Hi, I'm JB! Thanks for dropping by my crested gecko website. If you've looked through this site (don't miss the navigation buttons at the top!) and can't find an answer to your questions, you can drop me an e-mail. I encourage you to read the site through first and follow any pertinent YouTube links, because I have spent a lot of time answering many common questions!
Hopefully you're here to learn more about these fantastic animals. Well, that's why I'm here, too - these little creatures have only been in captivity for a handful of years, so information on their recommended care is always changing. I've made this page available as a guideline only, to help you get a feel for what extent of care these animals will require. Before purchasing any kind of animal, it is in your - and the animal's - best interest that you do many hours of research from many different sources so you can make your new companion as comfortable as possible!
The crested gecko or Rhacodactylus ciliatus, also referred to as "eyelash gecko" or "crestie," is a small, prehensile-tailed gecko which originates in New Caledonia, a group of islands nearly 750 miles off the east coast of Australia. The climate there is moderate enough to make this gecko a fairly easy first-timer gecko, in many ways that keeping a reptile can be considered easy. Often requiring no external heating, housing for these animals can be fairly simple to set up. Their soft feet and "eyelashes" along with the beautiful patterning current breeders are experimenting with make these geckos an eye-catching addition to any beginner's home or hobbyist's collection.
As of 2012, a recent publication has been put about to re-classify the crested gecko as Correlophus ciliatus. More information will be added as this publication is peer-reviewed; in the meantime, understand that the terms Rhacodactylus ciliatus and Correlophus ciliatus may be used to describe the same animal.
Rhacodactylus, loosely translated, means "spine-toes," as these geckos' toes look as though they bend backward and up as they walk across flat surfaces. Ciliatus, roughly, means "eyelash," a name given for obvious reasons. The crested gecko has not been in captivity for very long, in comparison to many other reptiles. In 1994, they were rediscovered in the wild after having been thought extinct. Therefore, we do not yet have an exact average lifespan for these animals, but it is thought to be between 15 and 20 years with proper care.
An adult gecko can weigh on average 40-45 grams with a tail, though some may get a fair bit larger than this, up into the 60-70 gram range. An average length for an adult from snout to tail tip is about 8 inches (20.3 cm). I strive for healthy-bodied geckos that do not look exceptionally "fluffy" or "obese," as obesity in geckos can have the same drawbacks that it does in other species, affecting overall health and reproduction. It is very important not to get into the mindset that more grams equals more health.
While the wild crested gecko comes in many different colors and patterns, after much selective breeding, captive crested geckos have proven out many different morphs (color and pattern variations), and more are being brought forward every year. These geckos also have the ability to change their colors, or the intensity of their colors, to some extent. Generally, during the day while they sleep, they have a tendency to stay a light or muted color, and during the night when they are active, their colors become more bold (also known as being "fired up"). I have noticed that mine especially become stunning when I mist their enclosures at night or when they are exposed to UVB light.
As a crested gecko grows, it will shed its skin. When a crested gecko sheds, if humidity allows, the gecko will begin peeling its skin off by licking the loose skin away from the snout area, and then will chew it or rub it back off of the rest of the body. You will not often find skin in the enclosure after a shed, as the gecko will normally eat the entire thing. The shedding process can be very quick, and many first-time owners have written me concerned that their geckos are not shedding. If you don't pay attention to your gecko for an hour one night, you might miss it!
A crested gecko can use its tail to wrap around branches (or your fingers) to slow its descent or help it balance itself. The tip of the crested gecko's tail has small ridges, a bit like a smaller version of its toe ridges, to help further slow itself should it be moving downward on a branch. This useful tail, however, is not always a permanent fixture on the gecko. If it is bitten by a predator or another gecko, or it is just startled by its handler, the gecko can drop its tail. The tail will continue wiggling for some time after it is dropped, which could possibly distract a would-be predator while the gecko makes its escape. Unlike some other lizards, the crested gecko will not grow its tail back - generally, at most, a little "nub" will re-form where the tail was autotomized. Unfortunately, some people believe that this lowers the value of a gecko, but I have several tailless geckos that I find quite endearing as they are. The lack of a tail does not change their personalities, only their appearance!
Crested geckos are mainly arboreal, meaning, they like to be able to climb. They are also fairly good at jumping, which means when you handle one, you should always hold it in a safe place where it will not have far to fall (ie, don't stand over your hard kitchen floor with your gecko sitting on your shoulder). After a while, you may get used to the stance a gecko will take before it leaps, but they don't always give you that warning!
Many crested geckos tolerate handling fairly well. I've found the best way to get one into my hand is to lay a hand flat down in front of one, and gently touch its back or rear legs with my other hand to encourage it to move forward. A gecko might be less frightened by this than seeing a giant "claw" coming down and trying to pick it off its branch. Once a gecko is in your hand, you can allow it to walk from one hand to another if it wishes. I handle my geckos for a couple of minutes perhaps once every two or three days; in that time, I check their eyes, nose, grip, and vent to make sure they appear healthy. Keep in mind that while a gecko may tolerate handling, that doesn't mean that he likes it, and it still may be somewhat traumatic for him, so I do not recommend handling for much longer than ten to fifteen minutes at a time. Above all, always keep in mind that a crested gecko is a reptile, and as much as we would love to form bonds with them as we might with a pet dog, their minds work differently from a mammal's. If you want a pet you can snuggle or cuddle, please consider something fuzzy!
Note: Anything written on this site, unless otherwise stated, is from my own research and from what I have
learned from various sources. New information on these geckos is coming to light every year, so
I encourage you to do your own research outside of this website. My main sources for information, and good
springboards to further your own education, are:
Rhacodactylus: The Complete Guide to their Selection and Care by de Vosjoli, Fast, and Repashy, ISBN 0-9742971-0-0
The Pangea Forums and accompanying website, run by Matthew Parks (find me as Jaybee there!)
Repashy Reptiles Forums, run by Allen Repashy
All photographs and drawings on this website are of my own creation unless otherwise marked; please do not redistribute them.