Crested Gecko Care Sheet

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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
Click right here for solid and proven tips for all things crestie. Scroll down this link for 11 other informative posts.
***** Never feed butterworms to cresties or to any other New Caledonian gecko like gargoyles! Butterworms cause severe facial burns and potentially mouth burns!!! *****

Enclosures: Purchase the largest enclosure you can afford. For cresties concentratrate on height, because they climb.
  • Minimum size for 1 crestie: 15 gallon turned on end (or 20 long or 20 regular), both with many climbing opportunities and hiding places! Remove one end of the 15 gallon; replace with hardware cloth (mesh top) for ventilation. For the front buy a Plexiglas® panel with a door.
  • Exo Terra vertical vivarium: 18 x 18 x 24 inches/45 x 45 x 60 cm.
  • National Geographic manufactures a 16 x 16 x 24 inches that's available at Petsmart.
  • Check out Zilla front-opening enclosures too.
  • 1 crested gecko per vertical vivarium is ideal.
  • 2 males will fight.
  • 2 females could fight.
  • If housing a couple females together, they should be of similar sizes.
  • Always have a backup enclosure available in which to separate, just in case they get aggressive.

  • During the days mid-May through mid-September I keep a normal 15 watt incandescent bulb directly above the mesh at the top of my crestie's enclosure. The rest of the year it's a 25 watt bulb. This bulb provides a photo period, adds some heat, and sheds light on the potted sansevieria.
  • Days: 70-80ish+ *F (21.1-26.7ish+ *C) Sometimes I catch my crestie basking on his chill bar right beneath either a 15 watt or a 25 watt incandescent bulb. Bulb wattage depends upon the season. The temperature right there is low to mid-80s*F (26.7-28.9*C).
  • Nights: lows to ~67*F (~19.4*C)
  • Spray heavily in the evening. Let the enclosure dry out during the day. Aim for an initially damp substrate right after spraying, not a soggy substrate. Too much moisture causes mold!
  1. Hatchlings & juveniles ----> paper towels + (sphagnum moss); subadults & older ----> Eco Earth's coco fiber
  2. Non-planted vivariums: expandable brick of Eco Earth's coco fiber
  3. In September 2020 Aliza recommends Josh's Frogs BioBedding Tropical Bioactive Substrate. For a crested gecko use BioBedding without a drainage layer. Aliza says BioBedding also works really well for her gargoyles and for her gold dust day gecko (Phelsuma laticauda).

