In recent years, the Crested Gecko has become more and more widespread as a pet, and yet until recently, it was not known at all for this quality. Crested Gecko inhabits tropical New Caledonia, but people around the world have much more of them than in nature because they are unpretentious and interesting pets.
Origin of the Species
Terrestrial vertebrates – labyrinthodonts, arose at the end of the Devonian period. They were still closely associated with water, but more and more adapted to life on land. It was they who became the ancestors of reptiles – as a result of changes in the body, they became able to live at a distance from water.
As a result of the new way of life, their skeleton and muscles gradually changed, and their habitat expanded. The squamous order arose in the Permian period from diapsids, and the suborder of lizards has formed already in the Cretaceous period. The oldest fossil remains of geckos, which include Crested Gecko, date back to the same time.
So, in Burma, lizards, perfectly preserved in amber, were found that lived on Earth 99 million years ago, and some of them belong to geckos – the direct ancestors of modern species from this infraorder. One of the individuals is generally practically indistinguishable from the modern gecko – all the main characteristics had already been formed by that time.
Crested Gecko was described in 1866 by the French zoologist A. Gucheno, the name of the species in Latin is Rhacodactylus ciliatus.
Appearance and Features
The size of this lizard is quite small: the adult individual reaches 14-18 cm, and this counts with the tail, which is about a third of the body length. This means that the animal can fit in the palm of your hand. Its weight is also small: an adult is gaining up to 40-70 grams. Such small pets can live for a long time, up to 12-15 years with good care. In nature, their life expectancy is usually shorter due to impending dangers and is 8-10 years.
The lizard has several color variations, depending on various factors, primarily from the area surrounding the young individual: it is in adolescence that the color of its skin is established. The main options are: yellow, red, brown, gray, and green; the most common variations are yellow and red. Most often, the color is almost monochromatic, but sometimes there are shapeless spots on the skin, for example, there are yellow-black individuals. These lizards quite bright, because the very nature of New Caledonia shines with bright colors. Outgrowths around the eyes are noteworthy. Further from the eyes to the tail itself, two low ridges stretch. The eyes themselves are large about the head, the pupils are vertical, which is why the look of the lizard is very characteristic.
The head is triangular in shape, the tongue is long, sticking it out far forward, the Crested Gecko can catch insects. The auricles are absent, there are only holes on the head. Crested Geckos are very agile, they can easily climb both trees and glass. Such a pet looks impressive and pleasing to the eye.
This species is endemic to New Caledonia and the group of islands around, that is, it does not occur in nature in other parts of the Earth. There are three distinct populations of Crested Geckos, each with its own range:
- the first lives along the banks of the Blue River in the southern part of New Caledonia;
- the second is slight to the north, near the Dzumac mountain;
- the third lives on the island of Pen, which lies southeast of New Caledonia, and also on small islands scattered around it.
These lizards live in trees, in the upper tier of the rain forest, that is, in a zone of high humidity and a warm climate. The places where they live are so little touched by humans that for a long time people did not even know what animals live there, including the Crested Geckos.
Features of the Maintenance
To provide this lizard with comfort in captivity, you need to try to recreate the conditions in which it lives in nature. To do this, first of all, you will need a vertical terrarium, in which you can place vines and branches so that the Crested Gecko can climb over them, which he will do with enthusiasm.
It is also required to put greens inside the terrarium – the lizard will begin to hide in it, it loves to disguise itself in the grass or small bushes, and sit there in ambush. Plants can be both live and artificial. Tropical soil, coconut chips, or other substrate are used as soil: Crested Geckos are not so demanding on it, the main thing is that it is water-absorbing.
The terrarium should be kept at a high temperature and humidity consistent with rainforest. Heating is most often carried out by an incandescent lamp; at the warming point, the night temperature is 26 ° C, the daytime temperature is 30 ° C or slightly higher. Accordingly, in the rest of the terrarium space, the temperature should be 3-4 degrees lower.
It is best to place a snag under the heat source, on which the lizard can bask, and larger so that she herself can choose the distance from the lamp. Humidity should be kept at 65%, higher at night; the terrarium needs to be sprayed twice a day, and a drinker should be placed inside, although Crested Geckos often prefer to lick drops of water from the walls.
Interesting fact: The lizard molts every 3-4 weeks. At this time, she becomes lethargic, and her skin fades. For the molt to go well, it is imperative to increase the humidity to 70-80%, otherwise, after its completion, pieces of old skin may remain on the pet, and over time this sometimes leads to problems with the fingers.
