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New here, to cresties, to owning reptiles, and I have questions.

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  • New here, to cresties, to owning reptiles, and I have questions.

    I've had experience with reptiles, I've babysat a bearded dragon on multiple occasions, and I've got a friend with a crestie and a leachie that I've handled. So I'm not totally clueless, and I've done a fair bit of research on the care of crested geckos, as much as I think anyone should do before getting a new pet.

    I have my terrarium pretty much all set up, haven't gotten my gecko yet as I still have a couple questions and just want to make sure everything is right. My tank is a 12x12x18, no live plants but it's set up to look natural(I'm gonna try to include photos). I'm gonna add a feeding ledge, and intend to feed only the repashy or pangea CGD, so it won't be hunting any live food, or eating/drinking on the floor of the tank. Temperature and humidity won't be a problem, one of the benefits of living in Houston. Haven't even misted the tank and the humidity has never dropped below 60%.

    Substrate: I've read lots of conflicting information about this. Currently I have sphagnum moss laid down. I don't want to use paper towels and have read bad things about reptile carpet/moss mats. As I mentioned I'll only be feeding a CGD. So in this scenario I understand the risk of the gecko eating substrate and becoming impacted, or worse, is low. But how low? I'm also wondering if there's anything I can do that can further help to prevent the gecko from eating substrate; is there something I can mix with the moss? Will leaf litter help? I'm also wondering what size gecko I should get given the substrate? I want one as small as I can safely raise in the tank for two reasons, 1: it's fun raising and watching animals grow up from young ages, 2: I'd like to prolong upgrading to a larger tank for as long as possible.

    Food: Depending on the size of the gecko (2g, 5g, 8g, etc) how much of the CGD should I prepare/offer each day to start out until I've learned its particular eating habits?

    The sensors and wires for the therm/hydrometer running along the back wall in the photos shouldn't pose and sort of threat to the gecko right? Any tips on my setup would be appreciated as well.

    I know these topics have been covered ad nauseum, but everyone's situations are a little bit different. Thank you all in advance for your help. Also, if anyone in Houston, particularly the Clear Lake/League City/Pearland area can recommend a good reptile vet I would appreciate it.

    https://m.imgur.com/gallery/ehGD41C
    https://m.imgur.com/gallery/F7QjFK8
    https://m.imgur.com/gallery/Had6GgN
    Attached Files

  • #2
    A 12x12x18 tank is a good size for a juvie, and your gecko can stay in it until about 20g - actually could stay longer, but it wouldn't be optimal. With the grapewood that you have in there, you'll have to be very careful of mold. It doesn't handle humidity well. Mopani or manzanita, or other wood that you can put in an aquarium works well. I had some ghostwood for a while, but found that it had too many little spikes on it that I was afraid would hurt my gecko. I am also using shed deer antlers (on the suggestion of another forum member) and those have worked awesome!

    Otherwise, it looks like a nice setup, and I think your gecko will be very happy! I can't speak to the moss - I've only ever used paper towel for babies, and when grown, I use an Exo Terra moss mat, which so far has worked very well if I rinse it every other week - or, you can use coco fiber mats - our garden center carries flat rolls, and I just cut to fit the tank. Rinse those well also, when cleaning your tank, and they work fine. I tried Galapagos moss, and that got moldy.
    Eileen
    TAD "Tiny Ancient Dinosaur" (Crestie), Hidey (Garg), O.G. "Office Gecko" (Bauer's Chameleon gecko), TBD "Tiny Badass Dragon" (Western Bearded Anole), 3.1.0
    Rody Jane (cattledog/stinkwad mix), Dixie Moonpie (rattledog) George P-Dog (lab/Great Pyr) 1.2.0, Ringer (barn cat) 1.0.0

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    • #3
      Your tank looks great! You may want to add a bit more foliage and a regular mushroom ledge in addition to the food ledge. Perhaps a coconut hide too? i love the hanging ones, I'm definitely going to get one for my gecko.

