We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Are Crested Geckos?

By Angie Pollock
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Crested geckos are a species of reptile native to the islands of New Caledonia; a territory of France located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. They are scientifically classified as Rhacodactylus ciliates and are also commonly referred to as the New Caledonian eyelash gecko. Once thought to be extinct, this peculiar species was rediscovered in 1994 on the Isle of Pines following a tropical storm. Some of these newly-found reptiles were transported to Europe and North America to begin a captive breeding program. The Rhacodactylus genus of geckos also includes the gargoyle gecko, giant gecko, and mossy prehensile-tailed gecko, all of which are also native to New Caldeonia.

At adulthood, crested geckos reach approximately 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm) in length, about half of that length being the gecko’s tail. In the wild, their skin color varies and new variations have also been created by breeders that are referred to as “morphs.” The more popular colors for pet owners are red and orange, and pattern variations such as harlequin and brindle are also available. The crested gecko’s most unique feature is the crested scales that form above its eyes and extend down the gecko’s neck, thus lending to this reptile’s alternate name — eyelash gecko.

It is common to see wild adult crested geckos lacking a tail. This species will extract its tail when it feels threatened, but, unlike its close relatives, it cannot regenerate a new tail. This is a common defense mechanism used by some reptiles and amphibians, such as skinks and salamanders. The tail will break off and wriggle on the ground for several minutes, which distracts the predator thus giving the gecko time to escape.

Exportation of crested geckos from New Caledonia is prohibited; however, they can be acquired from captive breeders and have become one of the more popular gecko species to keep as pet lizards. Crested geckos are prolific breeders with thousands of new crested geckos born in captivity annually. With proper care, the lifespan of captive crested geckos should exceed 15 years.

Since their rediscovery, the crested gecko has become popular as an exotic pet. Compared to most other reptiles, crested geckos have a docile personality and they are easy keepers. Their requirements include appropriate housing and a sustainable diet. Their captive homes have specific heating and lighting requirements, which should be furnished adequately and cleaned regularly. The diet of pet crested geckos is typical reptile fare such as crickets and mealworms, along with commercial foods and fruits in addition to a calcium supplement.

MBD is the most common health issue affecting crested geckos which can be prevented with proper nutrition and supplementation. Most lizards are susceptible to metabolic bone disease (MBD) caused by insufficient calcium intake. Lizards like the crested gecko are provided vitamin D3 which allows them to absorb calcium from the foods that they eat. Vitamin D3 is often provided to captive lizards from a supplement or an UVB light source.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are crested geckos and where do they come from?

Crested geckos, scientifically known as Correlophus ciliatus, are a species of gecko native to southern New Caledonia. They are named for the distinctive "crest" of skin over their eyes, resembling eyelashes. These geckos were once thought to be extinct until rediscovered in 1994, sparking a surge in popularity as pets.

What do crested geckos eat in captivity?

In captivity, crested geckos thrive on a diet of commercial crested gecko food, which is a complete meal replacement powder that can be mixed with water. They also enjoy a variety of fruits like bananas, peaches, and apricots, and can be fed live insects such as crickets or dubia roaches as a supplement for protein and enrichment.

How long do crested geckos live?

Crested geckos have a relatively long lifespan for reptiles, with many living between 15 to 20 years in captivity when provided with proper care. According to the Animal Diversity Web, some individuals have even been reported to live over 20 years, making them a long-term commitment for pet owners.

What kind of habitat do crested geckos need?

Crested geckos require a humid, arboreal habitat that mimics their natural environment. A vertical terrarium with plenty of climbing branches, live or artificial plants for cover, and a temperature gradient of 72-80°F is ideal. Humidity levels should be maintained between 60-80%, with regular misting to promote hydration and shedding.

Are crested geckos good pets for beginners?

Yes, crested geckos are considered excellent pets for beginners due to their docile nature, ease of care, and minimal space requirements. They do not require UV lighting or overly complex environments, making them more accessible for those new to reptile keeping. However, they still require a commitment to proper diet, habitat maintenance, and regular handling to stay tame.

How do you handle a crested gecko safely?

To handle a crested gecko safely, approach them gently and allow them to walk onto your hand rather than grabbing them. Support their entire body, and avoid holding them by the tail, as they can drop it as a defense mechanism. Handling should be limited to short sessions to minimize stress, especially when they are new to your home.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.