Crested geckos were once thought to be extinct, but around 1994 they were "rediscovered". Since then, their popularity as pets has steadily increased. They are a low-maintenance pet, well suited to children or novice reptile keepers who have little time for daily care. One of their distinguishing features are their eyelashes, which is why they are also called eyelash geckos. And for their crown, which is why they are also called Kronengecko in Germany. These lizards come from New Caledonia, an island off the coast of Australia.

Original name:
• Rhacodactylus Ciliatus

Adult size:
• 17 - 23cm

Life expectancy:
• 10 -20 years

Crested Geckos come in a wide range of colours and markings (morphs). They get their name from the fringed ridge that starts above their eyes and runs down their neck and back, although the size of the crest varies. Crested geckos (Eyelash Gecko) have special toe pads that allow them to move effortlessly over vertical surfaces and their prehensile tail adds to their agility. They are also excellent jumpers and can be very fast. Crested Geckos (Eyelash Gecko) tend to have a relatively docile temperament, although they can be a little skittish, and care should be taken when handling. They do not usually like to be handled, so avoid it if possible. They may try to jump away from you, which can injure them. Crested Geckos (Eyelash Gecko) may drop their tails if handled roughly or try to get away, unlike other geckos their tails do not grow back! They will only bite if they feel threatened. They only bite when they feel threatened, but they do not hurt and are not strong enough to cause bleeding.

Crested Geckos need room to climb, so provide a mix of branches, wood, cork bark, bamboo and lianas at different heights and in different directions. Add a variety of silk or sturdy live plants (pothos, philodendron, dracaena, ficus, lady tongues) as they will hide in the plants. Remove all uneaten food every day and clean the terrarium to remove excrement. Clean the entire terrarium and decoration with reptile-safe disinfectants at least once a month. Depending on the substrate, you should replace it weekly or monthly to prevent bacterial growth.
A minimum terrarium of around 45 x 45 x 60cm is sufficient for an adult animal, but a larger terrarium is always better. Crested Geckos (Whiskered Gecko) are arboreal, active, and require plenty of vertical space to climb, so a high terrarium is preferred. Two to three Crested Geckos can be housed in a large terrarium, approximately 50 x 50 x 90. Males are territorial, so keep only one male per tank. You can use a glass terrarium with a mesh side for ventilation, but some keepers prefer full mesh enclosures.

As cold-blooded animals, all reptiles must regulate their body temperature. For Crested Geckos, a temperature range of 22° to 26.5° C (72 F to 80 F) should be provided during the day, dropping to 18° to 24° C (65 F to 75 F) at night. Check the temperature with a temperature gauge to make sure the cage is not overheating. Crested Geckos get stressed at higher temperatures. A low powered red night light is a good heat source and also allows the Crested Gecko to be watched at night when it is most active. Do not place a heat source on the top of the tank, as these climbing geckos can get too close and burn themselves. But always place it a little above so that the top can be ventilated and does not get too hot.

Crested Geckos (Eyelash Gecko) are nocturnal animals; technically they do not need special UVB lighting. However, some experts suggest that a low level of UVB lighting (around 5 percent) is good for the general health of reptiles. Any additional lighting will increase the temperature in the enclosure, so keep an eye on that. Also provide a gecko hide so that geckos can get away from the light if they want to.

Crested Geckos (Eyelash Gecko) need moderate to high humidity. Aim for 60 per cent during the day and 80 per cent at night. Buy a hygrometer (humidity meter) to monitor the levels daily. Maintain good humidity by spraying filtered water regularly. Depending on the design of your cage, you may need to spray the cage a few times a day to maintain the right level of humidity. Always make sure the cage is well watered at night, when the geckos are most active. If you are not around during the day, or if you can't get the cage misted, get an automatic misting system or a fogger to keep the cage moist at regular intervals.

Ground cover:
Most reptile keepers use a substrate to cover the bottom of a terrarium. When choosing a substrate for a gecko, you should consider the safety of the animal, ease of cleaning and whether the substrate helps to retain moisture. Ideal substrates for a Crested Gecko are coir, plantation soil, humusbrick, moss or peat.
You can also go for a bio-active terrarium. For more info on this, check out our other blog post. Crested Geckos (Eyelash Gecko) tend to eat substrate when hunting; if this is the case with yours, use sphagnum moss (alone or over another substrate such as coconut fibre). Kitchen roll is recommended for young animals as they are more likely to accidentally swallow other
substrate. Avoid sand and non-organic substrates, as these present a swallowing hazard.

Food and drink:
As they are nocturnal animals, you should feed Crested Geckos in the evening. Feed the young ones daily and the adults three times a week.
A Crested gecko diet (e.g. Pangea fruit mix) is usually well accepted and is the easiest way to provide a balanced, nutritious diet. Supplement the diet (not necessary with most diets) with crickets and other prey insects (dubia, wax worms, silkworms). Avoid feeding mealworms as they have a hard, indigestible exoskeleton. For variety and to enable the gecko to exercise its hunting instinct, feed it as many prey insects at a time as it eagerly eats.
Insects should be slightly smaller than the space between the gecko's eyes and should be fed with a gutload of nutritious food before being fed to your gecko. To increase the intake of vitamins and minerals, sprinkle the insects with a powdered calcium/vitamin D3 supplement three times a week. Dust the prey animals with a multivitamin powder once a week.
Crested Geckos like to eat fruit. Try mashed fruit. Favourite fruits are bananas, peaches, nectarines, apricots, papayas, mangoes, pears, and passion fruit. Provide a small shallow water dish with fresh water daily, although they may prefer to drink water
droplets from leaves in the humid environment. This way, they can always provide themselves with moisture.

Common health problems:
Geckos are prone to a few health problems that can be treated by an exotic vet.
• Mouth rot or stomatitis: Signs are excess mucus and redness around the mouth
• Respiratory tract infection: Symptoms include wheezing or drooling
• Skin problems: Rash, symptomatic of parasitic infection; uneven or difficult moulting which may be caused by low humidity in the enclosure

Get your Gecko:
Crested geckos are widely sold, mainly because they are so easy to care for and so colourful compared to other lizards. Try to buy your crested gecko from a good breeder. You can expect to pay between €40 and €150 for a Crested Gecko - the price varies with the rarity of the colour or morph.
When picking out your gecko, look to see if it can climb well, has a straight backbone, and no visible ribs or pelvic bones.
He should look lively and alert. It should also have clear eyes, as well as a clean nose and stool.