Where Are Crested Geckos From? A Guide to Their Origin, Habitat, and Care
Crested geckos are one of the most popular pet reptiles in the world. They are small, cute, and easy to care for. But do you know where they come from and how they live in the wild? In this article, we will explore the origin, habitat, and care of these amazing animals.
- Crested geckos are endemic to New Caledonia, an island nation in the Southwest Pacific.
- They were thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in 1994 by a team of scientists.
- They live in the mountainous rainforests of the South Province, where they experience three tropical seasons: warm, cool, and transitional.
- They are arboreal and nocturnal, spending their time in trees and being most active at night.
- They are vulnerable to threats such as invasive species, habitat loss, and climate change in the wild.
- They are popular as captive pets because they are docile, adaptable, and require minimal maintenance.
- They need a spacious and well-ventilated enclosure with plenty of hiding places, climbing branches, and live plants.
- They thrive in a temperature range of 72-82°F and a humidity level of 50-70%.
- They are omnivorous and can eat a variety of foods, such as commercial crested gecko diet, insects, fruits, and honey.
- They are fascinating creatures with unique features, such as eyelash-like crests, prehensile tails, and sticky feet.
Crested Geckos’ Origins
Crested geckos are endemic to New Caledonia, an island nation in the Southwest Pacific. New Caledonia is a biodiversity hotspot, home to many unique species of plants and animals. Some of them are found nowhere else in the world, such as the kagu bird, the giant gecko, and the New Caledonian pine.
Crested geckos belong to the genus Correlophus, which includes four species: the crested gecko (Correlophus ciliatus), the gargoyle gecko (Correlophus sarasinorum), the mossy New Caledonian gecko (Correlophus belepensis), and the slender prehensile-tailed gecko (Correlophus trachyrhynchus). They are closely related to the genus Rhacodactylus, which includes the leachianus gecko, the chahoua gecko, and the auriculatus gecko.
The crested gecko was first described in 1866 by Alphonse Guichenot, a French zoologist. He named it Correlophus ciliatus, meaning “eyelash-bearing crest-bearer”. He based his description on a single specimen that was collected by a French naval officer in New Caledonia.
For over a century, the crested gecko was thought to be extinct. It was not seen again until 1994, when a team of scientists led by Robert Seipp rediscovered it in the South Province of New Caledonia. They were surprised to find that the crested gecko was still alive and thriving in the wild.
The rediscovery of the crested gecko sparked a lot of interest and excitement in the scientific and pet trade communities. The crested gecko became one of the most sought-after reptiles in the world. Many specimens were exported from New Caledonia to Europe, America, and Asia, where they were bred and sold as captive pets.
However, the export of crested geckos from New Caledonia was banned in 1996, due to concerns about their conservation status and genetic diversity. The crested gecko is currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN, meaning that it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild. The main threats to its survival are invasive species, such as fire ants and rats, habitat loss due to deforestation and mining, and climate change.
Fortunately, the crested gecko has a large and stable captive population, thanks to the efforts of responsible breeders and hobbyists. The crested gecko is one of the most diverse and colorful reptiles in the world, with hundreds of different morphs and patterns. Some of the most common ones are harlequin, dalmatian, flame, pinstripe, and tiger.
If you want to learn more about the history and diversity of the crested gecko, you can watch these YouTube videos:
- Meet All 40 of Our Crested Geckos + Breeding Projects!
- CRESTED GECKOS! Everything you’ve ever wanted to know!
- How Adam Wickens, Famous Youtuber Takes Care of His Crested Geckos: An Interview
Natural Habitat of Crested Geckos
The natural habitat of crested geckos is the mountainous rainforests of the South Province of New Caledonia. They are found mainly in the Mont Panié, Mont Humboldt, and Mont Koghis ranges, as well as the Rivière Bleue National Park.
The climate of New Caledonia is tropical, with three distinct seasons: warm, cool, and transitional. The warm season lasts from December to March, with an average temperature of 80°F and a high humidity level of 80%. The cool season lasts from June to August, with an average temperature of 68°F and a low humidity level of 60%. The transitional seasons last from April to May and from September to November, with moderate temperatures and humidity levels.
