Tyrannosaurus Pets

Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) Care Sheet

Crested geckos or cresties are an arboreal gecko from the islands of New Caledonia.  They make an interesting pet as they are one of the few ‘sticky feet’ geckos which are able to tame easily.  They are a hardy, and easy to care for gecko.  They are easily recognised by their large webbed feet, and long ‘eyelashes’. 

Housing Your Crested Gecko

Crested Gecko Set Up


The diagram above shows roughly how to set the tank up.

Being arboreal crested geckos need a tall tank, a glass vivarium 18” x 18” x 18”, or preferably 18” x 18” x 24” makes a suitable home for a single adult gecko.

Crested geckos require a low background heat, with a temperature no higher than 26’c. The easiest way to provide this is to use an infra red lamp, connected to a dimming thermostat.  This allows observation of the gecko as it starts to become active in the early evening without disturbing the geckos natural sleep pattern.  Place the lamp in a clamp fitting, and position this outside the tank so the bottom of the bulb is about an inch from the top of the tank.  Plug the lamp fitting into the thermostat.  The sensor from the thermostat needs to come into the tank and be positioned about six inches from the roof, directly under the lamp fitting.  When the thermostat is set to 25’c then the temperature at the sensor should be 25’c.  Check the temperature with a thermometer.  When decorating the tank make sure a log or branch rests at this point to provide the basking spot for the gecko.

Daily Crestie Care

As crested geckos come from a tropical environment they require a high humidity to keep them healthy.  A range of gadgets are available to increase the ambient humidity in the tank, but by far the easiest and cheapest option is to simply spray the tank on a regular basis.  How often you spray depends on the humidity of your house, and the weather.  During hotter drier months you may need to spray twice per day, whereas during cooler wetter times, once every other day may be sufficient.

Feeding Your Crested Gecko

Cresties are omnivorous by nature, and should be fed a mixture of live insects, and pureed soft fruits.  Some people advise using baby food which is fine provided it is a fruit based organic type.  The best fruits to use are banana, peach, and figs.  The insects should be no longer than the distance between the gecko’s eyes.  Baby geckos will need insects every day.  As the animal grows it will need less high protein food.  An adult crested gecko will only need to be offered live food two or three times per week.

The fruit or fruit puree should be offered to the gecko two or three times per week.  Leave a small quantity of fruit in a bowl in the tank over night.  Clean the bowl in the morning.  Tame geckos will lick the fruit from your finger.

While we try to provide a healthy diet for the cresties, it is not as varied as it would receive in the wild, and may be lacking in certain vitamins and minerals.  To ensure that the animal will develop into a healthy adult we need to supplement their food.  Use a full spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement (such as Nutrobal) twice per week.  A pure calcium supplement such as cricket dust, needs to be used a further three times per week.  Place around six crickets in a large measuring jug or clear plastic bag.  Add a pinch of powder and shake to coat the insects.  Feed these to the gecko.  If the gecko is still hungry it can be fed more crickets two or three at a time until the animal is full.  These additional crickets do not need to be supplemented.  An adult gecko needs the full spectrum supplement once per week, and the calcium twice per week.

The gecko needs fresh water every day.  When changing the water have a look around the tank and remove any obvious mess.  If you spot clean the tank regularly then a full clean out is only required once every four to six weeks.  When cleaning the tank place the animal somewhere secure.  Remove the décor and water dish, these can be cleaned in boiling water.  Scoop out the substrate.  Wipe the tank with a damp cloth, and then dry it.  Place clean substrate on the floor of the tank and replace the décor.  Don’t use household detergents or disinfectants as these can be toxic to reptiles.  If the tank is in need of a good clean then a range of reptile specific pet disinfectants are available.

When you first get your gecko home leave it to settle for at least a week before trying to handle it.  Excessive disturbances will stop the gecko from feeding properly and we need to make sure the animal is happy with its new environment before starting to handle them. 

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Tyrannosaurus Pets