Crested Gecko Care Sheet, Lifespan, Habitat & Diet

Did you know that crested geckos are one of the largest species of pet gecko?

They are extremely popular for their docile personality, looks and ease of handling.

Their unique “eyelashes” give them a very cute appearance! The small spines above their eyes are why they are known as the eyelash gecko.

Crested Geckos are great for beginners who want an easygoing, beautiful and simple pet to care for.

Keep reading to learn more about this species, their care, diet, habitat set up, price & much more.

Quick Overview
Common Name Crested Gecko
Scientific Name Correlophus ciliatus
Family Diplodactylidae
Range Island rainforests of New Caledonia
Size 8 to 10 inches
Color 3 wild color morphs (tiger, patternless and white-fringed)
Lifespan 20 years
Husbandry Simple
Diet Insects and fruit
Tank Size 30 to 50-gallons
Temperature 75°F
Humidity 60 to 70%
Price $50 to $150

More About Crested Geckos

Crested Gecko

The Crested Gecko (Correlophus ciliatus) is a type of gecko native to the islands of New Caledonia. This unique species is also known as the Eyelash Gecko because of the small spines above their eyes that look just like eyelashes!

They also have crests that run from their head, down the center of their back, all the way to their tail.

Crests and “eyelashes” are unique to this species and the reason for their name.

Crested geckos are in the family Diplodactylidae and part of the Correlophus genus.

The Crested Gecko was previously in the Rhacodactylus genus from 1883-2012.

You may still see some listed in the Rhacodactylus genus by those who haven’t updated their taxonomy. Their closest relatives are Correlophus belepensis, and other species of New Caledonian Geckos like the Leachianus.

Crested Geckos can be divided into three populations based on their location.

Two populations live on the isle of Grand Terre (the biggest island of New Caledonia) and one on the Isle of Pines in New Caledonia.

They were first discovered in 1866 and then forgotten and assumed to be extinct until their rediscovery in 1994. This origin story is common with species that live on remote islands. Scientists are consistently rediscovering new species of geckos.

However, wild populations have now all but disappeared and they are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.

They were first exported from New Caledonia by biologists in the 1990s to examine this newly rediscovered species. However, this exportation rapidly expanded into the pet trade.

Crested Geckos are loved by keepers because of their easy care and docile personality.

They are perfect for beginner keepers as their diet, tank set up and care needs are all straightforward and simple to understand. They are also known for rarely biting and enjoying handling!

Is A Crested Gecko A Good Pet?

Yes, they are the perfect pet for beginner reptile keepers.

Not only are they cute and beautiful, they are friendly and easy to care for!

They also come in a variety of interesting colors and have crests and eyelashes.

As far as tank setup, their requirements are simple and most won’t even need external lighting or heating! Their omnivorous diet is also extremely cheap and easy to find at any grocery store.

Pros Cons
Simple and easy tank set up that needs very little upkeep. Healthy individuals can live over 20 years with the proper care. They are nocturnal and not very active during the day.
Most won’t need external lighting or heating. Daily misting is needed to keep humidity levels high enough.
Unique looks with adorable “eyelashes” and a wide variety of colors and patterns. If they get scared or injure their tail, it may drop and not grow back.
Cheap price between $50-$150 for common morphs.
Simple, cheap diet of fruits and insects dusted in calcium powder.
Females make great community reptiles that can be housed together.

Crested Gecko Care Sheet

Crested Gecko

These lizards are relatively simple to setup and extremely easy to maintain.

Habitat

In the wild crested geckos are found in the rainforests of New Caledonia near Australia.

These islands are moderately warm, tropical areas, with high humidity and thick vegetation.

Crested Geckos spend most of their time climbing in the thick vegetation of rainforests. They will need plenty of climbing space in their enclosure.

During the day these lizards will rest just a few feet off the forest floor sleeping until night time.

At night they make their way into the lower tree canopy to hunt for a variety of insects and rotten fruit. They are semi-arboreal and are able to climb on extremely smooth surfaces like glass because of the small hair like setae on their toepads.

