright. Lack of humidity causes stress among crested geckos.

Do Crested Geckos Sleep With Their Eyes Open?

Unlike some other reptiles, eyelash geckos don’t have eyelids. So why are they called eyelash geckos, I hear you asking. It’s because of their crests which hang over their eyes and give them their distinct look.

Without eyelids, there’s no way for cresties to block the light when they go to sleep. A thin membrane covers their eyes occasionally, but other than that, the little cuties do sleep with their eyes wide open. We’ll cover the best ways to give them comfort at night when we talk about lighting installations in their tanks.

Do Crested Geckos Do Better In Pairs?

As solitary critters, pairing crested geckos isn’t a prerequisite of raising these lovable pets. Some pairing mismatches can create more problems than solve the issue of loneliness you assume they have. That said, you can pair or even group cresties in one tank to save space.

However, you need to follow the golden rule to never house two adult males in the same cage. That’s just asking for trouble. One male among a harem of females is fine. Female cresties are polite and as long as the food is plentiful, they welcome other members of the community to their tank.

Why Do Crested Geckos Drop Their Tails?

This happens more in the wild than in captivity. But that doesn’t mean that under extreme duress, whether real or perceived, the crested gecko wouldn’t drop its tail and make a run for it. It’s a defense mechanism that aims to distract the predator with the wiggling tail while the crestie escapes.

The tail is also heavy and can impede the gecko as it dashes to safety. So by detaching it, it makes itself lighter and faster. In your cage, the critter might drop its tail because it’s stressed, there’s a loud noise in the room, or simply because it feels like it.

How Long Does It Take A Crested Gecko To Grow To Full Size?

It varies based on the diet and environment. Some baby cresties might take between 1 to 2 years to become full adults and reach their maximum length. Others might reach that milestone much faster and become fully grown within the very first year of their lives.

Age also plays a minimal role in the cresties’ sexual maturity. Plenty of food can propel the baby eyelash gecko into puberty much faster than a much older gecko in a habitat where the dearth of crickets is extreme or even life-threatening.

Why Is My Crested Gecko’s Poop White?

That’s just urine mixed with the solid waste that crested geckos tend to discharge. It’s not a sign of an illness or a bad omen if you’re a superstitious person. You don’t have to be overdramatic and look at the horizon with anxiety and anticipation.

As we mentioned, cresties don’t pee and when they poop, it all comes out together in one mass. Rather than examining the poop, just remove it and keep the tank clean and humid for your crested pets.

Can You Hold A Crested Gecko?

Can You Hold A Crested Gecko

As long as it’s consensual, cresties wouldn’t mind. By that I mean, the gecko has to be in the mood to be handled before go grabbing it. If it’s shedding, for example, you should stay away from it. The breeding season makes them skittish and exceptionally wary, so you should leave them alone.

Other than that, cresties are happy to be held, cuddled, and fondled as long as they’re familiar with you. New pets take up to 2 weeks to get familiar with your touch and scent. So don’t force it and be subtle in your approach.

Why Is My Crested Gecko’s Mouth Open?

This is a sure sign of stress. When feeling threatened or distressed, the crested gecko would open its mouth as it squares in front of the source of threat. That threat could just be loud noise or a lot of fast movement and bustling in the room.

Turn down the music and stop whatever you’re doing. If the gecko closes its mouth and goes back to hunting crickets, then it’s alright, otherwise, it might become too aggressive and lose its appetite.

Do Crested Geckos Shed Skin?

You bet. It’s a natural process that allows them to grow and get new skin every so often. The rate of their growth dictates how often they shed. Baby cresties, for example, will shed sometimes once a week. Adults tend to shed less since they’ve already reached maturity and the only change in their bodies is in the girth, not the length.

Shedding is a time of stress for the delicate pet. Avoid handling it or touching it during this time. Make sure it gets misted often and the tank has high levels of humidity to make the dead skin come off easier.

Do Crested Geckos Sleep?

Sleep is a natural process that most animals go through. Recent studies show that humans need sleep to allow the brain to eliminate the toxins and chemicals produced during the waking hours. Cresties might need sleep for the same reason or it might be for totally different reasons.

As crepuscular and nocturnal reptiles, they’re most active at night and sleep during the day. During sleep, your crestie needs cooler temperatures, less noise, and dimmer light. Lack of sleep will make it cranky and groggy the same way you would when you wake up Monday morning after partying and boozing the night before.

Do Crested Geckos Eat Their Babies?

Another urban myth promulgated by a troll with nothing better to do. Judging by how false ideas spread like wildfire on our social media, it’s no wonder this baseless rumor found root and was later spread like it was a scientific fact.

For a reptile to eat its own babies is against the laws of survival of the species which nature has encoded in its DNA. So the idea that a mother crestie would eat its own babies under any circumstances is a preposterous notion and should be laid to rest here once and for all.

Will Two Female Crested Geckos Fight?

We already mentioned how eyelash geckos are well-behaved and civilized. Even though they’re solitary animals, the only ones who fight together are adult males. It’s something to do with having a larger share of the gene pool and not out of any innate aggressiveness.

As for the females of the species, they’re too ladylike to get involved in such behavior. It’s beneath them to engage in fighting. Even having a male among them will not provoke any feelings of jealousy and they’ll happily share said male amongst themselves.

Do Leopard Geckos Scream?

It’s not exactly screaming although some of the sounds they make might appear to be aggressive or hostile. Take for example when the lady crestie is in heat. She’ll squeak and bite anything that comes near her, including the human who feeds her.

When stressed, cresties would chirp and sometimes even bark. Whistling is their way to communicate pleasant or trivial pieces of news and gossip. And since they’re noisy, you’ll need some time to get used to their range of vocalizations.

Do Crested Geckos Have Teeth?