The rainfall in New Caledonia varies depending on the altitude and the season. The annual average is about 60 inches, but it can range from 40 inches in the lowlands to 120 inches in the highlands. The wettest months are January and February, while the driest months are July and August.
Crested geckos are arboreal and nocturnal, meaning that they live in trees and are most active at night. They use their eyelash-like crests, prehensile tails, and sticky feet to cling to branches, leaves, and bark. They can also jump and glide from tree to tree, using their webbed toes and skin flaps.
Crested geckos are omnivorous, meaning that they eat both plant and animal matter. In the wild, they feed on fruits, flowers, nectar, pollen, insects, and small vertebrates, such as frogs and lizards. They have a specialized tongue that can extend and retract quickly, allowing them to lick and lap up their food.
Crested geckos are social and territorial, meaning that they form groups and defend their home ranges. They communicate with each other using vocalizations, such as chirps, barks, and growls, as well as body language, such as head bobbing, tail waving, and biting. They can also change their color and pattern to blend in with their surroundings, or to display their mood and status.
Crested geckos are vulnerable to predators and parasites in the wild. Some of their natural enemies are birds of prey, snakes, rats, fire ants, and ticks. They can also suffer from diseases, such as bacterial infections, fungal infections, and metabolic bone disease.
Crested geckos are important for the ecosystem and the culture of New Caledonia. They help pollinate and disperse the seeds of many plants, such as orchids, palms, and figs. They are also revered by the indigenous Kanak people, who consider them as sacred animals and symbols of fertility and prosperity.
Crested Geckos’ Care in Captivity
Crested geckos are popular as captive pets because they are docile, adaptable, and require minimal maintenance. However, they still need proper care and attention to ensure their health and happiness. Here are some of the essential aspects of crested gecko care in captivity:
Crested geckos need a spacious and well-ventilated enclosure that mimics their natural habitat. The minimum size for an adult crested gecko is 18x18x24 inches, but bigger is always better. The enclosure should have a secure lid and a front-opening door for easy access and cleaning.
The enclosure should have plenty of hiding places, climbing branches, and live plants to provide the crested gecko with shelter, stimulation, and humidity. Some of the best plants for crested gecko enclosures are pothos, bromeliads, orchids, and ferns. Artificial plants and vines can also be used, but they should be safe and non-toxic.
The substrate or bedding of the enclosure should be clean, absorbent, and mold-resistant. Some of the best substrates for crested gecko enclosures are coco fiber, sphagnum moss, orchid bark, and paper towels. Avoid substrates that are dusty, sharp, or edible, such as sand, gravel, wood shavings, or soil, as they can cause impaction, injury, or infection.
The enclosure should be cleaned regularly to prevent the buildup of waste, bacteria, and fungus. The substrate should be spot-cleaned daily and replaced completely every month. The plants, branches, and decorations should be washed and disinfected every week. The enclosure should be sprayed with a reptile-safe disinfectant and wiped dry every month.
Temperature and Humidity
Crested geckos thrive in a temperature range of 72-82°F and a humidity level of 50-70%. These conditions can be achieved by using a digital thermometer and hygrometer to monitor the enclosure, and by adjusting the heating and misting accordingly.
Crested geckos do not need a basking lamp or a heat mat, as they can overheat easily. They can regulate their body temperature by moving to different areas of the enclosure. However, if the room temperature drops below 65°F, a low-wattage ceramic heat emitter or a heat cable can be used to provide some supplemental heat.
Crested geckos need a humid environment to keep their skin moist and to facilitate shedding. They can be misted with dechlorinated water twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, to create a humidity cycle. They should also have a water dish and a humid hide in the enclosure, where they can drink and retreat.
Diet and Nutrition
Crested geckos are omnivorous and can eat a variety of foods, such as commercial crested gecko diet, insects, fruits, and honey. They should be fed every other day, and their food should be offered in shallow dishes or cups that are placed near their hiding places or plants.
