Choosing the right crested gecko vivarium is crucial to the health of your pet.
Over the years crested geckos have grown massively in popularity, and there are thousands of specimens being kept all around the world. Thanks to the work of dedicated gecko keepers and breeders dozens of different housing options have been trialled.
In this guide you’ll learn everything you need to know in order to choose the best crested gecko vivarium for your needs.
Understanding the Wild Habitat of Crested Geckos
Understanding the wild habitat of any reptile or amphibian is the first step in choosing the best possible cage for them. When you develop a good understanding of your lizards natural history you’ll be far better placed to replicate this as closely as possible in captivity.
Crested Geckos are nocturnal, arboreal lizards. Their sticky toe pads allow them to easily shin up trees, where they are less likely to fall prey to ground-based predators. They hail originally from the island of New Caledonia off the coast of Australia, where they are found in wooded areas. Arboreal lizards, by their very nature, appreciate room in which to climb, which means that vertical height is more important than floor space for this gecko species.
At the same time it should come as no surprise that lizards from this part of the world tend to appreciate a moderately warm temperature and high levels of humidity. This means that the best crested gecko vivarium is easy to heat, will stand to regular spraying, and has suitable ventilation to prevent stale, stagnant air building up.
While, sadly, this typically rules out wooden cages, which tend to have poor ventilation and will quickly buckle, swell and rot in overly moist conditions, there are still plenty of suitable building materials; most likely glass or plastic though a limited number of crested gecko keepers also use mesh cages successfully.
Crested Gecko Vivarium Size Recommendations
Due to their active lifestyle, crested geckos generally welcome a generously-proportioned cage. As crested geckos themselves may reach some 5-8” and are often out exploring and hunting during the night, an adult gecko requires a cage measuring at least 30cm long, 30cm deep and 45cm tall.
In truth, this really should be considered the absolute minimum, and a more realistic cage dimension would be 45cm x 45cm x 60cm tall.
Under these circumstances your pet will have plenty of space to move around, and you will have lots of opportunities to landscape the cage, creating a miniature jungle in your living room.
This is all good so far – but let’s look more specifically at some of the best crested gecko vivarium options currently on the market….
Types of Crested Gecko Vivariums
Over the years a huge number of different cages, vivariums and tubs have been used to house crested geckos, and each keeper has their opinions about the most suitable options. Having kept crested geckos myself for the last few years, testing out a number of different cage types, I’d like to talk about my own personal experiences and share my opinions on what I think are the best cages for crested geckos…
Exo Terra Glass Arboreal Vivariums
The most popular brand of such glass vivariums is Exo Terra, the exact cages I use myself, so let’s talk specifically about these cages. Firstly, there is the look of the Exo Terra cage – not only does it look absolutely gorgeous, setting off your crested gecko display a treat – but it also makes building a beautiful display in the first place a simple process.
The lid unclips, allowing you complete access to the cage, while the large glass doors also open at the front. This gives unrivalled access to create a microhabitat for your gecko. The all-glass construction makes for perfect visibility of your pet too.
But besides the looks of these vivariums, they also offer a huge number of practical benefits:
- The glass floor means it is easy to fit an under tank heating (UHT) system.
- The large glass “lip” below the doors allows for deep levels of substrate – ideal if you want to include live plants.
- The mesh lid allows excess moisture to escape, preventing a stale environment for your pet.
- This same mesh lid means that it is easy (and safe) to heat your crested gecko vivarium with a ceramic heater (if you prefer this option).
- A specially-designed hood is available for the top, allowing you to light your lizard cage. This can make it look more attractive, can help to encourage live plants to grow, or can provide UV light to your pet.
- The Exo Terra cages come with an attractive backing panel that is lightweight and easy to clean.
- Closeable inlets allow you to easily add any cabling necessary for your pet – such as thermostats, thermometers and hygrometers.
In short, the Exo Terra glass tanks have it all – and in my opinion are therefore the perfect cage for your little crestie. Lastly, they are reasonably priced, easily cleaned and come in the ideal dimensions. I recommend the “small tall” model, which is the ideal 18” x 18” x 24”, suitable even for adult crested geckos.
