Crested Geckos, Geckos, Habitat and Enclosures

Are Crested Geckos Arboreal or Not?

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by The Pet Engineers

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When you decide to have a reptile as your pet, you need to know what kind of habitat it lives in.

Especially for the new pet owners who have little to no experience handling crested geckos, or for that matter, any kinds of reptiles as pets.

It is all the more important to know what kind of natural habitat your pet reptile belongs to.

When we talk about crested geckos, in particular, it is important to know whether crested geckos are arboreal, semi-arboreal, or terrestrial – and accordingly.

You will need to provide an enclosure that has space vertically (for arboreal), horizontally (for terrestrial), or both (for semi-arboreal).

Are Crested Geckos Arboreal or Semi Arboreal?

When it comes to reptiles, they are usually classified as arboreal, semi-arboreal, or terrestrial based on their habitat and the way they live in the wild.

It is important to know about this habitat-based classification of your pet reptile, as it will impact the kind of enclosure it needs, the feeding habits it has, and the overall living condition that you need to provide to keep your pet healthy and comfortable.

Crested geckos are classified as a semi-arboreal species. This means that in the wild, in its natural habitat, a crested gecko spends most of its life on small trees and shrubs.

To understand why a crested gecko is said to be semi-arboreal, let us dive deeper into the kind of habitat it naturally belongs to.

A crested gecko is native to the rainforests of New Caledonia. Since it belongs to a rainforest, naturally, a crested gecko spends a lot of its time in trees that canopy the rainforest.

crested gecko on branch
Crested geckos love to climb

Not only do the canopies provide the much-needed hiding spots to keep the crested gecko hidden from its predators in the daytime, but the humid green cover also provides the moisture and temperature conditions that allow a crested gecko to thrive.

It is interesting to note here that while some sources classify a crested gecko as being arboreal, others prefer to call them semi-arboreal.

Some arguments provide significant merit to both sides, but as a pet owner of a crested gecko, you may benefit a little more in the enclosure setup when you consider them to be semi-arboreal.

When you dive deeper into the actual natural habitat of crested geckos in the rainforests of New Caledonia.

You will notice that a crested gecko often spends most of its life 1 to 4 meters above the ground. So, it is accurate to classify a crested gecko in the wild as an arboreal reptile.

However, when we look at crested geckos in captivity, i.e., as pets, these reptiles spend enough amount of time on the ground or bottom of the enclosure as well.

So, as a pet owner, you may find it a little more accurate to classify your pet crested gecko as semi-arboreal.

Is It Normal For Crested Gecko To Be On The Ground?

The answer to this question will make it clearer why considering your pet crested gecko as semi-arboreal in captivity will save you a lot of unnecessary worry and headache.

To answer the question – yes, it is completely normal for your pet crested gecko to spend time on the ground or bottom of the enclosure.

As long as your crested gecko is not showing any signs and symptoms of any health or behavior-related problems, it spending time on the ground should not be a cause of alarm for you.

This is where classifying a crested gecko in captivity as arboreal sometimes causes panic in new crested gecko owners who have little to no experience with handling a pet crested gecko.

You may start worrying about why your “arboreal” pet is laying on the ground – all kinds of assumptions may spring up in your head – from health issues to possible behavioral issues.

But in reality, unless your crested gecko shows any additional symptoms of illness, there is no reason to worry.

Does Crested Gecko Like To Climb?

Yes, a crested gecko loves to climb. One of the most favorite past times of your pet crested gecko may be jumping around from one branch to another.

In fact, it is extremely important that as the pet owner of a crested gecko, you provide ample foliage of the kind that a crested gecko enjoys hanging around in – an absence of this can lead to something called “stress due to lack of enrichment”.

What Is Stress Due To Lack Of Enrichment?

You may have heard the phrase “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. Well, for a crested gecko, all stay and no play make it a dull gecko.

In other words, if you do not have enough foliage, i.e., enough cover of greens and branches that allow a crested gecko to jump around and hang out on the branches above ground, it will start impacting the health of your pet over time.

A crested gecko with no enrichment activities becomes lethargic. This lethargy can soon translate into either obesity or a lack of appetite that consequently becomes malnourishment.

So, not only does your crested gecko love to climb, but as its caretaker, you need to ensure that you provide enough foliage for your crested gecko to climb and jump around – for the sake of its health and comfort.

Arboreal Tank Set-Up For Crested Geckos

When looking into the ideal setup of a tank for a pet crested gecko, there are too many variables to consider.

However, here we narrow it down to two major parameters that correspond to the (semi) arboreal nature of crested geckos in captivity. Those two major parameters are the size of the tank and the habitat inside the tank.

crested gecko enclosure
Plants and branches are important in a gecko’s enclosure

Size

Depending upon the size of your crested gecko, you need to opt for an enclosure of the appropriate size. Here is a rough estimate of the size of the enclosure you may need for your crested gecko depending upon its weight:

Crested Gecko SizeMinimum Tank Size
Up to 10 grams1.5 to 5 gallons
10 to 25 grams7 to 10 gallons
25 grams and larger20 gallons
Minimum Tank Size

It’s ideal to reside in a bigger terrarium or cage, especially for mature crested geckos. The enclosure must have sufficient height and surface area to function properly.

Habitat

The habitat you set up inside the tank of your crested gecko should mimic its natural environment as best as it can. Some essential considerations for the habitat of the tank are:

1 – Decorations and Plants

Your crested gecko needs more space than what a vertical terrarium can provide. For your crested gecko to climb and jump, you must also give adequate plants and decorations.

Branches, vines, and plants are essential elements of a crested gecko terrarium. Plants might be artificial or real.

Crested geckos can live just as well in a terrarium with fake plants as they can outside, so the decision is yours. Their ability to jump and climb, as well as their availability of hiding spots, are their main priorities.

The number of plants in the terrarium or cage should be about 50%.

Organize the plants, branches, and vines such that they are scattered across the cage while still allowing your crested gecko to jump from one area to another.

The objective is not a crammed terrarium where your crested gecko can only climb!

Crested gecko arboreal tank set-up

2 – Hiding Places

Due to their arboreal nature, crested geckos will favor hiding areas above ground over those below. Although you may add some great hiding spots to the terrarium’s or cage’s floor.

You need also to make sure that your crested gecko has a lot of places to hide above the ground.

The hanging coconut serves as a crested gecko’s “traditional” hiding.

These are available online or at pet supply stores. If you can’t locate them in your local pet store, be sure to browse the rodent accessories section since they are also frequently used for gerbils.

Summary

While naturally, in the wild, crested geckos are rightly classified as arboreal, in captivity, a much more accurate description of crested geckos will be as semi-arboreal pet reptiles.

In the wild, they spend much of their lives 1 to 4 meters above the ground. So, it makes perfect sense to classify them as arboreal.

However, in captivity, it is perfectly normal for your crested gecko to spend time on the bottom of the tank as well as on the branches.

So, considering your pet crested gecko as semi-arboreal will help you have a tank setup that is vertically and horizontally spacious.

About
The Pet Engineers

A team of pet lovers. We have owned various pets over their years. From dogs to reptiles, etc. Our love of pets, strive to us to create up-to-date and accurate helpful guides on pets.

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