  • For your substrate consider fine grade orchid bark or forest bark + dust-free, dye-free, & clean Utah's Jurassic Red Sand topped with leaf litter.
  • Repot store plants in fertilizer-free soil after thoroughly rinsing the roots! For sansevieria, mix 1/3 Eco Earth's coco fiber with 2/3 Wonder Worm Earthworm Castings.
  • Terra cotta pots help maintain humidity. That's similar to using a layered substrate that contains clay culture marbles (Hydroton).
  • A medium tall or tall sansevieria (snake plant) potted in its own pot will help keep up humidity. Let sansevieria dry out between waterings. Sansevieria are tough enough to support bouncy cresties!
  • Hilde: "All the crested enclosures now have some pothos, jewel orchids, and other flowering vines that are sturdy enough, or will recover fast enough from all the jumping. I'll even use plants meant for the garden - buy them at the garden centre in full bloom, plant them in the enclosure for as long as they last. I like the idea of the geckos getting pollen and nectar, and also gives them something more natural than fake plants."
Cage Furniture
  • silk foliage or natural plants planted in their own pots
  • digital thermometer with a probe
  • ~3 inch diameter rough rock or cork bark for shedding help
  • ~8 ounce water dish containing fresh water
  • sphagnum moss to add to a paper towel substrate for hatchlings & juveniles
  • Feeding ledges are nice, but not totally necessary. I strongly recommend ONLY purchasing feeding ledges that attach with clamp-down levers! Recently (~July 2020) a crestie was significantly injured when a feeding ledge fell on it's wrist. I don't know whether that crestie recovered.
  • food dish for crickets and dubia: I sometimes use a Lee's 24 ounce hexagonal Betta container to contain the crickets.
  • Exo Terra Jungle Bendable Vines -- bendable vines that come in thick and thin diameters. Twist a couple vines together to give your crested gecko secure footing.
  • cork bark tunnel
  • Brown paper bags cut to size and taped on the exposed sides (not already backed by room walls) will make your vivarium more private and help your crestie feel safe. :)
"Chill Bar" Ideas
  • #1: A flat section of cork bark makes a great basking bar for Jess's crestie in her 18x18x24 Exo Terra. Jess drilled one hole in each end and one on the back. Maybe 2 side-by-side holes in the back would work as well. Suspend this basking bar from the screen top with fishing line. A narrow cork tube would work too. (Thanks to JessJohnson87!)
    • Here's Jess's August 2016 update to her crestie Axel's bioactive vivarium!
      14064071_10154351668440132_981841501138971622_n (1).jpg
  • #2: A ~6 inch or so section of bamboo or PVC split lengthwise & suspended about 2 inches from the screen top. See post 1 below for details. (Thanks to meloha!)
  • #3: Horizontally and/or diagonally placed bamboo or PVC for climbing/basking. (Cut a 1.5 inch diameter "horizontal" section by cutting it a smidge shorter than needed. Then place a suction cup at each end to secure it to the vivarium.)
  • #4: Bamboo attached to the vivarium on either end with suction cups and wrapped with Exo Terra Jungle Vines (which flatten out). (Thanks to Elliriyanna!)
    • Here's Elli's vivarium featuring her juvenile crestie Pongo checking out his chill bar! He's been dubbed the Poster Crestie Juvie.
      14882133_10207471039750460_8769125404146132089_o.jpg 14902860_10207471040750485_8297182866642803477_o.jpg
  • Pangea's Complete powdered diets: insect, papaya, banana/apricot, & watermelon/mango
  • In eastern Canada (from Du Mango Geckos -- has international shipping options): Clark's Gecko Diet (dry)
  • In eastern Canada (from Du Mango Geckos -- has international shipping options): Big Fat Geckos Smoothie Mix - Juvenile and Breeder Formula (dry)
  • Well-fed crickets or dubia.
  • When using powdered diets, also feed your crestie insects several times per month.
  • Many crested geckos don't like Repashy diets.
  • Zoo Med's Repti Calcium with vitamin D3 depending upon your crestie's diet.
  • Perhaps a wee bit of Zoo Med's plain (no D3) Reptivite multivitamins occasionally depending upon your crestie's diet.
  • Spraymaster hand mister . . . . . . really durable! Has 5 year warranty.
  • Not required ~~~> Cooper digital hygrometer/thermometer takes both readings at the probe: Bean Farm (- The Bean Farm) sells this through Amazon and independently.
  • Sexing crested geckos may be possible at 10 grams. It's much easier at 20 grams. To see their vents and potential male pores and hemipenal bulges gently press their bodies up against the side of the glass or plastic enclosure. They'll squirm if you try to turn them over.
  • Here's a male.
  • Click: Sexing Crested Geckos
Incubating Crested Eggs . . . . . . Hilde -- April 2011
  • "The most common temperature range used is in the 21-24°C / 70-75°F. I keep them even cooler -- 18.5-20°C / 65-68°F. It takes much longer for them to hatch, but the hatchlings are much stronger and bigger, makes them easier to care for."

Click: JB's Crested Gecko Info
Click: Crested Gecko Growth Rates

Links thanks to JessJohnson87
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#1---Chill Bars . . . . . . thanks to GU's meloha, JessJohnson87, & Elliriyanna

Cresties feel safer the higher they climb. So I suspend a "chill bar" several inches down from the screen top.

Chill Bar Idea #1 (Thanks to JessJohnson87!)
A flat section of cork bark makes a great basking bar for Jess's crestie in her 18x18x24 Exo Terra. Jess drilled one hole in each end and one on the back. Maybe 2 side-by-side holes in the back would work as well. Suspend this basking bar from the screen top with fishing line. A narrow cork tube would work too.

