Saturday, September 24, 2011

Care Sheet - Crested Geckos

Here is a care sheet I wrote for crested geckos. I tried to keep it simple, to the facts, and philosophy free. This is how I care for my animals. There are plenty of other resources out their if you'd like to do more research.



Crested Gecko Care

Housing
The Cage
Young geckos (2 - 15 grams) can be kept in medium sized Kritter Keepers.
Adult geckos (16 - 35+ grams) should be kept in either a:

  •  20 gallon fish tank (ideal)
  • 18” x 18” x 24” exo terra cage (ideal)
  • 12” x 12” x 18” exo terra (not ideal but I've heard of people using them)
  •  R-Zilla Fresh Air Acrylic Atrium (ideal)
  • 23”H x 15¾”W x 15”D Arboreal Reptile Cage  (ideal)

These are carried at Petsmart and Petco and don't forget about Craigslist, but I like to order my gecko stuff here: http://www.pangeareptile.com/store/reptile-cages.html
There are other, cheaper, more arts and crafts required options, but the ones listed above are easiest.




The Stuff in the Cage
Crested geckos are aboreal, so they want a bunch of leaves near the top of the cage so they can hide in them. They should have a few sticks to climb on as well.

They need a food dish and a water dish. For young geckos, use soda caps, milk caps, or contact lens containers. For adult geckos, there tiny ceramic dishes at Petsmart that work great.

Line the bottom of the cage with either paper towels or shelf liners.

For the little geckos, I put in a hide too, like a coconut shell or a paper towel tube.

For all this stuff, the Dollar store is your friend. I get all my fake plants at the dollar store, and you can get bamboo sticks, little dishes, etc, there as well.

*** Do a search for "Crested Gecko Viv" for tank decorating ideas. 









Feeding
There are a lot of theories out there, but here are 2 fool proof ways to make sure your geckos eat right. These geckos can have one out of two diets: only CGD or CGD with a few bugs.

  • CGD (Crested Gecko Diet) is a powder (made of whey, honey, fruit, vitamins, etc)  that is mixed with water with a 1:2 ratio. CGD is a complete diet, meaning that CGD is the only thing your gecko needs to eat, ever.  It's basically a "fruit milkshake". Change the food every 2 days. 

I get mine here: http://www.pangeareptile.com/store/crested-gecko-diet.html. It's also carried here (if you don't mind the drive to NH): http://www.zoocreatures.com/. Online is the cheaper option.




  • If you want, you can feed your gecko 3-4 crickets or dubia roaches once a week (CGD should still available every day, changed every two days). These bugs should be gutloaded (fed fruits and veggies 24-48 hrs before giving them to the gecko)  and dusted in calcium power. People feed bugs to their Cresties to either make them grow faster, or they enjoy watching the gecko hunt. Cresteds never need to eat bugs in order to be healthy. 


If you only feed CGD, you're looking at probably $20 a year in food costs. These guys are super cheap. I only need 1/2 Tablespoon of CGD to feed all of my geckos every other night. For a single animal,  I'd recommend mixing up a weekly batch a food, putting it in the fridge, and using as needed. It stays good in the fridge for a week. 

1 Teaspoon CGD + 2 Teaspoon of water = about one week of food for 1 gecko. Mix more or less as needed. 

*** For babies, fill up their milk/soda cap food bowls all the way. If you don't, the CGD will dry up and that's no good. 
*** You won't notice a baby gecko eating any of it's food. It'll take 2 licks a be full. Basically if the animal is going to the bathroom, it's eating. Nothing to worry about. 





Things that are never okay to feed them

  • Baby food - will make them very sick and causes Metabolic bone disease (MBD)
  • Pellet based food from Petsmart/Petco - Not a complete diet like CGD and will led to MBD as well
  • Mealworms - will cause impaction


Temperature
These geckos are noctural, so they don't need a special UVB light like most lizards. In general, Cresties like to live at room temps (70's are ideal). They can tolerate temps from 65-85 degrees.

It's wierd, but higher temps are more dangerous than lower temps for Cresties. A few degress below 65 for a few hours won't kill them, a few hours with temps above 85 probably will.

If you have a crested and have a fan/AC malfunction in the summer, just put ice on top of or in their cage. They can also spend a few days in the basement is something goes wrong too.

In the winter, I keep my house at 65 during the day and night. In the evening it is 70 degrees. I run a tiny 15 to 30 watt heat light during the day for the geckos. They can live at 65, but I find they eat better and seem happier with a little heat light (a light that small isn't even noticable on the electric bill too).  In the evening and night, they don't have a light at all.

Misting
I always give my geckos a water bowl. That being said, many geckos aren't so bright and they might not use it. Therefore, you need to mist them daily so they can lick water off the leaves and glass in the cage. It's also important to keep the humidity up in the cage.  There are 3 misting options and all work fine:


For manual misting just use a normal spray bottle or a pump top spray bottle; both available at Home Depot/Lowes.




Fun Facts and FAQ!
The First Days of Owning a Gecko
First off, once you get a gecko, don't handle it for 7 days. This will allow the little guy to calm down in his new environment. Second, it's okay if the gecko doesn't eat for the first 1-2 weeks. Reptiles don't need to eat like mammals do, and a "new home hunger strike" is common.

Can I House Geckos Together?


Really short answer: no.

Longer answer: These geckos as babies will probably try to eat each others tails. As juveniles, they'll mate before the female is ready and she could get really hurt. Also, then you have unwanted babies. As adults a male and female will mate. It's pretty much 100% chance that they'll mate. Unwanted babies again! Two adult males will fight.

The exception: sometimes two adult females in a 30+ gallon cage will be okay. However, these geckos need to be adult females (35+ grams), and there's no guarantee that they won't fight just because they don't like each other.


Crested Gecko Change Color as They Age
They can change color and pattern dramatically from the time they hatch, to the time they are adults. Most Crested Geckos hatch out a bright red color. You may be able to see a hint of the pattern they will have when they are adults, but that pattern can either fade, or get dramatically stronger as the hatchling grows, and the red color also usually fades to show colors closer to what they will have as adults. Good example here: http://www.ciliatus.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=41&Itemid=194

Fire Up & Fired Down
Cresties bascially have two versions of skin color: fired up (bright colored) and fired down (dull colored). They fire up for different reasons: they're happy, they're stressed, they want  to be fired up at the moment, they're wet, it's night time, they have food, they don't have food, you get the point. They usually fire down when they're sleeping. Some geckos seem to always stay fired up and some seem to always stay fired down. Either way, your gecko is going to change colors almost daily. It's normal.




They Lick Their Eyes and Eat Their Skin.
They don't have eyelids, so they lick their eyes to clean them. Also, like most lizards, they shed their skin, and then eat the dead skin. Kind of gross, I know, but I have many geckos and I've only seen it once, so I wouldn't worry about it. If you do see it, its all normal, and it'll all be over soon.

Tail Loss
These geckos can lose their tails. They won't grow back. It's not a big deal at all; it doesn't hur the gecko. In the wild, most of the adult population doesn't have tails.  Here's a post about it (http://www.pangeareptile.com/forums/showthread.php?t=44921)

Sexing
I've added a picture, since it's really subtle....The males develop their "package" at 10-15grams. Both sexes make great pets.

No comments:

Post a Comment