- Common Group: GECKOS
- Common Name: Crested Gecko, Guichenot's Giant Gecko, Eyelash Gecko
- Scientific Name: Correlophus ciliatus
- Distribution: New Caledonia
- Size: 8" - 10"
The crested gecko is known by a handful of other common names, including the New Caledonian eyelash gecko. These arboreal geckos are native to New Caledonia and a few surrounding islands, but nowhere else on Earth. Recently, these geckos were assumed extinct, however, in 1993 a population was discovered, and a small breeding group was brought back to the United States. These geckos proved to be such prolific breeders, and low maintenance animals, that today this species is captive bred by the thousands annually, and kept as a beginner reptile species worldwide.
In the wild, these geckos inhabit dense, tropical forests, and spend their days sleeping in the leaves of the trees in which they live. However, crested geckos come to life at dawn and dusk to explore their surroundings by leaping from tree to tree, foraging for food, and looking for mates.
As a result of their recent surge in popularity, many breeders are now working to produce high color geckos, as well as those with specific patterns and markings. Dozens of variations have been established by breeders all over the world, although bright oranges and reds remain the most readily available.
Size and Longevity
Crested geckos are moderately sized animals, often reaching a total length of 8 to 10 inches, with an exceptionally long prehensile tail, accounting for about half of that length.
Despite the fact that these geckos are fairly new to the hobby of reptile keeping, they are extremely hardy, and life spans exceeding 15 years may be expected. However, gender, breeding, and care will ultimately affect this statistic.
In general, crested geckos are easy to keep, and housing them is no exception. Glass enclosures should be used for this species, as they hold better humidity than screen enclosures, and the glass will not harm the gecko’s feet in the same way that screen can. If your interest is in displaying these geckos, this can be done well with a Zoo Med or Exo Terra front opening enclosure. These geckos are reasonably active (especially in the evening) and should be given room to move about. A single adult pair will be happy in an enclosure measuring about 18” long, by 18” deep, and 24” tall, although additional space will be utilized and should be provided if you have the means to do so.
Babies can temporarily be raised communally, but as sexual maturity approaches, close attention will have to be paid to the animal’s behavior, as males will fight if housed together once mature. If you wish to house multiple geckos in on enclosure, a few females will be your best option. One male can be present if you wish to breed this species.
Heating and Lighting
One of the greatest things about crested geckos is their preference for cooler temperatures. They thrive at temperatures between 65 and 80 degrees, and can even tolerate night time temperature drops in the 50's, to encourage breeding. For the majority of keepers, no supplemental heating is required during most of the year, depending on ambient household temperatures. If you are concerned about your geckos being too cold, or if they seem lethargic and uninterested in food, consider the use of a low wattage heat light, or ceramic heat emitter, over one side of the enclosure. Always monitor your basking temperature with the use of a digital thermometer. We recommend the Zoo Med digital combo thermometer humidity gauge, to keep track of your temperature and humidity at all times.
As a crepuscular species (active at dawn and dusk), full spectrum UV lighting is not necessary. However, the use of low-output UVB bulbs, or exposure to natural sunlight, can be beneficial for these geckos. One of the easiest ways to avoid metabolic bone disease (or MBD) is to use a simple T5 5.0 linear UVB or a compact fluorescent 5.0 UVB bulb. Natural UVB exposure can be an occasional practice in addition to supplemental UVB from lights. They do not need direct light, and should be kept supervised in the shade when outside, only when weather permits.
Substrate and Furnishings
The substrate used with crested geckos should be one that not only promotes humidity but is easy to spot clean as well. Orchid (fir) bark, cypress mulch, coconut husk, or a combination of the three, are all excellent choices. Patches of sphagnum moss not only add interest and beauty to the enclosure, but will further aid in humidity management. Coconut shavings that create a soil like texture should be avoided for geckos under a year old, or only used in mixtures, as smaller geckos tend to eat this substrate.
Crested geckos are masters of their arboreal domain, and will very much appreciate a variety of climbing structures within their tank. Driftwood, cork pieces, vines, and live/artificial plants may all be used. When choosing plants, opt for ones with broad, flat leaves, as these surfaces seem to be a favorite resting spot for this species.
Crested geckos truly love leaping from branch to branch within their enclosure, as well as hanging from broad flat surfaces. Copious amounts of cork pieces, combined with a few live plants, is one recommended method of housing crested geckos in captivity. In addition to the more traditional decor, there are now a wide range of magnetically attached products that are designed exclusively with arboreal geckos in mind. This includes ledges, bridges, vine clusters, cave hideaways, and food and water ledges with disposable cups for easy clean up!
Water and Humidity
A large, shallow water bowl should be provided, and should be kept full and clean at all times. Crested geckos will tolerate a wide range of humidity levels, but prefer moderate to high humidity. Heavily misting the enclosure furnishings, and walls at least twice a day will provide necessary droplets that your geckos will drink. Use of a hand spray bottle or pressure sprayer on a mist setting, is one method of misting, which can be used to supplement automatic misting systems. Crested geckos will seldom drink from standing water, so these droplets are essential to your geckos hydration. Time your misting schedule so that the enclosure never becomes soggy, and has time to nearly dry out between sprayings. Over hydration of the substrate, without replacement, can lead to harmful microfauna such as molds and mildews.
The bulk of a healthy crested gecko diet is a meal replacement powder. This powder is made to be mixed with water, and is perfectly balanced with your geckos dietary needs in mind. Pangea and Repashy have excellent MRP’s. In the wild, these animals will eat ripened soft fruits, as well as small insects. Crickets, dubia roaches, and black soldier fly larvae are perfect feeder insects, with softer exoskeletons that are easy to digest.
All insect feeders should be dusted with a quality calcium supplement (ideally one containing vitamin D3). This is especially important for quick growing juveniles, and egg-producing females. A multi-vitamin (containing vitamin A) should also be added to the diet per the manufacturers directions. When feeding the Repashy and Pangea Diets, no additional supplementation is needed to be added to the mix. However, those interested in brightening the color of their geckos can add Repashy SuperPig to their diet as well. This is a carotenoid booster, and will amplify the orange and red coloration in your gecko.
Crested geckos are a splendid exception to the rule of arboreal geckos being hands-off animals. Although they can be quick to jump, they are not aggressive. With regular, gentle handling, they will definitely warm up to human interaction. These sturdy geckos can handle a minor fall as well. If they miss when leaping from one hand to another, it is rare for injury to occur, making them easily handled by children.
Keep in mind that scared geckos are capable of dropping their tails as a defense mechanism. Although no permanent harm will come to your gecko, the tail will not grow back. Simply take care not to startle your gecko or grab it by the tail at any time and you should not have any issues.
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