Chill Bar Idea #2 (Thanks to meloha!)
Here is your platform: |__:__(crestie sits here)__:__|
  • Take a 6 inch or so section of bamboo (or PVC).
  • Split it lengthwise.
  • Drill a pair of small holes near both ends where the red dots are.
  • Cut two wires 8 inches long.
  • Thread the wires through the holes like this: U so that the bamboo's opening faces down (like a tunnel).
  • Poke the wires through the screen top.
  • Bend the ends of the wires at right angles like this to hold: L
Chill Bar Idea #3
  • Use ~1.5 inch diameter bamboo or PVC.
  • Cut a section a smidge shorter than you need.
  • Get some large suction cups. Remove the hooks.
  • Put a suction cup in each end.
  • Mount the chill bar a couple inches from the viv's top. When you use suction cups, you'll have no sticky mess!
Chill Bar Idea #4 (Thanks to Elliriyanna!)
  • Cut a thin section of bamboo just the width of your enclosure.
  • Wrap the narrow bamboo with Exo Terra Jungle Vines. These jungle vines will flatten out when wrapped around the bamboo.
  • For the most secure fit place a suction cup in either end.

= 1 happy crestie!
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#5---10 gallon conversion to a vertical vivarium . . . . . . thanks to GU's meloha

Meloha converts horizontal 10 gallons into vertical 10 gallon enclosures with a mesh top and a Plexiglas® panel that has a hinged front door about mid-center.

She carefully removes the glass at one end. Then she replaces that glass with 1/8 inch or 1/4 inch hardware "cloth"/wire mesh. She cuts the hardware cloth to size and then secures it to the new top of the enclosure with a velcro strip along the front and the back. This provides necessary ventilation and airflow for a crested gecko.

She then measures the wide open section for custom-cut Plexiglas®. She has an access door cut into the Plexiglas® for a hinged door. She uses packing tape to secure the Plexiglas® panel to the edges of her 10 gallon enclosures.

  • Very carefully remove the glass on one end.
  • Create a screen top from 1/4 inch hardware cloth and spray it white (optional).
  • Bend the hardware cloth/screen over the sides.
  • Stick a strip of velcro along the front and the back edges of the vivarium's new mesh top.
  • Then lay the hardware cloth on top.
  • Secure both the front and back edges with other the other part of the velcro.
  • Meloha then has custom Plexiglas® panels made to fill the normal opening of the 10 gallon.
  • About mid-center of each Plexiglas® panel there is a hinged door.
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#6---Custom Soil Mix especially for Sansevieria (snake plant): fertilizer-free

Cresties are hard on plants, because they bounce around like Tigger. Use resilient plants like sansevieria.

Sansevieria varieties include squatty ones, upright ones, and very tall ones.

Plant sansevieria in terra cotta pots or in plastic pots. CrestedRick's cork bark round planters work fine too.

I plant most my sansevieria in this fertilizer-free, perlite-free, custom mix or in fertilizer-free sandy soil. They do well. (This mix may be poor for pothos.)
  • 2/3 Wonder Worm Earth Worm Castings (pure form of humus)
  • 1/3 Eco Earth coco fiber
Sansevieria are quite tolerant of low light. A 15-25 watt incandescent bulb from Ace Hardware or Home Depot overhead in an 8.5 inch dome fixture during the day will be all the sansevieria needs to support its growth. Let sansevieria dry out between watering.

Another interesting low light plant is Ludisia discolor (jewel orchid). It's beautiful leaves are dark and velvet-like with pinkish stripes. :) It's bottle brush shaped clusters of small white blossoms are OK.
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#7---Jewel Orchid links & Bioactive Substrates . . . . . . Jess & Hilde -- Feb 2016

Links contributed by JessJohnson87:
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Contributed by Elizabeth Freer -- July 2017:
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Contributions by Hilde:
"Ludisia discolor are terrestrial orchids, meaning they grow in soil, not on trunks like the more popular orchids. That makes them easier to maintain. They also don't like lots of bright light, which you can tell by the purple-brown leaves. Most of our terrariums don't have bright lights, which works well with them. As long as you have a full spectrum fluorescent tube, or a decent bulb, it works for them. I've even kept them in a terrarium that just gets light from a nearby window.