      I can't comment on the substrate because I have only use paper towel so far as I feel it's the safest option as far as accidential ingestion. I'm sure someone will be better able to advise you on that. Whichever substrate you decide on, it may be an idea to use paper towel for the first few weeks because it's easier to keep track of poop.

      I totally understand why you want to get a young gecko. It's so much fun watching them grow! I'm wondering if a 12x12x18 may be a bit too large though. You mention 2,5 and 8 grams - I feel like a large kritter keeper would be better suited for such a small animal. My gecko is 7 grams and he's in one of those (the exo terra version). Once he hits 10-12 grams I'm going to move into a proper tank. If you do get a very small gecko and want to use your current tank make sure you have multiple feeding stations.

      re: CGD - I use small bottle caps and place just enough food to make a thin layer on the base of the cap. A thin layer means that it dries out quickly but I replace the food every day so it's not a problem for me.

      It's wonderful to see that there are people like you who do your research before getting an animal. It breaks my heart to see animals being kept in unsuitable conditions by people who have no idea of what is needed. Thank you
      42 - 0.0.1 Crested Gecko

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      • #4
        Originally posted by TAD View Post
        With the grapewood that you have in there, you'll have to be very careful of mold. It doesn't handle humidity well. Mopani or manzanita, or other wood that you can put in an aquarium works well. I had some ghostwood for a while, but found that it had too many little spikes on it that I was afraid would hurt my gecko. I am also using shed deer antlers (on the suggestion of another forum member) and those have worked awesome!
        That's a good idea, I've got a decent sized antler I could put in there.

        With the grapewood should I just clean it more frequently(and in any particular way?) to try to prevent mold or do you think I'll need to eventually just replace it no matter what?

        Thank you for the advice, I appreciate it, and thank you for the compliments on my tank.

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        • #5
          I am also using shed deer antlers (on the suggestion of another forum member) and those have worked awesome!
          That's a really good idea. I've got a small half rack I might use.

          So should I just clean the wood more frequently? Or will I need to eventually replace it no matter what?

          What about sealing the wood? I've read about people using non-toxic/good-grade, or trying to, sealers and this stuff called pond shield to seal the wood on homemade/custom reptile enclosures for chameleons and others with humid environments. I've heard it's expensive, I'm wondering if there's a cheaper alternative.

          I'd like to make my own wood-decor. I have an umbrella/Chinaberry tree. I've read that they are toxic but I believe it's just the berries, though one person said the bark as well. I'm wondering if wood itself is, and if I were to strip/sand the bark off if it'd be fine. Do you or anyone on here know about stuff like that? I haven't been able to find a safe/unsafe list that gives me specifics like that.

          Thank you for the advice, btw, and the compliments on the tank. I enjoy and put effort into that kind of stuff, I'm glad it shows.

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          • #6
            Most of the other topics have been covered so I'll just address the impaction issue. I used to work for a pet store and we had babies that were <5g on coconut fiber, we saw many of them get impacted and die. It's worse for them to consume dry coco fiber than wet because the dry will absorb a ton of water. I use exclusively paper towels for all of my geckos however I provide humid hides with damp cocofiber in them. One of my juveniles gets very excited when awake and jumps at the tank side when I walk by, due to this he once consumed a fair amount of cocofiber because he tried to bite me through the wall and got a mouthful of cocofiber. He was about 15g at the time and passed it fine. The risk of impaction varies based on the personality of the gecko. Another risk of the loose substrate is that when cresteds shed they bite themselves to remove the shed, this is another opportunity for them to consume the substrate as they bite at their toes to remove the shed. If you're dead set on getting a very small crested I would 100% put leaf litter on top. Though this won't necessarily keep the crested from digging into the substrate anyway. IF I were to ever use loose substrate as the main substrate in my tanks I wouldn't use it on a gecko less than 10g to be safe.
            Facebook: Avid Exotics

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            • #7
              Regarding the grapewood - you could try covering it with melted beeswax and baking it on. I found that to be rather messy though, and you have to keep re-doing it. I finally just ditched the grapewood and went with mopani. It has worked out much better for me, even though I think the grapewood is cheaper, and can sometimes be found in some very nice-looking pieces. Too much work for me. I have found mopani to be a beautiful wood, and easily cleaned, with no mold growth as it handles water and humidity very well. That and the antlers, and a Reptology Climber Vine have worked very well for my geckos.

