Crested & Gargolyle Gecko Caresheet
Crested & Gargoyle Gecko Care

A detailed guide pertaining to the care of Rhacodactylus auriculatus & Correlophus ciliatus

 
Gargoyle Gecko Crested Gecko Crested Gecko Red Gargoyle Gecko Red
 
Gecko rack

Introduction

Crested & Gargoyle Geckos are quickly becoming some of the most popular pet reptiles, and are two of our favorite species to work with. While bringing any Reptile or Amphibian pet into a home is a serious commitment, these friendly & easy to care for Geckos are considered a great choice for enthusiasts of any experience level. A suitable enclosure is a fairly modest environment investment compared to most popular Reptile pets, and the diet requirements are both straightforward & inexpensive. Both species are native only to the South Pacific islands of New Caledonia, and have similar care & environmental requirements. Before genetic analysis in 2012, Correlophus ciliatus (Crested Gecko) was classified as a Rhacodactylus species, sharing it's genera with Rhacodactylus auriculatus (Gargoyle Gecko). Crested & Gargoyle Geckos are two of our favorite Reptiles we've ever had the pleasure of working with. This guide will cover the basics of caring for these species, and will also touch on what to look for when purchasing a Gecko.
 
Adult Male Crested Gecko

Appearance and Behavior

Crested Gecko - Correlophus ciliatus
Crested geckos are slim, muscular, and have a crown like crest starting above their eyes that extends all the way to the base of their tails. Crested Geckos are easily hand-tamed, and tolerate occasional handling if they are handled gently & calmly. They have the ability to climb smooth vertical surfaces such as glass, and can jump a considerable distance. Crested Geckos have the ability to drop their tails, a process known as autotomy, to help them evade a predator in nature. A Crested Gecko may drop it's tail in captivity when startled or hurt, and unlike many other species, the tail does not regenerate. In Exo-Terra's most recent New Caledonian expedition, every adult specimen they found was tailless. While this is often avoidable in captivity, it's not a health risk, and not often considered a big problem if a Gecko drops it's tail. Housing hatchling & young Geckos separately has proven to give our Geckos an excellent chance of retaining tails throughout their lives. Crested Geckos are not an aggressive species, and usually only bite when scared or mishandled. In the unlikely event of a bite, the experience for most adults is comparable to a potato chip bag clip being closed on a finger. This is a nocturnal species that's most active at night, but unlike many nocturnal Geckos, they usually remain visible during the day. This is an arboreal species, meaning they spend the majority of their lives living in trees & bushes, off the ground. They have the ability to jump a fair distance (maybe 5-6 body lengths), and should be handled very carefully as hatchlings or subadults. Geckos seem to "blindly jump" while handled less often as they age, especially once the individual becomes comfortable with it's caregiver. Crested Geckos can vocalize, but most commonly only do so during breeding season, or during instances of cagemate aggression.
 
Gargoyle Gecko Gargoyle Gecko - Rhacodactylus auriculatus
Gargoyle Geckos are more on the chunky & stocky side of the spectrum, and are not able to climb smooth vertical surfaces. In place of the crest, they possess a pair of bumps on their head (earning the name Gargoyle) which begins to visually develop as subadults. Gargoyles also have the ability to drop their tails to help them escape from dangerous situations, which in captivity is most common when they are startled or hurt. Dropped tails will regenerate over the course of a couple months, and usually grow back looking nearly identical to the original. Housing Geckos separately until they are at breeding age greatly minimizes the risks of a dropped tail, and is usually considered the best practice. While Gargoyles do have larger teeth than Crested Geckos, they are another generally friendly species which will not bite unless provoked. While nocturnal, Gargoyles are still occasionally active during the day, often rearranging themselves during misting sessions, and moving to cooler/warmer locations within an enclosure. Like Crested Geckos, Gargoyles are an arboreal species, and have the ability to jump. They are less graceful jumpers than Crested Geckos, and in our experience, don't leap as often. As a Gecko becomes acquainted with it's caregiver, it will tolerate handling more readily. Gargoyle Geckos are capable of vocalizing, which is most commonly audible during breeding season for adults, although we've heard "peeps & grunts" at night from our collection at many times of the year.
 
Hobbyist hand-feeding his Crested Gecko

What to Look For When Purchasing a Gecko

First and foremost, we strongly suggest purchasing from a breeder over a pet store, for the healthiest specimen & best service after the sale. It helps knowing the previous diet, living conditions, and handling routines of the Gecko, which most breeders are happy to help describe.
 
