Setting Up a Crested Gecko Tank like a Pro in 2023

The crested gecko is a common reptile among today’s new and experienced keepers. However, it is a reptile with particular care requirements, which we will cover in this article. With a lifespan of 15 years as a pet, you need to get it right from the start.

How to give a crested gecko the best possible home

Facts about the Crested Gecko

crested gecko

An adult crested gecko will measure about 8 inches (20 cm), not including the tail. However, depending on its treatment during those first crucial months of rapid growth, as well as its particular genetics, an inch on either side of this is not uncommon.

They also have double-stitched toes, which allow them to raise their toes as needed in front or behind when climbing. On the tips of these toes are small nails. Making the grip more secure when needed and depending on the surface they are in contact with.

You may have seen photos or videos of Cresties licking their eyes. The reason for this is that they lack eyelids and instead rely on a transparent membrane to protect their eyes.

As their skin is covered with extremely small scales, it is silky and soft to the touch. To define what the crested gecko’s name presents, they are equipped with a wedge-shaped head with an eye-shaped crest running down to the tail.

Unlike nocturnals, the crested gecko is often classified as crepuscular due to a UVB exposure similar to that of the common leopard gecko. And I would have to agree, having witnessed that behavior myself. More on UVB later.

Crested Gecko habitat kit and accessories

You will need:

  • A Vertical Enclosure
  • Lighting and Heating
  • A bioactive substrate
  • Feeding ledges and bowls
  • Plants, mosses

Continue reading to find out what equipment you’ll need and how to set it all up to keep your Crested gecko habitat in top shape.

Crested Gecko Terrarium: Tank type and size?

Because of the humidity needed for care, a glass terrarium is ideal for this reptile.
Wooden enclosures rarely work. Only if properly sealed and additional ventilation is applied will these “may” work. However, using a glass terrarium is the safest and least expensive option.

Exo Terra Glass Natural Terrarium Kit, for Reptiles and Amphibians, Small Tall, 18 x 18 x 24 Inches, PT2607A1
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Exo Terra Glass Natural Terrarium Kit, for Reptiles and Amphibians, Small Tall, 18 x 18 x 24 Inches, PT2607A1

  • Glass terrarium for reptiles or amphibians
  • Patented front window ventilation
  • Raised bottom frame in order to fit a substrate heater and has a waterproof bottom
  • Escape-proof dual doors lock to prevent escape
  • Closable inlets for wires and/or tubing management
  • Reptile Terrarium Dimensions: 12 W x 12 D x 12 H inches (30 x 30 x 30 centimeter)

Exo-Terra glass terrariums are the ones I use. The minimum size for an adult crested gecko is 18x18x24 inches (45x45x60cm) is ideal, but 18x18x36 (45x45x90cm) is even better.

As they are an arboreal species, height is extremely essential for their well-being, as they will usually spend more time in trees.

Gecko Crested Lighting

Here’s the point you may not agree with other research you’ve done: Many herpetologists claim they don’t require UVB.

In my case, I always try to recreate the natural habitat of the crested gecko as much as possible. This little fellow, in the wild, has access to UVB rays and sleeps outdoors. So why aren’t they provided that in their enclosures?

I’m sure you would agree with me.

If you provide a variety of height and UVB exposure with branches, vines, and shade plants, the crested gecko will move where it feels safe and, more importantly, where it wants to go.

It’s all about providing options for our pets.

I use 7% UVB, which sits on top of the terrarium grid. With the branches closest to the canopy in the setup about 10″ from the top. This gives a UV index of about 2. according to Arcadia’s great lighting guide for the species.

If it provides the heat and UVB rays safely and at the proper distances. This will only benefit the crested gecko.

Gecko Temperature

I like to use a nice bright par38 bulb in a dome reflector. Some people use heat mats taped to the side of the unit. But the way the heat is distributed is not optimal and they usually don’t reach the necessary temperatures.

To control the temperature I use the Microclimate Evo lite thermostat to maintain these temperatures (but any brand of dimmer thermostat will do). When the dimmer point is set to 27°C/80°F, the thermostat subtly dims the lamp when that temperature is reached, causing the temperature to drop. As the temperature drops, the controller begins to gradually supply more power to the lamp until the temperature is safe again.

This light/heat source stays on for 12 hours during the day. And it automatically shuts off at night with the help of a timer.

In cases where temperatures drop too low at night, you can use a ceramic bulb. This way you will have a perfect temperature inside the crested gecko’s terrarium.

The best substrate for crested geckos.

By nature, a gecko has little or no contact with the substrate. However, this is not to say that substrate is not important to the crested gecko.

I know many pet owners who use paper towels or newspapers without any significant problems except for the ornamental impact, of course. These resemble a soggy paper mess. However, if you plan to use real plants, which you should because they are much more hygienic than fake plants and vines, the soil is the only way to go.

This substrate is also perfect for daily watering. You don’t even need a drainage layer or anything like that. As with mosses, moisture should only require short waterings.

I use a topsoil mix without fertilizer. With my own bits of moss added to help with moisture. All covered with dead leaves.

Humidity in a Crested Gecko Terrarium

I aim for 60/80 percent humidity with a hydrometer in the center of the setup (or one of the walls in the center). When I spray, this naturally rises, and it often reaches 100%. However, as long as you have adequate airflow, everything will be fine. Humidity is just a problem when there isn’t enough airflow.

The use of mosses around the setup’s surface not only absorbs the water that falls but spraying this moss while misting the setup maintains the humidity at an ideal level for a full 24 hours.

As a consequence, you should just have to spray the moss and setup once a day.

If you’re still having trouble keeping the humidity up, an extra spray during the day or right before bedtime can help. Alternatively, purchasing a fogger machine can be beneficial.

A Hiding Place for Crested Geckos

I have used coconut shell hides in the facility for crested geckos, and they have worked well. However, if you have a well-planned set up, they will almost always prefer an area in the back, out of reach, under some leaves or overhanging vines.

It can be near the top or the bottom of the installation. And when they are outdoors (although that is rare). They can go anywhere they feel comfortable and protected as long as they have the option to hide.

If a hiding place is used on the surface of the terrarium, they will almost always overlook it. They don’t really venture into concrete, as stated above. But it’s all unused space that could be used for a real plant.

Feeding ledge for Crested Geckos

A feeding ledge is a must-have item.

Since a Crested Gecko does not go to the ground very often, food and water bowls on the terrarium’s floor will not be useful. I really like the dual/double feeding ledges that are accessible.

If you find a store that sells the “Arcadia Earth Pro Sticky-foot Gold Starter Kit,” you can get some food, a double ledge, the required pots, and mixing equipment all in one box.

And this is attached to the terrarium’s side, about halfway up the wall.