The Crested Gecko Terrarium.
The crested gecko tank, as well as most terrariums designed for species of the rhacodactylus genus, are vertical with a tropical configuration.
Before choosing a terrarium for crested geckos we should take into account the space needed for our crested geckos to thrive. To get an idea of the space requirements of these reptiles, it is known that they usually move around 100 square meters and about 5-15 m high in their natural habitat. This would be approximately the equivalent of a quarter of a football field full of bushes and trees. This point is discussed so that you realize the space they need in freedom and try to choose a terrarium as large as possible when it comes to keeping these beautiful and friendly animals in captivity.
Let’s go now to the 4 key points that the crested gecko tank must fulfill:
MESH OR GLASS TERRARIUM?
As a base, the crested gecko tank dimensions (mesh or glass – it doesn’t matter) should be 18 to 24 inches high. A square base of 12 x 12 inches or 18 x 18 inches would be acceptable. This provides enough space for these lively lizards to develop a life in captivity with greater well-being.
Regarding the choice of terrarium type (mesh or glass), our opinion and recommendations in this article are that both are valid, depending on where you are going to keep your crested geckos. It depends on the room conditions, the climate of your city, etc. The most significant difference is that mesh terrariums lose moisture more quickly, so they are sprayed more often than glass terrariums, which retain moisture and maintain a higher water level in the terrarium atmosphere. A glass terrarium is also aesthetically more attractive than a mesh terrarium.
Having said that, our opinion is that it does not have to be that way. A properly set up mesh terrarium with a container of water and material such as moss (which holds water for a long time) can maintain adequate ambient humidity levels. Furthermore, the crested gecko is an arboreal animal, like chameleons, for example, and is therefore used to (even “needs” we would say) more or less continuous air renewal. Seeing that glass terrariums are usually quite closed, which means that there is sometimes too much humidity, which helps bacteria, mites, etc. to grow, wouldn’t a mesh terrarium be more advisable? Beyond entering into discussions, repeat that both are suitable if we each keep it as it should be.
SUBSTRATE AND DECORATION OF THE CRESTED GECKO TANK.
Moving on to other important topics, let’s talk about the substrate and decoration. The substrate must be of the “soft” type, i.e. based on vegetable elements such as coconut fiber, topsoil, mulch, etc. and in no case sand, gravel, or of mineral origin… which would surely cause wounds or damage to the sensitive and delicate skin of our geckos or impact on the digestive system by occasional ingestion. Another option is to use newsprint, as its manufacturing process gives it fungicidal powers (better without ink, before printing) while it is practical to be changing regularly for a new one.
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Regarding the decoration of the terrarium for your crested gecko, take its habitat (arboreal, vertical, humid tropical…) as a base and decorate it as you wish. Ideally, hollow tree trunks and/or corks, which are very beautiful, give the terrarium a wild air and also (and not least) offer the animals shelter where they can keep warm and calm the possible stress they may develop at certain times. It is also a natural way for them to rest during the day, so why not make it easier for them?
Otherwise, most common plants such as Ceylon creeper, Ficus, Brazilian trunk, Philodendron or fern serve perfectly to decorate and give luxuriance to the terrarium from the ground to the top.
THE TERRARIUM LIGHT
The crested gecko or correlophus ciliatus is an animal of twilight and night habits and that is why you will read on many websites that they do not need UVA light. The reality is that in the wild all the species of the genus Rhacodactylus or Giant Geckos of New Caledonia have the habit of sunbathing for long periods of time, receiving the corresponding and necessary solar radiation.
But beyond this, in our opinion, ultraviolet light is highly recommended in crested geckos, since it not only intervenes in the synthesis of vitamin D3, but also directly affects the animal’s biology in matters related to digestion, activity, and growth, as well as preventing skin diseases or infections and helping to fix the daily photoperiod.
We recommend a 25w IRC 2.0 or 5.0 power bulb (if you don’t know what that is, ask in your exotic store, but basically it refers to the effective length or range of the radiation: 2.0 = up to 7 inches of effective length and 5.0 = up to 10 inches of effective length) is enough.
Note that if you supplement with vitamin D3 (which the geckos generate on their own when they receive natural light) you could use some LEDs lamp that currently provides a lot of light for the plants and make the terrarium look very bright.
HUMIDITY ENVIRONMENT and TEMPERATURE
But whatever your choice of terrarium type (mesh or glass), keep in mind that crested geckos (Correlophus ciliatus) in captivity, contrary to what is often thought and written in the forums, do not need much moisture, contrary to what is said, and your terrarium should be drier than wet most of the time, except for daily spraying in the afternoon and early morning. Always have a container of fresh water at your disposal.
Regarding the use of heating systems, you need to know two things: The first is that crested geckos need mild temperatures (between 63 ºF and 81 ºF) to live, so if the temperature in your house does not go below 60 ºF in winter it is not necessary at all. In fact, they need an average temperature drop in winter to be able to rest and recover from the breeding season. The second is that the heat for tree geckos like these comes from above, from the sun, not from the ground, like other species, and therefore it is better to combine light + heat in a spot than to use under tank heaters. But as we say, it is not necessary, in principle.
We hope these tips and opinions will be useful to you. Whether you are just starting with the gecko ciliatus or would like to find out more about crested geckos. Thank you very much for your time and if you found it interesting. Please share it on your social networks or wherever you think.
Team Leopard Gecko.