"One enclosure had a double tube fluorescent fixture, the orchids died within weeks, which is how I found out about using too much light. One tube over a 4 ft/120cm enclosure is enough for them. It's also bright enough for the geckos, they're used to being in the tree canopy, not much blinding, direct light reaches them.

"There's also no need to use fertilizer. The geckos supply most of it, which is broken down by the soil bacteria, or isopods and springtails which are part of a bio-active set-up. If you add crickets once in a while, they add to the organic fertilizer as well, either their poop, or any bodies of those that didn't get eaten."

Hilde continues:
"I've used a bit of the 'junk' cleaned out of the cricket tank and mealworm bins. It looks a bit messy, so I just lightly stir it into the soil, enough to cover it up. It's all natural fertilizer, same as what happens in the wild. The soil microbes, springtails, isopods, and whatnot will deal with it. It's better than the fertilizer you can buy; not concentrated enough to damage the roots as chemical preparations can, it's time released, plentiful, and free.

"I'm sure roach poo would work just as well."
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#8---LARGE Communal Crestie Hatchling & Juvenile Enclosures . . . . . . Hilde

These threads provide pictures and details of Hilde's hatchling and juvenile set-ups.

"I don't have air conditioning, so they get whatever temperature the house is at. In summer, during a heatwave, it can get into the mid 90s for a few days. In winter, the furnace is set to 64F at night, 68F daytime.

"That 'over 85F is too hot, it will kill them' argument is invalid, if they get misted enough. Not misting enough at that heat can kill them. They typically need a humid set-up, so they do just fine when it's warmer for a stretch of days.

"Normal day-to-day "ideal" range is mid-70s to mid-80s. They can take a much bigger temperature range than people typically give them.

"I got my first crested, leachies, and gargoyles in 1997, so I do have a fair bit of hands-on experience with them.

"My oldest crestie hatched in autumn '96, still going strong. The oldest leachie is from '99, and I just lost my oldest gargoyle in 2016, hatched in '98. The youngest of the "Rhacs" is 10, so I would think they do very well in the temperature range that Aimless and I use.

"None of mine are kept in critter keepers. They thrive much better in larger set-ups, 10 gallon minimum for one hatchling, 20 for one juvie. My 50+ gallon hatchling and juvie set-ups are communal, raised in groups, no problems."

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Hilde adds on 21 August 2019:

"I've always raised my cresties in large enclosures, never ever had a problem. Some were on their own in 20 gallon tanks, but the majority of them were raised in groups in 50 and 65 gallon setups.

"Not one of them starved because it couldn't find the food, either CGD or insects. If you check the threads in these links, you can see there are a lot of plants for insects to hide in, but the geckos still found them."

"Wild crestie hatchlings have no problem growing up in an 'enclosure' the size of the forest they're in, so why would anyone think they can't find their food, or are too scared of big open spaces like a 10 or 20 gallon enclosure?

"Kritter keepers or tiny containers don't have enough room for them to do anything, they have more room in bigger enclosures, can act more like geckos, not crunched up captives.
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#10---Some UVB : UVI ratings -- shared August 2017

Here are some lighting specs from a friend who has bred Phelsuma mad mads and other Phelsuma for years.

Ratio of UVB : UVI (UltraViolet Index)
  • Exo Terra compact fluorescent bulbs = 14 :(
  • ***Zoo Med Reptisun compact fluorescent bulbs = 31
  • ***Zoo Med Reptisun fluorescent tubes (T 8 ) = 34
  • ***Arcadia D3 23W E27 - no rating available
  • Sunlight = ~40-50
For many Phelsuma she recommends:
  • a horizontal basking bar (bamboo is fine) about 6 inches below the bulb
  • 29.4-32.2*C (85-90*F) right underneath the bulb
  • thermal gradient from top to floor of enclosure
  • floor of enclosure: 23.9-26.7*C 75-80*F during the day
  • temperatures about 10*F lower at night
  • she suggests that Phelsuma might choose their location by temperatures rather than by UVB rays
Melody also shares:
"I have info on reflectors too, which can make quite a difference! Arcadia sells a good reflector, but you can make one yourself by bending cardboard in an arc and covering it with tinfoil. Surprisingly, the dull side of tinfoil reflects UVB better than the shiny side! And white paint reflects light but not UVB!"

