Crested Gecko Care Sheet, Correlophus ciliatus
Correlophus ciliatus, (formerly Rhacodactylus ciliatus) commonly known as Crested Gecko or Eyelash Gecko, is native to the southern region of New Caledonia (Grande Terre) and a satellite island just Southeast, Pine Island (Isle de Pins). Crested Geckos spend the majority of their time in low-level trees and shrubs often finding secure hiding places on the ground floor to sleep during the day. This species is an opportunistic eater feeding on a wide range of insects as well as fruit. The easy care requirements, prolific breeding habits, an intense pallet of colors and pattern, all propelled this gecko through the reptile popularity ranks.
New Caledonia map for Rhacodactylus gecko
Correlophus ciliatus is a hardy species that can thrive in almost any conventional cage. Your enclosure can be as elaborate as a naturalistic vivarium or as basic as a terrarium with the plastic decor. Because of their arboreal nature, you will want to choose an enclosure that is in a vertical position rather than horizontal. We also recommend three cage sizes to match the three stages of life. A hatchling should go right into a small enclosure of up to five gallons until they reach 5-6 months old at which point should be moved into a ten-gallon enclosure. Around six months of age, the sex can be determined by the hemipenile bulge and males should be separated in their enclosure. Females can live communally as long as they are all around the same size and fed regularly. Adults can thrive in fifteen to twenty-gallon enclosures alone. For every addition to the enclosure such as a mate, you should increase the cage size by 5 gallons. A breeding trio of one male for two females will have enough space in a thirty-gallon cage to interact comfortably.
Temperature, Humidity & Lighting
Crested Geckos should be kept at moderate room temperature between 72 °F and 80 °F for the majority of the year. A night time drop of five degrees is adequate but not necessary. Temperatures should not rise above 85 °F or fall below 65 °F for any length of time as these temperatures stress the geckos and can result in illness or death.
Average High Temperature
Average Low Temperature
Humidity is an important factor in the overall health of your gecko. Proper humidity should reside in the 60-80% range. Inadequate humidity will result in shedding problems. The poor shed can result in severe health problems such as lost limbs (digits or crests) to decreased eye sight and even death. For areas that have relatively low humidity you can mist the enclosure as many times as necessary or introduce a waterfall or potted plants. For the extreme such as a desert climate you can provide a humidifier in the room the pet gecko is in or a humidifier specifically for the enclosure that turns on periodically or from a sensor.
Average High and Low Relative Humidity
Too much humidity can also be a bad thing. Standing puddles of water can provide sanctuary for bacteria to live. Crested Geckos should not be exposed to damp conditions for long periods of the day. Routine cleaning and exposure to UVA/UVB can reduce the risk of harmfull bacteria. A humidity cycle is also recommended. Allow the enclosure to dry out for a period during the day. This will limit the ability of bacteria to thrive. Lighting has been highly debated. All New Caledonian geckos spend some time exposed to daylight in nature but the benefits are sceptical at best. We know that full spectrum lighting will help prevent bacteria growth. We also know that the hours of lighting will help induce breeding in most reptile species. We follow daylight savings time in our facility. 12-14 hours of daylight during the summer months and 10 hours of light during the winter months. We do not provide UVB/UVA but offer food items that contain calcium and vitamin D3.
Diet & Nutrition
Crested Geckos are Omnivorous primarily feeding on fruit and insects. In nature, these geckos will lap up nectar, feed on ripe fruit that has fallen to the ground and just about any moving insect. Although Crested Geckos are omnivorous, they will not feed on foliage. The diet of captive reptiles is far less varied than that of their counterpart in the wild. It is important that we, as keepers, offer the most nutritional and varied diet possible.
Meal Replacement Powder
We have found Crested Gecko Diet from Repashy Superfoods to be the most nutritionally balanced diet available. There are two forms of the diet. The most common is the Complete diet which is formulated to be able to provide all the nutritional needs of these geckos even under the most demanding conditions -- breeding. The second is a Day Gecko Diet developed with Phelsuma and Lygodactylus geckos featuring a Cherry/Fig flavor that these geckos go crazy for.
We recommend live crickets, phoenix worms and specialty feeder roaches as food for your geckos. When it comes to live food these three options are the most commonly offered. You can also offer wax worms as a treat or during the winter months after breeding has ended since wax worms have a high fat content.
All insects should be Gut Loaded before being offered as food to your gecko. Gut Loading is essentially providing a highly nutritious food to the insect before your geckos' feeding. On Saturday we offer left over Crested Gecko Diet to our live feeders in preparation for Sundays live feeding extravaganza.
