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Crested Gecko Care

Crested Gecko Care

Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus)

also known as New Caledonian Crested Gecko, Guichenot’s Giant Gecko or Eyelash Gecko. Rhacodactylus is Greek for “spine” and ciliatus is Latin for cilia, which means “eyelash.” It refers to the crest of skin over the gecko’s eyes that look like eyelashes.

Popularity: Make good house pets because of their distinguishing appearance, peaceful manner, and robust health.

Origin: The Island of New Caledonia in the Southwest Pacific.

Native habitat: Tropical, mostly trees on New Caledonia

Size: 6-10 inches

Lifespan: 10-15 years

Appearance: A crested gecko has a wedge-shaped head, large eyes and a crest that runs from each eye to the tail. The toes and the tip of the tail are covered with millions of tiny hairs. It is believed these hairs allow the gecko climb on solid surfaces with the help of toes that have small claws. Colors include various shades of brown, gray, orange, red and yellow. Markings include spots, straight stripes, and tiger-like stripes. The amount and size of the crests can vary: some have crests that extend to the base of the tail and some lack crests on one side of the body.

Diet: Insects and fruit

Activities: They are mostly nocturnal and will normally spend daylight hours sleeping in a safe hiding place on the ground or close to it.

Defense mechanisms: The crest over the eyes defends against likely predators. Made up of ridges of skin with pointy scales, the ridge extends from above the eye to the back of the head. The tail breaks away when the gecko is threatened or caught by a predator. Tails move without help of the body for up to five minutes. Unlike most other geckos, the Crested Gecko does not grow it its tail back once it is lost. This causes no problems for the reptile.

Misc characteristics: The Crested Gecko has no eyelids, just a transparent scale that keeps its eyes moist. It uses its tongue to keep them clean. It has webbing on its legs and toes. The skin is covered with fine scales that give it a silky-smooth texture. Its colors are brighter and more prominent at night.  Crested Geckos can be sexed very easily after the age of 3-4 months.

Basic care: Good housing is a 20-gallon aquarium tank with a screen top that is secure enough to prevent escape. The tank needs to be vertically oriented to allow the gecko to climb. It should contain several branches for climbing, as well. Some branches with broad leaves are recommended so they can hide in them. The housing should have hide boxes, cork bark tubes or similar furnishings to provide a daytime hiding spot.

IMPORTANT:  A male can be housed with one or two females, but two males should never be housed together since they may fight.

The substrate should retain humidity but not be soggy. Coconut fiber or paper towels are recommended. Use patches of sphagnum moss to create humid spots. Temperature of the housing should be room temperature — between 72 and 80 degrees F. As long as the owner’s home has lighting that functions in a day/night cycle, no additional lighting is need for the reptile.

Good commercial gecko food is recommended, as well as gut-loaded and supplement-dusted crickets as an occasional supplement. A dish of chlorine-free water should be available in the tank.

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