They have plenty of teeth. In fact, researchers did the count and crested gecko teeth tallied up to 177 teeth. These teeth are tiny and may not even be visible to the naked eye unless you get too close to them.

While the teeth may not hurt or break your skin, the bite itself might hurt a little or a lot depending on how sensitive your skin is. Children might be more scared of the suddenness of the bite than out of the pain it causes. Cresties’ teeth are replaced the same way sharks regrow their teeth again.

Can You Bond With A Crested Gecko?

You sure can. Crested geckos just like many other animals know to show appreciation to the hand that feeds them. The best way to your crestie’s heart is through its stomach. Make sure to give it food with your hand. Let it pick it off your hand.

This has the double benefit of making both your smell and touch familiar to the gecko and also associating you with food in the pet’s mind. Now whenever you approach its tank, your crestie will come running and greet you with an expectant smile.

Why Is My Crested Gecko Shaking?

That depends on which part of the gecko is shaking. If it’s the tail, it could be stress or just telling other cresties in the tank that it’s watching them closely. If it’s bobbing its head, it’s also another way to communicate with others and you shouldn’t worry about it.

If the whole body of the crested gecko is shaking, this could be a serious symptom of metabolic bone disease (MTD). Cresties get it because they have an imbalance of calcium in their diet. You should take your pet to the vet immediately.

How Do I Know If My Crested Gecko Is Dehydrated?

The first telltale sign that your gecko is dehydrated is wrinkled skin. The hide feels dry to the touch and the colors are dull and faded. The gecko becomes less active when it’s dehydrated and in some cases, its eyes will sink in their sockets.

Dehydration can be fatal to geckos and you need to address this problem immediately. Start by misting the crested gecko itself as well as the tank in its immediate vicinity. Instinctively, the gecko will begin to lick the droplets of water off its head and mouth. Keep doing it until the crestie stops licking the water.

Are Crested Geckos Endangered?

Crested geckos have a protected status and are considered endangered. It’s one of the puzzling facts about these cute reptiles that they can live up to 30 years given they have enough food, yet they can’t seem to flourish in the wild.

One of the reasons for this critical status is that cresties have so many predators and they themselves rely on running or hiding as their main defense weapons. These tactics are not very effective against some predators which explain the dwindling numbers of cresties in the wild.

Can You Take A Crested Gecko Outside?

As long as you keep your crestie in its tank, then an excursion to the great outdoors wouldn’t harm them. In fact, especially with glass tanks, exposure to the bright lights of the day are beneficial and your gecko will enjoy it immensely.

However, make sure not to put your gecko in direct sunlight. This can make its hide dry and cause dehydration. Keep the cage in the shade and let your crestie savor the colors and different scenes in your yard.

How to Care for Your Crested Gecko

Temperament Of Crested Geckos

When your crested gecko is new to both you and your home, it will act skittish and spend most of its time hiding. This is normal. You’re not supposed to try to handle it at this early stage of your relationship. Rather let it get used to the place and your presence first.

Once you bond over food, you will be surprised at how playful and cheerful your crestie can get. It will slip in one hand and out of the other. It will lick you and stare at you with its big eyes. That’s when you know that love will bond you both for years to come.

Terrarium Size

Your average adult crested gecko needs a 20-gallon tank to run around and chase crickets. It has enough space for it to climb and hide to its heart’s content. However, you can splash on a larger tank because real estate is precious to an animal in captivity.

If you have more than one crestie, then a 40-gallon tank sounds about the right size to house your group of eyelash geckos. Make sure to add in a few accessories such as hiding places, branches, and even live plants to create a more natural setting.

Food & Water

For food, you can either go the commercial way or feed your crestie with natural food. Canned crested geckos food provides all the nutrients they’ll need including a good dose of calcium. You can still treat your pet to the occasional cricket, and super warm. Avoid insects with hard shells such as roaches and silkworms as they might give the gecko indigestion.

Cresties are also open to fruit. You can offer them mashed fruit or baby food as a treat. Make sure the pieces of food are no larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes.

Temperatures

Cold-blooded critters such as crested geckos need to a hot environment to survive. You need to make sure your tank has a hot spot between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the place for the gecko to bask and regulate its body temperature.

At night, you can bring down the temperature inside the tank a notch. Between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit is acceptable and your cresties will go about their nocturnal activities without being bothered with either high or low temperatures.

Do You Need A Heat Lamp For A Crested Gecko?

The best way to provide gradient temperatures inside the same cage for your crested gecko is to use a heat lamp. Focus it on one side of the cage to make it the basking area for the cresties. The other side of the tank can be cooler for when the reptiles have had enough heat inside their bodies.

Humidity

Heat and humidity are essential for the wellbeing of eyelash geckos. The tank should maintain high levels of humidity between 60 and 80 percent at all times. To keep humidity high, make sure to mist the cage regularly. Whenever you feel like it’s getting dry in there, due to the heat lamp, give the cage and the gecko a thorough misting with lukewarm and filtered water.

How Much Light Do Crested Geckos Need?

Nocturnal animals don’t need much lighting or even UVB lighting for that matter. In fact, all forms of light will only disturb the reptile which is used to scurrying around in the dark. Darkness offers a cover and protection to the much-sought-by-predators crested gecko.

That said, you can still install a UVB lamp in the tank that emits dim light to bolster the reptile’s bone structure.

Reproduction

Between the spring and fall, adult male cresties go on a quest to mate with as many willing females as they possibly can. The females welcome this attention and take advantage of it to the full.

The mating season is long because the females take their time to finish laying eggs. Each clutch of eggs contains just two eggs and takes up to 6 weeks to be deposited on a wet surface. After about 2 months in hot weather, hatchlings emerge from their eggs and start a new life.

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