Tank Setup

When putting together a crested gecko habitat, you will start with the tank.

Buy a vertical 50-gallon tall tank and place it somewhere that gets light, but not direct sunlight.

Substrate like palm peat should be placed in the bottom of the crested gecko tank and various décor, plants, branches, logs and hides can be scattered throughout.

  • Tank: 30-50 gallon, 4 feet tall.
  • Substrate: Soil, cypress mulch or coconut fiber.
  • Décor: Lots of plants, logs and branches for climbing.
  • Lighting: Ambient room lighting, minimum 12 hours of darkness
  • Temperature: 75°F.
  • Humidity: 60-70%.

Crested Geckos can be kept in 30-gallon tanks, however they are best housed in glass tanks that are 2-4 feet high with a capacity of around 50 gallons. This vertical orientation gives them lots of space for climbing.

Climbing space is much more important than floor space for a crested gecko habitat.

Younger individuals can be housed in smaller starter tanks, but will need to be moved up once fully grown.

Temperature

Crested geckos are relatively simple in terms of temperature.

They are used to moderate temperatures and often don’t need heating. Their enclosure should have an ambient temperature that is kept around 75°F at all times. A thermal gradient is not entirely necessary if you are able to keep temperatures around 75°F.

Some keepers recommend having a “cool” side of the tank in the low 70°Fs.

Heat lamps can be used if temperatures drop below 70°F.

Any heating elements like a heat lamp should be placed on one side of the enclosure. Make sure that your heating lamp is not pointed directly at any glass as this can work like a magnifying glass and cause temperatures that are too high.

Humidity

Humidity is one of the most important husbandry elements for this species.

Crested geckos come from rainforests and will need high humidity levels to be happy and healthy.

Humidity between 60-70% is ideal.

This can be maintained by misting the enclosure with water morning and evening. You can also raise humidity by using a substrate that holds humidity like palm peat, coconut fiber or cypress mulch.

Stuck shed and issues with wrinkly skin may indicate that they have humidity levels that are too low.

Substrate

Palm peat is a great substrate and also provides a secondary benefit, in that it can be used to grow plants.

These lizards are used to thick vegetation, so lots of plants will be necessary to make them feel at home. Palm peat is great for keeping a planted tank and growing plants like Weeping figs and Devils Ivy.

Décor that provides hiding spots is important. You can half-bury jars as hides and add branches, leaves and logs.

During daylight hours they will sleep in hiding spots throughout the enclosure.

Lighting

One last variable to consider is lighting.

Crested Geckos are nocturnal and will often not need any lighting, other than ambient room lighting.

It is important that they do have 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness.

These cycles can be maintained with room lighting or even with a UV-B lamp.

Lifespan

Scientists still don’t know exactly how long a crested gecko live! There simply isn’t enough information about wild populations.

Thankfully, we have a lot of information regarding pet crested gecko lifespans.

Crested geckos are known to live up to 20 years as pets! This means your lizard will be around for a long time if you follow proper care and husbandry.

The main health issues that you may encounter will be related to their tank setup and food.

A common health problem for all lizards is metabolic bone disease. This is caused by low calcium levels, usually through improper diet or lighting.

Crested Geckos do have it better than most lizards, because on the roof of their mouth they have something called endolymphatic sacs which help them store calcium. However, they still need their insects dusted with calcium and D3 powder.

Low calcium can also lead to abnormal eggs in females.

Obesity can also be an issue for individuals that are consuming insects that are high in fat like superworms and waxworms. Superworms and waxworms should only be fed as a treat.

An adult crested gecko diet should not include more than six medium-sized insects a week.

If your lizard is healthy, they should be eating frequently, licking their eyes, sleeping during the day and active at night. Their poop should also be solid brown with white or yellow urate.

Signs of sickness include dark skin or sudden weight loss.

If their poop is bloody or runny for multiple days, this can also indicate a health issue.

Beginner keepers often ask why is my crested gecko pale?

