What is a Crested Gecko?
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There are so many different names for the crested gecko: Rhacodactylus ciliatus, the eyelash gecko, crestie – the names could go on and on. The crested gecko may have many names with plenty of affection behind them, however, what exactly is a crested gecko?
Crested Geckos (more formally, Rhacodactylus ciliatus) are a species of geckos that are considered to be a part of the reptile family. They originate from New Caledonia and are found in the wild in areas that are warm and humid. They also thrive in captivity requiring very low maintenance.
Crested Geckos are reptiles that have made quite the comeback after nearly reaching extension at one point in time. They are found in the wild and also have become very popular house pets for those wanting a low-maintenance pet that will live for years and years. Continue reading to find out what crested geckos look like, what type of environment they live in, and other important factors that make the crested gecko what it is today.
What Do Crested Geckos Look Like?
There is a reason that the crested gecko hosts the nickname “eyelash gecko.” These little reptiles are really quite cute in that they have crests over their eyes that work to protect their vision from any type of particle, yet they are formed in a way that looks like very tough eyelashes. Their bodies also host this same crest that goes along both sides of their back and down different segments of their front and hind legs.
Beyond their crests, crested geckos have a head that is shaped relative to a triangle with two ear openings on either side of their head that are covered with a tympanic membrane. Their eyes are rather bulgy black eyes that are licked to keep them moisturized rather than being covered by eyelids. Their bodies are covered in scales that can range in color from that of tan, peach, or even a reddish-brown depending on the breed.
Crested geckos also all have four limbs that each host four fingers. Underneath their fingers, they have pads that are the very reason they are able to climb walls, hang from trees, and even scamper across ceilings. They have tails that add to their overall length which usually ranges from 7-8 inches in length. They are thick in the belly, but they are overall very lean and relatively thin giving them the ability to run off quickly and hide easily.
What Type of Environment Do Crested Geckos Live In?
When it comes to reptiles, you have those that thrive in the desert heat, those that retreat to the shade no matter how cool the day is, those that spend most of their days underwater, and those that need a bit more moisture in the air to be truly happy. When it comes to the crested gecko, they fall in the last example. Crested geckos originated from New Caledonia which is the main island of the rainforests of Grand Terre.
What does this mean for the crested gecko and the environment in which it thrives? This means that this reptile is one that needs to be in a place that is warm, but even more, a place that is very very wet. New Caledonia is a dense rainforest that sees a tremendous amount of rainfall, especially throughout the wet seasons. Crested geckos can be found lounging on the rainforest floor throughout the day in the shade and foraging the floor throughout the night.
Therefore, if you find yourself in a position that you are wanting a crested gecko as a pet, their wild natural habitat is something you must keep in mind. Coming from the dense rainforests of New Caledonia, it is important that that same type of environment is immediate within the vivarium in your home. They do not require a heat lamp, but be sure to add plenty of lush plants and always keep the environment moist to ensure they always feel like they are home.
What Do Crested Geckos Eat?
When it comes to wild crested geckos, they are not a reptile that is satisfied with mediocrity or repetition where food is concerned. Crested geckos eat a wide variety of different insects, fruit, nectar, juices, and even the occasional remnants of other small animals. They like a variety in their diets and are real scavengers in this sense. Depending on where the wild crested gecko is located geographically, their diet will vary to some degree.
When it comes to live-food, crested geckos will eat just about anything that can jump or fly. Some of their favorites include grasshoppers, roaches, butterflies, caterpillars, and locusts. This makes up the majority of their diet in the wild and crested geckos that are kept in captivity can also feed on these types of insects. Captive geckos also do great with snakes, stick insects, silkworms, butterworms, and wax-worms.
For fruit, wild crested geckos are suckers any type of fruit that is either very ripe or even a few days old. They are drawn to the sweetness of the fruit and typically can be found snacking on berries while also sipping on various fruit juices. Captive crested geckos love a wide variety of fruits including mangos, bananas, pears, figs, apricots, watermelons, dates, peaches, plums, and blueberries. Just be sure to mash them well before offering the sweet treat.
What is the Temperament and Behavior of a Crested Gecko?
Whether you are encountering an animal in the wild or in captivity, it is always preferable to find one that is relatively calm and does not feel the need to be physically defensive. No matter how small the animal may be, no one ever wants to wind up with a pet that is too difficult or aggressive to have within their home and around people. Luckily, crested geckos are very pleasant reptiles that, in the wild and in captivity, are of no threat to you.
Crested geckos are nocturnal animals so you will not encounter them on a super regular basis during the day – especially in the wild. However, if you do see a wild crested gecko running about in the daylight hours, they will likely observe you and then scamper off to another hiding place within the shade. For those in captivity, they will mimic this same behavior of hiding throughout the day before they make their appearance in the evening hours for food.
Like many other wild animals, wild crested geckos are not too fond of handing, but can be caught if you are stealthy enough to beat its speed. Those in captivity are actually very easy to handle and are widely known to willingly sit perched on owners shoulders as they go about different tasks. They are able to jump small distances and are great at holding on to difficult angles, as their sticky feet help to always keep them in contact.
Do Crested Geckos Have Any Predators?
Crested geckos may seem like they would be a less than enticing snack due to their scaly nature and tough crests that line their eyes and backs, however, they do have more than a few predators out there that can be the main reason so many crested geckos never make it past their first year. For wild crested geckos, their biggest concern is little fire ants, rats, snakes, and other larger geckos.
Even more than these, wild crested geckos are also preyed on by more common household pets like dogs and cats. Even though they have a wide array of different predators, crested geckos are not left defenseless. Like many other lizards, crested geckos have the ability to drop their tails when they sense they are in danger. This may seem like a futile effort when it comes to their own protection, but it is something that can work magic in prolonging their lives.
Crested geckos have a tail that is made in such a way that when they are fearful of their position with another animal, they are able to drop it in an instant. It will not bleed and it is fractured along the tailbone so that it can drop off within a second. The tail will then continue to move for as long as 5 minutes to buy the crested gecko time to escape as their predator is transfixed by the movement of the tail.
Are Crested Geckos Good Pets?
Crested geckos have made their way off the endangered list and can now be found scampering around the lush green floors of warm and humid regions. With their comeback, they have been brought into the homes of people who are wanting a pet that will thrive over time, requires little maintenance, and one that is comfortable with being handled whether that be through a single owner or with a family.
Crested geckos do very well in the wild surviving anywhere from 4-5 years, but they are capable of thriving in captivity as a pet. Crested geckos in captivity are able to live anywhere from 15-20 years through the good care of committed owners. They can survive on premixed powder as their only food, but also do great with a variation of live-food items and different fruits given every other day.
They need only a lush vivarium, plenty of moisture within the area, and regular food to be happy. Captive crested geckos do not often protest being handled and do well with being out of their habitat. They are nocturnal animals, so you can expect them to be running about throughout the night. However, their soft padded fingers are quiet and make for quite the show if you catch them as they come out from their hiding spots making them great pets.