Crested Gecko Setup Introduction
The minimum requirements for keeping Crested Geckos are easy to meet, and can even be quite cheap, but much more elaborate setups can be enjoyed by both the geckos and people looking at them. Although most of my geckos are housed in simple, low budget setups, I find the larger naturalistic enclosure on my desk to be the most enjoyable.
We will primarily discuss the most common types of crested gecko setup, which are almost universally agreed to be reasonable, but there is still some controversy about very large and very small enclosures, types of substrate and other specific issues. The more controversial opinions will be marked as such.
A juvenile crested gecko under 10 grams can be kept in a 6qt “shoebox” style plastic tub (12 inches long, 1.5 gallons) or a large Kritter Keeper (14.5 inches long, 3 gallons).
A 16-20 quart tub is good for up to 24 grams. After that, the animal is generally sexable and can do into an adult enclosures with a minimum of 10 gallons. 20 is preferable. We prefer the 12 X 12 X 18 inch ZooMed tanks for 24-35 gram adults. For breeding size adults, pairs usually go into 18X18X24 inch ZooMed tanks. Exo Terra tanks are also available in similar sizes. If you are going to give them a specialized reptile tank, choose ones with more height as they love to climb the walls and the underside of the screen top.
Types of Housing
For most people, the standard type of housing for crested gecko is a glass tank available at most pet shops. Reptile specialty stores may give you more options, such as front-opening glass enclosures with screen top and ventilation holes at the bottom. Most have an area that can be used to place natural-looking terrarium soil or moss, depending on how elaborate you want to go. You don’t have to go the natural route with this type of housing, but it’s a great option and we encourage you to research how to properly set up a naturalistic habitat.
For more information on glass and acrylic tank setups, check out our Standard Enclosures Guide.
For those with a large collection and need affordable, space-saving housing, a plastic tub with appropriate ventilation can be assembled cheaply and with a minimum of DIY effort. Tubs make geckos feel secure due to their semi-opaque material, but don’t allow for great visibility to those who want to display their animals. For a more detailed discussion of tubs, check out our Simple Setups Guide.
If you want to get more out of owning a gecko than just keeping your pet in a basic starter kit, consider going the natural route with our Naturalistic Enclosures Guide. Building a fully-stocked vivarium with bio-active soil and live plants is easier than you might think, and very rewarding. This type of terrarium setup will allow you to see how crested geckos interact with a more naturalistic environment.
The Bare Minimum
There are very few things that are requirements for keeping a Crested Gecko, but the following list should be considered the very least that is acceptable for housing.
- A water source. Daily misting with a spray bottle, with or without a water bowl will work. Misting also helps keep humidity up which in turn makes shedding easier. If you choose to include a water bowl, it should be cleaned frequently and should be shallow and easy for geckos to climb out of to avoid drownings, especially for babies.
Note that a water bowl is NOT a substitute for regular misting
- Appropriate food. Well balanced commercial diets are healthy and easy to use, but dusted insects and other homemade foods may also be fed.
Whether you use a commercial diet or mix up your own, you will need a small container for it. For babies something as small as a plastic bottle cap can be sufficient, and for adults and subadults a 1-2 oz deli cup is more than large enough.
Neither of these needs to be filled completely, but you should quickly see how much your geckos actually eat in a night and you can adjust what you give them accordingly.
Babies generally eat about 1 teaspoon of food; adults can eat up to 2 tablespoons; juveniles eat somewhere in between. Some geckos are piggies and some eat very little.
- Somewhere to hide. Whether it’s living or fake plants, a cork bark tube filled with moss, a simple toilet paper tube, or even a small cardboard box, Crested Geckos need a place to hide to feel safe.They also appreciate humid hides, which are generally small containers with moist substrate. These can also help with shedding problems, but are not as critical as just having some place to hide.
- An enclosure with room to move around. Many people feel that young crested geckos are more comfortable in small enclosures such as small Kritter Keepers, plastic shoeboxes (with holes) or even glass jars. Few if any would recommend anything smaller. Even babies need more room than there is in a plastic sandwich-sized tupperware box.
Being arboreal creatures, Crested Geckos prefer height to width, so it is often better to turn traditional long aquariums vertically on their sides when they are used to house climbing geckos, but they are usable either way.
That is basically it. In the other subpages of the Housing section we cover how to put together simple and basic setups, standard and typical tanks, and elaborate crested gecko terrariums, as well as guides on choosing materials to use.