How much do Crested Geckos cost?
These cute, long-lashed, sharp-looking geckos are called Crested Geckos, scientific name Correlophus ciliatus. They are often kept as pets in the United States.
Crested geckos are a great choice for beginning reptile enthusiasts. Once they get used to being handled, they are easygoing pets that usually don’t require a lot of care, and cresties are becoming very popular pets.
When making the decision to adopt a crested gecko, it’s important to have a good grasp of the initial investment needed to give them a good home. Crested geckos can live for 20 years, and even after the initial setup, there are monthly costs associated with ownership.
Keep reading as we go over everything you need to get started on a long and loving relationship with your new pet.
Table of Contents
How Much is it For a Crested Gecko?
Once on the verge of extinction, and still endangered in their native land, crested geckos have become quite popular for reptile breeders and as pets. You can now find them for sale in most pet supply stores, and from local, reputable breeders.
With breeding comes different color variations called morphs. Morphs are various colors and patterns that are not found in nature. With these different colors, come widely varying price tags for crested geckos.
For a natural-colored gecko, you can expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $200 depending on age, size, and whether it’s a male or female crested gecko. The price of morphs on the other hand can vary widely depending on how rare the coloration and patterns are. Expect to pay anywhere between $100 to a couple of thousand dollars for very rare morphs.
Baby and juvenile cresties are the cheapest. For a normal-colored baby or juvenile crested gecko, you are looking at around an average price range of $50.
An adult male may cost about $100 while a natural-colored female may set you back double that price. The reason females are more expensive is that crested geckos are easily bred, and females tend to get along better with other geckos, while males can be aggressive toward other males.
If possible, find a reputable crested gecko breeder before going to the mass market pet store. The reason is the breeder will be more knowledgeable about crestie care and will be able to offer the best advice on their care.
Let’s just average this out and say you will probably spend about $150 for just the gecko itself with normal, or natural coloration.
The Cost of a Crested Gecko Terrarium
Before you even bring your new pet home you need to have a favorable environment already set up for it. This includes the terrarium, accessories, heating and lighting, and food. The first, and biggest purchase, often after the cost of the gecko itself, will be the terrarium.
Crested geckos are arboreal, meaning they spend most of their lives climbing in trees and hiding among the leaves and branches. This means you need a tank that is taller than it is wide so they feel more at home.
While a crestie typically doesn’t spend a lot of time on the ground, you may occasionally find them exploring on the floor occasionally, especially if food is down there.
A baby or juvenile crested needs a smaller enclosure than an adult. If you put a baby in a huge, 100-gallon or larger tank, it may have a hard time finding food and water, and it could be difficult for you to find your pet. Especially if there are a lot of places for it to hide.
It’s better to house younger crested geckos in a ten-gallon enclosure or a tank with dimensions about 12” x 12” x 18” like this REPTIZOO Full Glass Reptile Terrarium 10 Gallon.
Depending on what features you are looking for in a starter terrarium, you can pay anywhere between $70 and $200 for a smaller tank for your baby or juvenile cresties.
Adults will need more space, especially if you plan on housing more than one per gecko tank. Single adult cresties need 20 gallons of space minimum. If you house more than one, you should add another 5 to 10 gallons per gecko, but you shouldn’t house more than three together at the same time.
The average cost for an adult enclosure will set you back between $150 to $300. Keep in mind, that if you purchase a baby or juvenile, you will have to start them out in a smaller container, then move them up to a larger space.
You’ll Need Accessories For That Terrarium
Now that you have your terrarium picked out, you need to fill it so it replicates its natural habitat as much as possible. Crested geckos come from a small, rainforest-covered island near Australia.
The terrarium needs a soft substrate that can hold moisture without getting moldy quickly, plenty of vegetation, and places for your crestie to hide from the light. Depending on the temperature and how much natural light comes in you may need heat lamps and lighting as well.
Start Off With Substrate
What kind of substrate you use can be a personal preference, but there are a few properties to consider.
Geckos will often accidentally ingest some substrate when foraging or eating insects so it can’t be something that will cause impaction. It also needs to hold moisture and be soft for the delicate skin of crested geckos.
One of the best and most economical substrates for cresties is coconut coir. This is the outer husk of coconuts. It’s an eco-friendly, inexpensive, natural antifungal, and absorbs odors well.
It can come in compressed bricks, or loose chunks—which are better for adult crested geckos—and cost between $5 to $20 per bag or brick. This will be one of those recurring costs because the soiled substrate will need to be removed from the tank.
