How to create a Crested Gecko Setup
Creating the perfect crested gecko setup is part of the fun of owning one of these little guys. Below is a step by step guide with a supply list of what you need to set everything up well so that your beardy can live a long and healthy life.
The Crested gecko or Eyelash gecko is a species of gecko native to southern New Caledonia, an island country off the coast of Australia. This species was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994 during an expedition led by Robert Seipp.
Since then, their popularity as pets has continually increased. They make great pets because they are extremely hardy, easy to keep and handle and come in many different beautiful colors and patterns.
An aspect that should be considered when setting up Crested gecko´s enclosures is that they are natural climbers. So height is more important than floor space.
However, they are also excellent jumpers; they will jump from one perch to the next almost like frogs. So small terrariums should be avoided, as they will also need some reasonable space to make their jumping.
Another important aspect of the Crested gecko setup is humidity. Crested geckos regularly shed their skin so an appropriate level of humidity must be ensured to allow proper shedding. Do not be surprised to see a crested gecko eating its shedding skin.
Quick Reference Section
Quick Setup List
- Exo Terra Terrarium 18x18x24
- Ceramic Heat Emitter
- Zoomed Thermostat
- REPTI ZOO Light fixture
- Exo Terra 75 watt heat lamp
- BetaZooer lamp stand
- Terrarium Controller (timer for lights)
- Glass Cleaner
Basic steps towards setting up a Crested gecko’s enclosure
In what has to do with the Crested Gecko setup, there are primarily four steps that should be followed:
- Select the right enclosure
- Provide adequate substrate
- Provide Heating & Lighting Elements and monitor conditions
- Add decor and accessories
1. Select the right enclosure
As already mentioned, Crested geckos are natural climbers, Since they love to climb, when it comes to terrarium sizing, height is a lot more important than width.
Therefore, a 18″ x 18″ x 24″ (pictured above) or a 24” x 18” x 24” enclosure works best. The Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium is a crowd favorite for building a good setup for crested geckos.
Baby and juvenile Crested geckos can comfortably live in a smaller enclosure, but you will need to upgrade the enclosure as the crested gecko ages and grows.
If you don’t want to buy a “pre-made” reptile habitat, you can go for a simple plastic tub. But of course, the plastic tube option has many obvious downsides, like the fact that it doesn’t allow you to see your Crested gecko.
Males are territorial, so keep only one adult male crested gecko per enclosure and do not house different reptile species together.
2. Provide adequate substrate
Zilla Sphagnum peat moss is a great option. To prepare for this you should line the bottom of your tank with hydroballs and a screen to separate it. Then put the substrate on top. Make sure to make it thick enough to hold the plants you are going to add in.
The purpose of the hydroballs is to hold moisture better in the tank which will help the humidity be maintained.
You can do it cheaper using newspaper, but it won’t look very nice. Newspaper is a more inexpensive, easy to clean, and very safe substrate to use. However, it doesn’t look “nice” and of course it should be replaced daily.
Calcium sand will look nice in your terrarium but is not a good option for younger Crested geckos because of the risk of impaction. Impaction is an intestinal block often caused by eating substrate.
It is a very serious issue and can often be fatal. Adult Crested geckos are usually good enough at avoiding substrate while eating, so it’s not as big of an issue for adults.
3. Provide heating & lighting elements (and monitor conditions).
In what has to do with heat, Crested geckos do best in temperature between 70 and 80°F (and get stressed at higher temperatures). If your house temperature falls under this range, you can use a Ceramic Heat Emitter.
Make sure your heater doesn’t bump the temperature up too high – Crested geckos get stressed in temperatures above 85°F.
Crested Geckos don’t have super specific lighting requirements. As primarily nocturnal animals, they don’t require UVB lighting. That said, if you aren’t using any sort of UVB light, supplementing their diet with calcium is necessary to avoid Metabolic Bone Disease (calcium deficiency).
As far as maintaining a day/night cycle, the light in your house should be more than sufficient. If you want some sort of viewing light, the Exo Terra Day/Night LED is a good option.
In what has to do with humidity, Crested geckos prefer a relatively high humidity– after all, they mostly inhabit rainforests in the wild. As a rough rule, you want to mist to 80% humidity and then it falls to down to 50% throughout the day.
