Crested Gecko Fun Facts
Crested Gecko Fun Facts

Ultimate Guide to Crested Gecko Fun Facts and Cool Behaviors

Introduction

Brief background on crested geckos as pets

The crested gecko has become one of the most popular reptile pets over the past couple decades, and for good reason. These unique lizards are low maintenance, have engaging personalities, stay a reasonable size, and display a stunning array of colors and patterns.

Native to the tropical forests of New Caledonia, crested geckos were only discovered in 1994 after being presumed extinct. Once imported to the United States shortly after, these charming geckos quickly gained interest and popularity as captivating display animals and pets.

Now, crested geckos are bred prolifically in captivity and have become a mainstay in the reptile trade. Their docile nature, longevity, and simple care requirements make them an exceptional pet for first-time or novice keepers. Even experienced herpetoculturists find enjoyment in keeping and breeding crested geckos.

Overview of interesting and fun facts about crested geckos

From their bizarre defense mechanisms and intricate color morphs to their unique vocalizations and social dynamics, crested geckos have no shortage of intriguing traits and behaviors waiting to be explored.

This article will provide a deep dive into some of the most fascinating fun facts about these charismatic geckos. We’ll explore their natural history, reproductive behaviors, activity patterns, husbandry needs, and reasons why they make such exceptional pets.

Whether a new crested gecko owner researching proper care, or a herpetology buff seeking obscure details, this guide has something exciting for everyone. Let’s jump in and illuminate the captivating world of the crested gecko!

Natural History and Origins

Native habitat and geographical distribution

In their natural environment, crested geckos are only found on the island archipelago of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. This remote tropical locale sits roughly 750 miles east of Australia.

New Caledonia contains dense mountainous rainforests and bushlands, providing the warm, humid climate these tropical geckos need. Crested geckos reside in the forest canopies here during both day and night.

Their numbers center specifically on the mainland Grande Terre island and surrounding islets. Scientists also found crested gecko populations on the Isle of Pines southeast of Grande Terre. Their distribution covers a modest range overall.

Discovery and history as a new pet species

Crested geckos were totally unknown to science until 1994 when they were discovered in New Caledonia by a team of researchers. These explorers then exported wild-caught founder specimens to Europe and the United States for study.

Shortly after discovery, crested geckos appeared in the North American pet trade in the late 1990s. Export from New Caledonia ended in 1994, thus all crested geckos today descend from those wild caught founders.

Captive breeding flourished rapidly through the 2000s and they remain one of the most popular pet lizards today. Their diverse color variations arose selectively in captivity.

Physical characteristics and appearance

The crested gecko’s namesake comes from the distinguishing fleshy crest above their eyes. Their heads are large, with bulging eyes and lidless stares. A short, thick tail finishes their body length around 8-10 inches total.

Coloration and patterning run the gamut from solid hues to wildly patterned combinations. Reds, oranges, yellows, grays, and blacks predominate, oftenmixing together. They may also display spots, tiger stripes, or bi-color effects.

Docile in nature, crested geckos lack any major offensive or defensive weaponry beyond a swift bite. Their unique semi-prehensile tails aid climbing, and can also detach then regenerate if threatened.

Habitat and Husbandry

Enclosure set-up and requirements

In captivity, crested geckos do well housed singly or in male-female pairs in tall, ventilated vivariums around 20 gallons in size. Provide plenty of climbing branches, foliage, and hides.

Aim for a sparse, naturalistic setup using vines, cork bark, and plants for visual barriers and enrichment. Substrates like peat moss or coconut fiber hold humidity well. Include ample climbing and hiding opportunities high in the enclosure.

Glass terrariums work best for maintaining the crucial 60-80% humidity range. Be sure the enclosure allows adequate ventilation too. Screen top covers offer further customizable ventilation control.

