Crested Gecko Habitat: Creating Stunning Terrariums For Your Pet

Deepthi Reddy
Feb 29, 2024 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Nov 12, 2021
Fact-checked by Shruti Thapa
Caledonian Crested Gecko on the rock
Age: 3-18
Read time: 11.4 Min

The crested gecko is an excellent pet for beginners or first-time reptile owners due to its ease of care and simple diet.

Crested geckos are simple to maintain as pets because they never require an overly elaborate setup. A simple tank would suffice them, and setting that up is a straightforward job.

If you are from New Caledonia, then seeing crested geckos would be a regular habit for you. Crested geckos are from the Rhacodactylus family and are especially popular in New Caledonia. These animals are very outgoing and can make perfect pets for first-time owners. Their colorful body not only makes them attractive but also a happy addition to your family too. When kept in captivity, a crested gecko will live up to 20 years, and if you care for it properly, it could also live longer than 20 years!

Do check out our other fun facts articles on crested geckos, crested gecko lifespan and how long do crested geckos live.

Choosing A Crested Gecko Habitat

The crested gecko is your typical rainforest lover, and that is indeed the best habitat for them too. The gecko is native to rainforests of New Caledonia, particularly on the isle of Grand Terre and Pines. The crested gecko can also be spotted on the two islands near Australia that are home to warm, tropical rainforests with thick vegetation. However, their evening spot is in low canopies of trees that can be several feet off the forest floor, and for their daytime abode they live a couple of feet off the floor. These wild arboreal geckos love spending their time in small trees and shrubs the most. The gecko's habitat is typically very tropical. These Pacific islands have their temperature in the range of 72F-86F (22.22C-30C) as humid seasons from November to March account for the warm and humid weather and June to August account for cooler and drier seasons.

Are you interested in keeping a reptile as your pet? The crested gecko would be a great choice, but how do you arrange its home? How do you choose a habitat for it that resembles as closely as possible its habitat in the wild? There are a couple of ways, and let's look at them.

The first step towards selecting the suitable habitat is to decide if you want to buy a readymade habitat explicitly made for reptiles that is recommended, or you could get the creative side of yours engaged by taking the DIY (do it yourself) route. Before deciding anything, an important topic is to understand habitat sizing. This species is also known to be choosy about its substrate so you could use paper towels or soil in its tank. Soil has the added advantage of being similar to its natural habitat and will also aid in the growth of plants. If you can't get soil, then cypress mulch or coconut fiber would be an excellent alternative too. Paper towels, on the other hand, are more disposable and are easier to clean. However, whichever substrate you choose, ensures it doesn't increase the humidity and is easy to clean.

Crested geckos are natural climbers, and if you want to size their habitat or terrarium, the height matters more than the width. Thus, it is recommended that you buy a terrarium that's as tall as possible. In fact, this could be useful in the long run if you wish to add a second gecko later on, and if you don't mind spending more money, then picking a glass terrarium would also do a lot more good to your crested gecko. Front-facing panels and ventilated doors will help in controlling humidity levels, which helps make the pet house resemble the gecko's natural environment.

What type of habitat does a crested gecko need?

When in captivity, utmost care should be taken with the gecko's environment. A minimum of a 20-gallon tall terrarium is expected for an adult crested gecko, but you are more than welcome to install an even larger tank. Their playful and arboreal nature requires a greater vertical space for climbing, and an enclosure less than the minimum height specified would make these animals dull. If you are keen on housing more than one crested gecko, be prepared to have a 29-gallon terrarium. Make sure to keep only one male per tank as male geckos are territorial animals in nature. Another vital aspect to keep in mind is to use a glass terrarium with a screened side for ventilation, although a few keepers have shown inclination towards having an entirely screened enclosure.

A crested gecko needs its habitat to be airy and have ample space in it. Providing driftwood, cork bark, vines, bamboo, and a mix of other branches at various orientations and heights of the tank could help keep crested geckos active. Try adding a few sturdy live plants like dracaena, ficus, pothos, and philodendron, and a few varieties of silk too.

Crested Gecko Lighting

Just like we told you earlier, crested gecko care is the simplest of all, and it's true! Since crested geckos are active only at night when the sun goes down, you might think a special requirement for lighting would arise, but that's not the case.

Many hobbyists would argue that crested geckos, being the nocturnal species they are, would require lighting such as UVB bulbs, but that isn't necessary at all. Many pet owners don't prefer to use UVB lights, and the reason is that UVB lights are helpful only when you are not feeding your geckos many insects with vitamin D3 and calcium. Speaking of the crested gecko diet, ensure commercial powders that require water are enriched with vitamin D3 and calcium. Vitamin D3 and calcium are essential parts of crested gecko care as it would allow you to skip the need for UVB lighting.

However, if you want the overall setup of their home to look or feel cool or if you want some kind of light, then at night, LED would be good.

What do crested geckos need in their tank?

Crested geckos are essentially tree-dwelling animals that appreciate anything that gives them the pleasure to climb, and so their tank should be filled with branches and sticks. The crested gecko enclosure is a crucial aspect of its care. It should be a solid, glass-sided tank that creates enough room for enabling two temperature gradients. When it comes to the tank decor, don't think about overdoing it because it's always the more, the merrier for this animal! If their vivarium is full, crested geckos will absolutely love it.