In nature, this lizard is omnivorous, its diet includes both plant foods and animals, usually, the ratio is close to equal, with a slight preponderance of plant foods. It is desirable to maintain the same ratio when keeping this animal in the house, while it is worth remembering that its jaw does not allow eating large pieces, and its teeth are poorly adapted for biting off. From living organisms, you can give:
- crickets – two-spotted and banana;
- flour worm;
These insects must enter the terrarium alive, then the hunting instinct will awaken in the lizard, and the best time for hunting comes at sunset. But you should pick up medium-sized prey.
Feeding insects is usually carried out once a week, twice more an adult lizard needs to be fed with plant food. The easiest way is to give her artificial food: it contains all the necessary vitamins, so you don’t have to worry about the balance. But instead, you can feed her with fruit. It can be:
It is important to give not just one fruit, but several different ones, and not whole, but in the form of puree. Do not feed a Crested Gecko citrus fruit. Add multivitamins and calcium to the puree. Young lizards need a slightly different approach: they are fed more often, usually every two days, and at first even every day. After they begin to feed on insects, you need to give them often, the lizard needs protein food.
Features of Character and Lifestyle
In nature, Crested Geckos activate at dusk and hunt all night long, and rest during the day. They have a similar way of life in captivity, although it may undergo slight changes: many owners of these lizards note that over time they begin an active life early in the evening, and by the end of the night they are already asleep. But still, to observe such a pet, it is advisable to have night lighting in the terrarium, best of all dim and simulating moonlight, so as not to disturb it. It is also worth choosing the lighting so that it does not increase the temperature in the terrarium, otherwise, it will be more difficult to control, and every degree is important.
At first, a Crested Gecko may seem very lazy and slow, he can simply remain almost motionless on a snag for many hours. But this impression is deceptive and, if you open the terrarium, you can quickly be convinced of this: the lizard will probably immediately try to escape from it. She escapes so quickly and dexterously that, without preparing in advance, it will not work to catch her. And even in preparation, the escape can still be successful: the skill to catch it develops only through training. The Crested Gecko knows how to hide, so finding him later in the apartment will also be difficult.
He also demonstrates agility when hunting. First, he usually looks closely at the prey – he can spend up to half an hour after it is launched into the terrarium. After choosing the right moment, it makes such a rapid throw that it is difficult to notice its beginning and quickly swallows prey. Then the hunt is repeated, and this can continue from the evening of feeding until the morning.
They differ in character, but in most cases, they begin to behave calmly with people after they get used to a new place and stop trying to escape. They can be fed directly from the hands with fruit puree, in the evenings and at night they can be released from the terrarium and play, at other times it is not recommended to do this, and they themselves are lethargic.
It is not difficult to care for this lizard, her character is livable (there are exceptions, but they are quite rare), and she can be suitable for those who:
- likes to keep reptiles in the house;
- ready for the pet to have no affection for him;
- does not want to pay a lot of attention to the pet;
- prefers to observe the animal, rather than stroking or holding it;
- ready to provide him with a good terrarium – he cannot be kept in cramped and unsuitable conditions.
In the presence of children, it is undesirable to have a Crested Gecko, or at least it is worth limiting contact between them since these lizards are small and very vulnerable: even if the child does not want to harm, it is enough just to squeeze a little harder or inadvertently grab it to cripple it.
Social Structure and Reproduction
Males reach maturity by a year and a half, females six months later. But it is better to wait some more time before starting to breed lizards. Distinguish between males and females by the genital bursa – only the first has it. In nature, the breeding season of these lizards begins annually with the arrival of spring and continues until summer. In captivity, you can adhere to these deadlines, but not necessarily. For breeding, a female or several are planted to the male, and after mating has taken place, they should be planted again.
The fact is that males show aggression at this time, the female often has bite marks on her neck, and if they are not separated in time, the male can bite off her tail. The female should be placed in a terrarium with a thick layer of soil – she will bury eggs in it after 30-40 days of pregnancy. Eggs are most often one or two, the temperature inside the cage will have to be maintained at about 27 ° C, they develop within 50-80 days. During this time they can be left in the terrarium, but it is better to place them in an incubator.
If the eggs do not harden, then there is a lack of calcium in the female’s body. In this case, you should add more of this element to her diet and try again no earlier than 4 months later, when the problem has already been definitely resolved. Only hatched Crested Geckos weigh only a few grams, at first they need to be fed with small larvae and insects, and by the fifth day, you can add some plant food. The temperature in the terrarium should be high, but you cannot overheat the young lizards too much, otherwise, they will grow weak – 28 ° C will be enough.
In nature, Crested Geckos are found only in New Caledonia, but they are successfully bred in captivity, so if you wish, you can get yourself such a pet. Crested Gecko is not very sociable, but also not aggressive, and lovers of lizards will be interested in watching his life, you just need to provide him with suitable conditions.