Crested Geckos, Rhacodactylus ciliatus or “Rhacs,” are great docile, medium sized geckos. Crested geckos are great for beginner repti-owners who don’t want to chunk out a large amount as some reptiles require. Below is a summarized version of caring for a crestie. Always do further research besides this page and Youtube.
Housing and Decorations
Depending on the size of your crested, depends on the size of your vivarium. Most people buy hatchling or juvies so they can watch them grow/raise them. Cresties under 5 grams usually don’t need to be in the vivarium and can be kept in a large, or maybe medium, Kritter Keeper – as shown below.
Up to 5 grams or higher can live in 12x12x12 or 12x12x18 vivariums with proper hiding, climbing, and foliage. Here is my 12x12x18 vivarium for Taco-sorry for crummy cellphone quality.
As you can see, I have a good amount, I have added more, of vines, sticks, and plants. You can do live or fake plants as long as they are crested gecko safe! http://www.pangeareptile.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38868 is a great link for live plants that are or aren’t safe. My favorite, in my back right corner, is Pothos, an easy growning plant that does great when it drapes down and adds more hiding. But anyways, I also add suction cup plants you can buy at the local pet store of various types and sizes. I have medium and small in my vivarium. Vines are also great climbing decorations, I have medium and small thickness size because the small was hard to keep in one spot. I also have wooden bird perches in there to add structure to my vines and a more natural look as well. Please make sure your vines and coverage goes to the top of your viv, seeing as they are arboreal animals and need the height.
If you get an adult crested, please don’t put it in a 12x12x12 or anything about that size. Adults get about 9 inches and need plenty of climbing and living space. A 18x18x24 vivarium or larger is great. You can use a 20 gallon long and put it standing up and rig the lid to stay on.
Feeding and Watering
There is a Crested Gecko Diet by Repashy that is great for them. Please do not give them BABY FOOD. They get addicted to it from the sugars and can get obese from it. With using Repashy, its one part CGD and two parts water. It can last up to 36 hours, 3 days, in the tank before being replaced. Being cresties are nocturnal, you most likely won’t see them eat unless you have a night bulb to view them. With hatchlings or juvies you don’t need a large amount. They only take a couple licks and they are fine, so putting enough to cover the bottom of the cup is fine. They do not eat as much as other animals do since reptile metabolism isn’t as fast, therefor they do not need to eat as frequent or as much. To avoid them walking in the food, you can purchase feeding ledges from PangeaReptile.com or from any place that might carry them. They are fairly large in a smaller viv, but great for large ones.With babies you don’t need a big feeding dish, you can use water or bottle caps and fill it with CGD and water! 🙂
For water, they don’t actually drink out of their bowl. It is great to have as a source of humidity to add to misting, but all in all they don’t really use it. A heavy mist at night and a good mist in morning is all they need. If you think your crestie isn’t getting enough humidity, lightly pinch the skin and if it stays wrinkled they are dehydrated. A good way to rehydrate them is to create a “sauna.” Saunas to us is water and heat. Cresteds cannot have heat in their sauna. They cannot handle past 80 degrees, so don’t try to heat them up to create more humidity in their sauna. But in the sauna you will need the following: Glad, or any brand, plastic container with lid, paper towel, some luke warm water, and a misting bottle. You can have holes in the container or not, it is fully up to you. But please do not leave them by themselves in an enclosed container with water. Put the paper towel folded in the sauna, and then pour some luke warm water a few milimeters and add your crested. Nicely mist the crested down and the container then put the lid on for about 15-20 minutes. This method is also great for getting food off the toes of the cresteds, or to aid in pain in the butt shedding!
Lighting and Heat
As I said prior, cresties are nocturnal meaning they aren’t active in the day. That being said, UV lighting is not necessary. It can be beneficial, but not needed for their health. In fact, it could be harmful if not enough shelter or hiding spots since their eyes do not have eyelids.
You do not need heat lamps for crested geckos. If you do get a very low wattage one, make sure the temperature doesn’t pass 80 degrees and not have it directly on the top of your viv. Night temps can be mid 60s-70s.
Humidity should be 60-80 percent, some people have a harder time depending on time of year or location. More frequent misting may be needed if drops below 60 percent.
I prefer digital thermometers and hydrometers versus the gauges.
For hatchlings and juvies I recommend using paper towels to avoid them picking up dirt particles while hunting for food. Paper towels do well at keeping humidity, but I still mist them thoroughly 2x daily.
For subadults or adults, substrates such as Bed-a-Beast soil, coconut fiber bedding, moss, or peat, and paper towels can be used as well. The soils and moss help control/maintain humidity levels a lot better than the paper towels.
Even though adults can be on the soils and moss, they can still chance picking up bedding as they eat.
Crested geckos are very decile when handled, but do like to jump. Never hold a baby less than a few inches off the ground! My crested gives me a warning stance, when her back legs spring back and then shes off. Even adults can jump, too. They love wrapping their tales around fingers or what ever they are on to keep them from falling. Be sure as you feel them crawling on you they stay “sticky.” If their stick-ability doesn’t seem as strong, sauna them for 15 minutes and use a q-tip with water and wipe on their toes.
Unlike leopard geckos, crested geckos do not grow back their tail. Be sure to avoid stressing them out or over touching the tail so it will not be dropped.