Once it hits the mid 50’s, mist again. Your terrarium shouldn’t stay at 80% humidity all day every day – Crested Geckos need a bit of fluctuation.
On one hand, Crested geckos need humidity for shedding and on the other hand, most prefer to get their water by licking moisture from leaves, having a mister can be a good option as misters form a rainy environment and produce little droplets.
A fine mist will not just provide droplets for your gecko to drink but will knock gecko poop down to the substrate (in case you have chosen a natural one) where it will probably be quickly consumed.
Having an automatic misting system is a good idea for automation and is also a lifesaver if you’re away from the enclosure for days at a time. MistKing is the most reliable and preferred brand in general, but the ExoTerra monsoon is also a good option.
However, you can opt for hand misting if you have a single enclosure and don’t travel, Either way, make sure to use distilled or reverse osmosis water for misting.
Foggers do not have any place in a crested gecko vivarium—they simply add too much water to the system.
Learn more about the difference between misters and foggers.
Temperature and humidity should be monitored. You can use a Zoo Med Digital Combo Thermometer Humidity Gauge is a quick-reading hygrometer and thermometer.
4. Add Decorations
Grapewood branches tend to be on the pricier side, but are definitely worth the extra cost as they come in some awesome shapes and designs and can bring a terrarium to life.
On the other hand, Mopani wood is very affordable, and even if it is most commonly used in aquariums, also works well in Crested Gecko terrariums.
You could just collect wood from a forest, but this is is not 100% safe unless you make sure you remove any harmful microorganism.
To do so, first, scrub the wood with a 5% diluted bleach mixture. After the scrub is complete, preheat your oven to 300°F and bake the wood for 30 minutes. This should sterilize the wood and make it completely safe for your Crested Geckos.
Here are some types of wood that are safe for Crested Geckos:
HIDING PLACES: Also, provide your Crested gecko with an ample hide box. Crested geckos are nocturnal (active at night) and will spend most daylight hours hidden in their habitat. You can buy the Exo terra reptile hiding cave, but as an alternative or compliment you can also buy a coconut and drill some holes into it to provide another place for it to hide.
If you find that your crested gecko isnt using the cave, it could be that it doesn’t feel safe with only one exit, hence adding multiple holes to a coconut.
PLANTS: Live plants really pull your enclosure together creating a truly natural environment for your pet gecko. One thing you should be aware of is that your gecko will likely eat the plants.
You can avoid that by using fake plants. If you do use fake ones, make sure to get them from a reptile brand to ensure they aren’t toxic.
If you go with live plants, be sure to remove all the dirt and wash out the roots before planting it in your vivarium. Many times the dirt the plants are in may have had fertilizer or pesticides used and if left it could leach into the substrate and cause harm to your pet.
HAMMOCK: A hammock is a nice option for your gecko to have a place to chill out on in addition to the hanging coconut.
BOWLS: Add Food & Water Bowls. Even if your gecko doesn’t like to drink from a water bowl and instead prefers to get water by licking droplets, it is advisable to have one.
Make sure not to place your Crested geckos bowls on the ground as Crested geckos prefer to eat at elevated heights. Some geckos will completely refuse food placed on the ground.
By placing the food higher up in the terrarium, your Crested gecko will feel much more comfortable eating.
The magnetic dish pictured above works great since you dont have to do anything to fix it to the enclosure and makes removal and cleaning easy.
OTHERS: In general, avoid using real rocks in your crested gecko’s habitat as they can easily shift and crush your gecko.
If you opt for real rocks, just make sure to treat them before adding them to the enclosure. You can use the same process as mentioned above using a 5% bleach water solution and baking them at 300 F for 30 min.
CLEANUP CREW: To complete your setup you can add worms, springtails, and isopods to help maintain the enclosure and cleanup the substrate by consuming the feces.
Crested Gecko Video Setup Walkthrough
Crested geckos don’t need an overly elaborate setup, and when following the above mentioned four steps, a Crested gecko setup is not difficult to arrange.
If you are going for the bioactive enclosure, just make sure to be fully educated on it so you can do it right.
The problem is that for most of us, bioactive setups are far more complicated. If not done properly, they can and will harm your gecko.
If you have any questions or suggestions, let us know in the comments below.