You can also use sphagnum moss, or even go with soil and have a bioactive substrate if you are wanting to provide a very natural feel in the tank. This is the most involved and advanced tank setup you can do as you will be planting live vegetation and providing insects that help to break down wastes.
A bioactive substrate isn’t recommended for beginning crested gecko owners as it requires a lot of time, knowledge, and maintenance to get it started.
For juvenile and baby crested geckos, paper towels are recommended. It is easy to clean, and there is very little risk the young cresties will ingest any and become impacted.
The substrate also needs to be replaced either weekly or monthly depending on what kind you are using. The average recurring cost of substrate will be about $5 to $15 per month.
Climbing And Hiding Accessories
Next, you will need to find some enrichment accessories for your crestie. Plants, branches, platforms, hides, and vines all fill this need. You can go with artificial plants to make everything easier when starting off.
Artificial plants with broad leaves offer plenty of hiding places your crested gecko will love. Also add in some climbing vines like this EONMIR 8-Foot Reptile Vines, Flexible Jungle Climber. This flexible, realistic feeling vine is great for crested geckos to climb, and it can be repositioned for added mental stimulation.
Crested geckos also need places they can hide in. These little reptiles don’t have eyelids so they can’t close their eyes. Sometimes they need a dark place to escape bright light, to sleep, or get away from others.
In addition to climbing and hiding places, you’ll need to have food and water dishes. These can be suction cups mounted to the side of the tank and don’t have to be very large because these geckos don’t eat much.
You can really get crazy here and spend a lot of money as there are so many options and price tags to choose from. You really only need one or two hides, a few different climbing options, and a handful of plants to replicate their natural habitat.
Starting off you should only have to spend about $30 to $70 for these accessories, but you can always add more over time.
What Kind of Lighting and Heating Will You Need?
Crested geckos are crepuscular—meaning more active during twilight hours—so they don’t need much UV lighting. If you house your crested gecko near a window that gets natural sunlight, you likely won’t need a light.
If you do need a light, set it up with a timer to only shine for about four to six hours per day. Look for a mild light that has about 3% to 5% UVB production. UVB rays are essential for reptiles because just like humans, it helps produce vitamin D.
UVB lights weaken over time and need to be replaced about once every six months. So this will be another recurring cost. The initial cost for the lighting will average $35 for the light and lamp, then the bulbs cost about $20 each while a timer will cost about $15.
When it comes to heating, you may not need any heat for crested geckos. During the daylight hours, the temperature should be between 72℉ to 75℉. At night the temperature needs to be a little cooler, between 65℉ to 72℉.
If the room your crested gecko is staying in is cooler, then you’ll need a mild heat lamp to reach optimal temperatures. When looking for supplemental heat for your crested gecko, you need a smaller wattage lamp like this Fluker’s Reptile Incandescent Daylight Bulb for Pet Habitat, Blue, 25-Watts.
While a heat lamp isn’t an absolute necessity if your home is already relatively warm, if you do need one, you will have to spend about $30 to $45 for the bulb and the fixture.
The next purchase is a necessity. In order to monitor the heat and humidity in your pet’s enclosure, you need a good-quality hygrometer and thermometer.
This Digital Reptile Thermometer and Humidity Gauge is a great choice. The digital display is easy to read, and it has a probe so the display stays outside of the tank.
Since they hail from an island rainforest, crested geckos need a humid enclosure. The tank should be between 60% and 80% for their best health, and the only way to know for sure is to have a digital hygrometer which will cost an average of $15.
Now Onto Food
Crested geckos don’t eat much so you won’t have to spend much on food for these little critters. Not only do they consume very little, but as adults, they only need to eat about 3 to five days a week, or about once every other day.
Young crested geckos eat every day, but still, it’s such a small amount, it’s almost negligible.
Many crested gecko diet (CGD) formulations are a powder that you mix with water to make a paste or smoothie consistency. While many of these provide complete nutrition, sometimes it’s still beneficial to feed them live insects about once or twice a week.
Even if they are getting all their nutrition from CGD, providing live insects periodically helps combat boredom, offers enrichment, and gives the feel of a more natural feeding environment. Chasing live insects is a good way to give them needed exercise as well.
Along with food and insects, you should also have a supplemental calcium powder to sprinkle on insects and possibly add to their food just so they get plenty of this essential nutrient.
Calcium supplements will last three or four months when used a few times per week. One package of CGD should last about the same time and cost between $15 to $20, and insects may cost about $5 to $10 a month. Factoring all these numbers together, you’ll probably average about $10 to $20 a month in food for crested geckos.
