Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How to Make a Humid Hide

I've discussed before the importance of proper hydration for Crested Geckos, but what do you do if your gecko is having problems staying hydrated, is sick, injured or is having shed issues?

The answer:  Create a Humid Hide!

Here's how:

1.  Find a Suitable Container 
This is only going to be a temporary container you will keep your gecko in, or it will be an accessory in your gecko enclosure, so it doesn't need to be incredibly sturdy or overly large.  The one I used it about 4" (l)  x 6" (w) x 2" (h) and is clear so I can monitor the crestie inside, but it doesn't have to be.  Margarine containers work really well for this, as do ZipLock or Gladware plastic tupperware

2.  Poke, Drill or Melt Holes for Breathing
You'll want to poke holes for breathing in your plastic container to increase the airflow for your crestie while inside regardless of if the humid hide is going to be a temporary enclosure or an accessory.  Place these holes in the top lid and just under the top lip of the container. 
  • If you are poking holes using a pin then you will need to do a lot of holes and this is best done from the inside of the container out so that you don't risk your crestie getting scraped by any potentially sharp edges left over.  
  • If you are going to drill holes then ensure the bit you are using will make appropriate size holes.  You don't want your gecko being able to get out, or get stuck or caught in any of the holes so ensure they aren't too big.  I've been told that you reduce the risk of cracking the plastic if you heat it with a hair dryer before drilling.
  • If you want to melt the holes you can use either a soldering gun (but you will ruin the soldering gun tip) or you can use a torch and heat up metal wire/bars/pins to make the holes.  I personally prefer this method for more long term humid hides that are going to be used a lot, especially because the holes end up smooth.  Again, make sure that the wire or pin is the right diameter to allow enough air flow, but also prevent your gecko from escaping.
3.  Lay a Substrate 
I personally use household paper towel to do this, and the higher end stuff that absorbs really well works the best.  Use a few sheets and fold it into the size of your container, then lay it in the bottom of the humid hide.  This will help hold the moisture and release it without having a risk of drowning, especially for smaller geckos.  You can also use clean cotton rags, or clean hand towels or face towels, but it will be harder to see some things, like abnormal feces or bleeding, and they aren't as disposable/cost effective.
4.  Pour a Hydration Solution
For geckos with shed issues, purified water is a great hydrating solution.  I use reverse osmosis water, just like I do for their drinking water.
For sick geckos or cresties that are having hydration issues, using a flavourless pedialyte can help rehydrate.  I tend to mix mine half and half with water.

Pour in enough to fully saturate the paper towel substrate, but not leave a lot of pooled liquid.  Be especially careful when creating a humid hide for a very small gecko.

5.  Place Your Gecko
Place your gecko in the container and close the lid completely.  Continue to monitor your gecko and do not leave the gecko in their for a significant time period. 
 As a modification you can place a humid hide with a entry/exit hole in the top of the container that is large enough for the gecko to get in and out in the tank with your gecko, but there is no guarantee that they will use it.  If you have a sick gecko or one with a shed issue I recommend doing a monitored method first and providing a modified humid hide in the terrarium as an "extra".

Safe Plant List for Crested Geckos

The following are all safe for Crested Geckos.  I will work on getting some photos of the below and better care directions to help with all the growing needs for your planted tanks.

If you have any other suggestions, concerns, or advice on keeping planted terrariums, please email me or leave a comment.  I always like adding fan photos to the blog.

I personally like Coleus in my planted tanks and they add good colour!