Temperature, lighting, and humidity needs

Daytime temperatures of 70-80°F suit crested geckos, dropping to 65-75°F at night. Provide an under tank heating mat on one side of the tank attached to a thermostat. This establishes a thermal gradient so geckos can self-regulate.

No special lighting is required, though many keepers use low wattage incandescent or LED bulbs on a day/night cycle. The photoperiod influences breeding condition. Boost humidity via daily light misting.

Humidity around 65-80% is ideal. Dropping too low causes problematic shedding and dehydration. Digital hygrometers help monitor humidity. Reduce ventilation and mist more if humidity falls too low.

Substrates, plants, decor options

Coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, cypress mulch, and similar substrates hold humidity and allow burrowing. Avoid sand or bark chunks which can cause impactions if ingested.

Hardy tropical plants like sansevieria, bromeliads, and ficus thrive while providing cover. Sterilize decor items from outdoor areas before use. Natural wood, vines, leaves, and commercial plastic decor all enrich the habitat.

Multiple hides for sleeping and security are essential, placed both at ground level and elevated for climbing access. Clutter the habitat using bamboo, cork, branches, and silk or live plants.

Diet and feeding

Crested geckos are omnivores who require both live prey and fruit. Feed 2-3 live insects like gut-loaded crickets or dubia roaches 2-3 times weekly. Dust insects with calcium + D3 for optimal nutrition.

Provide a gecko diet high in fruit daily. Commercial diets or blended fruit mixtures of banana, mango, figs, or babyfood work well. Juveniles need extra protein while growing. Remove uneaten food within 24 hours.

Behavior and Temperament

Nocturnal activity patterns

In the wild, crested geckos are nocturnal and arboreal. They sleep hidden in jungle trees during the day then become active at dusk. Their large eyes and acute hearing suit a nocturnal lifestyle.

In captivity, offer a proper day and night cycle using lighting. Crested geckos will adjust their active periods to the evening hours, emerging at the onset of darkness to explore and feed.

Vocalizations and communication

Though seldom heard, crested geckos have a range of vocalizations in their repertoire. Various barks, chirps, croaks, and distress calls make up their vocal language.

Males may “bark” to defend territory or attract mates. Both sexes likely vocalize privately during the night. Gecko communication also involves subtle and complex chemical cues.

Handling and tamability

When socialized properly from a young age, crested geckos show a very docile and tolerant temperament as adults. Their ease of handling makes them a great “display” gecko.

With regular gentle handling for short periods, they can become quite tame and personable. Support their underside and do not grab or restrict their tail or limbs which can injure them.

Socialization and housing groups

Adult males should never be housed together, as they are territorial and will fight. Females tend to be more tolerant of each other when provided enough space.

Introduce unfamiliar females slowly and watch for signs of aggression. Provide visual barriers, multiple hides/feeders and space for less dominant geckos to retreat and feel secure.

While fairly solitary by nature, when compatible, some geckos may sleep near or interact with each other peacefully. Social groups can highlight their natural dynamics.

Breeding and Reproduction

Gender differences and maturity

Male and female crested geckos become sexually mature around 18 months old. Mature males can be identified by a broader head, more pronounced crest, and hemipenal bulges at the base of the tail.

Females are usually smaller overall with a more slender head and lack defined hemipenal bulges. Instead, mature females develop visible follicles along the underside when ready for breeding.

Breeding and egg-laying behaviors

Once mature, breeding activity begins in early spring and extends through summer. The male initiates courtship by licking and nibbling the female’s neck and back.

If receptive, the female arches her back, allowing the male to grip and mate. She may lay 1-2 soft-shelled eggs every 3-4 weeks following successful breeding. Females can retain sperm and fertilize multiple clutches from one mating.

Incubation of eggs and hatchling care

Incubating the eggs in vermiculite at 78-82°F allows healthy embryos to develop. Hatching occurs after 60-120 days based on incubation temperatures.