A gray or pale body color usually means they will be shedding their skin soon, this is completely normal. Pale body color can also mean that your lizard is relaxed. They will usually be paler during the day when they are sleeping.

Crested Gecko Diet

Correlophus ciliatus

Crested Geckos are omnivores that eat a mix of fruits and insects.

In the wild they eat small insects like roaches and crickets, nectar and any overripe fruit they can find.

As pets crested gecko diets are relatively simple and cheap. Some companies make pre-made pellets that offer complete nutrition, however these diets are usually unnecessary. Feeding crested geckos a mixture of overripe fruit and insects will be much cheaper and just as healthy.

You should be feeding an adult a variety of fruit 3 times per week. Overripe fruits such as apricots, peaches, banana, mango, pears or strawberries are a good choice.

The amount you feed will vary based on their appetite but generally it is around ¼ a cup of fruit per feeding. They feed on overripe fruit in the wild so they tend not to like fresh or ripe fruit.

They should also be offered crickets or small roaches 2 times a week.

Juveniles should be fed an identical diet, just in smaller amounts.

When feeding crested geckos insects, they should always be fairly small. You can compare the insects to the space in between your lizard’s eyes. Anything larger than that space is too big.

Since they come out to eat as it starts getting dark, offering their meals at dusk is best.

Feeding chart
Age Frequency Amount
Under 1 month 1x per day A few small pieces of fruit (1-2 tbsp.)
1-18 months 1x per day for fruit, 3x per week for insects A few small pieces of fruit (2 tbsp.-1/4 cup) and 1 small insect
18+ months 3x per week for fruit, 2x per week for insects Multiple pieces of fruit (1/4 cup) and 1 medium insect

Safe Foods

Mango, strawberries, grapes, apples, cherries, bananas, peaches, plums, pumpkins, starfruits, passion fruits, crickets, roaches, superworms and waxworms.

Unsafe Foods

Citrus fruits, avocado, corn, mealworms and any wild insects.

Price

Crested geckos are almost entirely captive bred by private breeders.

Wild caught individuals have been illegal to export from New Caledonia since 1994.

Thankfully, there are many breeders and captive bred crested geckos for sale.

Buying a crested gecko is relatively cheap and you can expect to spend between $50-$150.

If you are looking for a unique crested gecko morph that offers more color, you will need to spend more than $150. Some morphs like the rare black night can reach up to $5,000!

You should also consider the cost of your crested gecko habitat.

For the tank, décor and plants you will pay between $200 and $400. This price will be highly dependent on the tank size you choose to buy. Though this initial cost is high, it is a one-time cost.

Recurring costs like substrate and food will be around $100 annually.

Fun Facts

Did you know that crested geckos can change their color? Below we share some fun facts about this species.

  • Crested Geckos can “fire up” meaning they will change their color when happy, or stressed.
  • Their main predator is fire ants. These ants are an invasive species in New Caledonia and are one of the reasons why they are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.
  • They have protective “eyelashes” (instead of eyelids) to keep debris out of their eyes. They also lick their eyeballs to keep them moist!
  • Their prehensile tail helps them climb through the tree canopy in search of food at night.
  • They often jump between branches in the wild when on the hunt for food.
  • Males can be aggressive with other males, but females can be housed together. Females make great community reptiles that can be housed together. Males are known to fight each other in captivity when in the presence of a female.
  • They make squeaking or barking noises to communicate. These noises are primarily to help them find a mate.

Appearance

Pinstripe Crested Gecko morph

This gecko is named crested because of crests on their back and limbs. These crests run from their head, down the center of their back, all the way to their tail. Scientists are unsure what purpose these crests serve, but there is no doubt they look pretty cool!

Their other name is the eyelash gecko, because of their adorable eyelashes.

Crested Geckos don’t actually have any eyelids.

They use these “eyelash” spines to help keep brush and vegetation from scratching their sensitive eyes.

The eyes themselves have a gehyra pupil meaning that their pupils are slit shaped with lobed edges. These pupils act like night vision goggles and allow them to see in the dark.