Abelia (Abelia grandiflora)
African Violet (Saintpaulia ionantha)
Sweet Alyssum (Allyssum species)
Asperagus Fern (Aperagus setaceus plumosis)
Aster (Aster species)
Baby Tears (Helxine soleirolii)
Bird's Nest Fern (Asplenium nidus)
Boston Fern (Nephrolepsis exalta)
Bottle Brush (Callistemom)
Bouganvillea (Bouganvillea)
Bridal Veil (Tripogandra multiflora)
Bromeliads (Aechmea; Bilbergia; Cryptanthus)
Cactus, spineless (Astrophytum)
Camellia (Camellia japonica)
Coleus (Coleus)
Corn Plant (Dracaena Fragrans)
**Creeping Charlie (Pilea nummulariifolia)
**DO NOT CONFUSE ABOVE WITH !!!!Glecoma heteracea!!!!
Croton (Codiaeum species)
Dracaena (Dracaena species)
Emerald Ripple (Peperomia caperata)
Eugenia (Peperomia caperata)
Fuschia (Fuschia)
Geranium (Pelargonium species)
Hen and Chicks Succulent (Echeveria)
Hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)
Hoya (Hoya exotica)
Iceplant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum)
Impatiens (Impatiens)
Jade Plant (Crassula argentea)
Japanese Aralia (Fatsia japonica)
Jasmine (Jasminum officinale: J. grandifloum)
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
Marigold (Calendula officinalis)
Monkey Plant (Ruellia makoyana)
Mother of Pearl (Graptopetalum paraguayen)
Natal Plum (Carissa grandiflora)
Painted Nettle (Coleus)
Palms (Areca species)
Pampas Grass (Cortaderia selloana)
Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans)
Peperomia (Peperomia caperata)
Petunia (Petunia)
Phoenix (Phoenix roebelenii)
Piggyback Plant (Tolmiea menziesii)
Pilea (Pilea species)
Pink Polka-Dot Plant (H. ypoestes sang.)
Ponytail Plant (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Prayer Plant (Maranta leuconeura)
Purple Passion: Purple Velvet (Gynura)
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)
Staghorn Fern (Platycerium bifurcatum)
Swedish Ivy (Plectranthus australis)
Tree Mallow (Lavatera assurgentiflora)
**Umbrella Plant (Eriogonum umbrellum)
**DO NOT CONFUSE ABOVE WITH !!!!Scheffiera actinophylla!!!!
Velvet Plant (Gynura aurantaca)
Wandering Jew (Tradescantia albiflora)
Warneckii (Dracaena deremensis)
Wax Plant (Hoya exotica)
Zebra Plant (Calathea zebrina)
Zinnias (Zinnia species)

*Aechmea fasciata (Urn plants/Silver Vase Bromeliad) – Large
*Billbergia nutans – (queens Tears) partial shade to bright indirect light
*Cryptanthus zonatus (Earth stars) – warm, humid, bright light
*Guzmania lingulata – warm, humid, bright light
*Nidularium – 12-15 inches, low to Med. Light
*Tillandsia – Air plant, warm & humid
*Vrisea splendens (sword bromeliads) Light shade

~Other Plants:
*Acalphya (copperleafs, chenille plants)
*Adiantum (maidenhair ferns) – cool and dry in winter
*Aglaonema (Chinese evergreens) – do well in low lights, highly recommended
*Alocasia (elephant ears) – must be kept moist, humid and warm, will either not do well or overgrow everything
*Asplenium (Bird’s nest fern) – moist soil, up to 3 feet high
*Bamboo - (live or dry)
*Beaucarnea recurvata - (Ponytail Palms)
*Calathea zebrine - (Zebra plant) – moist moderate temps, moderate light
*Ceropegia woodii - (Rosary Vine,Hearts entangled, or String of hearts) Water thoroughly, and then allow the soil to completely dry out before watering again.
*Chlorophytum (spider plants) – average humidity, moderate light, should be allowed to get almost dry before watering
*Cissus (kangaroo vines, grape ivys) – no moist soil
*Codiaeum variegatum (often confused for Croton, because of this it is often labeled "croton" as a common name)
*Crassula ovata - (Jade Plant, Friendship tree or Money plant).
*Cyrtomium - (Holly ferns)
*Dracaena - (Dragon plants)
*Ficus (rubber trees, ornamental figs) should be washed of when dirty, do well in spotlight, Use caution with any plant of the ficus family that has a "milky sap" when leafs/stems are broken, it is a skin and eye irratant.
*Maranta - (prayer plant) warm temps, high humidity
*Peperomia - (radiator plant) some in this family are an epiphyte or air plant. Clippings will generally produice.
*Radermachera sinica - (China Doll)very difficult to root, Growth slower used by nursery will grow fast and less bushy.
*Sanseveria - (Snake Plants) aethiopica, caniculata, kirkii pulchra, parva, pinguicula, sinularis, thyrsiflora & trifasciata
*Scindapsus (Pothos) - looks like philodendron, very hardy. Clippings will produice.
*Schefflera arboricola - (Umbrella Plant)
*Spathiphyllum - (peace lilies)
*Tradescantia zebrina - (wandering Jew/ spiderwart) Can cause skin irritation in humans when handled frequently. Called inch plant because it can grow up to an inch a day!

