Caledonian Crested Geckos -- Rhacodactylus Ciliatus
geckos make excellent pets. They are affordable to purchase
and care for when compared to other species of geckos. Unlike
other geckos, they come in a variety of colors and morphs. They
also change colors to help blend in with their surroundings
and better depict their mood; the darker a crested gecko appears
the more unhappy it is. Because of these characteristics, they
make very popular pets.
crested geckos that I have interacted with were very docile
and calm; they were nervous at first but would not do any more
then run away. As they became more accustomed to being handled
they seemed to enjoy my company just as much as I enjoyed theirs.
I would recommend crested geckos for any first-time reptile
owner and even for those who are much more experienced caring
Habitat: Crested Geckos were thought to be extinct until
just recently when they were found by independent researchers
in the 1990s. The island of New Caledonia is found in the southeast
Pacific, just east of Australia. The island consists of coastal
plains with inland forests and mountains. The island, roughly
the size of New Jersey, is a typical tropical island, hot and
humid. However, the temperature is definitely tolerable: staying
between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the year. Rarely
does it get below 70 degrees.
Expectancy: The life expectancy of a crested gecko in
captivity and the wild is as of yet unknown. The specimens that
were caught by the researchers are still alive and the first
acquisitions of top breeders are still alive today. It is believed
that like many other reptile species, they can live 10-15 years
in the best conditions.
Requirements: Crested Geckos are arboreal, meaning they
are tree dwelling species. You are more likely to find them
up in a tree then down on the ground. Due to this, any enclosure
you house them in must be higher then it is long and wide.
For crested geckos, a screen cage is better then a cage that
is built of solid material like woos or glass; this is not saying
that the latter material is bad. Mesh is better because it allows
for more ventilation and doesnt trap heat inside the cage.
Geckos do not need as high a temperature as other species of
Crested gecko babies are indeed quite small, starting out
at barely an inch when they hatch. Individuals up to 4 inches
long, from head to tail can easily be housed together in a
10-gallon tank, 20x10x12; although I would
never house more then four individuals together.
Crested geckos more then five inches long can be housed in
20-gallon high aquariums, 24x12x16. However,
I use and recommend 22-gallon, which are 13.5"x 13.5"x25",
Reptariums. Height is always better when considering a cage
with crested geckos.
Be careful when housing larger crested geckos together because
two males, males can be determined by a very noticeable bump
underneath their tails, kept in the same cage will fight over
territory when they reach breeding age. At most, I recommend
housing one male with 3 females; less is also fine.
Substrate: As always, substrate is a big debate. One
thing that is agreed upon, substrates that hold humidity such
as cypress mulch, Eco-Earth, Repti-bark or even potting soil,
but without the white pellets or chemicals, is better then dry
substrates. I usually buy playground cypress mulch and leave
it out in the rain so it gets sopping wet. Paper towels and
newspapers, while not aesthetically pleasing, could be used
as substrates in a pinch.
In addition, I add a layer of moss; it does not matter what
kind, on top of the layer of substrate. Since it absorbs water,
it will add to the overall humidity of the cage as well as to
the display if you care to keep them in a more natural looking
Decorations: In the wild, crested geckos like to hide
up in the leaves of trees or within tall bushes. It is best
to add plastic plants, those that have bases and the ones with
section cups to hide up on the walls, and pieces of cork that
look like trunks or branches. Plants not only provide comfort
and a hiding spot for your geckos but they also help hold humidity
in the cage and add to the overall appearance of your pets
and Lighting Requirements: The temperature in a crested
gecko's enclosure should be about room temperature. For those
of you with different room temperatures then mine, 75-80 degrees
Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature, the night temperature
shouldn't be any lower then 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything
lower can lead to animal sickness and animal stress. In addition,
if the temperatures during the day are above 80 degrees the
same adverse affects could happen.
Lighting is arguable when it comes to crested geckos. Crested
geckos are nocturnal by nature so many hepetoculturists argue,
and I agree with them, that crested geckos do not require lights.
However, others have said that all creatures require Ultraviolet
(A and B) rays. The only lights my crested geckos get are the
fluorescent lights in the room and they don't seem to have any
problems. This is not saying getting them an Ultraviolet light
is bad and if you do get one for your geckos, be sure that it
does not give heat too or you will end up cooking your geckos.
Crested geckos are certainly much easier to feed then many other
reptiles species. They eat about four or five crickets a day,
the size of their crickets depends on the individual; dont
feed them anything bigger then half the size of their head.
Crested geckos get the other nutrition they need from eat soft/rotten
fruit in the wild. To duplicate this, I feed them baby food.
My geckos get apricot and peach flavored baby food poured out
in a jar lid, alternating the flavors every day. The adults
eat about a tablespoon a day while the babies eat a teaspoon.
Other keepers use different flavors but mine seem to enjoy the
flavors I provide them. You can go through your own trial-and-error
phase to find out what your crested geckos like best.
In the wild, crested geckos lick drops of water off
plants, tree trunks and leaves in the wild. To mimic this, I
mist their cage completely several times a day. This does two
things. First, it gives the water they need to survive. Secondly,
it adds to the overall humidity to the cage. All of the mulch,
moss and plants wouldnt do you any good without water.
Crested geckos will not drink out of water dishes because they
are unable to see standing water.
Summary: When purchasing a gecko, and I would always
start out with a baby so it grows up with you; you know it knows
your habits and you know the habits of the gecko, youll
need several things. First, you will need a cage. Secondly,
you will need substrate for the cage. Finally, you will need
plants and branches to decorate the cage with.
Good luck and happy herping!