Until 1994, it was believed that Crested Geckos were extinct, and this includes the Dalmatian Crested Gecko. Since the species was rediscovered, it has become more and more popular as a pet for its unique appearance and low maintenance.
Because geckos are not necessarily the most normal of pets, you might not know exactly how to care for them. If that’s the case, here is some information for caring for a Dalmatian Crested Gecko as a beginner. Let’s get started.
Quick Facts about Dalmatian Crested Gecko
|Species Name:||Rhacodactylus ciliatus|
|Common Name:||Crested Gecko|
|Lifespan:||10 to 20 years|
|Adult Size:||7 to 9 inches|
|Diet:||Commercial gecko food with supplemental insects|
|Minimum Tank Size:||20 gallons for one, 29 gallons for two or three|
|Temperature & Humidity
|Daytime temperature gradient: 72 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit
Nighttime temperature gradient: 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit
Humidity: 60% to 80%
Do Dalmatian Crested Geckos Make Good Pets?
Dalmatian Crested Geckos make good pets because they are unique, low maintenance, and relatively comfortable with being held by humans. Like other geckos, the Dalmatian Crested Gecko is not very dangerous, but it can be skittish when handled.
If the gecko feels threatened, it may bite, which is startling, but it rarely hurts and will not cause bleeding. Still, it is unlikely for Dalmatian Crested Geckos to bite in the first place because of their docile temperaments. These make great pets for reptile novices and children.
Crested Geckos come in many colors and markings, which are more formally known as morphs. As you probably figured, Dalmatian Crested Geckos have black and white spots, much like dalmatians.
What’s unique about these geckos is that they have a fringed crest that begins above their eyes, much like eyelashes. This crest continues to run down the neck and back, though the exact length differs from gecko to gecko.
How to Take Care of Dalmatian Crested Gecko
One of the plus sides of Crested Geckos is that they are much easier to take care of in comparison to other reptiles. With the right setup an enclosure, your Dalmatian Crested Gecko can live a happy and healthy life.
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Here is everything you need to know about the habitat, tank conditions, and setup for your Dalmatian Crested Gecko:
Select a terrarium that is at least 20 gallons in size, though there is nothing wrong with opting for a bigger tank. If you have two or three Crested Geckos, the terrarium needs to be 29 gallons in size. Make sure to only keep one male per tank.
It is essential to have a tank with a secure lid. These geckos are expert climbers, and they can escape in seconds flat. Provide branches, cork, bamboo, and other items for the geckos to climb on.
You will need to clean out this tank frequently to prevent any bacterial growth. we recommend spot cleaning the terrarium once a day and deep cleaning the terrarium once a month with reptile safe cleaners.
Crested Geckos are nocturnal, meaning they don’t technically need special UV lighting. That being said, low-level UV lighting can help reptile health. Always provide hideaways so that the geckos can hide from light if they want.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
Heating is essential for keeping your Crested Gecko healthy. These creatures are cold-blooded, meaning they cannot regulate their body temperature on their own. For this reason, there needs to be a temperature gradient within the enclosure.
During the day, have a temperature gradient between 72 degrees Fahrenheit and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. At night, drop that gradient to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Use temperature gauges to ensure the temperature is as listed.
Humidity is also an important factor for your gecko. During the day, the humidity should be around 60%, but that humidity should increase to about 80% at night. You can increase humidity with regular misting, especially at night when the geckos are most active.
Substrate is what lines the bottom of the tank. We recommend selecting substrate made from coconut fiber, moss, or peat moss. Newspaper and paper towels also work, though they are not as attractive. Do not use gravel, pebbles, or sand.
|Tank Type||20-gallon glass terrarium|
|Lighting||N/A, low UV (5% or lower) is suitable|
|Heating||Temperature gradient with low light red bulbs|
|Best Substrate||Coconut fiber bedding|
Feeding Your Dalmatian Crested Gecko
Because Dalmatian Crested Geckos are nocturnal, you need to feed them in the evening. Juveniles need to be fed every day, but adults only need to be fed three times a week.
The easiest way to feed your gecko is to use a commercial diet and supplement insects like crickets, roaches, wax worms, and silkworms occasionally. It’s important to select gut-loaded insects so that the gecko gets all of the calcium and vitamin D3 it needs.
As a treat, you can feed your Dalmatian Crested Gecko smashed fruit. They particularly like bananas, nectarines, mangoes, pears, and passionfruit.
|Commercial gecko food||75% of diet|
|Insects||20% of diet|
|Fruit||5% of diet|
|Supplements Required||Calcium and vitamin D3|
Keeping Your Dalmatian Crested Gecko Healthy
The easiest way to keep your Dalmatian Crested Gecko healthy is to provide it the proper habitat and diet. Simply monitoring the temperature and humidity levels goes a long way for these creatures.
Additionally, making sure that your gecko gets enough calcium and vitamin D3 is another crucial step for keeping the pet healthy. You can ensure your gecko gets these vitamins by supplementing gut-loaded insects into its diet, as well as powdered vitamins.
Common Health Issues
Some of the most common health issues that Dalmatian Crested Geckos face include mouth rot, respiratory infections, and skin issues. All three of these issues can be caused by improper humidity or exacerbated by poor diet.
Crested Geckos live on average 5 to 10 years in the wild. With proper care in captivity, they often live between 10 and 20 years. By providing your Crested Gecko the right diet and enclosure, you should expect your pet to live on the longer end of the spectrum.
Crested Geckos are considered one of the best reptiles to begin breeding if you are a beginner. In most cases, all you need to do is put the male and female together, and they will copulate themselves within a few days, if not the day of.
You can even keep breeding pairs together in the same container year around. The male often does not cause stress for the female, but it can occur. During the breeding season, which tends to last eight to nine months, place an egg-laying box for the female to lay the eggs. You need to incubate these eggs once they are laid.
Are Dalmatian Crested Gecko Friendly? Our Handling Advice
Dalmatian Crested Geckos are pretty laid back and unaggressive. They can be a bit difficult to hold, simply because they are smaller and squirmier. These guys are known to sometimes leap out of your hands, which can be a bit terrifying.
We recommend handling these geckos during the day when they are more tired. It’s also a great idea to try the hand walking technique, which is when you let the gecko run from one hand to another. It’s sort of like playing with a slinky, but with the gecko instead.
Shedding & Brumation: What to Expect
Crested Geckos go through shedding and brumation periods. As for brumation, these animals will become less active, but they don’t go through a complete hibernation. You likely want to induce brumation if you are intending on breeding Crested Geckos.
As for shedding, the juvenile shed the most, even if you cannot see it. Adults should shed about once every other month. You might want to slightly increase moisture and humidity during the shedding. Be sure to clean the cage pretty intensely.
How Much Do Dalmatian Crested Geckos Cost?
Crested Geckos can cost anywhere from $40 to $150. The exact price will depend on the rarity of the color and where you decide to buy your gecko from. Dalmatian Crested Geckos are a bit rarer than other morphs. Expect to pay around $100.
If you do not have $100 to spend on your Crested Gecko, you can find a much more common morph at a local exotic pet store near you.
Care Guide Summary
Dalmatian Crested Geckos are a great pet for reptile lovers and beginners. They are easy to care for and are more comfortable around humans than other geckos. Not to mention, they can easily be bred if you want to try your hand at the task.
The most important thing to remember is that they have specific humidity and temperature needs. Other than that, they are easy to take care of!
Featured Image Credit: Marlonneke Willemsen, Shutterstock