Zoo Med ReptiBreeze Deluxe Mesh Cages
On the upside, mesh cages offer excellent levels of ventilation. This is positive because stale air can be very bad for crested geckos, and may shorten the life of your pet. The downside of such cages is that heat can escape very easily, which can make them challenging to keep warm in cooler weather.
The choice as to whether a mesh vivarium is suitable for your crested gecko will therefore depend on your circumstances. If you live somewhere where winter temperatures drop considerably then you may struggle to keep this cage at a suitable temperature. If, however, you live somewhere with a much warmer climate, than such mesh cages can make an ideal solution.
The ReptiBreeze range of cages has a number of benefits that have made them popular among keepers of chameleons and increasingly crested geckos too:
- Mesh walls allow excellent ventilation.
- Sturdy mesh roof allows for UV lights and/or ceramic heaters to be fitted reasonably easily.
- Large front door makes access simple.
- Base is lined with a sturdy plastic tray which can be removed to easy cleaning.
- Bottom of the cage opens, allow bottom tray to be removed without fuss.
- LED hood fits to top, illuminating your cage for an attractive display.
That said, despite all the above benefits, it is worth mentioning that creating a “mini rainforest” – if that is your goal – tends not to work quite as well in such cages. The mesh that these cages is made from can be reasonably fragile, and the all-mesh design means that it is isn’t possible to add a thick layer of substrate and to grow live plants in these.
Instead, mesh cages tend to encourage a reasonably “sterile” cage setup. For some keepers this is fine – and a crested gecko can certainly live a long and healthy life within such a cage. For me, however, landscaping the cage is all part of the fun. Not only does it make my cages look beautiful, but in my opinion it also encourages far more natural behaviour that can be fascinating to watch at home.
Zoo Med ReptiBreeze Basic Model
While this isn’t necessarily the end of the world, it does mean that visibility in such cages tends to be worse than when watching your gecko through a glass or plastic front. If you really want your crested gecko vivarium to form a focal point in your room then one of the two previous models is therefore likely to be superior.
Home-Made Perspex Vivariums
A small number of skilled and passionate reptile keepers build their own tanks from glass or – more often – clear plastic. It is difficult to discuss the pros and cons of such cages as each cage is different.
So long as such cages are built to suitable dimensions and allow the correct ventilation then they can be an excellent option. Indeed, I sometimes find people selling custom-built vivariums at reptile shows which could make an ideal habitat for your gecko.
If you fancy trying to build something yourself then you’ll find loads of excellent videos on YouTube detailing what other keepers have done.
Really Useful Boxes
Opinions are divided on the use of RUBs for crested geckos. In reality RUBs never really look great, as the plastic is never perfectly clear. As you have probably noticed from the image, they’re also wider than they are tall, which isn’t ideal for an arboreal lizard species.
They have no ventilation, so you’ll need to use an electric drill to add some holes. Of course, it’s also not really possible to use a ceramic heater or to fit a UV light (if you opt to use one) so you will have to rely on a heat mat to keep your pet warm.
In truth is, while some breeders use RUBs thanks to how easy they are to stack on top of one another and to clean, in most cases I would suggest that there are better vivariums for the hobbyist reptile keeper with just one or two cresties in their collection.
They are another option sometimes suggested to crested gecko keepers, but I hope the picture alone helps to demonstrate why they’re not the ideal option. They’re not tall, they’re not easy to heat, they don’t look great and they’re relatively small in comparison to the better options we’ve already examined.
Again, a few breeders use these for youngsters until they go into a “proper” cage or get sold to a reptile store/keeper, but on the whole I think there are much better options out there.
While most wooden reptile cages are waterproofed to a degree, there always seems to be a weakness in the treatment, and water gets into the grain sooner or later, at which point problems can occur.
No, while wooden vivariums certainly have their place in the hobby, I don’t think they’re the best option for crested geckos thanks to their requirement for high levels of humidity.
So What is the Best Crested Gecko Cage?
By now I think my own opinions are pretty clear. While the odd person may have the time (and skills) necessary to build their own custom crested gecko vivarium from scratch, most of us will have to rely on store-bought cages.
Under these circumstances I believe that the taller Exo Terra glass vivariums really are the best possible cages for your pet, offering the perfect combination of looks and practicality. While there may be slightly cheaper options on the market I don’t think any are quite as suitable for your crested gecko.
Photo by Florence Ivy
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