Crested Geckos - Rhacodactylus ciliatus
Brief Description - A stocky nocturnal gecko, averaging 20 cms in total length, with a snout to vent length of 11 - 12 cms. They are comparable to leopard geckos in size. Baby cresteds hatch out with a total length of 7 cm approx. Crested geckos originated from New Caledonia, on the islands of Grand Terra, Isle of Pines and the adjoining island of Kotomo. Most of the animals in captivity originated from the Isle of Pines. Crested Geckos were believed to be extinct in the wild and were only known from a handful of museum specimens dating back to the 1800's. This all changed in 1994 when a single specimen was spotted on the Isle of Pines after a tropical storm. It wasn't long after then, that a few well known American herpetoculturists were legally allowed to collect a handful of specimens for study (also a small number were illegally collected by traders). This actually helped to lead to a larger gene pool of captive breeder animals. Within the space of just 10 years of crested geckos being introduced into captivity, there are now 10's of 1000's captive bred each year. This has saved this species from extinction, as now the biggest threat to them is habitat destruction by the commercial logging companies and an introduced Ant species, the Fire Ant!
How we keep ours - We house all our crested geckos in aluminium screen vivariums, 20" high by 24" by 24". Each of these cages will hold up to 1 male and 5 females. Newspaper is used as a substrate with an egg carton stack used as hides. We also have a 'mass' of artificial plants in each cage to provide greater security and more climbing space. We have a 26 watt heat pad on the floor of each vivarium, running 6"s along the back of each. No other heating or lighting is provided except a room mounted radiator and room lights. Every evening we heavily spray each cage to provide water and increased humidity. We balance the amount of water we spray to ensure the cage is totally dry by the following morning. Each cage is cleaned out weekly and steam cleaned every two months. Our cresteds are maintained at a room temperature of 68f and with the heat pad, they can bask up to 85f. You are more likely to fail with crested geckos due to too much heat, than too little.
Our cresteds are kept on a diet of 90% crickets and 10% fruit baby food. All crickets are dusted with nutrabol and a small amounted fed each night. Crested geckos will get bored of the food if it is always running around the cage, so only place an amount that will be eaten during that night. We feed crickets for 9 feeds and then baby for for 1, then back to crickets. Baby food is like junk food for them, and they will soon become addicted to it and lazy with regards to crickets so be careful.
Crested geckos will breed from around a year old, by which time the female should weigh approx 35 grams minimum. You do not need to do anything in particular to induce breeding but reducing the day time temperature during the winter will help them 'key' into the seasons. A female crested gecko normally lays 2 eggs (one egg sometimes for it's first clutch), and can lay up to 9 clutches per year. This can lead to MBD, so you must kept the females correctly supplemented with calcium. We provide open tubs with 2" of moss peat as an egg laying chamber. Open top tubs allow for crickets to escape if they drop, these can pester females trying to lay. We check our egg laying tubs twice a week, and remove all eggs to the incubator. If you keep the egg laying tub at the correct humidity levels, the eggs will be fine left for a few days. The incubator is set at 78f and hatching takes around 75 days. Babies are then reared in identical set-ups to the adults but in larger groups, up to 20 per cage.
This is how we do it at CaptiveBred.co.uk, there are many other ways that will work just as good, so just find what suits your own style.