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Crested Gecko

Crested Gecko Care Sheet

Correlophus ciliatus
Developed with and approved by qualified veterinarians

Crested geckos, also known as eyelash geckos, were thought to be extinct until 1994, when several relatively large, thriving populations were found on the islands of New Caledonia.

Typical crested gecko appearance and behavior 

  • Crested geckos are unique in their ability to climb vertical surfaces, thanks to the pads under their toes that contain tiny, sticky, hair-like projections called setae that help them stick to even smooth surfaces
  • Crested geckos are nocturnal (active at night) and spend most daylight hours hidden in their habitat
  • Crested geckos are exceptional leapers; they will jump from one perch to the next, almost like frogs
  • Crested geckos will tolerate gentle handling; rough handling will stress them and may cause them to drop their tails, which will not grow back
  • Crested geckos lick their eyeballs to clean and moisten them

Crested gecko characteristics

Care Difficulty Beginner
Average Life Span 15–20 years with proper care
Average Adult Size 5–8 inches long
Diet Omnivorous
Minimum Habitat Size 20 gallons for a single gecko; height is more important than floor space

Habitat 

Habitat size

Use an appropriately sized, tall glass habitat with a secure screen cover. An adult crested gecko will need a minimum of 20 gallons; keep in mind that tank height is more important than floor space. The larger the habitat, the better, if appropriate humidity can be maintained. Humidity levels are harder to maintain in screened habitats.

Crested geckos reach adult size in 9–12 months under ideal conditions; upgrade your habitat size as your reptile grows.

Building your habitat

  • Décor: Provide multiple branches or plastic plants designed for reptiles to climb and a shelter for hiding; pieces of cork bark work well for offering shelter and for perching on. Live, nontoxic plants (such as ficus, pothos and dracaena) also are recommended for climbing on and hiding under
  • Humidity: Maintain 70–80% humidity by misting with water as needed daily; provide water in a shallow dish for drinking and to increase habitat humidity
  • Substrate: Coconut fiber, dampened sphagnum moss or reptile carpet all are acceptable substrates, as long as habitat humidity can be maintained.; moist cypress mulch may be used to help hold humidity, but like moss, mulch may get moldy if it is left wet and not replaced often
  • Temperature: During the day, keep the temperature at 75–82°F and 68°–75°F at night; radiant heat is recommended. Use a low-wattage incandescent bulb or ceramic heat emitter on top of the habitat’s cover to provide heat, if necessary, and place it on one side of the habitat to create a temperature gradient. Crested geckos don’t tolerate very high temperatures, so if environmental temperature reaches the high 80s°F, the habitat will need to be moved to a cooler place
  • Lighting: Replicate natural light cycles by using an incandescent day bulb for 10–12 hours a day; be sure to turn it off at night so geckos can perform true nighttime behaviors. Because they are nocturnal, geckos may not require much UV light; however, recent studies have shown that UV light improves their overall health

Cleaning your habitat 

Spot clean daily to remove soiled bedding and discarded food. Thoroughly clean and disinfect the habitat at least once a week with these steps: 

  • Place your gecko in a separate, secure habitat
  • Scrub the tank and furnishings with a reptile habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution
  • Rinse thoroughly with water, removing all traces of habitat cleaner or bleach smell
  • Dry the tank and furnishings completely before replacing them in the habitat
  • Add clean substrate and return your gecko back their habitat

Feeding 

What to feed your crested gecko

A well-balanced crested gecko diet consists of:

  • Commercially available, nutritionally complete and balanced crested gecko food, which comes as a powder to mix with water before feeding; this powder also can be used to dust insects
  • Once or twice per week, provide a variety of insects as a treat, including gut-loaded (recently fed) or vitamin-enriched crickets, mealworms, Dubia roaches and waxworms; crickets should be no longer than the widest part of your gecko’s head. Offer adult geckos 5–10 crickets or 3–4 worms each time insects are offered
  • Soft fruits or sweet fruit baby foods, such as peach, banana or apricot, can be mixed with crested gecko food and offered as a treat

Things to remember when feeding your crested gecko:

  • Fresh, clean water should be available at all times in a shallow dish
  • Since crested geckos are nocturnal, feed them commercial food every night and remove uneaten food in the morning
  • Insects should be given at night, 1–2 times weekly; remove uneaten insects in the morning
  • Sprinkle insects with a calcium supplement containing vitamin D3 at each feeding and a multivitamin or mineral supplement once or twice a week

