Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Crested Geckos


The Crested Gecko, New Caledonian Crested Gecko, Guichenot's Giant Gecko or Eyelash Gecko, Rhacodactylus ciliatus, is a species of gecko native to southern New Caledonia. This species was thought extinct until it was rediscovered in 1994. Along with several other Rhacodactylus species, it is being considered for protected status by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna.

The species was first described in 1866 as Correlophus ciliatus by the French zoologist Alphone Guichenot in an article entitled "Notice sur un nouveau genre de sauriens de la famille des geckotiens du Muséum de Paris" ("Notes on a new species of lizard in the gecko family") in the Mémoires de la Société Scientifique Naturelle de Chérbourg. It has since been renamed Rhacodactylus ciliatus.

The generic name Rhacodactylus is Greek in origin: Rhakos, meaning "spine" and Dactylus meaning "finger". The specific name, ciliatus, is Latin: Cilia means "fringe" or "eyelash" and refers to the crest of skin over the animal's eyes that resembles an eyelash.

Physical description

The Crested Gecko has hair-like projections found above the eyes, resembling eyelashes. It has a wedge shaped head and a crest that runs from each eye to the tail. The toes and the tip of the tail are covered in small hairs called setae. Each seta is divided into hundreds of smaller (approximately 200 nanometres in diameter) hairs called spatulae. It is believed these structures exploit the weak van der Waals force to help the gecko climb on most solid surfaces. The toes have small claws which aid in climbing surfaces to which their toes cannot cling.

The Crested Gecko has many naturally occurring color groups, some of which include: grey, brown, red, orange, and yellow of various shades. They have variable markings, which include spots, straight stripes, and tiger-like stripes. The markings and coloration are not geographic indicators; offspring of the same clutch may display differing coloration and markings. The colors are brighter and more prominent at night.

The Crested Gecko has distinct structural morphs in head size and crest abundancy. Geckos with a head length less than 1.3 times its width are considered "crowned" Crested Geckos. They can vary in the amount and size of the crests; some have crests that extend to the base of the tail and some lack crests on one side of their body.

Common Name : Crested Gecko

Scientific Name : Rhacodactylus ciliatus

Housing Size : 45 x 45 x 60cm

Housing Type : Forest

Adult Size : 6 - 7 inches

Care/Keeping : Singularly,pair or group with one male

Level Of Difficulty : Easy

Life Span : 5+ years

Diet : Omnivores


The Crested Gecko is an arboreal species which will require a tall vivarium that is at least 12 x 12 x 18 inch (LxWxH). You should also provide some hide and climbing areas with branches, logs and real / silk plants.

A damp hide box should be available at all times to help with shedding (a plastic container with a hole in the lid, with moist soil or moss inside).

Heating, Lighting, and Humidity

These lizards generally do well at room temperature. In their natural habitat the daytime temperature would be about 78 degrees Fahrenheit. Their temperature should be kept between the low 70’s to 84 degrees during the daytime. At night it can drop as low as 60 degrees.

If your house regularly drops below this temperature at night then you will need to provide additional heating on a thermostat such as a heat mat on the side of the enclosure or a low wattage heat lamp above.

Over heating is more of a problematic for these reptiles than under heating. Prolonged exposure to temperatures in excess of 85 degrees may prove fatal to crested geckos. It is very important, because of this to use an accurate thermometer (digital is best) and to ensure that any additional heating is on a thermostat.

As cresties are nocturnal they do not really benefit from UV lighting and have been kept successfully for many years in captivity without any additional lighting.

Crested geckos do require quite high humidity (85%) this can be achieved by spaying the enclosure with water once or twice a day. You will need a hygrometer to measure the humidity of the enclosure.


Coconut fibre substrate is a good choice or you can use either Exo Terra Plantation Soil, Lucky Reptile Sphagnum Moss or T-Rex Jungle Bedding, with daily misting to retain 50% humidity.


Crested Geckos are insectivorous and frugivorous so feed a variety of pureed fruit (such as baby foods), Crickets, waxworms, mealworms should be offered now again as a treat.

Insects must be gut loaded at least 24 hours prior to feeding, a high quality fish food or Bug Grub would be perfect. Before feeding your Crested Geckos the crickets or mealworms etc should be coated with a calcium supplement.


A shallow dish of water should be provided, and cleaned daily. Most Crested Geckos will lick droplets of water from leaves and from other surfaces in their terrarium.


Any debris, dead crickets and feces should be removed from the vivarium on a daily basis, Baby food should be replaced every 1-2 days.

A full clean of the terrarium and its contents should be done every 2-3 months.

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