Crested geckos are really popular reptiles to keep as pets. First brought to the outside world in 1994, several breeding lines of these spry little lizards are available for sale across Europe and North America. You can get a crested gecko of your own, though it's important to learn about the species before you commit to taking care of your first one. Nobody knows how long a crested gecko might live since none have died of old age yet.
The crested gecko was first discovered in southern New Caledonia by a French expedition in 1866. Right after that, it was lost again and thought to be extinct until 1994, when a wild lizard was discovered in its native jungle. Since then, the wild crested geckos have been a protected species, but a legal trade exists in Europe and America, where captive crested geckos have been known to live 15-20 years.
Crested geckos are sometimes called eyelash geckos because of their big frill behind and over the top of their eyes. The frill juts out sideways and creates the illusion (if you squint hard enough) of big eyelashes. The result is a physical appearance that makes the lizards look permanently cheery and excited to see you, though they look this way all the time regardless of their actual mood.
Crested geckos are currently the second most popular pet gecko species in the United States, behind only the leopard gecko, and many people report they make great pets. They have a calm disposition and aren't too aggressive, and like all geckos, they have a knack for climbing that can put them in some surprising places around the house if they're let out of their enclosure.
Yes, they're some of the friendliest reptiles you can find. Crested geckos like to explore different things and aren't shy about jumping onto humans for a quick hello. They're better able to tolerate moderate handling than most lizards, even more than most geckos, and so they're a good choice for picking up when a friend visits or you want to teach kids about caring for small pets.
Geckos tolerate more handling and human interaction than most lizards, making them a relatively good choice to be around children. How well this works basically depends on the child. Make sure any children in the home know that small geckos have their limits and must be handled gently and with respect. A supervised child can generally handle a crested gecko within reasonable boundaries without serious problems.
Apartments are fine for keeping crested geckos, though you have to think for a bit if you want to let them out of their enclosure unsupervised. Spaces that are small for humans are still big for a gecko, and most of your crestie's time will be spent inside a smaller enclosure anyway. Obviously, crested geckos don't need to run in the park, and whatever exercise they need can be had crawling up your apartment windows.
In nature, it's typical for four or five female geckos to live close to a male. Females can be kept together with basically no problems, though males are territorial and should be kept apart. You can keep a crested gecko by itself with enough of a stimulating environment, but they really are happier if they have a few (female) companions to keep them company. If you're not planning to breed them, go with all-female geckos.
There are limits to what a crested gecko can be trained to do. Most gecko training consists of teaching them to tolerate being handled. You can do this by gently picking up a young gecko several times a day and letting them rest on your hand. When they want to move, let them. A calm gecko will sit on your shoulder for upwards of a few hours if everything stays tranquil for them.
By far, the most common health issue for crested geckos is metabolic bone disease caused by insufficient UVB light to keep healthy bones. You can install a UV coil to fight this, but you're probably better off with an actual higher-powered UVB bulb. Remember that these bulbs burn out quickly, so make sure you change yours every 6-12 months.
It's pretty easy to care for a crested gecko. Just remember to set up a large-ish enclosure with good substrate and real or fake vegetation to crawl on and hide inside. Clean the tank every week, whether it seems to need it or not, and talk with your vet about what kind of food is appropriate for your gecko. Keep conditions stable, and your crested gecko can live decades in your home.
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