The Rhacodactylus ciliatus, commonly known as the Crested Gecko, is a reptile in the family Gekkonidae originating in New Caledonia. This species was considered extinct until its rediscovery in 1994. More phases have been obtained through crosses, covering colors like oranges in all its ranges, black, white, fire, among others.
Characteristics of the Crested Gecko
This incredible Gecko is rather medium-sized, reaching 9 inches in length, from its nose to its tail. Its head has a particular triangular shape, with a pointed nose and somewhat bulging eyes that have no eyelids. In fact, you often see them moisturize their eyes with their tongue.
On his head we can also see 2 crests on the sides. They emerge from the upper section of each eye and pass through almost all of his body. These crests are distinctive, as they are formed by a large amount of “hairs”, better known as cilia. They are organized in a line on their crests, giving this beautiful animal its characteristic name.
They are mainly nocturnal animals, and for this reason, they have very acute visual and auditory senses. Their limbs are developed for their arboricultural habits. In general, male specimens are slightly smaller than females, with males measuring about 7 inches and females reaching 9 inches. Their weight remains between 1.5 and 2 ounces as adults.
Crested Gecko morphs
It is known as a crested gecko because of the soft spines around its head. One of the most evident qualities of this genus of geckos is the ability to climb almost any surface. It is thanks to the pads they have on their fingers and thanks to the prehensile tail.
Colouring: Its base color is dark, in various shades of brown. In this species has achieved bright colors and attractive as white, orange, red, linear in various colors.
Size: The length of the specimens varies from 7 to 10 inc. The males are larger and it have a bulky base to protect the hemipenis.
What is the life span of a crested gecko?
Well, crested geckos, like all pets, are animals that need to be well cared for. If we provide our crested gecko with optimal conditions in terms of terrarium, temperature, care and feeding, it can live more than 10 years, occasionally reaching 14 or 15.
Could you keep a gecko as a pet?
These animals are not aggressive with their breeders. But among males, there is a high territorial level sometimes also among females. This genus is characterized by its high territorial instinct. So they must be kept separately and in pairs or trios as long as we observe harmony in the group. Many breeders keep both males and females separate except in breeding seasons. As a general rule, these specimens are very calm. They accept very well the handling of humans and are not easily stressed.
Newly purchased crested geckos should not be handled, but should first be allowed to settle in for 3 to 4 weeks to adjust to their new environment and ensure that they are fed regularly. When you begin handling your crested gecko, keep handling sessions short, no more than 5 minutes.
Habitat of the crested gecko?
The terrarium should be taller than long, since this species of geckos are arboreal, with a minimum height of 24″ and a width of 18″. There we can accommodate a male and a female. If we want a greater number of specimens the terrarium will have to be larger. We should never accommodate more than one male per terrarium to avoid confrontations. If we want to accommodate a larger number of individuals will have to be a male by several females.
Crested gecko setup
From the substrate, we can use coconut fiber, peat moss, or moss. We can also use a combination of these last 3. This will be used in order to keep humidity in the substrate and at the same time in the terrarium.
The temperature of the terrarium should be in the range of 24-28 degrees with a drop in temperature of 64-68 Fahrenheit degrees, the humidity should be 90% with a minimum of 60%, these geckos do not like heat very much so we will have to spray the terrarium 2 to 3 times daily, especially in summer to avoid excessive heat, the photoperiod will be 12-14 hours daily and the rest of the night. For the decoration of the terrarium, it is advisable to use natural plants, as this helps to maintain the humidity of the terrarium and is better for the gecko. If you want to put more decoration in the terrarium it is advisable to use branches or trunks to take advantage of the space in the terrarium, as geckos especially like to climb on bamboo trunks.
You can put the plants in pots to facilitate the cleaning of the terrarium, of course you can plant the plants in the substrate, but we will need to put garden soil without any chemical fertilizer to facilitate the growth of the roots of our plants.
It is essential to maintain good hygiene in the terrarium. It prevents that no fungus or infection appears, and eventually damage our gecko. So, every time our gecko defecates, we should remove the excrement and a little bit of the substrate where it did.
Also every 2 months we should change the substrate for a new one to also avoid infections in the substrate and terrarium.
Temperature and lighting
The maintenance temperature should be in the range of 75 to 83 Fahrenheit during the day, with a nighttime drop of 64-68 Fahrenheit, humidity should be at least 60% and can reach 90%. They do not like excess heat and we should spray the terrarium once or twice a day, especially in summer, and a photoperiod of 12 to 14 hours during the day and the rest of the night. The crested gecko does not need any UV or UVB type of lighting as they are nocturnal, many breeders have not used UVB type lighting obtaining satisfactory results, of course as long as they maintain a good diet supplemented with vitamins.
If you are going to have natural plants, it would be good to use white light bulbs (energy saving bulbs), also with this type of lighting, you can obtain satisfactory results.
But in my opinion, using UVB lighting is better for the gecko because with this type of lighting the gecko absorbs vitamin D3 and calcium better in its bones, it also helps the geckos maintain better coloration. You can use a moonlight to see your geckos at night without disturbing them.
What does crested gecko eat?
As far as food is concerned, they like to hunt crickets, silkworms, grasshoppers, occasionally zophobes, and they like to frequent sweet fruits, apricots, apples, and bananas. When they are young they have to eat often and as adults from one to two times a week insects and the rest fruit with its supplement of calcium and vitamins.
Crested geckos like fruit and insects. Newborns don’t usually eat in the first few days. After 3 to 5 days, the young may begin to eat small crickets less than a quarter of an inch long. The rest of the diet will be a mixture of fruit and turkey food or the commercial T-Rex mix for crested geckos. The powdered T-Rex diet can be combined with fruit-based baby food alternating with crickets.
The best time to feed the geckos is at night. As they are nocturnal, they are more active in their search for food. They can be fed every other day, alternating the fruit mixture and T-Rex with crickets.
A good way to determine the size of the crickets is to use the distance from the gecko’s eyes to its mouth. Crickets of this length will be small enough to be easily ingested by the gecko.
It is a good idea to load the crickets before feeding the geckos. The best way is to feed the crickets with grains, dark green leaves, carrots, oranges, or a commercial gut loader. Crickets should also be sprinkled with a supplement of calcium, vitamins and minerals.
Is it easy to tell the male from the female?
Crested geckos cannot be accurately sexed until they are approximately 3 or 4 months old. Once mature, the gecko is relatively easy to sex. Males develop external hemipenal lumps located at the base of the tail with pre-annual pores directly in front of the air hole. Females have a flattened area at the base of the tail with small external lumps. Both males and females exhibit cloacal spurs, so this is not a sex determinant.
How to breed crested geckos?
The breeding of this species is not difficult, it is usually advisable to subject them to a phase of lowering temperatures to raise them again after a few weeks to provoke the activity of our geckos. Do not mate females under the year. In this particular species does not seem to have as much impact on the sex of the offspring temperatures applied in the incubation, although some females can be born at lower temperatures and more males at higher temperatures. To incubate the eggs, temperatures of 25 degrees. for this use a humid substrate. Then, depending on the temperature, the young of the ciliatus will be born after 60 to 80 days.
The main causes of mortality of a crested gecko.
Many geckos are susceptible to mouth rot or stomatitis, and the crested gecko is not an exception. Symptoms include excess mucus and redness near the mouth.
If you notice your gecko crest drools, these are signs of a possible respiratory infection, another common lizard disease.
When your crested gecko has what looks like a rash, it may be a sign of a parasitic infection; another symptom is the complexity of shedding its skin.
Any and all of these conditions should be treated by a reptile veterinarian