Both the leopard and crested geckos are low maintenance reptiles that make excellent pets, especially for novices. Additionally, both are long-lived. These characteristics have made them popular among reptile enthusiasts. So what is the difference between the leopard and the crested gecko?
What’s The Difference Between Crested Geckos & Leopard Geckos?
The clear and most obvious difference is coloration. The leopard gecko has the coloration and spots of a leopard (ground yellow with brown spots). However, it is important to note that the coloration and patterns of both geckos are not fixed since several morphs exist.
Many breeders are cross breeding leopard geckos and crested geckos to achieve the unique morphs.
These morphs offer a large variety of colors and patterns. We will look at the difference between both geckos and what it takes to care for either.
For geckos, both the leo and the crested are large.
Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) – The leopard gecko can reach lengths of about 8 inches on average. However, it is not uncommon to find leos that are over 10 inches long. This is particularly true of giant leopard geckos.
While they come in several color patterns thanks to morphs, they are usually ground yellow with dark brown blotches or stripes. The leopard gecko has eyelids. Also, the leopard gecko doesn’t have sticky toe pads.
They have fat tails which stores fat. The gecko can drop its tail if it feels threatened. It usually takes about 7 months for them to grow the tail back to its former size.
Crested geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus) – This gecko reaches a length of 8 inches on average. As you can see, both the leopard and crested gecko reach similar lengths.
Unlike the leo, this gecko has no eyelid and as such must regularly lick the eyes with the tongues to keep them moist and clean. They also have toe pads that allow them to effortlessly climb almost all vertical surfaces.
They use their prehensile tail to aid their climbing. Also unlike leopards, their tails cannot grow back when lost.
Leopard geckos – Leos have long lifespans and can grow up to 27 years. However, on average, they live up to 22 years. It is not uncommon for a well-kept leo to live less than 8 years.
Crested geckos – These geckos are also long-lived. On average, they can attain an age of 10 to 15 years.
Leopard geckos – In the wild, leos generally eat insects. They may even eat other geckos and lizards, mice, spiders, beetles, scorpions, and other small animals.
In captivity, they can be fed crickets such as Josh’s Frogs 3/4″ Banded Crickets, mealworms such as Bassett’s Cricket Ranch Live Mealworms, waxworms such as Bassett’s Cricket Ranch Waxworms, dubia roaches, and superworms such as Bassett’s Cricket Ranch Superworms. Their food needs to be gut loaded and dusted with a multivitamin supplement such as the Zoo Med Reptile Calcium with Vitamin D3.
Crested geckos – Crested geckos eat a similar diet as leos. They eat insects, centipedes, scorpions. In captivity, they also eat a similar diet as leos. Just like leos, their food needs to be gut loaded and dusted. You can feed them all the foods listed for the leo. They also eat meal replacement powder such as the Pangea Crested Gecko Diet which is cheaper and easier to maintain than live insects.
You can learn more about the best foods for both of these geckos in out guide as they are similar.
In the wild, the leopard geckos are found in the arid and semi-arid highlands of Asia. The crested geckos, on the other hand, can be found in the rainforests of New Caledonia (a group of islands in the pacific).
In captivity, both geckos require at least 10-gallon reptile vivarium. However, it is advantageous to get a terrarium such as the Exo Terra Short All Glass Terrarium, which has a capacity of 15 to 20 gallons for leos. And for the crested gecko, a vertical tropical terrarium such as the Zilla Vertical Tropical Kit is best. This allows them to climb.
Learn more about the best setup for leopard geckos here. You can use this as a guideline for the crested gecko too.
Humidity, Temperatures, And Light Needs
Leopard geckos need low humidity (10 – 30%). As such, it is not necessary to use substrates that maintain high humidity nor do you need to mist the enclosure. Also, the temperature of the enclosure needs to be quite high.
The warm side of the enclosure needs to be 88 F during the day and about 75 F during the night. Use a heat map and thermostat such as the iPower Reptile Heat Pad and the Century Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller or a heat lamp such as the Fluker’s Ceramic Heat Emitter to maintain the high temperature needed at the warm end.
Also, you need to provide a day-night cycle using a low-wattage fluorescent bulb. The cool side needs to be 75 F during the day and the night.
Crested geckos, on the other hand, require high humidity (65-85%). You have to lightly mist all dry surfaces of the tank once every night.
Alternatively, you can place a cool air humidifier such as the MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier in the room with the enclosure. You can use a digital hygrometer to track the humidity level of the enclosure and ensure it is within the right range.
The temperature needs of crested geckos are also lower than that of leos’. The warm side of the enclosure needs to be 78 to 82 F during the day and in the low 70s during the night.
Since most room temperatures are within that range, you won’t need additional heating. However, if the temperature rises above 87 F, reallocate the enclosure to a cool room. Also, you need to provide a day-night cycle using a low-wattage fluorescent bulb, if the enclosure doesn’t receive any natural light.
Leopard gecko – Leos are crepuscular, meaning they are active during dawn and dusk. In captivity, they usually come out during the dark. The leo doesn’t climb and spend most of its time on the ground.
Crested geckos – Crested geckos are also crepuscular. Just like leos, they are most active during the dark hours. Crested geckos will climb the branches and plants provided in the terrarium.
Both geckos don’t mind being handled. It’s important to allow them to settle in and reach a length of about 7 inches before you start to handle them.
Leopard gecko – Leos won’t eat food that isn’t moving. Some may refuse to eat prey that barely moves such as mealworms. They enjoy eating waxworms though. They feed every other day. However, ensure you don’t overfeed them.
They also require additional heating (in parts of the world where temperatures don’t reach 85+ F most of the time). Leos will cost you around $40 to acquire. However, some morphs of leopard geckos can reach prices over $1000 although this depends on the rarity of the morph obtained.
Crested geckos – The pricing of crested geckos is similar to leopard geckos. Just like leos, crested geckos can reach prices over $1000 depending on the rarity of the morph. This reptile doesn’t require special heating. However, they need to be kept cool when the temperature rises above 87 F.
They will also eat meal replacement powder such as the Pangea Crested Gecko Diet which is cheaper and easier to maintain than live insects. In all, crested geckos are easier and more affordable to keep.
Crested Gecko vs Leopard Gecko Comparison Video
Both geckos are wonderful pets. they are easy to care for, docile and quite friendly. Both are hardy and hardly have health issues. Both come in a wide variety of morphs, although leopard geckos have more morphs. Both prefer to come out during dawn and dusk.
Unlike leos, crested geckos love to climb. Both also require large enclosures as both are quite large geckos. While crested geckos prefer tall vertical enclosures with branches and plants they can climb, leopard geckos don’t climb much. The battle between crested gecko and leopard gecko is down to the pet keepers. Which is your favorite and why? We would love to know