              You have to avoid any wood that would have sap in it, as that will stick to your gecko's feet and cause some real problems. I really don't know anything about Chinaberry wood, but I would be extra careful of anything that you bring in from outside - both from the sap standpoint, and also bringing in parasites.
              Eileen
              TAD "Tiny Ancient Dinosaur" (Crestie), Hidey (Garg), O.G. "Office Gecko" (Bauer's Chameleon gecko), TBD "Tiny Badass Dragon" (Western Bearded Anole), 3.1.0
              Rody Jane (cattledog/stinkwad mix), Dixie Moonpie (rattledog) George P-Dog (lab/Great Pyr) 1.2.0, Ringer (barn cat) 1.0.0

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              • #8
                You may want to add a bit more foliage and a regular mushroom ledge in addition to the food ledge. Perhaps a coconut hide too? i love the hanging ones, I'm definitely going to get one for my gecko
                I'm gonna get a hanging plant for the back, at least. The fake log on the bottom is hollow, with multiple entrances, so I figured that could be his hide. But if he never uses it I may get a different one.

                Maybe I could place paper towels over the moss to keep track of the poop at first then replace it with leaf litter? Unless leaf litter also makes it easy to keep track of the poop, then I could just do that.

                It's wonderful to see that there are people like you who do your research before getting an animal. It breaks my heart to see animals being kept in unsuitable conditions by people who have no idea of what is needed.
                Thank you for the advice, and I'm glad people seem to think I'm on the right track so far. I believe if you're going to be responsible for a life you need to learn how to properly care for that. Whether it's a child, a dog, a reptile, or fish. I also obsessively research everything I have even a passing interest in. I've seen quite a few stories since I've been reading forums about geckos dying because the owner didn't do their research. It's very sad. It's why I'm trying to gather as much info on substrate as I can.

                we had babies that were <5g on coconut fiber, we saw many of them get impacted and die
                This is why I'm staying away from coconut fiber, and decided to go with moss. It seems to be the safest loose substrate. I'll definitely get some leaf litter though, and maybe some more decor that'll maybe give him more places to be off the ground. What about large pieces of bark in addition to the leaf litter?

                I would be extra careful of anything that you bring in from outside - both from the sap standpoint, and also bringing in parasites
                The problem I've had with shopping for mopani, and most wood, is that I can't find pieces that are the size and shape I want, that's why I'm curious about using wood I can find and cut to size on my own. From what I read cleaning and baking the wood will kill everything, pretty much. The sap is a good point, and not something I had thought of, thank you. The big concern I've had has been whether or not any given wood is toxic for the animal. It's probably best I just stick to the safe-plant list; if it's safe when it's alive and growing I'm sure it's safe when it's dead.

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                • #9
                  The problem I've had with shopping for mopani, and most wood, is that I can't find pieces that are the size and shape I want, that's why I'm curious about using wood I can find and cut to size on my own. From what I read cleaning and baking the wood will kill everything, pretty much. The sap is a good point, and not something I had thought of, thank you. The big concern I've had has been whether or not any given wood is toxic for the animal. It's probably best I just stick to the safe-plant list; if it's safe when it's alive and growing I'm sure it's safe when it's dead.
                  Perfect answer - cork bark. You can get it in the pet stores or online, and you can get it in just about any size, and break it to meet your needs for shape if you want. It's waterproof, looks natural, won't hurt the gecko, and actually helps them with shed.
                  Eileen
                  TAD "Tiny Ancient Dinosaur" (Crestie), Hidey (Garg), O.G. "Office Gecko" (Bauer's Chameleon gecko), TBD "Tiny Badass Dragon" (Western Bearded Anole), 3.1.0
                  Rody Jane (cattledog/stinkwad mix), Dixie Moonpie (rattledog) George P-Dog (lab/Great Pyr) 1.2.0, Ringer (barn cat) 1.0.0

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                  • #10
                    I use wood from outside, I just bake it in the oven before using it.
                    3.3.0 Correlophus ciliatus (crested geckos)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Treebiscuit View Post
                      I use wood from outside, I just bake it in the oven before using it.
                      What kind of wood do you use?

