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Crested Gecko Housing - Habitats, Lighting, Heating, & Substrates

Posted by Mike V on

Crested geckos can live in a large variety of enclosures - all the way from a plastic sweater box with holes drilled in it to a luxurious terrarium with living plants and a natural water cycle.

Habitat -

 When choosing a habitat, you will need to consider:

      1. The age and size of your gecko 
      2. Your primary goal as a crested gecko owner

If you own your gecko simply for amusement or display, your choice of housing will naturally be different from someone who intends to start a selective breeding project. Regardless of style, it is essential that each habitat is able to provide adequate ventilation as well as maintain proper temperature and humidity. As frequent misting is usually required to maintain humidity levels in your gecko’s enclosure, you should refrain from choosing any materials that may warp, rot, or develop mold. Please keep in mind that in order to stay happy and stress-free, your gecko will also need some places to climb and hide.

Some of the most common types of housing:

1) Glass Aquariums – For the Old-Fashioned

Relatively inexpensive and widely available, using a standard glass tank or aquarium to house your crested gecko is acceptable, but not entirely ideal due to top-only access and ventilation. As a rule of thumb, plan on using at least a 10-gallon tank for hatchlings and juveniles, or a 20-gallon tank for adults.

2) Plastic Terrariums – For the New Parent

Available at most pet stores - such as Petco’s “Pet Keeper” - this type of housing is very suitable for housing offspring, and may also be a good temporary solution for new crested gecko owners. These habitats are light, transparent, and very inexpensive. Perfect for quarantining new pets or housing small, young cresties.

3) Plastic Storage Containers – For the Budget-Conscious

The true DIYer may try to make his or her own habitat using a transparent plastic storage container such as a sweater box, and adding air holes. Another way to add ventilation is by using a soldering knife to cut out a large section of plastic, and gluing a mesh screen over the cutout. The most budget-friendly option for housing your crested gecko; this may be a good choice for breeders who demand a large number of enclosures.

4) Glass Terrariums – For the Hobbyist

Tall, front-opening glass terrariums are our favorite and recommended habitats for crested geckos. These habitats provide very easy access for cleaning, feeding, moving objects, or otherwise just handling your gecko. Although more expensive than other enclosures, a quality glass terrarium may be a good investment for the convenience that it will bring over the life of your pet.

5) Screen Habitats – For the Herper

Screen cages are a great option for housing multiple adult crested geckos, and are a popular choice for breeders/ hobbyists as they are easy to clean and offer exceptional ventilation. Please keep in mind that screen habitats will not maintain humidity levels as well as glass or plastic enclosures, and will therefore require more frequent misting.

Lighting & Heating - 

Did we mention that crested geckos do not have any particularly special lighting or heating requirements? Crested geckos are nocturnal by nature, and prefer not to bask in the hot sun during the day like some other reptiles. Therefore, they can be successfully kept without UV-B as long as they receive dietary D3 in the form of vitamin or mineral supplements. If lighting is desired or necessary for plants, make sure that your gecko has plenty of hiding places to feel secure. We highly recommend connecting any lighting system to an electrical timer in order to provide a consistent day/ night pattern.

The ideal temperature for your crested gecko’s habitat is between 72°F and 80°F, so any house with a working thermostat is capable of providing sufficient heat levels. If you prefer to keep a cold house, use a lighting system that can introduce a temperature gradient in your gecko’s enclosure, and test the temperature with a thermometer. Make sure that there is ample space away from the bulb to allow your gecko to retreat to lower temperatures should it need to. Do NOT use heat lamps or heat rocks. At night, temperature drops into the 60s °F are completely tolerable and even recommended.

Substrate - 

There are many different choices of substrate for your animal's enclosure, but they all aim to serve the same two purposes: humidity and cleanliness. A good substrate should be able to retain moisture in order to maintain the 70%-80% humidity target that crested geckos thrive in, as well as provide for easy clean-up. For a lot of breeders, paper towels or newspaper act as a simple, replaceable substrate. More natural-looking substrates include peat moss, cypress mulch, orchid bark, coco coir, and soil. Try to avoid any granular substrate that could be accidentally ingested, and do not use anything that may contain fertilizers, pesticides, or other contaminants. Substrates should be kept moist - not wet - and should be regularly cleaned to avoid too much bacteria build-up in your enclosure. In most cases, substrates can be spot-cleaned by simply scooping away feces and won’t have to be replaced for several months. We recommend bioactive substrates that naturally break down odor and waste products, such as Zoo Med’s Eco Earth Coconut Fiber.

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