October 21 is Reptile Awareness Day


Once thought to be extinct, crested geckos were rediscovered in 1994. Since their reemergence, this gecko’s easy-going personality and low-maintenance lifestyle has made it a popular pet among children and adults alike.

This Reptile Awareness Day, Rachel Ellerd, a second-year veterinary student at the Texas A&M College of Veterinarian Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, reminds us just how unique and important crested geckos are to the reptile family.

Crested geckos are easily identifiable and come in a wide array of colors and markings. Their interesting name stems from the fringed crest that runs from their eyes to their necks and backs. According to Ellerd, the reptile’s distinct features set them apart from other geckos.

“Crested geckos have tiny projections over their eyes resembling eyelashes, which is why some people like to call them eyelash geckos,” Ellerd said. “They also have two rows of soft spines along their sides, and instead of eyelids, they have transparent scales over their eyes they lick to keep moist.”

Specialized toe pads are another unique feature of the crested gecko; these pads allow them to easily jump and move along vertical surfaces, which is an important attribute for owners to remember when choosing the correct tank for their pet.

“Since these geckos are semi-arboreal, meaning they spend most of their time in trees, they need upright tanks when living in a home environment,” Ellerd said. “Adult crested geckos can reach lengths of 4 inches or more, not including their tails, so they need 20-gallon tank, if not larger.”

Crested geckos do not require special heat lamps or light, and Ellerd said their environment should remain at room temperature. They do require moderate humidity, but this can be accomplished by lightly misting the tank using a spray bottle filled with warm, filtered water once or twice a day.

Because crested geckos are omnivores, eating both fruits and insects in the wild, owners have a variety of options when it comes to choosing the right food for their pet.

While Ellerd prefers to feed her crested geckos a commonly used and accepted commercial diet, many owners choose to supplement small insects and mashed fruit, such as bananas, peaches, and pears into their gecko’s daily diet.

Along with easy maintenance, Ellerd recommends owning a crested gecko because of their docile temperament.

“Although they might be a little jumpy as juveniles, as they age, they tolerate handling well,” Ellerd said. “If you’re looking for a great low-maintenance pet, a crested gecko will be the perfect fit for you.”

If cared for properly, crested geckos can live anywhere from 15 to 20 years. As long as owners can commit to caring for these unique creatures, they can make for great, long-lasting companions for you and your family.

Pet Talk is a service of the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.Suggestions for future topics may be directed to editor@cvm.tamu.edu.

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