                      Perfect answer - cork bark. You can get it in the pet stores or online, and you can get it in just about any size, and break it to meet your needs for shape if you want. It's waterproof, looks natural, won't hurt the gecko, and actually helps them with shed.
                      I wasn't aware it helped with shedding. I'll probably get some then, not sure where I'll put it now though, lol. I ditched the grapewood (probably save it for a future beardie terrarium) and went with a larger fake tree/log to match my existing one(which I had to arrange vertically to fit, but it lends itself to being a "hide" better than before). I'll share photos this weekend after my food ledges come in and I've gotten any other foliage I may get.

                      I also have questions about misting. Everyone seems to recommend misting once or twice a day. Is this solely for the sake of keeping the humidity up and most people's tanks require daily misting to achieve that? Or is there another reason? Because over the last week or so since I've gotten the tank set up with the moss, and since I've bought 2 sets of digital thermo/hydrometers, the tank has stayed at 65-70% humidity in the upper areas and 75-85%(after it dropped from 99% when I first put the damp moss on) in the bottom just above the moss. Should I lightly mist on some sort of regular basis even if the humidity is where it needs to be? I should also mention it's achieved and maintained these humidity levels without misting it even once. The only added moisture is from when I soaked the moss, wrung it out, and placed it in the tank.

                      Thank you, everyone, for being so helpful. I like this forum. I've been on lots of forums for many different things (cars, sports, etc) and through my interactions here and what I've read on other threads, this community is probably the kindest and most helpful I've been part of. I haven't seen anyone be the least bit rude or hurtful, even when they easily could have been. It really shows that everyone cares about their animals, and the lives of others' pets and want them to be as happy and healthy as possible.

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                      • #12
                        I mist to raise humidity, but the geckos also drink the droplets from the mist; they seldom, if ever, drink from the water cups.

                        I agree with everyone being kind and helpful here as well. There is a wealth of information from the people on this site, and I would also like to thank those who participate!
                        Eileen
                        TAD "Tiny Ancient Dinosaur" (Crestie), Hidey (Garg), O.G. "Office Gecko" (Bauer's Chameleon gecko), TBD "Tiny Badass Dragon" (Western Bearded Anole), 3.1.0
                        Rody Jane (cattledog/stinkwad mix), Dixie Moonpie (rattledog) George P-Dog (lab/Great Pyr) 1.2.0, Ringer (barn cat) 1.0.0

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                        • #13
                          That humidity all the time might be a little too high. It really should drop to about 50% for awhile everyday so that things can dry out. Having high humidity all the time will lead to bacteria and mold growth. How humid is the actual room the tank is in? I had to buy a dehumidifier for the warmer months because my actual apartment had a humidity of like 75%! So the tanks would never get lower then that either. With the dehumidifier they would drop to a nice 50% during the day and would only need a heavy misting at night. The winter is more dry so I spray twice a day then to keep it humid enough and still get a drying period.

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                          • #14
                            The room's humidity varies between 60-70%.

                            The 25 watt day-blue halogen bulb, mounted 4" above the screen top and to one side will reduce the humidity to 50-55% shortly and hold there for at least a few hours without getting any lower. The problem is that while air temperature away from the direct light is 77-80 degrees, the areas directly below the light are well above that, 85-95 degrees depending on proximity.

                            Since turning the light off like 5 hours ago humidity near the bottom has risen to and held at 80%, and humidity near the top has been holding at 55-58%.

                            The night-red bulb might be able to do the job without making it too hot. But if I'm running a light during the day I'd prefer it to not be a red bulb.

                            I could try building a fixture that'll move the dome further away from the tank, by at least a foot, but that may not have enough of an effect on the humidity.

                            Any tips? Cause I don't want to buy a dehumidifier for my room.

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