Both Crested & Gargoyle Geckos should appear alert & fairly energetic as hatchlings & subadults. A simple way to test behavior is to have the Gecko in your hand, and slowly tip it upside-down. (Keep your other hand below, just in case!) A Gecko's natural response is usually to correct itself, and climb upwards. If the Gecko allows itself to rest on it's back for any period of time, we would consider that lethargic, and not one we'd be interested in acquiring. The eyes should not appear to be "sunken-in", which is typically a sign of dehydration for either species. Geckos which jump erratically, or frantically run when handled aren't very common, and may be a sign that the individual hasn't been handled very often, or had been handled roughly in the past. That's not necessarily a reason not to purchase a Gecko if it's very healthy otherwise, but it may require an extra week or two of orientation before it becomes comfortable with it's caregiver.
 
Geckos that are fed inappropriate diets prior to being sold may be apprehensive accepting a healthy diet like Repashy Gecko Diet (or similar brands), and may require more work to wean them onto a better regimen. For this reason, prior diet should be a topic of conversation when purchasing a Gecko from any source. A good diet is incredibly important to a growing Gecko, and a poor diet is enough reason to pass on a potential purchase.
 
There are many morphs (in this case, line bred color variations) available of either species, which usually determines the price of an animal. For this reason, the price of Crested & Gargoyle Geckos can range anywhere from $45 for a common morph, to well over $300 for one of the rare "designer" morphs. As far as that is concerned, the market determines the price, so choosing a specific morph is a matter of personal preference. Please keep in mind that a low price doesn't necessarily equate to a "low quality" animal, and nor does a high price guarantee a higher quality animal.
 
Simple Immature Crested / Gargoyle Gecko Enclosure

Housing & Caring For Hatchling & Juvenile Geckos

Geckos younger than 5 months require special care, and we suggest keeping handling to a minimum until it has settled into it's new environment for a week or two. Housing each hatchling in it's own enclosure to reduce the risk of tail loss & cage mate aggression is usually the best practice. Small and simple homes are what we recommend to start with when keeping a young Crested or Gargoyle Gecko. The first "grow out" environments are not only inexpensive (Using Herp Havens), but they also make finding food easier, reduce the risks of impaction, and prevent any high fall injuries from occurring. We use herp havens until the Geckos are about 3-4 months old, and later move them to a larger permanent enclosure. A very safe & simple "grow-out" substrate is paper towels, and cage furniture should ideally be solid, easy to climb, and most importantly not something they can accidentally ingest. One easy decor item that young Geckos love is paper towel roll tubes, which can be cut to form different shapes, but there are also many realistic looking decor items & hides available for this purpose. We suggest "function over form" by keeping things fairly simple until the Geckos grow in size to minimize the risk of impaction. Enclosures should be cleaned at least twice per week until the Gecko is 3-4 months of age, when they can safely be placed in a more permanent style home.
 
The grow-out enclosures should be misted with dechlorinated water twice daily to increase humidity & offer a water source for the Gecko. We suggest offering Repashy Gecko Diet every other day to hatchlings, as this long-proven diet covers all aspects of nutrition for the growing Geckos. Offering about a dime sized blob of the Gecko diet in a soda bottle or milk jug lid is a good place to start feeding smaller Geckos, while increasing the amount as the it grows & accepts more. Younger Geckos often eat a tiny amount of food, and it's not necessarily a bad sign if only a little bit is missing from the blob of food offered overnight. To help acclimate a Gecko to life around humans (and to ensure it's eating), we also suggest hand feeding young Geckos some MRP once or twice weekly. This practice should help encourage the Gecko to mature to be sociable & calm, which can lead to a more rewarding experience for both parties involved! To hand feed, just dab a little bit of MRP on a (clean) finger tip and touch a tiny bit of food to the tip of their nose. (Careful not to get any in the nostrils!) Then simply wait for the Gecko to lick it off, which usually happens in just a few seconds. Once it begins to lick the MRP, quickly & carefully offer a bit more, and the Gecko will often readily lap it off of the finger. Moving forward, the Gecko will learn to associate you with being fed, and will more readily accept food & being handled.
 
Once Geckos grow to 6+ months, they'll accept slightly larger quantities of Repashy diet, which can be gradually increased judging by the amount eaten by the Gecko at every feeding. At that point, we begin offering food in 1.5oz deli cups, which makes disposal the day after they are placed in the enclosure quick & simple. For an aesthetically pleasing feeding station, there are different brands of ledges available to carry feeding dishes higher in the enclosure, where the Gecko will spend the majority of it's time.
 
Crested Gecko Vivarium
 

Housing Subadult & Adult Geckos (6 Months + Older)

These Geckos are arboreal, so the height is more important than the width of an enclosure. We suggest a bare-minimum of 10 gallons worth of space each, with an enclosure height of 16" or higher for an adult. Larger enclosures are considered much more appropriate, with our staff utilizing a minimum of 18x18x18 (25 gallon) enclosures for individual Geckos, or 18x18x24 (33 gallon) enclosures for pairs. With more space, pairs of Geckos have a little more breathing room, and are far less likely to drop tails, or show signs of aggression. Screen, plastic, or glass enclosures work, but we prefer glass enclosures for the ability to build a nice looking vivarium within.
 
