Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
One of the principles in taking care of a pet is to keep it in its natural social structure. You should keep group animals in a group and solitary animals alone. For this reason, it’s essential to know about your pet’s social behavior, in this case, the crested gecko.
Crested geckos are solitary animals that are best kept alone. You can usually keep female crested geckos together without any problems. However, keeping multiple males together is often the cause of fights. Lastly, a single male and a female crested gecko shouldn’t be kept together permanently.
The question of whether or not it’s OK to keep crested geckos in a group is discussed on many forums and Facebook groups. A minority has positive experiences with keeping crested geckos in a group. Most owners will advise against it.
This article will get more in-depth on crested geckos’ social behavior towards other crested geckos and a little bit towards humans. More importantly, you’ll learn which configurations of crested geckos can work and which have a high risk of failure.
General Rule: Keep a Crested Gecko Alone
Social structure in the wild
Little is known about the social structure of crested geckos in the wild. We can’t also conclude anything from the social structure of other species of geckos.
Some geckos are territorial and solitary, while others establish a hierarchy and even group together (see, for example, Aggregation in Bibron’s Gecko, Chondrodactylus bibronii). Geckos that group together might have benefits such as protection against predators or thermal benefits.
When it comes to crested geckos, I found little to no publicly available research about crested geckos’ social structure in the wild.
Social behavior according to reputable sources
The Royal Veterinary College in Londen also states in their care sheet that crested geckos are happiest when kept alone, although they can also be kept in pairs or groups.
Observations from owners
According to users on different forums, crested geckos – especially females – can be kept together without problems. They would even sleep near each other and be in each other’s vicinity while awake. This would possibly suggest a more sociable nature of crested geckos.
It’s indeed possible to keep female crested geckos together in a small group. However, research from The West Virginia Academy of Science suggests that female crested geckos establish a hierarchy with one dominant female.
Benefits & drawbacks of keeping a crested gecko alone
There are certain benefits to keeping a solitary crested gecko in a terrarium:
- a solitary crested gecko doesn’t compete with others for food
- it’s easier to keep an eye on their health (urates and feces)
- a single crested gecko has more place in a terrarium
- you don’t need to monitor for fighting and bite wounds
- minimal risk of getting hatchlings (see parthenogenesis)
As for drawbacks, there are currently no real drawbacks known for keeping a solitary crested gecko. There doesn’t seem to be a feeling of loneliness. They also don’t seem to be bothered by a lack of companionship.
As we learn more about crested geckos, it’s possible that this changes. For example, it might be possible that a crested gecko does do better in a small group. However, this is currently unknown.
Exception: Keeping Multiple Crested Geckos
If you do want to keep multiple crested geckos in one terrarium, you should always have an extra terrarium in case of fighting. You should also be aware that some combinations have a higher risk of fighting and injuries than others.
The following group combinations of crested geckos are possible:
- multiple male crested geckos
- multiple female crested geckos
- one male and one female crested gecko
- one male and multiple female crested geckos
- multiple males and multiple female crested geckos
- multiple males and one female crested gecko
Combination 1 – Multiple male crested geckos
You should never house more than one adult male crested gecko in one terrarium. Adult males are territorial and have been known to fight in a small environment like a terrarium. Even when there isn’t any (noticeable) fighting, your crested geckos might become stressed.
There is some discussion whether males will fight when they’ve been kept together from a very young age and without a female crested gecko nearby. It would be possible to house them together (as long as there’s no sign of a female in their vicinity).
Combination 2 – Multiple female crested geckos
Female crested geckos can be kept in a small group with minimal risk of fighting. Females are less territorial but can establish a hierarchy. Most female crested geckos have a higher social tolerance and stay friendly towards each other.
In a right-sized terrarium, you could potentially keep up to five female crested geckos together. But a smaller group is preferred.
Combination 3 – One male and one female crested gecko
If you don’t mind getting many crested gecko babies, you might be tempted to keep one male and one female crested gecko. But there’s a risk when you keep them housed together all year long.
A female crested gecko needs a cooling down period where it can recover and be stress-free. When you house a pair, there’s a risk that your male crested gecko will chase the female around the terrarium a lot.
It’s best to keep them apart – at least during the cooling down period to avoid health issues.
Combination 4 – One male and several female crested geckos
If you want to keep crested geckos of the opposite sex together, you can also keep one male together with multiple females. Depending on the size of the terrarium, you can keep one male and two to four females.
Combination 5 – Multiple males and multiple female crested geckos
It’s never a good idea to keep multiple (adult) crested geckos together because of their territorial nature. When they’re kept with females, this territorial and dominant behavior will be even worse.
The male crested geckos will fight and can get seriously injured and stressed. This combination is, for this reason, not recommended. It will have a (very) high risk of injuries and stress for your geckos.
Combination 6 – Multiple males and one female crested gecko
This combination is the worst. The males will be territorial and will fight each other for dominance and hierarchy. The males will also try to breed with the female and chase it.
For a single female, this will lead to stress and possibly injuries. Don’t let your female crested gecko suffer from such a situation and never place her in such a combination.
