This is a guide on how to set up a crested gecko terrarium. Crested geckos like a humid environment with many areas to climb on. First, I will show you what you need in order to set up your very own Crested Gecko habitat. Then, as I build my next terrarium, I will guide you and show you pictures along the way so you can follow step-by-step.
What you need to create your own crested gecko terrarium:
Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium 12” x 12” x 18” (Glass)
Zoo Med Hydroballs
Zoo Med Mesh
Zoo Med Eco Earth Substrate
Live or Decorative Plants
2.5 – 5.0 gallon bucket
Lamp and Light for heat
**To start I would recommend decorative plants, as live plants do need to be taken care of. In this example I use both types.
***Also, these items are by no means an exact copy of what you should get or use. However, I tried to include brand names where available to make it easy to get started. Otherwise, feel free to mix and match with different types of climbing material and plants. You will also need some type of food dish and Crested Gecko Diet for food. Whatever you hear, please do not feed these geckos baby food, they are not humans! (Baby food will not provide the right nutrients and the geckos can suffer from metabolic bone disease if not properly fed).
Step 1: Clean the Terrarium
Make sure you have all the supplies you need first so that you can continue right through to the end.
Clean your terrarium with hot water. Dry the outside.
The inside can stay wet as long as it has been cleaned thoroughly. You may want to use a scrub brush if there is anything left over that running hot water on it doesn't take care of.
Step 2: Clean Hydroballs
Take the Hydroballs and pour them into the 5 gallon bucket. Rinse them with water about five or six times to remove the excess debris from the Hydroballs. You will see the water will become very cloudy and it will contain some type of sediment at the bottom. Clean this as much as you can.
I have made these terrariums without the Hydroballs as well but found the Hydroballs a huge help at keeping the humidity levels up. Without the Hydroballs, the humidity levels will flucuate much quicker and you will find yourself trying to manipulate the humidity. Use the Hydroballs!
Pour all of the Hydroballs into the Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium.
Step 3: Add mesh
Then, take the mesh and place it on top of the Hydroballs. I bought mesh of the size 18” x 18”. In the picture you will see that some areas of the mesh look darker. That is because it was folded over in case I need to use it in a larger tank some day.
You are placing a layer of mesh on top of the balls so that you can place a layer of coconut fiber substrate (Eco Earth) on top and not allow the fiber to mix with the balls. So, while placing the mesh, it will be ok to let the mesh that meets the glass walls to curve upwards. This will hold the substrate in place when you need to add water to the tank. The water drips through the substrate into the hydroballs allowing the water to be evenly distributed and humidify the tank.
Step 4: Eco Earth
Once your 5-gallon bucket is empty, put in one brick of Eco Earth and follow the directions for the amount of water to use. Typically it is about a gallon of water per brick. If you use hot water it will help the Eco Earth substrate hydrate quicker. You will know when it is done when it is all the same consistency and there are no hard parts left to the substrate. While waiting for the substrate, take any vines or plants and any other decorations you may have and begin to rinse them all in hot water (except any live plants of course).
The mesh will be held down by the substrate once that has soaked up the water. I ended up only using about half of the substrate in this one tank and the rest will go into my other tank. If you have a decent saw you can cut the Eco Earth brick in half before you add the water. If you don’t have a saw, don’t bother trying to cut it. Any unused Eco Earth will dry up and can be stored in freezer Ziplock bags. When you need to use it, just hydrate it with some warm water.
Once the Eco Earth substrate has been layered on the mesh, you can begin adding in your vines, plants and decorations. I have a live plant in the front as well as some hanging plastic plants that my geckos like to use as cover. Set yours up as you see fit but make sure you give your Crested Gecko places to climb and hide. At this point you may want to add some water to the terrarium just by pouring it over the substrate. You should always keep some water in the tank that can be seen in the Hydroballs. They are used to keep the humidity level from drastically changing in the tank and I highly recommend you use them. Using the Hydroballs, it does the work for you as long as you keep some water in the tank.
Step 5: Add your gecko and have fun!
If you have any questions or comments please let me know! I have been raising geckos as pets for about six years now and have even bred them as well! Crested Geckos are amazing creatures that are easy to keep and don’t require much work.