Before you decide on a physical enclosure, you should decide which build style best suits your needs. Regardless of which of the below styles you choose, we suggest a front opening enclosure for ease of use. We strongly suggest against mixing more than a single species in an enclosure, and always avoid housing males together. (How to determine sex explained below) Any of the three following options is considered appropriate for either species of Gecko by the majority of hobbyists.
 
Simplistic Breeder Terrariums
This type of terrarium is usually the simplest and cheapest option with paper towel (or similar) substrate, artificial plants, simple decor, and an overall simplistic approach. Cages are able to be easily torn down, sterilized, and rebuilt whenever necessary. Common decor options include PVC pipe, cut dry bamboo, paper towel tubes, tupperware containers, and other easy to sterilize items. These are most commonly used on breeding racks with modified inexpensive "tote" containers, or for juvenile Geckos as a grow-out enclosure.
 

PROs of Simplistic Breeder Terrariums

• Very Inexpensive
• Easy/Quick To Build
• Easy to sterilize
• Easy to find eggs
 

CONs of Simplistic Breeder Terrariums

• Hideous
• Medium amount of upkeep
• Easy to sterilize
• Unnatural environment
 
Simplistic Crested / Gargoyle Gecko Terrarium
 
Naturalistic Terrariums
These are standard terrariums which commonly use either eco earth (coconut fiber) or repti bark as substrate, and have a fair amount of realistic organic or artificial decor and/or potted live plants. This solution is the least expensive way to get a realistic looking home built for a Gecko, but it does not include the maintenance or visual benefits of a live vivarium. Common decor options include cut dry bamboo, artificial vines, live (potted) & artificial plants, cork or faux rock backgrounds, and realistic hiding spots. These can be built in screen, glass, or acrylic atrium style enclosures.
 

PROs of Naturalistic Terrariums

• Average expense
• Nicer aesthetic
• More realistic
 

CONs of Naturalistic Terrariums

• More difficult to find eggs
• More upkeep required
 
Naturalistic Crested / Gargoyle Gecko Terrarium
 
Live Vivariums
These are completely natural environments with live plants, active microfauna, and are by far the best looking option. These require the use of a glass enclosure, and are significantly more difficult to set up, so plenty of research should be done before proceeding. Active microfauna can keep cleaning & upkeep down to a bare minimum, and automated misting & lighting can be added for a truly low maintenance environment. Check out our Vivarium Construction 101 article for more info. We utilize live vivariums for most of the adult Crested & Gargoyle Geckos our collection at NEHERP.
 

PROs of Live Vivariums

• Best looking option
• Least amount of upkeep
• Completely realistic
• Enriching environment
• Eggs can hatch in-vivarium
 

CONs of Live Vivariums

• High expense
• Difficult to find eggs
• More difficult to build
 
Crested / Gargoyle Gecko Vivarium
 
Crested / Gargoyle Gecko Rack
 

Temperature & Lighting

Each enclosure should contain a hygrometer & thermometer to meter both humidity & temperature in the environment. These species do best when kept between 65-80°F. Anything much over 80°F can cause stress, so try and keep temps below that mark at all times. Most situations won't require an additional heat source, unless ambient room temps are below 65°F in your home. If your home is kept below 65°F, adding a low-wattage heat bulb or under tank heater can assist in keeping temperatures up where they should be. They are fairly heat sensitive, and it's safer to be a little too cool than a little too hot if ideal temps can't be achieved. We suggest using either Jungle Dawn LEDs, or Compact Fluorescent plant bulbs to illuminate enclosures during the day, and utilizing a timer to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm for the Gecko(s). (12 hours on, 12 hours off) UVB lighting is usually considered not necessary for the long-term health of this nocturnal species, although recent studies have suggested it may be beneficial to many Reptile & Amphibian species. For information on illuminating a live vivarium, you can check out either our Basic Vivarium Lighting Guide, or our more in-depth Vivarium Lighting 101 Article.
 
Gargoyle Gecko Eye
 

Misting & Humidity

We keep humidity a bit higher than a few other breeders; around 70-80% at night with drops to about 65% during the day. Depending on both the type of terrarium, and the amount of ventilation, this usually requires misting once or twice per day. Misting is extremely important, since these Geckos may not always accept water from a stagnant bowl. Instead, they'll hydrate by licking droplets off of plants & other enclosure decor. Automated misting systems are available to make the process a little less labor intensive, however hand-misting works equally well for this purpose. Either way, we suggest using dechlorinated water for the health of the Gecko(s). Using reverse osmosis filtered water makes a great choice, since it won't leave water marks on the glass.
 