Special exception – keeping crested gecko babies together
Baby crested geckos are notably more social than adult crested geckos. They can be housed together depending on the size of your terrarium.
For practical reasons, baby crested geckos are usually kept in separate terrariums or containers. It allows the breeder to see if the baby eats enough and if it poops.
If you do keep your baby and small juvenile crested geckos together in one terrarium, make sure to separate them when they reach sexual maturity. Also, don’t keep crested geckos of different sizes together.
How many babies can I keep in my 10-gallon terrarium?
In the table below you can find a recommended number of crested geckos that can be housed together in a small 10-gallon terrarium. The actual number depends on the size of your crested geckos and their own personal growth rate.
|Age||Number of crested geckos|
|0 to 2 months||up to 4|
|2 to 4 months||up to 3|
|5 to 10 months||up to 2|
You should let crested geckos stay alone in a terrarium. Most terrariums aren’t big enough for a group of crested geckos. So it’s – in my honest opinion – best to stick with the rule of one crested gecko per terrarium. This is especially true for owners who want to get their first crested gecko and don’t plan to breed crested geckos.
This my recommendation and shouldn’t deter you from keeping a group of crested geckos (if you combine them safely). When you decide on keeping a group of crested geckos, make sure to get a big enough terrarium. I would recommend a minimum terrarium size of 15 gallons per (adult) crested gecko, with a minimum of 20 gallons (if you keep only one crested gecko).
In the following table, I give a quick look at the number of adult crested geckos that can be housed in one terrarium. Again this is my personal recommendation and you might find conflicting opinions. Personally, I wouldn’t group more than six crested geckos together. In my research, I also didn’t come up with larger groups.
|Terrarium Size||Suitable for # (adult) crested geckos|
The terrarium size mentioned above is a minimum, which means that you can go bigger and get a very large terrarium for only two crested geckos. This will only benefit them and create more natural behavior and less friction among group members.
Introducing New Crested Geckos
If you introduce a crested gecko to another crested gecko, you’ll need to respect a quarantine period of 60 days. There are three reasons why such a period is essential:
- making sure it doesn’t have diseases or parasites
- preventing stress
- making sure your gecko eats and poops properly
Diseases and parasites
One of the primary reasons you want to quarantine your new crested gecko is to prevent disease and parasites from spreading to your other crested gecko(s). Although most crested geckos won’t have any disease, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The quarantine period also serves another purpose. If you just bought your crestie and you brought it home, your crested gecko probably has stress. You don’t want to expose your new crested gecko to even more stress by placing it together with all these unknown crested geckos.
Eating and pooping
A final reason for quarantining is to check on its behavior and to check if the crested gecko is eating and pooping. Keeping it separate makes it a lot easier to notice early signs of health issues.
5 Tips and Tricks
To give you some extra help when you do decide to keep crested geckos in a group, I’ve gathered the following five tips to minimize the risk of fighting and stress:
Monitor the behavior of your crested geckos
Crested geckos have different “personalities”. Some will match with each other while others will not. Although female crested geckos will usually be friendly towards each other, they can get into a fight.
Some crested geckos only want to be left alone and don’t tolerate companions. Closely monitor the behavior of your crested geckos and be prepared to separate them if you notice fighting.
Don’t put crested geckos together of different sizes
All crested geckos in a group should be roughly the same size and weight. If there’s a size difference, the larger crested gecko(s) might bully and bite the smaller one(s). This might lead the smaller crested gecko to get a lot of stress and cause it to stop eating.
Don’t put a (sub-)adult male together with a non-breeding female
A (sexually active) male crested gecko will try to breed with females even if they’re not the right size and weight. The breeding will cause a strain on the body of the female and can cause serious harm.
Make sure that the terrarium is large enough
A crested gecko needs a fair amount of space and even for a single crested gecko the terrarium should be big enough. When you house a group, the terrarium will need to be of the right size (30 gallons or larger)
Keep a suitable group that fits you
If you keep a group, make sure that you can handle the number of crested geckos and their needs. This includes getting the right accessories and a large terrarium.
But it also means that you should get a female-only group when you don’t want to get hatchlings. If you keep a mixed pair, you should always be prepared to get crested gecko babies.
Do crested geckos need a friend?
Crested geckos don’t need a friend. A solitary crested gecko will be healthy and can live a long life. Most owners only keep only one crested gecko per terrarium. Getting your crested gecko a friend in the same terrarium can cause conflict and should be carefully monitored.
What kind of terrarium do I need if I want to house multiple crested geckos?
A terrarium for a group of crested geckos should be at least 18x18x24 inches. You can house a pair in such a terrarium. A larger terrarium will be necessary for groups of up to five crested geckos. The larger the terrarium, the bigger the group you can keep.
Crested geckos can be handled by humans but don’t have the same emotions as we do. A crested gecko might show social behavior towards humans, but it’s just instinctive behavior and not the same social interaction as other pets do.
Do crested geckos get lonely?
In our current knowledge, there are no signs that crested geckos get lonely. Crested geckos have less complex emotions and don’t need a companion. They won’t get health issues when they’re kept as solitary pets in a terrarium.
Want to Learn More?
If you want to learn more about crested geckos as pets, please read the following articles.