Even though crested geckos are nocturnal, they do benefit from having some kind of light during the day. Keeping a light on for 12-14 hours/day helps regulate their day/night cycle, and improves activity, appetite, and overall health.
It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but I recommend a low-wattage bulb that produces UVA wavelengths, since reptiles can see ultraviolet light. (Imagine if you had to live without the rainbow of colors in the visible light spectrum—seeing only in black and white. Wouldn’t that be dull?) I like Exo Terra’s Reptile Vision bulbs. Monitor terrarium temperatures carefully after installing a new bulb, as cresties don’t need much extra heat!
If you want, you can also install a black/blue light bulb for night viewing and supplemental heat if necessary. But crested geckos’ eyes function perfectly in the dark, so it’s only for human benefit. My opinion? Save yourself a few bucks and don’t bother.
What about UVB?
UVB is technically not necessary for crested geckos in captivity—they get all the vitamin D3 they need from high quality prepared diets like Pangea, Repashy, and Clark’s (more on that here).
But if you want to install a UVB bulb, go for it! Since cresties are nocturnal, you don’t need anything particularly strong. The Zoo Med ReptiSun 5.0 compact fluorescent works fine.
Crested geckos thrive between 72-82°F, or 23-27°C. In most homes, that’s right around room temperature, making it easy to keep your gecko comfortable. They can tolerate dips into the mid-60s (around 18°C) during winter (no lower!), but temperatures above 85 (29°C) can cause stress and heat stroke!
If you’re keeping your crestie around room temperature, I recommend providing a 78-80°F basking spot with a low wattage incandescent bulb (about 45-60w). You can make sure you’re providing an appropriate temperature gradient with a temperature gun like the Etekcity Lasergrip 774. This will give you instant readings on temps anywhere in the terrarium, which is great for peace of mind — I can’t live without mine!
Keep tabs on your crestie’s temps with a quality digital thermometer, like the Zilla digital thermometer-hygrometer. Don’t use anything cheaper, like the ribbon thermometers commonly found in pet stores. You’ll save money, but it won’t be accurate (like, at all).
Crested geckos thrive between 50-80% humidity. This can be maintained with daily misting and a moisture-retentive substrate. Make sure to let it dry out to around 50% before misting again—constant moisture encourages mold and mildew growth, which can make your gecko sick.
Misting is also the best way to make sure your gecko stays hydrated, as they don’t like drinking out of a dish. Depending on how well your terrarium holds humidity, mist at least once in the evening, and then again in the morning if needed. Your gecko will drink the droplets off the terrarium walls and decorations.
Do not use distilled, softened, or even filtered water for misting! Tap water (assuming that it’s safe for humans to drink) contains minerals vital to your gecko’s health. Yes, this means you’ll have to clean up water spots, but it’s worth it. Here’s why.
Keep track of the humidity levels with a quality hygrometer. Again, I recommend the Zilla, since it’s a 2-in-1 package with very reliable readings.
- If you want to save yourself some hand cramps, get a pressure sprayer like this. I love mine!
- Have hard water deposits? No problem! They come off easily when you scrub with a lemon juice-soaked cotton ball.