|Bavayia | Eurydactylodes
Agricolae | Phyllurus
Platurus | Rhacodactylus
Auriculatus | Rhacodactylus
Common name(s): New Caledonian crested gecko; Crested gecko
Introduction: Crested Geckos were thought to be extinct until its rediscovery in 1994, on the Isle of Pines, a tiny island just off the coast of New Caledonia. The rediscovery sparked much excitement amongst gecko hobbyists, but I don‘t think anyone could predict how these geckos have taken off. Due to their docile nature and easy care requirements, the crested gecko is now one of the most commonly kept geckos in the world.
Habitat/Distribution: R. ciliatus belongs to the Rhacodactylus family, which is native to New Caledonia. They are semi-arboreal, spending most of their time in small trees and low shrubs. They will however, seek out hiding places near the ground to sleep during the day.
Size: 7-8 inches total length 3.5-4.5 inches nose to vent length
Housing: Crested Geckos can be maintained in simple conditions or in elaborate naturalistic vivariums. Adult crested geckos should be housed in a 20 gallon tall aquarium or larger. Three adult cresteds can be comfortably housed in a 30 gallon aquarium.
Due to the number of geckos I keep, I prefer to house my geckos more simplistically. I house single adult cresteds in 20 qt. Sterilite racks and house my breeding groups (either 1.1-1.3) in 66 qt. Sterilite racks. I use paper towel as a substrate and provide paper towel rolls and egg carton flats for hiding and climbing, this helps keep the cages clean and reduces the spread of disease.
Juvenile Care: I house my babies as clutch mates in small kritter keeper racks. I use paper towel as a substrate and provide egg cartons for them to hide/climb. At around 10-13 grams I separate the babies, I am also usually able to sex babies at this weight. I move the babies to medium sized kritter keepers where they stay until about 20-24 grams. After the medium kritter keepers I move them to the 20qt. bins where they stay until I am ready to breed them.
Humidity/Water: Cresteds need high humidity, preferably between 60-80%, though you want to make sure the cage does dry out between mistings to reduce bacteria/fungus growth. For water I mist my cresteds 1-2 times a day and they do fine just by drinking the water off the side of the enclosures. Other breeders provide water bowls and don't have any problems so I think either would work.
Feeding: Crested Geckos I think are one of the easiest geckos out there to feed, in nature they eat bugs and fruit. In captivity many keepers feed there cresteds nothing but T-Rex Crested Gecko Diet. I prefer to provide my geckos with variety as I think no one item should make up 100% of an animals diet, I also think the geckos enjoy variety as it keeps things interesting for them. I figure I would go crazy if all I could ever eat was Hamburgers, while they may be good at first, after a week or so I would be ready to explode. I feed my cresteds every other day an alternating diet of T-Rex CGD, Clarks Diet, and crickets/roaches. I dust all feeder insects in a 50/50 mix of Miner-all calcium powder and Rep-Cal Herptivite multivitamin powder. With this feeding schedule all my cresteds are growing and breeding great as they have done for many years. I also gut-load all feeder insects with cricket chow, potatoes, and collard greens; thus making them a lot more nutritious.
As a treat, I occasionally feed a blend of fresh fruit, the geckos really seem to enjoy this. This blend usually includes: Peaches, Apricots, Strawberries, Bananas, and Mangos. Many people often think there geckos are not eating, but I think nine times out of ten there geckos are eating and they are just not noticing. Juvenile cresteds don't need to eat that much to survive so you may not notice the small amounts of food they are eating. I have never had a crested die from starving itself, so as long as there is food available they will eventually eat. Though if you are absolutely certain your gecko is not eating or losing weight then I advise you to take the animal to the vet to see if there is a bigger problem at hand.
Defense: Crested geckos can and will drop their tails if threatened, the whole point is to confuse the predator with what just happened, so while the predator is trying to figure out what to make of the situation the gecko disappears. Unlike other geckos, Crested geckos do not regenerate their tails. If your gecko drops its tail, don't freak out, it is fairly normal and in matter of fact most wild Crested geckos are tailless. Many people believe tails are more of a hindrance to cresteds as there pelvises are not made to handle the weight of the tail, which causes floppy tail syndrome, although calcium supplies also plays a factor in this. Cresteds also make many different clicks, barks, and chirps when threatened as well as during breeding.
Conclusion: Crested Geckos have taken off since their rediscovery and is currently one of the most common pet geckos out there. They just come in so many colors and patterns it seems there is one out there for everyone. I would recommend Crested geckos to anyone!
Disease Causing Organism in Captive Crested Gecko Population
Photos and text by Randy May - Neoscales
The purpose of this post is to make Rhac keepers aware of an unusual problem that affects Crested Geckos. I had read on this forum just a few days ago, a telltale story that parallels what I experienced. That person lost his male Crested for “unknown” reasons. While we'll never know if what happened to his gecko is related, there is certainly a high degree of probability that it may be based on his description.
Early this fall I received 4 Crested Geckos from a breeder/dealer. Outwardly all 4 appeared healthy (with one being considerably larger than the other three). But as with all new animals, these 4 were placed in quarantine containers. Initially they all fed and behaved normally. After approximately 2 weeks, the larger one appeared to have lost weight. Certainly not something that triggered any alarms for a newly arrived animal, perhaps just a stress related anomaly. Well, I got rather busy over the following 2 weeks and hadn't remembered to pay any particular attention to the large one. So when I did take a special look, I was startled at what I saw. The Crested had gone from robust to emaciated within a span of 3-4 weeks. At that time he was obviously near death, and by the next morning he was in fact dead. The 3 other geckos that came from the same source were still doing fine and continuing to gain weight.
That afternoon I was determined to find out what had happened to this animal. So I performed a comprehensive necropsy. I've spoken with several Rhac breeders and after they shared their stores with me, I shared mine with them. Now I'm sharing this with you in the hopes that you can identify potential trouble early and save the ailing gecko. Here's the results:
This particular organism appears to devastate the normally very disease resistant Crested Gecko (but doesn't appear to have the same affect on other Rhac spp. based on lack of reports of affected gecko). Other breeders have relayed to me similar circumstances where Crested have died, so this organism is within the captive community.
Signs & Symptoms
• Rapid weight loss
• Swollen Vent (late stage)
• This is contagious though contact with the feces of ailing geckos
• Highly susceptible to Flagyl (Metronidazole)
• 250mg/kg for 3 treatments is probably enough
• You must keep the cage clean and bleached during treatment to prevent re-infection.
• You should also treat all other geckos that have had any contact with the affected one. Treating the entire colony (could easily done by medicating their food) may be needed as a precaution if food/water dishes and cages are moved from cage to cage.
Take home message: If noticed early on, this is an easy and highly treatable disease!!!
There are other causes of weight loss (like intestinal blockage), but amebiasis should be part of the treatment plan straight away - if you want the best chance to save your ailing gecko.
Feel free to comment and thanks for the long read (JFYI - I'm a reasearch scientist by profession),
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