Factoring in Vet Visits
Crested geckos are mostly healthy reptiles. The most common problems you may encounter in your lifetime include metabolic bone disease (MBD), parasites, impaction, shedding problems, skin infections, and tail loss.
MBD can be prevented by providing a balanced diet with supplemental calcium. That’s why that nutrient and vitamin D production is so important.
Shedding problems can often be treated at home by misting your gecko if it seems to be having problems, or brushing very lightly with a soft-bristled brush. Don’t try to pull the shed off as that can cause painful skin tears.
Parasites and impaction will probably need veterinary help to cure them, but these are rare. Impaction happens if the gecko eats large pieces of the substrate, large insects, or otherwise consumes something that is not digesting and won’t pass.
Tail loss can happen if your crested gecko gets too stressed, is handled too roughly, or if it’s not ready to be handled and is not let down soon enough. Once the tail comes off, it will not grow back.
If a tail loss happens, just clean off the stump area with clean water and add an antibacterial ointment to the stump. You should take your crestie to the vet if the stump doesn’t appear to be healing, starts oozing, or swells up.
Other than these possible problems, which are hard to calculate, and don’t happen often, you should only have to visit the vet once a year for an annual checkup. Depending on the vet and where you live, a checkup could cost between $40 to $100.
A Few Last Items
These last few items may be something you already have around your house or aren’t absolutely necessary. Most people have some kind of spray bottle in their house that can be used to mist the enclosure to keep humidity levels high.
Just make sure it wasn’t previously used with anything potentially toxic like cleaners, or pesticides. If you have potted plants in your house, you may already have a bottle reserved for spritzing your plants, you can use this for your crested gecko too. Spray bottles are cheap if you need to purchase one, so the cost is negligible.
A small digital scale is recommended if you have a juvenile or baby gecko. It’s used to make sure they are growing well and eating.
It’s not a necessity but could be useful in calculating a young crestie’s weight and health. You can find a small digital scale for anywhere between $10 and $20.
Lastly, you’ll need something to clean out the terrarium. You should be cleaning up any uneaten food, replace the water dish, and remove any gecko poop on a daily basis. Aside from that, the tank will need a deep cleaning about once a month.
This includes replacing the substrate, cleaning hides and accessories if needed, and wiping the entire inside of the tank. You can use a commercial crested gecko tank cleaner, but a cheaper, safe alternative is to use a 50:50 solution of vinegar and water.
Vinegar is a natural antibacterial and antifungal that won’t leave a residue that can be harmful to your pet. Just put your crestie in another tank, a temporary carrier, or another similar tank, remove everything else and spray the inside down.
After you clean all the surfaces, use a clean dry cloth or paper towel to dry it off, then replace the substrate, accessories, and your crestie. You probably have vinegar in your house already, and it’s so cheap you won’t even notice the cost of this ingredient.
|Total Initial Average Cost||$590|
The initial cost for a crested gecko and everything you will need right up front will cost you around $590. That’s cheaper than most purebred dogs these days.
After the initial cost, the monthly average for food, additional accessories, and factoring in a yearly vet visit only comes to $40 a month. Crested geckos are not expensive animals to care for, especially after the initial purchase of a tank, accessories, and food.
Are crested geckos expensive to keep?
A: After an initial investment of about $600 the monthly cost of crested gecko care falls dramatically. You can keep a crested gecko happy and healthy for about $20 to $40 a month.
Do crested geckos smell?
A: As long as the tank is kept clean you’ll not smell a crested gecko enclosure. Keep poop cleaned up, removed old food, and replace substrate on a regular basis and you won’t get any bad odors from crested geckos.
Do you need more than one crested gecko together?
A: Crested geckos are best left on their own. In the wild, they are solitary animals except when mating or fighting for territory. Two males together will only lead to aggression and injuries.
A male and a female together is alright for a short time, but shouldn’t be housed together permanently. Females can be housed together, but they may be aggressive toward one another until a hierarchy is achieved.
Crested geckos are a great choice if you’re looking for a pet reptile that’s easy to care for and doesn’t require a lot of money every month. After you get all the supplies for optimum crested gecko health, the monthly investment is very low compared to some other pet options.
The most expensive items are the gecko itself, especially if you are looking to get a rare morph, and the terrarium your new pet will be living in. They don’t typically require much veterinary care, they don’t eat much, and do not need a lot of specialized equipment.
Crested geckos can make a great addition to new and experienced reptile owners. They make great pets and can live for as long as two decades.