Newly emerged hatchlings are tiny replicas of adults needing extra care. House babies singly in simple, humid enclosures with paper towel substrates and plastic plants. Feed hatchlings calcium-dusted pinhead crickets daily along with Crested Gecko Diet. They grow rapidly when cared for properly.

Morphs, genetics, and color variations

Crested geckos show incredible color and pattern diversity. Selective captive breeding has expanded their morphs exponentially.

Variations like flames, tigers, pinstripes, leucistics, albinos and more appear through unique recessive trait combinations influenced by genetics. Their diversity provides endless visual appeal.

Health and Common Issues

Lifespan and health with proper care

Given proper husbandry, crested geckos can live 15-20 years in captivity. Their longevity and enduring popularity as pets is partly thanks to their resilience to health issues when cared for correctly.

By providing a balanced diet, ideal environment, and annual checkups, crested geckos thrive with strong immune systems and longevity. Their hardiness makes them more forgiving for novice keepers.

Tail loss and regeneration abilities

Like many lizards, crested geckos can detach their tails along fracture points when threatened, an effective defense. Lost tails permanently alter their appearance.

Luckily, crested geckos can completely regenerate lost tails over several months. The new tail is a cartilage rod without original patterning or scales. Multiple tail losses can occur in their lifespan.

Potential health problems to watch for

Common issues involve inadequate humidity causing respiratory infections or shedding difficulties. Lack of calcium or D3 leads to metabolic bone disease.

Internal parasites are less common but still occur if buying from untested sources. Annual fecal testing and quarantining new geckos prevents parasites.

Stress factors and solutions

Crested geckos feel stress from excessive handling, overcrowding, relocation, or loud noise. Manage stress by providing adequate dark hides, limiting handling, and resisting overcrowding.

Keep handling brief and gentle, do not tap on enclosures, and allow adjustment periods after moves. Adequate routine and husbandry reduces their stress over time.

Why Crested Geckos Make Great Pets

Low maintenance and easy care

A standout reason crested geckos excel as captivating pets is their overall ease of care compared to other exotic reptiles. Their modest enclosure size, simple diet, and hardiness to husbandry errors makes them quite forgiving for new owners.

Even experienced keepers appreciate crested geckos as lower maintenance display animals. Their basic heating and lighting needs also reduce equipment costs for their terrarium setup.

Docile temperament and handleability

Crested geckos possess a naturally calm and docile disposition, especially when bred and handled from a young age. Their tolerance to handling allows close interaction without fear of biting or escape.

When socialized patiently, crested geckos often become quite tame and personable. Their laid back temperament gives them appeal as “display geckos” to observe up close outside their enclosures.

Interesting behaviors and physical features

From their unique vocalizations and visual signals to their semi-prehensile tails and quirky feeding behaviors, crested geckos exhibit much intriguing biology to interest reptile enthusiasts.

Their exotic New Caledonian origins and rainforest-adapted traits like adhesive toe pads which allow climbing add to their mystique. Crested geckos strike an ideal balance of exotic traits yet easy care.

Variety of colors and morphs to choose from

The expansive diversity of colors and patterns seen in crested geckos today provides incredible choice. Selectively bred morphs like Harlequins, Tigers, and Tri-colors allow everyone to find their perfect look.

With so many striking variations available, it’s easy to end up collecting multiple geckos. Their diversity and affordable pricing gives crested geckos mass appeal.

Conclusion

Summary of main points on crested gecko facts

In this exploration of crested gecko fun facts, we covered their unique origins from remote tropical forests, husbandry needs, intriguing behaviors and biology, the expansive morph diversity, and what makes them such novice-friendly yet engaging pet reptiles.

Key highlights include their hardy nature yet demanding humidity preferences, calm temperament despite exotic rainforest origin, delightful yet seldom heard vocalizations, and incredible regenerative tail abilities. Their variety of colors and patterns gives endless appeal.