The main staple of the crested gecko diet is the commercial crested gecko diet, which is a powdered formula that contains all the essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that they need. It should be mixed with water to form a thick paste and replaced every 24 hours. Some of the best brands of crested gecko diet are Repashy, Pangea, and Zoo Med.
Crested geckos can also eat insects as a treat or a supplement, but they should not be fed more than once or twice a week. The insects should be gut-loaded, dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 powder, and no larger than the space between the crested gecko’s eyes. Some of the best insects for crested geckos are crickets, dubia roaches, waxworms, and mealworms.
Crested geckos can also eat fruits as a treat or a supplement, but they should not be fed more than once or twice a week. The fruits should be ripe, fresh, and organic, and cut into small pieces or mashed. Some of the best fruits for crested geckos are bananas, mangoes, papayas, and berries.
Crested geckos can also eat honey as a treat or a supplement, but they should not be fed more than once or twice a week. The honey should be raw, organic, and unfiltered, and diluted with water to form a thin syrup. Honey can help boost the crested gecko’s appetite, energy, and immunity.
The following table summarizes the crested gecko diet and nutrition:
|Commercial crested gecko diet
|Every other day
|Repashy, Pangea, Zoo Med
|Mix with water, replace every 24 hours
|Once or twice a week
|Crickets, dubia roaches, waxworms, mealworms
|Gut-load, dust with calcium and vitamin D3, no larger than the space between the eyes
|Once or twice a week
|Bananas, mangoes, papayas, berries
|Ripe, fresh, organic, cut or mashed
|Once or twice a week
|Raw, organic, unfiltered
|Dilute with water, use as a syrup
Handling and Taming
Crested geckos are generally docile and friendly, but they can also be shy and skittish. They can be handled and tamed with patience and care, but they should not be handled too often or too roughly, as they can become stressed, injured, or lose their tails.
Crested geckos should be handled only after they have settled in their enclosure for at least a week, and only when they are awake and active, which is usually at night. They should be handled for no more than 10-15 minutes at a time, and no more than 2-3 times a week.
Crested geckos should be handled gently and securely, using both hands to support their body and tail. They should not be grabbed, squeezed, or lifted by their tail, as they can drop it as a defense mechanism. They should also not be exposed to loud noises, bright lights, or sudden movements, as they can become startled and jump or bite.
Crested geckos should be handled in a safe and comfortable area, such as a couch, a bed, or a table, where they can explore and interact with their owner. They should also be handled in a calm and confident manner, using soft and soothing tones to talk to them and reward them with treats or praise.
Here are some of the frequently asked questions about crested geckos and their answers:
- Q: How big do crested geckos get?
- A: Crested geckos can grow up to 8-10 inches in length, including their tail, and weigh up to 35-50 grams. They reach their adult size at about 18-24 months of age.
- Q: How long do crested geckos live?
- A: Crested geckos can live up to 15-20 years in captivity, with proper care and husbandry. Their lifespan in the wild is unknown, but it is likely shorter due to predation and environmental factors.
- Q: How can I tell the sex of my crested gecko?
- A: Crested geckos can be sexed by looking at their vent area, which is located near the base of their tail. Males have two bulges that contain their hemipenes, and a row of pores that secrete pheromones. Females lack these features, and have a smooth and flat vent area.
- Q: How can I breed my crested geckos?
- A: Crested geckos can be bred by housing a male and a female together in a large and well-furnished enclosure, and providing them with optimal temperature, humidity, and diet. They can breed year-round, but they are more likely to breed during the warm and transitional seasons. The female can lay up to 12 pairs of eggs per year, which can be incubated in a separate container with moist vermiculite or perlite. The eggs can hatch in 60-90 days, depending on the incubation temperature.
- Q: How can I tell if my crested gecko is healthy?
- A: Crested geckos are healthy if they have clear and bright eyes, smooth and moist skin, a full and round tail, a strong and steady grip, a good appetite and weight, and a regular and clean stool. They are unhealthy if they have cloudy or sunken eyes, dry or flaky skin, a thin or dropped tail, a weak or loose grip, a poor appetite or weight loss, and a diarrhea or constipation.