Creating a Crested Gecko Habitat
If you'd like to bring a bit of the exotic rainforest into your home you might consider getting a pet reptile. For example, some species of geckos make excellent pets, such as Crested Geckos (Rhacodactylus Ciliatus) and Leopard Geckos (Eublepharis macularius). Crested Geckos originate from New Caledonia, a group of small Islands near Australia, with a warm tropical climate. In contrast, Leopard Geckos originate from the dry, desert-like regions of the Middle East.
The key to keeping geckos (or any other pet animal) happy and healthy is to mimic their natural environment as closely as possible. This means the habitat you need to set up for your pet gecko will depend upon the species of gecko you get.
Here are the basics of what you'll need as a minimum to keep Crested Geckos:
Cage or Terrarium
For any type of gecko you will need a terrarium to house it in. Geckos are typically small lizards, but still it it best to get the largest size terrarium you can afford. This is especially true if you want to keep more than one gecko. Because crested geckos are tree dwellers you must provide some branches and vines for them to climb on. They will also need some hiding places. You'll need some sort of substrate in the bottom of the terrarium, such as Jungle Substrate. Some people line the bottom with paper towels, but Jungle Substrate is more natural. You'll also need items such as artificial plants, driftwood, and similar items for them to climb on and hide in.
Water & Humidity Source
Since crested geckos originate from a tropical area they will need a fogger or some other misting system for humidity. You can probably get by with a misting spray bottle kept at room temperature. Just mist the habitat once or twice a day, preferably in the evening since crested geckos are nocturnal. You will also need a hygrometer to measure the humidity level in your gecko terrarium because it is important to know what the humidity level in the terrarium is. Optimum humidity level for crested geckos ranges from about 60 to 80%.
Light and Heat Source
Geckos, like all reptiles are cold-blooded, meaning that their temperature is regulated by the external environment, rather than internally like warm-blooded animals. In their natural environment reptiles are free to move around from one area to another to meet their heat and light requirements. In the artifical environment of a terrarium, you must provide these different temperature and light gradients for your pet. What this means is that there must be a change in temperature across your reptile habitat so that your pet can move across the temperature gradient as needed in order to regulate their temperature. You'll need at least one thermometer in your gecko cage and two would be better so you can measure the temperature in different areas of the habitat.
A temperature gradient can often be created by providing caves, the inside of which would be shielded from the light or heat source. Generally, Crested geckos do best at room temperature (around 70-74 degrees Fahrenheit or 21-23 degrees Celsius). Make sure your gecko doesn't get too hot.
A heat mat is a good item to use. Make sure that one side of the habitat is unheated so your gecko can move off the heat source.
The light source must provide ultraviolet (UV) light or your reptile won't survive. Keeping a consistent light/dark cycle is also important. Crested geckos are nocturnal animals and so the UV light isn't quite as important as with other reptiles, but you still need to keep a constant light/dark cycle in their terrarium.
You will need a feeding dish and water dish. Probably the simplest and easiest food to feed your Crested Gecko is Repashy Crested Gecko food. This can be found online at places such as Swell Reptiles. Swell Reptiles offers everything you need for your pet reptile as well as species specific kits, such as the Crested Gecko Starter Kits which takes most of the guess-work out of setting up a new habitat for your pet gecko.
How Many Geckos Can I Keep Together?
How many geckos you can successfully keep together will depend on the size of your habitat. It is usually best not to keep two males together. One male and two females are a good mix. You can usually sex geckos by looking at the vent area. Male crested geckos have a bulge just below the vent, whereas females do not. Also, geckos are somewhat prolific in their breeding habits and so you may end up with more geckos than you started!
Crested geckos are one of the easiest lizards for beginners. However, it is best to research the needs of your pet thoroughly before you get your pet since it will be with you for a long time. The expected life span of crested geckos can be as long as 20 years if kept properly.