While choosing branches to fill the crested gecko tank, ensure you choose those that help geckos climb safely. The basking area should have a platform that enables the gecko to sit, so choosing branches of sandblasted grape that are readily available in any pet store can be good. If you plan to bring branches from outside, be careful about possible parasites housing in those branches. Instead, you could opt for bringing live plants that would help increase the humidity of the gecko enclosure but include only reptile-safe plants like spider plants, ficus, philodendrons, aloe, and pothos. These plants can be immediately planted into the substrate of the enclosure.

Filling the crested gecko vivarium with other plants and logs also helps to keep this nocturnal species comfortable, healthy, and happy. So, populate the vivarium with plants, vines, and branches such as grape wood, Mopani wood, and other vines. Grape wood branches come in all designs and shapes, so it is a beautiful and healthy way to bring a vivarium to life. Mopani wood is a commonly used plant in aquariums, but it would work equally well in a crested gecko vivarium too.

Do crested geckos need a heat lamp?

If you are a first-time crested gecko parent, then setting up the preliminary crested gecko enclosure could seem intimidating. Crested gecko care also involves thinking about installing a heat lamp because you would not want to let the gecko species freeze or get fried! Do crested geckos need a heat lamp? Is it mandatory, or is it optional? Let's find out.

Heat lamps are not mandatory for crested geckos, but if you are concerned about gaining the right temperature in their environment, then heated lamps are the best way to do so. However, it could be tricky to pick a suitable material for your heat lamp. First and foremost, there must be room for a relatively cool place in the enclosure, too, if you are to arrange for a heat lamp. In this way, terrariums have both warm and cool temperatures in them to complement one another. Another critical aspect to remember is turning off the lamp at nighttime to avoid disrupting the gecko's nocturnal activities.

Secondly, during the daytime, make sure to leave the lamp on for at least one to three hours. This is because concentrated heat in any particular area of the tank could later change the temperature of the enclosure, even colder parts of the tank. Moreover, the basking spot of the crested gecko could also get overheated, so it's best to monitor the range of duration for which the lamp is on. Many owners regularly report that despite the crested gecko being aware of its extreme body temperature, it still prefers to stay only in cooler areas during the night or in the day. This often affects the health of crested geckos despite having fulfilling tanks. Also be careful about managing the humidity of the tank. The more the heat is saturated at one spot, the easier the area will be to dry out and cause its natural home to be humid. This would lead to misting the tank if you stop using the lamp, then this misting would affect the crested gecko's health.

Habitat Maintenance

To have healthy reptiles, be it males or females, you need to have a spot-on health plan for the reptile regarding its diet, the temperature, the humidity of the tank, and a range of other factors. Let's have a look at some of them.

If you keep a crested gecko at your house, then its excess food should always be removed from its tank every week. Ideally, the crested gecko's tank should be deep cleaned every month along with an extensive substrate change, especially when there is substantial bacterial growth in the tank. In this case, removing your reptile, changing the substrate, and deep cleaning the tank is the only option to keep the crested gecko safe and healthy.

Next is to keep the humidity of the crested gecko tank in the range of 50% to 80%. Daily misting, once or twice, is a good way to keep humidity within the adequate range. Keeping track of the reptile's food and managing the reptile's diet is super easy too! A commercially prepared gecko food would do perfectly well. Feed the food by mixing it in with purified water several times a week. Don't forget to look for mold on branches or substrate as humidity of crested gecko habitats make room for mold to grow. If you do find mold, remove that area and throw it away or scrub it.

Caring For Crested Geckos

A reptile, just like any other species, requires an ample amount of care and love. Both males and females need healthy items to eat and grow. Regularly cleaning their tanks and keeping track of their health is also a part of caring for these crested geckos. Let's have a look at how you can care for crested geckos effectively.

The diet of crested geckos in the wild consists of insects and fruits. They even feed on crickets, waxworms, butter worms, black soldier fly larvae, and dubia roaches. When you house this reptile, its dietary needs vary a little bit. Often these reptiles are fed a completely powdered diet, which comprises all nutrients essential for the reptile, and so it also removes the necessity of feeding live insects to them. In fact, crested geckos are known to thrive when fed this diet exclusively. Essentially, this diet is mixed with two parts of water and given to reptiles in shallow dishes three times a week. However, nothing beats a natural diet, right? In addition to insects, you could also give them a fruit diet. The fruit diet should be offered three times per week. Along with fruits, crickets are another popular food item to feed these reptiles but remember, crickets should be chosen that equal crested geckos' head width. These crickets should also be lightly coated with mineral or vitamin supplements rich in vitamin D3, calcium, and other minerals and vitamins.

When it comes to the hygiene of these reptiles, provide a shed box or a hide box with sphagnum moss to facilitate their shedding process as crested geckos regularly get rid of their skin. Ensure the temperature of the tank is also at appropriate levels to allow shedding to occur properly. Fun fact: crested geckos actually eat their shed skin, so don't be too surprised seeing them eat that! If you notice signs of swelling, lethargy, mucus in the nose or mouth, a decrease in appetite, or weight loss, immediately consult a veterinarian for medical assistance. Apart from this, to ensure a wholesome care plan for your beloved reptiles, give them clean, fresh, chlorine-free water at all times of the day. Feed them commercial food every night and remove their uneaten food items the following day. Remember to remove any uneaten insects. Before giving them any insect, make sure to sprinkle the insect with some multi-vitamin and calcium supplement at least once or twice a week. This way, you will be proud parents of a healthy pet!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our article about the crested gecko habitatthen why not take a look at crested gecko morphs or crested gecko facts.

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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