Simple Setups

The introductory page of the Housing section lays out the most basic requirements for housing and caring for Crested Geckos. Here we will discuss the next step up: simple, cheap plastic tubs.

A juvenile crested gecko under 10 grams can be kept in a 6 quart “shoebox” style plastic tub. A 16-20 quart tub is good for up to 24 grams. An adult enclosure should be the equivalent of 10 gallons, although 20 is preferable. 64qt tubs (~20 gallons) are good for single adults and male-female pairs or two females. Trios can work if you have a lot of ledges, leaf cover and tubes for hiding and visual barriers.

There is nothing wrong with these simple enclosures. In fact, this is probably how the majority of Crested Geckos in captivity are kept as breeders and hatchlings, before being sent to their permanent home. If this option sounds most appealing to you, your geckos should do just fine with it.

The $2 Setup

If you’re looking for simple, it doesn’t get much more simple than this. This isn’t large enough for an adult, but this setup is just fine for a baby, or even more than one small baby. For larger setups, skip down the page to the next section.

Materials

  • Soft plastic tub such as a 6 quart Sterelite shoe box. These are available at stores such as Big Lots!, Target, and sometimes dollar stores, among others. - Cost: $1
  • Fake plant. The cheapest of these are usually found at dollar stores. They often have fake flowers, and next to them fake leaves to go with them. The leaves are what we’re looking for. Plastic or fabric leaves are fine, as long as they don’t run when they are wet.- Cost: $1
  • Paper towel.A half sheet of paper towel, a sheet of newspaper, or even a couple of napkins will work. - Cost: Negligible
  • Plastic bottle cap.The lid from a jug of water or milk is great, but most plastic bottle caps will work just fine as a food dish. A larger lid or up-cycled container can work as a water dish. - Cost: Negligible

Construction

  1. Make holes in the tub. You can use a drill, a soldering iron, or even a large nail. Just make sure that there aren’t jagged edges left to cut your gecko when you’re done.Several holes should be made in each side to provide air flow across the tub. If you find that it is staying too humid, you can always add more holes, but always make sure there is enough ventilation to let the gecko breathe!
  2. Put the paper towel inside the bottom of the tub. This is simply to make it easier to clean out, to hold a bit more moisture, and to give the gecko something a little softer to walk on.
  3. Add the plastic cap(s). Fill a plastic bottle cap with food, and another with water even if you plan to mist the enclosure at least once a day, and put them in.
  4. Put in the fake plant. Your gecko will want somewhere to hide and a plant, real or fake, is a great hiding place.
  5. Add your gecko! That’s all you really need!Just feed and water your gecko regularly, mist the inside of the tub with a spray bottle once a day or so to keep the humidity up and give them something to drink, which is critical if you don’t provide a water dish, and your little gecko should be healthy and happy for months, giving you plenty of time to set up something more suitable for a larger gecko.

Enclosures

For a simple setup, enclosures can be almost any non-toxic container which allows air flow and at least some light during the day, but the most commonly used enclosures are listed below.

  • Plastic tubs. Clear, but slightly opaque, plastic tubs are best, and simply need ventilation. Drilling a few holes in each side of the tub generally works, but if the humidity is too high then you can cut a larger hole in the side or lid and cover it with screen. Screen is best if you live in a humid area, but be aware of seasonal variation in your indoor humidity. Running the heater or air conditioning can create a very dry indoor environment.
  • Glass or acrylic terrariums. These are a more expensive option, but they also nicer looking. Crested Geckos prefer vertical climbing space, so the tall front opening style of enclosure, such as those available from ZooMed and ExoTerra, is the best choice. More traditional short and wide terrariums and aquariums will also work though, provided they have secure screen covers to keep your geckos inside and allow the air to move in and out. For tall models, 12″x12″x18″ is a good size for juvenile geckos, and is probably acceptable for a single adult, but 18″x18″x24″ is preferable for adult breeding pairs and groups.For terrariums measured in gallons, a 5.5 gallon will work for sub-adult geckos, especially turned on its side to increase its height, and for babies even a 2 gallon tank is plenty of space, but tanks that small are somewhat rare. For a single adult, a 10 or 20 gallon tank is fine, and for breeding pairs and groups a 20-30 gallon or larger enclosure would be best. As a general rule, each adult gecko requires 10 gallons of tank space.  Crested Geckos can be very active at night, and they will explore whatever space you give them, even if you’re not awake to see it.
  • Kritter Keepers. These popular and reasonably priced little plastic enclosures are a good option for young geckos. They have an advantage over most plastic tubs in that they are much more clear. This lets you see and enjoy your pets more easily, and can be helpful in more quickly spotting problems.Babies can be kept even in the small Kritter Keepers, but as they grow they should be moved into larger ones, and eventually into one of the other types of enclosures since these are not made in sizes suitable for adults.If you do choose this option, please be aware that while the lids are secure enough to keep a gecko in, they do come off fairly easily, and they would not keep a cat, dog or child out.
    • Nothing. Although it is not the easiest option for cleanup, and your geckos may not enjoy it as much, some people choose to leave the bottom of the enclosure bare, and it works.
    • Paper towels. Paper towels are easy to clean up, they retain moisture from misting and help increase humidity, and are a cheap, safe and easy substrate for geckos of any age.Paper towels are good for babies and newly acquired geckos in particular, because there is not a risk of it hurting them, and you can easily see their waste on it, which lets you know that they are eating and healthy.
    • Newspaper. Even cheaper than paper towels is newspaper. You can finally have a use for junk mail! It doesn’t hold moisture quite as well as paper towels, and looks a bit worse, but if you’re lining a tub you can hardly see into, it doesn’t make a lot of difference.
  • Substrate

    Once you have chosen an enclosure, it’s time to decide what, if anything, to put in the bottom of it. The Substrate section has a more in-depth discussion of substrate options, but the simplest options are listed here.

7 thoughts on “Simple Setups

  1. This website is great! It is so informative and has great ideas for a cheap but nice enough house for your gecko. It helped out alot becaese we didnt have alot of money to spend on a house. I totally recomend following these ideas!

    • Thank you! Sterilite tubs are the best way to get started! Just be sure to provide adequate ventilation without sacrificing humidity control. A window cut-out covered by screen is probably the best method, combined with a few air holes at the top for air flow. Thank you for the comment. :)

  2. Pingback: what are the sign of aggressive behavior - Geckos Unlimited

  3. I prefer the more attractive vivarium look, personally, but if your tight on money these setups are great!! Thanks, MVR!

    • Depends on the individual gecko. Some have found that babies do better (better growth) in a smaller enclosure. It’s also easier to monitor their health – whether they are eating & pooping, have stuck shed, etc. – when they are in small enclosures. However, many keepers have kept babies in larger enclosures from the start and they do fine. I recommend a small enclosure for geckos under 10 grams or for the first 2-3 months to make sure they are doing well before putting them in a larger permanent enclosure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>