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"Reptile Lighting" is an awesome FB group. Fran Baines, DVM, is one of the admins.
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#12---Transitioning Between Live Prey & Complete Powdered Diets -- March 2019

Best foods to feed a crested gecko are a mix of live insects + a reliable powdered food like Pangea's Complete Diets you mix with water. Pangea comes in 2 ounce sizes, so you can experiment. Not all cresties like all flavors. Try Pangea's Complete Diet with Insects first.

pgd-fruit-insects.jpg pangea-fruit-mix-watermelon-mango-complete-gecko-diet.jpg pangea-fruit-mix-banana-papaya-complete-gecko-diet.jpg

Cresties can also be successfully raised on supplemented crickets or dubia. I recommend Zoo Med's Repti Calcium with D3 or maybe Repashy's Calcium Plus (an all-in-one multivitamin) which has lower D3 levels than Zoo Med's supplements with D3.

If you only feed a powdered food, make sure it's a complete diet from a reliable company. Complete diets are usually fortified with all necessary supplements. If one only feeds powdered all-in-one diets, a crested gecko may become dependent upon them and refuse to eat lives. I recommend alternating between live insects and Pangea right from the beginning.

  • In 2013 WildWildMidwest suggests: "What about transitioning via CGD-dusted crickets?" (That could work either way.)

  • Also in 2013 cassicat4 posts: "I'm having the opposite problem with my Garg...I have to trick her just to get her to eat crickets!

    If the cricket-in-CGD trick doesn't work, you could also try adding a little bit of honey to the CGD to sweeten the flavor. This works on some difficult eaters."

  • Sweetening the mix with bee pollen might work too.
Here's a comprehensive crestie care sheet.

Continue scrolling after the care sheet for 12 additional posts on lighting, et cetera.
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Elizabeth Freer

Active member
#14---Layered Substrates Using Hydroton . . . . . . February 2021

Layered substrates are crucial for many gecko habitats.

Hydroton/hydroballs maintains increased ambient humidity around-the-clock. Hydroballs are watered periodically just like plants. Hydroballs beat frequent misting by miles! They are marble-sized and made of clay. They are sold by pet stores and hydroponics stores.

bbliaperl1 (1).gif a17fdf95718bfb34dc3940d7da1edd8d--hydroponic-gardening-gardening-tools.jpg 51rAMtToonL._AC_.jpg

Establish a layered substrate.
  • Top layer = ABG mix, topsoil, sphagnum moss, Eco Earth's coco fiber, + leaf litter
  • Middle layer = Weed Block cloth (Easy Gardener Landscape Fabric) OR fine mesh nylon net
    61wc7jB45NL._SL1500_.jpg pACE-955230dt.jpg
  • Bottom layer = ~2 inches of hydroballs

I boil my Hydroton for 20 minutes, even when I reuse it for the same setup. After it cools, spread it out on a cloth towel to dry (unless you use it right away).

What is Hydroton (LECA)?

"Clay pebbles or hydroton (sometimes referred to as LECA—light expanded clay aggregate) are a hydroponic substrate with units about the size of marbles or peanuts. ... Clay pebbles can be used in both hydroponic and aquaponic systems. (Aug 24, 2016)"

"Expanded clay pellets (Hydroton) are made by heating the clay to over 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The process is done in a rotary kiln. As the balls heat up, they fill with bubbles and form into small marble-sized units."

"GROW! T horticultural clay pebbles are made from 100% natural clay. They are clean, pH stable, and offer great aeration and drainage in hydroponics, especially in flood and drain, deep water culture, and drip feed systems."
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