Thank you to Ellis from Reptile Forum UK for this information that I have found to be very useful.

CASE STUDY: The Brotherhood of Geckos - Multi-housing & Colony Housing

As I have written before, most geckos DON'T need friends.  However, there are the odd occasions where groups that shouldn't get along... DO!  It's crazy!  But it just proves what I'm coming to believe more and more - that crested geckos are very social animals, despite the common belief that they aren't.

I received a group of three cresties into my rescue from a young boy who wanted to try his hand at breeding and believed that he had a male and two females "even though one of them looks male".  His vet had even told him he had a good breeding group of a male and two females.  This is why I'm very cautious about who I go to when the vet receptionist insists they see "any exotics" without asking.

I got these geckos home and gave them a couple of days to settle before checking them more thoroughly.  All three were male!  No wonder the kid never got any eggs!

Despite all of them being male, they had been together for so long and were so friendly and docile that I decided to keep them together, just to see what would happen.  Well wouldn't you know it, they got along!  They do make a ton of noise as night, but there doesn't seem to be any bullying and they even eat together without competing.  I do, however, provide ample amounts of CGD in three separate dishes just in case, as well as crickets weekly.

So does this mean that ALL geckos will get along?  I don't think so.  I think this is probably only possible due to a few factors:
  1. They were housed together from a very young age.
  2. They have always been housed in the absence of females.
  3. They always have more food than they could ever dream of.
If a female were to be introduced I would hypothesize that they would become aggressive in the pursuit of her, although an absence of food one night didn't cause any fighting.  Perhaps if there were limited food for a significant period of time then they may start to compete for it.

I still don't advise or advocate the housing of multiple geckos outside of breeding groups, and still strongly advise against housing multiple males together in the presence of a female.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Housing Crested Geckos: Do they need friends?

This topic seems to come up a lot, so I have decided to make it the subject of my first ever blog post! Yay!

Firstly, I'm Laura, and I co-run Steel Reptiles with my husband. We are part small turtle/crested gecko breeders, part small reptile rescue. Nice to meet you!

Now moving on to the topic at hand; housing multiple cresties!

I'm going to start by saying that male crested geckos should be housed alone when not breeding during breeding season. I have heard of other people housing a male with a female or two, but I personally house all my geckos separately .

While most people say that females can be housed together, I also prefer to house them separately. I find housing multiple geckos can cause them stress, and just like people they don't always get along.

There are some sources that state crested geckos are semi-cannibalistic, so you may be taking a chance with that too. In the wild they would likely not be living in close quarters with each other, so it's not as natural for them to be social.

With that said, I do house two babies together (<10g each) and they seem to enjoy each other. They can be seen sleeping on the same leaf on opposite sides, jumping over each other, and even eating together. I plan on separating them once they get bigger or their sex can definitively be determined.

If you do choose to house your gecko with a cagemate, I would suggest getting a female, and ensuring that you have an appropriate additional enclosure to isolate the new addition for several weeks to months to ensure it is healthy before putting the health of your gecko at risk. You will also want to keep an enclosure available to set up quickly in the case that the two geckos don't get along, start to fight, or either of them becomes sick or stressed.

Some other things to consider are:

  • Are you prepared if your cresties are male & female to incubate the eggs, and care for and house the resulting babies?
  • The risks of egg producing complications in females that are bred too early
  • The risks of injury caused by one crestie to another
  • The additional space required by multiple geckos (2-3 adults need a minimum of a 30 Gallon Vertical Tank)

So does your crested gecko need friends?

My answer is no.