While their specific care differs from typical beginner selections like leopard geckos or bearded dragons, crested geckos remain an outstanding entry to reptile keeping due to their forgiving nature and manageable care commitments compared to similar tropical species.

Reiteration of their suitability as pets

For anyone seeking a visually striking small lizard that offers engaging behaviors without the demanding care requirements of more advanced species, crested geckos check all the boxes.

Their long life, impressive health and hardiness, delightful handling tolerance, and the memorable traits explored throughout this article make them a supreme option that won’t disappoint devoted keepers.

Closing thoughts and additional resources

The crested gecko offers a peek into New Caledonia’s exotic fauna in captivity. As their popularity continues growing globally, so does our understanding of properly caring for and reproducing these charismatic geckos in home vivariums.

We encourage new keepers to continue researching and connect with experienced breeders when acquiring their first crested gecko. Please check out our other articles and care guides for more helpful information on crested gecko husbandry, handling, and appreciation.

Crested Gecko Fun Facts – Frequently Asked Question

Crested geckos are rapidly growing in popularity as pet reptiles. With their friendly temperaments, minimal care requirements, and wide variety of morphs, it’s easy to see the appeal! This FAQ delves into some of the most commonly asked questions about the interesting behaviors and captivating traits of the crested gecko. Read on to expand your knowledge of these fantastic geckos!

Q: What are some cool crested gecko behaviors?

A: Crested geckos show intriguing behaviors like barking/chirping vocalizations, waving their tails when disturbed, climbing with their sticky toe pads, and licking their eyes to clean their vision. They are also quite docile, making them easy to handle.

Q: Why do crested geckos wave their tails?

A: When threatened, crested geckos will arch their tails over their backs and wave them slowly. This shows predators their large tail size while also preparing to drop the tail if needed. Waving the tail serves as a warning.

Q: What do all the crested gecko morphs mean?

A: Morph refers to specific color and pattern variations like pinstripe, flame, Harlequin, etc. These morphs appeared through selective captive breeding and result from unique genetic traits. Certain morphs are more rare and prized by breeders and collectors.

Q: How do I know the sex of my crested gecko?

A: Males have broader heads, more pronounced crests, and bulges at the tail base. Females are smaller with slender heads. Males also show hemipenal bulges. Mature females develop visible follicles when breeding. Sexing can be tricky until they mature.

Q: Why is my crested gecko so vocal at night?

A: Crested geckos are naturally nocturnal, so nighttime is when they are most active and vocal. Males may call to attract mates while females vocalize to communicate receptivity. Their barks and chirps connect them.

Q: Do crested geckos regenerate their tails?

A: Yes, crested geckos can fully regenerate lost tails over several months. The new tail is a cartilage rod without scales or patterns. Multiple tail drops can occur in their lifespan, permanently altering their look.

Q: What should I feed my crested gecko?

A: Crested geckos eat a mixed diet of live insects like gut-loaded crickets along with fruit purees or crested gecko diet. They require calcium and D3 for strong bones and growth. Juveniles need extra protein from live prey.

Q: How often do crested geckos shed?

A: Healthy crested geckos will shed their skin every 4-6 weeks as they grow. Before shedding, their colors appear more dull. Ensure proper humidity levels to allow clean full sheds. Soak any retained shed.

Q: What size enclosure does a crested gecko need?

A: A good starter size is a 20 gallon tall glass tank, which allows climbing room. Add plenty of foliage, vines, cork and hides. Keep humidity around 60-80%. Adult pairs can be housed in 40 gallon enclosures.

We hope these crested gecko FAQs helped expand your knowledge! Be sure to explore our other care guides and articles for more facts about these awesome geckos. Let us know if you have any other questions!

About Kimberly J West

Kimberly J. West is a passionate fact aficionado and lead writer and curator for FactNight. As an experienced SEO content writer and researcher, Kimberly leverages her expertise to discover fascinating trivia and create engaging fact articles. You can reach Kimberly at kimberly@factnight.com.