How to Set Up a Crested Gecko Enclosure
Crested geckos are one of my favorite pet reptiles. They are relatively small and are very simple to house because they don't necessarily require heating or lighting. You just have to make sure that their enclosure is set around 75°F to 80°F and that the enclosure is taller than it is long. These guys are pretty hardy reptiles and are one of the best beginner species that a newbie reptile keeper can raise and keep.
When thinking about getting a pet reptile, you want to make sure that you know how to properly care for one. The enclosure is probably one of the two more important aspects of proper care—the other being diet. So, when setting up a crested gecko enclosure, you pretty much have two options: natural and simple. I always prefer simple because it's just so much easier to clean and care for, but below you can choose which option is best for you.
First off before you even get started, you want to make sure that you know what size enclosure that you will need. I like to house babies and juveniles in kritter keepers, and as they grow, upgrade the kritter keeper until they require a tub of some sort. By starting them in smaller enclosures, you can prevent stress and the gecko can find it's food.
For adults, though, you want to make sure that you house ONE adult in at least a 15-gallon tall aquarium. Remember, they need height over length; they are arboreal reptiles. If you want to house multiple in an enclosure, it is only recommended if you house multiple females, as multiple males will fight, and male/female groups will breed, and the females will need at least 3 months of rest. But, anyway, you can house up to 3 in a 29-gallon aquarium.
If you don't want to go the aquarium route, but want something that is a little lighter to move and easier to clean, you can always try the clear tubs. I prefer the 66-quart tubs for groups of 3 crested geckos. I house older juveniles in 22-quart tubs. (I believe these are the quart sizes, I still need to double-check them)
Just remember if you want to go the tub route, you want to make sure that you drill air holes into the side of the tub and preferably screen a portion of the lid (meaning cut out a plastic portion and replace it with screen). This will allow for better ventilation.
Naturalistic Cage Setups
When it comes to a natural enclosure, you want to be careful of smaller geckos. You do not want to introduce a hatchling or baby into an enclosure with dirt, as younger geckos have problems catching their food properly and can end up with a mouthful of dirt. And even though crested geckos need CGD more than they need crickets, they sure appreciate crickets on occasion.
It's also not recommended to put a new reptile into a full natural enclosure because you cannot properly watch them for illness during the quarantine period. So, when making a naturalistic enclosure, I would suggest waiting until the gecko is a little older, but in the end, it's still up to you to decide.
With the natural enclosures, you should really use an aquarium over a plastic tub because more than likely you will be adding live plants, and your plants will need some fluorescent lighting. Plus it will just be easier.
You want to use a Bed-A-Beast type substrate so that your plants can root themselves. Many people layer the bedding, for example: expanded clay aggregate, window screen, and then Bed-A-Beast. This is helpful for the plants and drainage. I would suggest about an inch of the expanded clay aggregate and three to four inches of the Bed-A-Beast substrate.
And, if you wanted, adding some nice moss to the top of the Bed-A-Beast would give the set up a nice feel. Before planting your live plants, you want to wash them off, to get rid of any pesticides and insecticides. You want to plant your live plants in the aquarium and let them fill in before putting the crested gecko(s) in the aquarium. By letting the plants fill in, the gecko(s) will have more to climb on, as the plants will not be as frail and flimsy. Plants that you may want to consider can include:
- Peace lily spathiphyllum
- "Polka dot plant" (hypoestes sp.)
- "ZZ plant" (Zamioculcas zamiifolia)
- Spider plant
You don't have to use live plants in a natural enclosure, you can always use fake plants and vines just with the natural bedding. Another option is to use live plants, just leave them potted. Although, the natural enclosures look so much nicer, they are a pain to clean.
Simplistic Cage Setups
Being just what it is a simplistic enclosure does not include substrate, plants, vines, or pretty much anything else. A simple enclosure is truly pretty simple. This is how I set up my enclosures, and you can go with it from here if you have any other ideas. I prefer using clear tubs, but you can still use glass aquariums with the simple set up.
You can use paper towels as a substrate, but I actually don't use paper towels or any substrate other than the bare tub floor. I find that it is easier to clean without the paper towels on the ground, and my geckos tend to find a way to mess up the enclosure with the paper towels.
For the décor, I prefer egg cartons and cardboard cup holders that you get from McDonald's. I find that the babies and juveniles like the egg cartons, but not all adults care for them. The cardboard cup holders work great for older crested geckos to climb in and around, as well as curl up in.
For the larger kritter keepers and tubs, I will add fake plants, so that the crested gecko has more to hide in and play around. I have found that the small, suction plants work great for kritter keepers that are size medium and up. I use the medium and large suction plants for larger tubs. Sometimes I will mix up different sizes and different types in my larger enclosures. (For example, in my gargoyle gecko enclosure, I have at least 3 or 4 different types of fake plants.)
In larger tubs, you may want to include vines as well to give the gecko something to walk on. Although I have never used them, I do like the look of them. I typically add a humid hide made from a Glad tupperware container with a hole in the top, filled with Bed-A-Beast for the females to dig around in and to add extra humidity to the enclosure. With the simple crested gecko cages, you can do a lot with them, and they are so easy to clean. Just dump and replace. There isn't much scrubbing involved except the walls of the enclosure.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.