Gargoyle Gecko Vivarium
 

Feeding

We suggest feeding Repashy Crested Gecko Diets exclusively. (It's called Crested Gecko diet, but it's fine for Gargoyles and many other species, as well) This food is loaded with all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals a Gecko needs to thrive. It's made as a complete meal replacement solution, and our Geckos absolutely love it. We feed our hatchlings every other day, and juveniles & adults are fed three to four times weekly. Repashy's new Grubs 'n Fruit diet contains extra protein, phosphorus, and calcium, and has been readily accepted by our collection. Nowadays, we offer Grubs 'n Fruit once every 2'nd to 3'rd feeding, as a supplement to the standard Repashy Crested Gecko Diet. Offering a MRP-only diet eliminates the (albeit small) chance of encountering a parasite via feeder insect.
 
We strongly suggest against feeding these Geckos baby food. This is not a good practice, as it can become addicting for the Gecko, and it does not offer the proper nutrition these species needs to survive. If a Gecko takes a liking to baby food, it can begin to refuse more appropriate food, which can lead to serious issues. If a Gecko refuses Repashy after becoming accustomed to baby food, we suggest mixing in some Repashy diet with baby food and gradually reducing the amount of baby food every feeding until the Gecko is eating 100% MRP.
 
Small insects from high-quality sources can be dusted with Repashy's Calcium Plus powder, and are an acceptable alternative or occasional treat for Geckos. We usually stick to offering only the bugs we breed in-house (dubias are an easy feeder to breed) for the peace-of-mind of a quality, clean feeder. If you are feeding insects in a naturalistic setting or live vivarium, consider offering the prey items in an escape-proof tupperware container or deli cup inside the vivarium. This reduces the risk of impaction due to the Gecko accidentally eating substrate or small decor along with the insects.
 

Sexing Mature Geckos

The sex of Crested & Gargoyle Geckos can usually be visually distinguished around 5-7 months of age. The males have an apparent hemipenal bulge which the females lack. The pictures below illustrate this on a Crested Gecko, but it will appear visually similar on a Gargoyle Gecko. Another way to sex these species is by looking for a small row of pores above the vent that usually (but not always) develops on males in the first few months of life. A magnifying glass or loupe is required to see the pores as they develop. We've personally had mixed success with that method, and we usually wait and look for the hemipenal bulge as the most accurate example of sexual dimorphism.
 
Crested Gecko Male Crested Gecko Female
 

Tips & Tricks

• Although this caresheet pertains to both Crested & Gargoyle geckos, both species should always be housed separately.
 
• To prevent cagemate aggression & possible injuries, never house two Geckos of significantly different sizes together.
 
• Common lingo: "CGD" = Crested Gecko Diet / "MRP" = Meal Replacement Powder (Both the same thing)
 
• A quarantine period is always a good practice to follow for all newly acquired animals.
 
• To prevent cagemate aggression & possible injuries, never house two male Geckos of any size together.
 
• Repashy Gecko Diet can be mixed in small deli cups, and refrigerated for up to 1 week for ease of upkeep.
 
• Until a Gecko is very comfortable, limit handling to 20 minutes for adult Geckos, or 5-10 minutes for younger Geckos to prevent stress.
 
• If you have a jumpy or flighty Gecko, consider hand feeding it a drip of honey (not more than a couple times weekly) to calm it down & encourage socialization.
 
• Avoid handling newly acquired or hatched Geckos until they've had at least a couple weeks to settle in to their new environment.
 
• Handle them gently by allowing it to climb on your hands & arms, as opposed to gripping, grabbing, or restraining a Gecko.
 
• An easy way to pick up a Geckos is by gently placing a finger under it's chin and slowly lifting upwards to encourage it to climb on you.
 
• Housing hatchlings separately can greatly reduce the risk of having them lose a tail, and is considered the best practice @ NEHERP.
 
• Never mix juvenile males & females before they are sexually mature. If the female becomes gravid (pregnant) too young, she can become eggbound & die. If you are interested in breeding Crested or Gargoyle Geckos, or are interested in housing a pair together, check out our more in-depth Breeding Article.
 
Get everything you need to keep & breed your Geckos right here @ NEHERP at the guaranteed lowest prices anywhere!
 
Gecko Diet | Misting Supplies | Decor | Enclosures | Plants | Microfauna | Vitamins & Supplements | Light Fixtures & Bulbs | Wood Decor | Backgrounds & Ledges
 
 
Thanks for choosing NEHERP as your herp info & supply source! :-) If you have any questions at all about the info in this article, don't hesitate to contact us. We're happy to help!