Unlike many reptiles, baby crested geckos require similar care as adults – same diet, temperatures and handling – with variation in schedule and other details due to their small size. Baby crested geckos are called hatchlings, as are other lizards that hatch out of eggs – the oviparous reptiles. Young geckos are actively growing and use more of their food resources and energy for growth, so they rarely become overweight when fed a balanced diet. They shed more often – so you are likely to see shed issues more in hatchlings. They also can dry out faster due to their smaller size, so humidity can be a little trickier. Be sure to balance adequate ventilation with appropriate humidity.
Hatchlings and juveniles do great in small containers, such as 2.5 to 5 gallon enclosures. This includes Kritter Keepers or 6 quart plastic “shoebox” tubs with holes drilled in for ventilation. KKs are pre-made plastic pet carriers, temprary or permanent setups for small animals like reptiles, frogs and fish. If you have an ambient humidity around 50%, then these should work well and are widely available at local pet stores. We prefer the plastic bins as they keep in humidity better than Kritter Keepers.
We’ve had success keeping geckos in small (2.5 gallons) enclosures from hatching to about 6 grams. At 10-15 grams they can be placed in a 10 gallon tank. After 25 grams they should do well in a permanent 20 gallon or equivalent enclosure.
Care should be taken that they can’t escape their enclosures; binder clips can put used on the lids of 6 quart tubs. Most critter containers are escape proof as long as you align and snap the lid of the enclosure completely. Be careful about opening and closing bins or totes – babies can be crushed or have a toe or tail injured in a closing lid.
We recommend only paper towel for juveniles under 15 grams. Particulate substrates such as soil and cocofiber are great for adults, but can be difficult for smaller animals to pass if ingested. This can lead to impaction, which can be fatal.
Temperature & Humidity
Babies do will in temperatures from 70-80 degrees. It is important they do not get much warmer than 80 degrees or they can suffer from heat stress.
As with adults, the baby tank should not constantly be wet and there should be a brief drying out period (~45% humidity) during the day. A water bowl is recommended, it can be a shallow Gatorade bottle cap or a 1.5 ounce condiment cup half-filled with water.
Babies can dehydrate quickly, so regular misting is an important factor in successful rearing.
It’s difficult to see if baby crested geckos are eating, as they take tiny licks and their poops are easily hidden within leaves and branches. Hatchlings can live off the energy of their yolk sacks for a week or more after hatching. Put food in the enclosure 24-48 hours after hatching just in case they are hungry, but don’t be worried if they don’t eat for several days.
The general guideline is to feed a good Crested Gecko Diet (CGD) every other day, with gutloaded, dusted insects being introduced around a month after hatching if desired. The CGD should not be further supplemented; additional calcium with D3 can be added through proper feeding of insects. Keep treats like mashed fruit to a minimum, once or twice a month.
We have raised geckos entirely on commercial formulas from Repashy and Pangea, but we encourage the feeding of live insects on a weekly or monthly basis to provide a varied diet.
If you hare having trouble getting your hatchlings to eat, please see our article on picky eaters.
Baby crested geckos are delicate and often skittish. They may gape, nip or squeak at you to show you they’re tough – but it’s all an act. It can be difficult to handle a tiny, jumpy gecko! Many are very fast and quick to run up your arm and jump out into nothingness.
Hatchlings can often adapt very quickly to handling compared to older juveniles. You can pick them up – gently! – a few hours after hatching. Let them rest and fully absorb the energy from their egg yolk. If they are exploring the incubator, they are ready to be moved into their new enclosures!
Just be aware that young geckos can go through personality changes as they grow due to hormones, genetics and other factors. Once a week handling as you clean their tanks is a good routine. Don’t force handling. Whenever possible, let them climb into your hand instead of grabbing them. Food treats like mashed fruit can also be helpful but don’t offer more than twice a month.
We have a guide to handling crested geckos – with tips for all ages and sizes.
Hatchling and adult crested geckos are generally hardy reptiles and easy to care for. However, there are certain things to watch out for with the smaller babies and juveniles.
Shedding is often a concern with hatchlings, as they are susceptible to dehydration and stuck shed. Be careful that shed skin doesn’t build up around toes, tails or limbs, as it con constrict bloodflow which can lead to injury and even amputation! Babies are more likely to lose toes to stuck shed than adults. They shed often and it can build up more quickly.
Because they are actively growing, baby crested geckos fed an improper diet can show signs of nutritional deficiencies, especially of calcium. Finding the proper balance of nutrients can be difficult, so that is one reason we feed a commercial product like Repashy or Pangea crested gecko diets or meal replacement powders.
A gecko can hatch out with a deficiency if the mother was not fed properly or laid eggs too frequently. Her nutritional stores can’t always keep up with her laying schedule. A qualified reptile vet should be consulted if you suspect Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD). Follow their care guidelines and recommendations, which may include calcium supplementation and exposure to UVB lights.
Issues are rare with baby cresties, but it’s best to prepare and know the risks involved with breeding, hatching out and caring for these cute little geckos. We hope our guide to hatchling care will help you raise your new baby into a happy, healthy adult!