Select your live feeders by size in length. Choose a live feeder that is no greater than the length between the eyes. Coat the feeder with Calcium and Vitamin D3 by placing in a plastic bag with the powder and shaking until the feeder is covered in the powder.
Weekly Feeding Routine
On a consistent routine, your geckos will be familiarized with the food and how often it is fed. We like to feed all our New Caledonian geckos 4 times a week. We offer fresh Crested Gecko Diet three times a week; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We allow the diet to stay in the enclosure until we replace it on that third night. We find that as the diet becomes ripe the geckos tend to consume more of it. In nature, a piece of fruit that falls to the ground and begins to ripen (not spoil) allows for the geckos to be more apt to smell, find and consume the fruit. It must be instincts that induce this feeding response. On Sunday we remove all food from the enclosure and offer live prey that has been dusted with vitamins and minerals and gut loaded the night before. Any mixed but unserved diet is placed in the refrigerator or freezer for future feeding.
Handling and Taming
Crested Geckos are hardy animals that tolerate a good amount of handling. Care should be given to new additions or untamed animals. Always allow a 2 week period where handling is avoided. Hatchlings especially should be observed and if handling becomes necessary, bring the cage to the ground level and handle the gecko just barely off the ground. This two week period will allow the animal to become accustomed to your interaction and routine limiting undue stress. Handling your new gecko will help tame them. We recommend handling each day after the two-week-waiting-period of about 5 minutes or more. This will help the gecko become accustomed to you by sight and scent. After the first few weeks and depending on the behavior of the gecko you can increase the handling time of up to 20 minutes. We recommend a handling technique referred to as "hand walking." While the gecko is on one hand and alert they will attempt to jump, climb or move from one hand to the next. With the gecko in either your left or right hand place your free hand in front of the gecko. Distance away will entice the gecko to jump while a hand in hand posture will result in climbing. With the gecko moving from one hand to the next continue placing the free hand in front. This is also very good exercise and a bonding experience between the gecko and handler essentially taming the pet. Remember to do this process low to the ground to prevent injury from falling. Young Crested Geckos should not be placed in a position to jump especially over a hard surface. Keep your hands close while using this technique.
Males will develop preanal pores and a hemipenile bulge. Females will have neither of these indicating factors. Sexing can be performed as early as 6 months to 9 months of age without a jewelers loupe. Between 5 and 10 grams males can be determined using a jewelers loupe (10x magnification) over the pore region. Pores appear as small scales that have a dark spot in the center.
Males reach maturity at 9 months old while females reach maturity at 12 months old. It is recommended to allow the males to reach 12 months old and females to reach 14 months old before breeding. Weight is also a factor and goes hand in hand with age. Females should weigh 30-35 grams at the minimum while a 40-gram female will be mature and able to produce fertile eggs with a greater hatch rate than one of less weight or younger in age.
- Brumation should be used to induce breeding and to bring females out of production to reestablish calcium and fat reserves. Brumation begins in the fall with temperatures slowly lowering as the months' pass to a low 70, high 60F but never below 65F. As the temperature holds steady for 3-months and spring rolls around you will begin to induce breeding by slowly raising the temperature each month until they reach 75-80F and hold in this range during the breeding season.
- As soon as you place the male and female together, you will want to include a lay box in the enclosure. There are many different variants for a lay box. You can use a Rubbermaid or Sterilite container with a hole cut out of the top, a small Kritter Keeper with the lid removed; the possibilities are endless. There are also different variants for a substrate that you can use. A common method is the use a mix of vermiculite and peat moss, or you can even use just moss. In my breeding cages, I use a small Kritter Keeper with the lid removed and moss as the substrate. This method is easy since the females always lay at the bottom of the lay box and I can simply lift it up and look underneath for any new eggs.
- Females will produce a clutch (two) eggs every 25-35 days which requires a great deal of energy and calcium. Attention to the calcium sacks and weight is recommended to ensure the breeder health.
- Repeat brumation to stop egg production. This is vital to the health of the gecko since it takes a great deal of energy and calcium to produce eggs and is a natural occurrence in New Caledonia.
Incubation We only recommend calcined clay (SuperHatch) as an incubation medium. Regulate temperatures between 70F and 76F. The greater the incubation temperature the shorter the incubation time, and lower the incubation temperature the longer the duration. The longer the duration, the larger, healthier the hatchling will be.
Juvenile Care We house single hatchlings in a small Kritter Keeper until they reach 10 grams in weight and at that point move them into 10-gallon enclosures up until adult size. I keep the same feeding schedule for Hatchlings as I do Adults with the only difference being the amount of food offered is slightly less.