Crested geckos are, in my opinion, one of the best reptiles you can keep as a first-time hobbyist. Being relatively simple to care for and not needing as much specialization for their needs makes them an ideal candidate for a first gecko.
Once thought to be extinct, the crested gecko was re-discovered in New Caledonia in 1994. They have quickly gained popularity as pets due to their tendency to be considered low maintenance. Also known as the “eyelash gecko” due to their distinctive “eyelashes,” they are available in a wide array of colour and patterning morphs! They also have the ability to climb walls and smooth surfaces with their specialized toe pads, on top of their added agility from having a prehensile tail.
These geckos are a docile species; they don’t tend to bite or be aggressive. Crested geckos will also tolerate handling but are usually fairly skittish when young. They’re also excellent jumpers, so you will want to be watchful and ready to give your crestie a surface to safely land on should they try to jump when handling. Like many geckos and other lizards, if they are handled roughly or feel threatened, crested geckos have the ability to drop their tail.
When housing a crested gecko, height is always going to be a driving factor for their terrarium as they are an arboreal species. For a single adult crested gecko, you want around a 20-gallon tall terrarium. The Exo Terra 18 x 18 x 24 is great for housing one full-grown adult. You can cohab crested geckos in a group of two to three, but keep in mind that males should be housed by themselves or with females as they can be territorial. For cohabitation, you’ll want at least a 29-gallon tall terrarium, something like the Exo Terra 18 x 18 x 36 as a minimum. Provide them with plenty of room to climb and add some sturdy fake or live plants to the tank. For substrate, you’ll want to use options similar to Repti-soil, or coconut fibre with moss mixed into it; if going with live plants, use a drainage layer and set the tank up to be bio-active for minimal maintenance.
Heating for crested geckos is fairly simple; the ambient air temperature should be anywhere from 70°F to 76°F (21°C to 24°C) or room temperature. While they’re not big fans of high temperatures, a basking spot of 78°F to 82°F (25°C to 28°C) should be offered, as they are cold-blooded after all. Nighttime temperatures can safely drop to 65°F to 72°F (18°C to 22°C). On top of using a small bulb for basking/heat gradient, it is highly recommended to use a 5% UVB bulb on the enclosure; this will ensure that proper vitamin D3/calcium synthesis can take place and will also allow any live plants you use to thrive. You’ll want to provide a natural photo period of 10 to 12 hours of light a day to ensure their natural cycles stay normal. Crested geckos require a moderate to high humidity level. 60% to 80% humidity is a good range to try to keep them within. You’ll want to mist the enclosure at least one to two times daily as cresties consume most of their water from the droplets that form on the glass, leaves, and décor of the tank.
Crested geckos are a nocturnal species, and therefore are best fed in the evening/night. You’ll want to feed juveniles daily and adults roughly three times a week. One of the easiest ways to feed crested geckos is with specially formulated diets such as those offered by Pangea or Repashy. These diets are extremely balanced and nutritious, and they come in many different flavours should your gecko be picky! You’ll also want to supplement their diet with the occasional insect feeding, whether it be crickets, wax worms, butter worms, or other available options. In addition, provide a shallow water dish in their tank; they may rarely drink from it due to their preference for water droplets, but it can help keep humidity stable, and it gives the option of drinkable water if needed.
With easily met requirements for care, it’s easy to see why crested geckos are so beginner friendly. They’re readily available in most pet stores at good prices, being so commonplace in the hobby—an awesome option if you live somewhere that is not okay with pets that require crickets or other insects for feeding. They’re also a great option if you’re just looking for a low maintenance pet that only requires a small amount of work each day!