How To Set Up a Crested Gecko Terrarium

Martin Steger | November 03, 2021
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Crested Gecko on a branch
Photo by: Pierre Bamin on Unsplash

Crested geckos are known for their distinctive appearance and long life span. With proper care, they can live 15–20 years. A large part of that proper care is setting up a terrarium that meets the needs of a crested gecko—or crestie, as many owners affectionately call them. This article answers several common questions about these fascinating creatures and their terrariums.

How Big Do Crested Geckos Get?

Typically, crested geckos reach a snout-to-vent length of 4.5 inches. The snout-to-vent length is everything from the tip of the lizard’s nose to its anus—essentially, everything but the tail. Counting the tail, crested geckos are usually about eight inches long.

What Size Terrarium Do They Need? The minimum recommended terrarium size for a single, adult crested gecko is 20 gallons, but bigger is better. A larger terrarium is a must for housing multiple geckos. Keep in mind that males are territorial, so the limit is one male per terrarium, and regardless of the male/female mix, multiple geckos may require supervision.

The height of the terrarium is also important. The terrarium should be tall because cresties enjoy climbing. Two feet is a common, baseline height.

Crested Gecko in a planted terrarium

George Millson on Unsplash

Do Crested Geckos Need a Heat Lamp?

Generally, 72 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature zone for cresties. At night, temperatures should drop to around 69 to 72 degrees. Opinions vary on this topic and other articles can give you more details.

A heat lamp probably isn’t necessary if your home stays within your gecko’s ideal temperature range, but one may be needed if the terrarium gets too cold. Take care to position the heating device so that the gecko doesn’t burn itself—and don’t overcorrect by overheating the terrarium.

What About Humidity?

Cresties prefer around 60% humidity during the day and 80% humidity at night. A hygrometer lets you monitor humidity levels and a mister can boost humidity when needed.

What Else Should the Terrarium Have? Crested geckos need spots to climb and hide, so include items like branches, shelters and plants. Fake rocks are suitable as well (real rocks may have sharp edges; they may also shift and hurt the gecko).

A terrarium background is a nice visual touch. Importantly, you’ll also want a substrate—that is, soil—that can handle the terrarium’s humidity. Some people make their own, but many store-bought options are available, too.

Getting Started

Still not sure where to begin? One option to jumpstart your setup is Exo Terra’s Crested Gecko Terrarium Kit (sponsored). And if you want a unique approach with unique rewards, try creating a bioactive crested gecko terrarium that involves mimicking the gecko’s natural habitat as closely as possible.

About the Author
Crested Gecko on a branch

Martin Steger

Martin Steger is a lifelong animal lover who grew up with two amazing cats, Socks and Ginger, and one equally impressive dog, Pepper. Today, he writes about pets, finances, health care, and other topics.... Learn More

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