Wild crested geckos come in three different varieties:

  • Patternless.
  • Tiger.
  • White-Fringed.

Patternless are solid colors like green, yellow, brown, gray and red. These colors cover their entire body with little-to-no pattern. White-Fringed are similar to the patternless, but the crest is always fully or partially yellow or white.

Tiger species have a faint colored body with dark stripes that look almost like a tiger pattern.

Crested gecko morphs come in a much larger variety of colors and patterns than wild species. Here are just a few of the popular ones:

  • Fire
  • Pinstripe
  • Harlequins
  • Creamback
  • Creamsicle
  • Blonde
  • Halloween
  • Tricolor

Crested Geckos are also known to change their color if stressed or happy.

Usually depending on the time of day or situation, your lizard may appear darker or lighter. Usually since dark colors blend in more at night, they become darker at night and paler during the day.

Size

The average adult crested gecko size will usually be between 8 and 10 inches tall and 55 grams in weight. Males and females will generally reach similar sizes and weights.

Toepad setae

Is My Crested Gecko Male Or Female?

Crested Geckos are not physically different depending on the gender. You likely won’t see any differences in head or body size.

However, there are a few methods to determine if they are male or female.

The best way is to look for hemipenal bulges. This is the same method used to identify male or female bearded dragons.

Hemipenes are the paired sex organs found in most male reptiles.

These organs are stored in the tail base of your crested gecko and can be seen by placing your lizard on a flat surface and lifting their tail up toward their head. This exposes the base of the tail.

If your lizard is male, you will see two bulges on the sides of the tail.

Females will not have these bulges and instead have a flat area at the tail base.

Species Behavior

Crested geckos are solitary lizards that are completely nocturnal. They are only active at night and will spend their days asleep, hiding in vegetation. When night falls, they will venture into the tree canopy in search of food.

Expect your pet to hide away for most of the day and sleep in the foliage within their enclosure. You will see very little of them during daylight hours.

However, they come to life when the sun sets.

They frequently climb and explore their enclosure during the evening and nighttime. They are agile, stealthy and can even jump from branch to branch.

Crested geckos communicate through chirping noises and will often vocalize to attract a mate or scare away predators.

If threatened they have also been seen rising up on their back legs and gaping their mouths to seem intimidating.

Once you have all the proper husbandry setup, you may be wondering, is my crested gecko happy?

Signs that your crested gecko is happy and fulfilled include:

  • They are alert and climbing around their enclosure.
  • Clear and bright eyes.
  • They feel comfortable in their surroundings.
  • Shedding regularly with soft, smooth skin and no stuck shed.
  • Healthy appetite.

Tail Autotomy

They have a prehensile tail that they are able to sever if threatened.

However, unlike many species of lizard capable of tail autotomy, they are unable to grow it back.

Wild crested geckos are almost never found with their tails!

Pets are much more likely to keep their tails as they do not have to worry about predation or stress

You will see a pretty striking difference between crested geckos with tails and those without.

Summary

Crested geckos are one of the best types of gecko to keep as a pet.

They are a docile species, with simple care needs and a cheap diet.

Once you get their tank set up, their upkeep is less than $20 per month.

These lizards are loved for their docile personality, striking looks and ease of handling. They are known to enjoy handling and will even climb all over their owners. Their fun personality is also one of the best of all reptiles.

There should be no doubt in your mind that crested geckos are one of the best pet lizards!

If you have decided to adopt one, before you pick out a name, leave us a comment and let us know.

Nigel Robert

Nigel Robert

Nigel is the managing editor at More Reptiles. He is a lifelong reptile lover, biologist and wildlife consultant who brings a decade of experience working in reptile conservation and consultancy. He joined our team in 2020 and when he’s not reviewing reptile care sheets, he’s out looking for reptiles in the wild! Nigel is dedicated to herpetology and conserving wildlife which is why he is a member of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, Zoological Association of America, iNaturalist and the Nature Conservancy.

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