Crested gecko care

  • Crested geckos regularly shed their skin in a single piece as they grow; juveniles typically shed every 1–2 weeks, and adults shed monthly. Their skin color will dull or pale just before shedding; ensure habitat humidity is at appropriate level to aid in proper shedding. To facilitate shedding, provide a moist hideaway box containing damp sphagnum moss; be sure to refresh the moss often, as it may either dry out or become moldy
  • Do not be surprised to see a crested gecko eating their shed skin; this is normal behavior

Where to buy 

Crested geckos are available at select Petco stores. Call your local location ahead of time to ensure availability.

Habitat mates

Keep only one adult male crested gecko per enclosure, and do not house different reptile species together. A single male may be housed with females; however, males should be kept separate, as they are likely to fight

Health 

Signs of a healthy crested gecko

  • Active, alert and interested in surroundings
  • Clear eyes and nose
  • Body and tail are filled out
  • Healthy, lesion-free skin
  • Clear vent
  • Eats and passes droppings regularly
  • Sheds skin regularly in a single piece

Red flags (if you notice any of these signs, contact your veterinarian)

  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Mucus in mouth or nose
  • Sunken eyes
  • Swollen limbs
  • Lethargy
  • Bumps, sores or abrasions on skin
  • Labored breathing
  • Paralysis of limbs
  • Discolored, bloody, poorly formed feces or no feces
  • Retained shed on any body part

Common crested gecko health issues

Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Health Issue Gastrointestinal disease Symptoms or Causes Runny or bloody stools, caked or smeared stool around the vent, weight loss, loss of appetite caused by bacterial, viral or parasitic infection Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian
Health Issue Metabolic bone disease Symptoms or Causes Inability to absorb calcium due to insufficient UVB light or improper amounts of dietary calcium/vitamin D3. If untreated, can lead to deformed, softened, or fractured bones, swollen limbs, decreased appetite, weakness, and lethargy. Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian; provide ample UVB lighting, a balanced diet and the proper amount of calcium/vitamin supplements
Health Issue Respiratory disease Symptoms or Causes Labored breathing, mucus and/or bubbles in the mouth or nose; can be caused by inappropriate habitat temperature and humidity, leading to secondary bacterial, viral or fungal infection Suggested Action Consult your veterinarian; ensure habitat is the proper temperature and humidity
Health Issue Dysecdesis (problems shedding) Symptoms or Causes Retained pieces of skin anywhere on body, especially over the eyes or around toes; caused by dry habitat or underlying disease Suggested Action Increase habitat humidity; contact your veterinarian if there is no improvement

FAQs 

  • What do crested geckos eat? Crested geckos eat commercially available, nutritionally complete powdered food, supplemented with live insects (such as crickets, mealworms, Dubia roaches and waxworms) and soft fruits or fruit baby food.How long do crested geckos live? Crested geckos can live 15–20 years with proper care.
  • What fruits can crested geckos eat? Crested geckos can eat soft fruits (such as mangoes, bananas, pears, grapes, apricots, strawberries, watermelon, peaches, plums and blueberries), as well as fruit baby foods.
  • How often should you feed crested geckos? Feed them nutritionally complete powdered food daily, with insects and fruit or fruit baby food once or twice a week as treats.
  • How do you set up a crested gecko habitat? To set up a crested gecko habitat, you will need a glass tank with a screen top, radiant heat above the screen top to maintain the appropriate temperature gradient, thermometers to monitor the temperature gradient, a humidity gauge, a shallow water bowl, décor to promote climbing and hiding and coconut fiber, sphagnum moss or cypress mulch bedding, misted to maintain humidity.
  • How do you tame a crested gecko? Crested geckos can be hand-tamed by gentle daily handling and hand-feeding.
  • How much humidity do crested geckos need? Crested gecko habitats should be maintained at 70–80% humidity.

Additional care sheets

Notes and resources

Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.

Because all reptiles are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as Salmonella bacteria, always wash your hands before and after handling your reptile or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of disease. 

Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing or caring for reptiles and should consider having a pet other than a reptile. 

Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about frogs and disease.

See petco.com for more information.

Note: The information in this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian.