Crested Geckos are a great start into the reptile hobby or petkeeping. These Geckos stay rather small and are very hardy. Crested geckos are inexpensive to set up and require no lighting. They are perfect apartment reptiles with requiring no bugs in their diet at all. These small lizards come in many patterns and colors which makes them rather popular in the reptile hobby.
Setting up your Hatching Young Geckos home:
Hatchling and juvenile crested geckos because of their small size do better in smaller vivs until they are at least 10-12 grams. Big vivariums make it harder for the baby gecko to find food and water. A small or medium critter keeper sized tank from any petstore is perfect for their first few months. Lining the critter keeper with some paper towels for substrate is also a good idea when the geckos are young, This way they will not injest any loose substrate and become impacted and it also lets you monitor your young geckos bowel movements to make sure they are finding their food.
You will also want to add some plastic leaves for your little gecko to hide in. This makes them feel more secure in their new home. You can also add some wooden or bamboo rods across the viv for them to climb on. Make sure to sand down any sharp edges on the sticks before adding them to your geckos home.
Setting up Your Adult Geckos Enclosure:
Crested Geckos are again a great Reptile pet, a single Crested Gecko can be housed in a twenty gallon long tank propped up on it's side. Because of their small space requirements people can never usually keep just one. You always want to make sure your gecko has a more taller than wider viv. Crested Geckos are a arborial species that spend more of their life in bushes and trees. The general rule it to make sure your gecko has at least a 24 inch tall viv for plenty of space to climb and hide. Crested Geckos also do great in natuaral set ups. Ive have geckos that love the real trees in their vivariums and others that prefer the fake plastic leaves. It's all up to you on how you want to set up your new crested geckos home, as long as they have plenty of plants and vines to run and hide across they will be happy either way.
Unless you plan on breeding it is better to keep one gecko to a viv. You NEVER want to add to males to the same viv. They will fight for food, ladies, and the best places inside your viv. It is better to keep your males alone. If you are planning on eggs you can house your male and female together, but make sure your female gets a few months out of the year alone or a season off so she can cool down. Most of the time females will usually do ok together, but it all depends on your geckos personality. Some females still rather be alone and will dominate the other female. If housing more than one female be sure to monitor and watch for dominating issues.
With Crested Geckos you want to make sure you have a substrate that is able to handle getting wet and holding humindity. If you are not going for a natural approach paper towels make a great substrate for your gecko. It is the safest way for your gecko and they hold mosture pretty well. If you are having an issue with keeping up the humidity with paper towels you can add some frog moss around the paper towel to help keep the humidity up. Another trick I use to keep humidity in the works pretty well is to place bubble wrap over half of the screen lid covered by a facecloth. It worked great for keeping my humidity high in the winter.
If you want to make a natural vivarium setup for your crested gecko make sure they are old enough first. In natural setups you have eco earth which is crushed coconut fiber. Coconut fiber can be fatal for a young crested. You want to make sure they are bigger to handle it if they accidently get some in their mouth. In a Natural setup like the pygmy chameleons you have to setup a drainage layer for your plants and water. The first thing to add to the bottom of your crested vivarium is hydroballs. You want to add about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. These are small clay balls you can get at any petstore. They soakup the remaining water in the viv so it doesn't become stagnant and form mold or become toxic to your gecko. The next layer you will need a screen. Any type of door screen you can get at a hardware store is fine. Just make sure it is flexible so it can be cut and formed to the bottom of your tank. The next layer is opptional. Some places use charcoal some do not. On top of the screen you can place crushed up charcoal. The charcoal helps deal with mold as well as the geckos waste. The charcoal is a natural absorbant of the waste kind of like the kind you put in fish filters. If you do decide to put in charcoal make sure it is crushed up fine, I usually take the bag outside in a few bags and crush it with a hammer. You also want to make sure to air out the tank for a few days if you add charcoal. The fumes can be toxic to your crested gecko. Again if you keep up on your cleaning the charcoal is a optional for your vivarium. On top of your charcoal add another piece of cut screening. You do not want the geckos accesible to the charcoal. On top of the screening you add your eco earth. I know some different people use organic soil without any pesticide or half peat moss, I just feel safer with the eco earth. The eco earth is meant for reptiles so you do not have to worry about pestiscides or plant food inside the dirt. Eco earth is also very easy to use and is abundant at any reptile specialty store. The eco earth comes in bricks and form and expand when warm water is added to them. Be sure to add enough eco earth for you to plant your plants in. Crested Geckos climb over and knock over everything, you want to make sure your plants are sturdy and in deep enough so your geckos do not kill them. The last thing you can add to aid the humidity is any kind of frog moss. I also found my geckos find it comfortable and will sleep in the moss at times.
When adding plants for crested geckos you want to make sure the plant is strong and sturdy. These guys are kind of chuncky and the plants get a good beating with these geckos. Plants I have found that worked well with crested's is any kind of Draconia's , Snake plant's , and they also love to hide and climb inside the branches of fica trees. But before adding any plant always make sure the plant is reptile safe. These guys don't eat the plants but still it is better to be on the safe side.
( Here is a list of safe plants for crested Geckos : http://www.pangeareptile.com/forums/showthread.php?38868-Plants-master-list-%28rhac-safe%29 )
Another good thing to do before putting any plant inside with your gecko is to thoroughly rinse the plant and all the soil from it's roots. Especially if the plant is bought from a hardware store. A lot of these places use pesitcide, fertalizers, and plant foods that can be harmful to your gecko. If the plant is rinsed, it should be no problem.
Temperature and Humidity:
These are another species of reptile that spend their lives closer to the forest floor, Crested Geckos come form New Caledonia. It is a group of islands off of Australia. The islands are covered with dense forest and high humidity. These geckos are usually found in low trees and bushes closer to the ground. This makes the habitat for these geckos much cooler than other reptiles. Crested Geckos do perfect in room temperature. Unless your house gets lower than the low 60's these animals require no extra heating. Their ideal temperature is between 73-78 F. If a crested's viv temperature goes into the 80's it is more deadly than if this animal becomes too cold. 80's is far to warm for these geckos, when they become warm they will be stressed and over a long period of high temperatures will most likely die. If your house is too cold only use a low wattage bulb, nothing bigger then a 26 watt.
Humidity is also important for crested geckos. It is good to spray them lightly in the morning and heavily at night. You want to keep there humidity in the 80's range at night when they are active then allowing your viv to dry out into the 50 humidity range during the day. Everyone is different though. Seasons change and change humidity levels. In the winter I spray my Crested Geckos viv around 3 times a day. Lightly the first two times and heavy at night. In the summer though I found I only had to spray their viv once heavily at night. It all depends on your temperture and seasons. I just use a plastic spray bottle to mist my geckos, again I reccomend buying a new one. Any chemical smell or in the water can harm your geckos. You can also buy a reptile misting system. There more useful if you are not home a lot or have many geckos. You can program them to go off for your geckos when ever you need. I find a spray bottle to work just fine .
Humidity and temperature is always fluctuating, you need a accurate thermometer to measure them for you. Temperture is very important to know, too high a temperature is deadly for these geckos. You always want to monitor this, I also found it helpful to put a thermometer at the top of my cage near the UV light and one on the bottom near the substrate. At any hardware store or home dept you can get a accurate thermometer, make sure it is one that also reads the humidity as well. They are usually in the outdoor gardening area. These thermometers are far more accurate than reptile thermometers. They are usually around 8$-12$
Crested Geckos are very sensitive to high temperatures, unlike other reptiles they do not have a basking light. It is also in debate if they need uv as well being a nocturnal species. Some keepers have said it does increase health in their geckos and also helps them have a regular day and night cycle. If you are too worried about your crested's overheating then light is not necessary unless you have a natural viv. Because plants need natural sunlight to grow, in a natural viv you will need some sort of uv for your plants. You do not want a strong wattage that would be too much for your geckos. In the summer I use a repti glo 2.0 13 watt and in the winter I use the retiglo 2.0 26 watt. (http://www.amazon.com/Repti-Glo-Compact-Fluorescent-Spectrum-Terrarium/dp/B00101IC7G)
I wouldn't sugest anything higher than that for your crested geckos.
If your house gets below the lower 60's and you are afraid your geckos are too cold, you can also use a low wattage moonglo light. In the winter I keep the 15 watt nightglo over my geckos at night. (http://www.amazon.com/Terra-Night-Glo-Moonlight-Lamp-15-Watt/dp/B0006L2UKQ) I wouldn't go higher than that for the night time, they can take a dip in temperatures into the low 60's and be just fine. I found the nightglo bulbs work better than other night bulbs and red lights. The red lights seemed to confuse my geckos, with the nightglo bulb they were still just as active at night. It has also been said that the moonlight bulbs stimulate breeding behaviors. With the 15 watt it's just that tiny bit of warmth the geckos need to keep your viv a degree or two warmer, but in most houses room temperature for night is just fine.
Another reason crested geckos are so popular in the pet trade is their lack of bug diet. Crested geckos feed mainly on a natural meal replacement formula. The best one on the market is Repashy Crested Gecko Diet. ( http://www.pangeareptile.com/store/repashy-crested-gecko-diet-5.3-oz-jar.html ) Repashy has all the vitamins, minerals, and calcium your gecko needs. Repashy powder can be stored in the refrigerator until it is meal time for your geckos. All you have to do is add water, be carefull with tap water. I use spring water to make my gecko's food just in case of chlorine and other additives put tap water. The powder is mixed with water until it is a little bit thicker then a milk shake. The bags of repashy last forever, your geckos do not need a lot. It also comes in many flavors like strawberry, peach, mango, and banana. You can mix flavors and offer different ones to mix up your geckos meals. It is very inexpensive to feed crested geckos.
Crested Geckos do not need al ot of food in their bowls at once. A handy thing to use as a food bowl is a salad dressing container you often get from restaurants, or ketcup cups. I usually just line a little food on the bottom of the cup every night. Some people feed every other day too, that is fine, but be sure not to let the repashy dry out on your geckos. If you line the bottom of the cup it is also easier to see if your gecko liked the food and is eating well. They often will not eat until later at night. Do not worry if you never find them eating as long as there is stool in their viv they are eating. For hatchlings and young geckos, you can use water bottle caps for food bowls, be careful not to make it very deep. Young ones will not eat much and can drown if there is too much food in the bowl.
In naturalistic vivariums it is a good idea to have an elevated food dish. You do not want your gecko ingesting eco earth or any other substrate when trying to eat. It is also shown that Crested Geckos prefer to eat in higher places in general. There are many gecko food ledges on the market and many people can easily make their own. My personal favorite is the Mushroom bowl ledges, they already come with cups that fit perfectly. ( http://www.pangeareptile.com/store/pangea-magnetic-mushroom-ledge-cup-holder.html )
As a treat for your crested geckos insects can be added once a week. It is not needed and a lot of crested geckos don't care for insects. You can offer crickets, Dubia roches, Phoenix worms, or silk worms. It all depends on your gecko and what they will eat. Also with all other reptiles do not offer them anything bigger then the space between their eyes. Do not feed them insects everyday, it should stick to once a week. The best daily diet really is repashy. When feeding your crested geckos insects always make sure they are dusted with calcium. Also as the times change so does animals keeping ways, some keepers sugegst baby food. NEVER feed your crested geckos baby food. There is no balanced diet for a gecko from baby food, they are mostly getting water and sugar. Geckos who are kept on baby food will ofen surcome to metabolic bone disease and other illness.
Hydration and Misting:
Misting is very important to keeping adequate humidity. Crested Geckos come from a very humid enviornment and need high humidity when active at night. How many times you spray your geckos all depends on how dry it is inside your home and the kind of environment outside. Some people only spray one heavy misting at night. In the summer in the really humid months I find misting once a day is perfectly fine. Y ou want to mist it a hour before lights out for your geckos. If you are worried about it becoming too dry you can also mist a light misting in the morning. You want your tank's humidity to drop or dry off to around 60-50% humidity in the day. Your geckos like the humidity to 80-85% at night when active. In the winter because of the dry air I added a additional misting in mid day, I kept it to a light misting. This helps your geckos from becoming dehydrated. When misting you want to make sure you spray all the leaves and vines around your geckos. They love to drink off of leaves and also take a drink in mid day, like they would drink dew in the morning in the wild.
Along side your food bowl you also want to keep a shallow water bowl. Make sure any water you put in is shallow enough for your gecko to climb out of so it does not drown. You have to be very careful with babies. You can use a water bottle cap for a water bowl also, only give them a little water in the cap. Hatchlings become dehydrated more quickly then adults, they require more misting and also it is smart to add a few water caps for water. Some keepers say keeping a water bowl in a enclosure is pointless, but unlike a lot of my other reptiles Crested geckos are the only ones I have actually seen drink out of a water bowl. Especially I have noticed this when my female is gravid and goes off of food. I use the magnatural mushroom ledge bowl, there is two cups in each leadge. I use one for water and one for food. It is easy to find and elevated for the geckos.
Another way to hydrate your crested gecko is to offer them a sauna. You do this buy adding a paper towel to the bottom of a deli cup. Put in enough warm water to moisten the paper towel, but not so much it goes over your geckos feet. ( Be careful with the water temperature, even semi warm water to us can burn the delicate skin of a crested gecko, it is best to just use luke warm water) Poke enough holes around the rim of the deli cup then place the lid on. Always!! Monitor your crested when it is in the sauna, accidents do happen and it is better to be watching your gecko and be able to take them out of the cup if need be. Allow them 15 mins in the sauna. This will hydrate them, take excess shed off, and also remove debris from their feet and make them stickier. With hatchlings do not add a lot of water, only a few moist spots on the paper towel for them to climb on, also only keep young geckos in for around 5 mins.
Other Things you should add to your Gecko Vivarium:
Along with plants, geckos need places to hide in. Crested Geckos love to hide and sleep on corkbark. You can get corkbark walls to place along the back or bottom of your viv or you can get corkbark tubes. Crested love to hide, sleep and explore in these corkbark tubes. You can also use pvc tubeing for hides. Because they are arborial another thing they love is plenty of vines curled around there viv. You can find any kind of bendy vines around any type of reptile/pet store. They love to climb and hang around on vines at night. The last thing you need to add for females is a laybox. If you have eco earth or any natural dirt like substrate it is not nessesary. I put one in my viv just in case but my female always lays in the eco earth somewhere else in the tank. If you have papertowels of some other solid substrate you will need to add one for all females. Any female can lay unfertal eggs even if they have never been with a male. I just use eco earth for my laybox, you can also use organic soils or organic peat moss mix.
The best thing about vivariums and natural vivariums is you can create it to look any way you like. As long as it it is safe for your gecko. I used some medium sized garden rocks to make it feel as natural for them as I can. This brings a piece of nature into your home for you and your geckos to enjoy. If you bring in anything from outside to put inside your viv make sure it is baked or frozen, you do not want to spread anything from outside into your crested gecko environment.
Reptiles are very clean animals if kept up on daily cleanings. I have never smelt anything from my crested geckos. In a natural viv daily cleaning is easy. Usually I will take a quick run though the bottom of my tank and leaves for feces. I also will remove dead plant leaves or plants. There are also ways for the eco system to help you keep your vivarium clean. Adding springtails to your vivarium's subtrate in natural vivs helps brake down stool and dead leaves. You can also add small red wiggler worms to the soil as well. All these bugs are harmless to your crested gecko so it is fine if they decide to pick a few off. If you have a setup with paper towel, just replace the paper towel every other day or so and take out large feces from the tank. I also will take out their food and water bowl and wash it with very hot water, never use any soaps with crested geckos. There skin is very sensitive, I even notice sometimes when I wash my hands before I handle them the soap smell will make them sneeze. Thats all about the daily cleaning your crested geckos will need.
Once every other week I will wipe down and clean the glass. I only use warm water for this, I have heard of people using vinegar but I have no experience with this. If you do use it to clean the glass of your viv make sure it is rinsed out really well! Stong smells are toxic to crested geckos. Every once in a while you can add new eco earth, plants, or moss for your geckos, the more plants they have to hide in the more comfortable and safe your gecko will feel.
Handling and Enjoying your
When you first get your Crested Gecko you want to allow it some time to acclimate and get used to it's new home. Moving is a stressfull situation especially for geckos. After they have gotten used to their viv you can start to get them used to you. Only handle them for a few mins at a time first, you do not want to over stress them. Crested geckos will jump first and ask questions later geckos always be sure to handle them close to the ground and monitor if children are handling. NEVER pick up a crested gecko by the tail. Crested Geckos can drop their tail as a distraction to predators. If they drop their tail it will never grow back. Try offering them food from a spoon and letting them staircase crawl though your hands. Once they get used to you, they will notice you are not a threat to them and tolerate handling. They are very soft to the touch and a very different and hardy gecko. I have found them to be very curious and watching me at night. They are nocturnal, but still great to watch by flashlight in the dark. Crested Geckos are easy to set up and inexpensive to feed, they do not mind being handled and are a great pet for anyone starting out into the reptile hobby.