Crested Geckos (Rhacodactylus ciliatus or more recently Correlophus ciliatus) are a reptile species native to New Caledonia in the Southwest Pacific. There are several other related species, commonly referred to as New Caledonian “giant” geckos, despite having several small species included. C. ciliatus is named due to the eyelash-like crests above the eyes. These crests are also present down the back. As far as reptiles or even other geckos are concerned, crested geckos are a very easy pet to keep. In captivity, they require a small amount of space, a simple diet, and little to no additional heat or light. They thrive at a comfortable indoor temperature in the 70s, with a drop into the mid 60s at night being acceptable. Easily cared for with a daily misting and feeding with a commercial powdered diet requiring no insects, crested geckos are a good starter reptile and are even a pet for non-reptile lovers. And should you take on the challenge of breeding, crested geckos are a great starter species for breeders just entering the marketplace. Be sure to do your research up front!
With a possible lifespan of 30 years or more, a crested gecko makes an affordable and long-lived pet reptile. Because they breed easily and readily in captivity, you can purchase one for around $50 for a standard olive colored male, with females typically running more. Buying an unsexed juvenile gives you the opportunity to watch them grow from a scant 3 grams to a whopping adult that can top 60 grams. Most crested gecko breeders develop an eye for potential stunners, so do your research and ask lots of questions if this is a hobby you are interested in.
The taxonomic classification of crested geckos are within the Diplodactylidae family of geckos native to Oceania: Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia. These geckos share a close and special taxonomy which is still being studied today. Dubbed Correlophus ciliatus in 1866 by zoologist Alphone Guichenot, there is little scientific literature from that time. There’s no verified meaning of the genus name. Most scientific (binomial) names are a mashup of Greek or Latin root words. At the root, “cor-” means with, together, mutual, body; correpo means “creep, slink”; correlativius means like, related to. Lophos is easy: a comb or crest. The species designation “ciliatus” comes from Cilium (plural cilia) for eyelash. The suffix -atus is a commonly added to a noun to form an an adjective. It’s a bit of a stretch, but it does convey a animal having a creeping body with crests like eyelashes.
The species was later grouped within the genus Rhacodactylus, comprising the other “giant” geckos of New Caledonia. Long thought extinct, crested geckos were “rediscovered” in 1994. In 2012, genetic studies indicated otherwise and Correlophus ressurected. As New Caledonia is actually part of the ancient Zealandian continent, most of which is submerged in the Pacific Ocean, it makes sense that all of the local species are highly related.
Crested geckos are also known as “eyelash geckos” in pet stores because of the beautiful spikes over their eyes.As they do not have eyelids, these crests aren’t really eyelashes at all. These protrusions run along their heads as well, with some specimens displaying raised spikes along their backs. These “pinstripe” geckos are one of the more popular traits that are selectively bred for in this species.
Crested geckos come in a variety of color patterns and traits, collectively called “morphs”. Highly sought after are vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges as well as dark black or chocolate. Some have patches of different colors called “harlequins” which can come in combinations such as black and cream, red and cream, red and orange, yellow and cream and more. A more basic but lovely morph are tigers: a base color with black or red/orange stripes. There are many crested gecko breeders that specialize in improving color, markings and patterns of crested geckos. We are Arizona crested gecko breeders (based in Phoenix) who have taken on such a task! Take a look around our site and view our links for more information on these gorgeous geckos!
Did you know? Crested gecko is El Geco Crestado in Spanish? In French, they are called Le Gecko à Crête. Both names are in reference to their crests. Other languages make a reference to their spikes on their heads as crowns. Neukaledonische Kronengecko is German for “New Caledonian crown gecko”. The Japanese go one step further for this fancy gecko: オウカンミカドヤモリ translates loosely to “crown” (oukan) “emperor” (mikado is literally “honorable gate”) and “gecko” (yamori). Often they are just referred to as “Cres”, a diminutive of the English name. Are you a fan of lovely lashes? Ögonfransgecko is Swedish for “eyelash” gecko. Read more fun Crested Gecko facts!