These amazing looking animals are known as CRESTED GECKOS and have the scientific name Correlophus ciliatus, formerly Rhacodactylus ciliatus. Crested geckos live only on a tiny group of islands called New Caledonia, off the east coast of Australia, and nowhere else in the world. They are fantastic climbers and have sticky pads on their toes which allow them to climb up any surface including glass. They can also jump quite well and in the wild they would jump from branch to branch in the forest trees in which they live.
As you can see from these pictures of just four of my 20+ crested geckos they are hugely variable in terms of colouration, pattern and spottiness!
In July 2013 two of my crested geckos & I appeared on live TV when we were invited to join Naomi Wilkinson, Tim Warwood and Radzi Chinyanganya for the final live show of CBBC's fantastic series WILD in Leeds! It was a great experience and here is the video sequence as it appeared on the live TV show as well as some photographs taken during the live filming:
In my opinion crested geckos have some of the most beautiful eyes, not only of the world's lizards but of any living creature!
Crested geckos get their name from the 'crests' of spiky scales which start at their eyes and run down their necks and part of the way down their backs. One of my most popular crested geckos named Stumpy (pictured directly above and below) has a particularly well-developed set of crests as you can see below:
Stumpy gets his name from the fact that he does not have a tail, and just has a little stump where the tail would usually be (see below). Unfortunately he lost his tail as a tiny baby, long before I owned him. Unlike most geckos and other lizards, which can re-grow their tails if they lose them, crested geckos cannot so Stumpy has lived almost his whole life without a tail. Despite not having a tail Stumpy is able to move around just as well as any of my other crested geckos which do have tails. In fact being tailless doesn't seem to bother him at all, as he is the best jumper of them all!
In August 2015 I bought my first ever tailless female crested gecko, a very beautiful individual indeed as you can see here!
Crested geckos really do come in an amazing variety of colours and patterns, ranging from bright red to orange to yellow and from very pale cream to very dark brown. I have 20+ crested geckos in my collection, as they are one of my very favourite species to keep and breed, so over the years I have acquired geckos of a wide range of colours and patterns. The gecko below looks like a large proportion of the wild crested geckos on New Caledonia and whilst it is mostly a plain brown colour it is still exceptionally beautiful:
In contrast the gecko below is a beautiful bright orange/red female crested gecko named Flame. One of the many amazing things about crested geckos, which Flame demonstrates quite brilliantly, is that they can change colour. Despite being incredibly beautiful in the first picture below, Flame does not always look like this. During the daytime crested geckos tend to be much less colourful than they do at night, although colour change can also be triggered by changes in mood, humidity levels and temperature. The second picture below is of Flame in her 'fired down' or 'unfired' colours rather than her 'fired-up' colours, as we gecko breeders tend to refer to them. You can see that the colour difference really is quite remarkable!
These are two more of my adult female crested geckos, named Rusty and Citrus respectively because of their colouration!
The geckos above do not have any spotting on their bodies at all, whereas many crested geckos do. These geckos are known as 'Dalmatian' crested geckos, named after the Dalmatian breed of dog. Just like Dalmatian dogs the quantity, size and positions of a Dalmatian crested gecko's spots are completely random! The individual below is one of my many Dalmatian crested geckos and is a fantastic and ever-popular adult male named Splodge Jr., who himself was a baby hatched within my collection. He was the first baby fathered by Splodge (see a little further down the page)!
This gorgeous gecko is a an adult female Dalmatian named Mrs Splodge, who is Splodge Jr's mother!
The Dalmatian geckos below are two adult female 'harlequin' patterned crested geckos, named Harley and Quinn. These are very colourful and have patterned sides and legs as well as the pattern down their backs, which is what gives the name 'harlequin' crested geckos. They also have plenty of Dalmatian spots like Mrs Splodge!
Although these Dalmatian geckos have plenty of spots they are nowhere near as spotty as the female below, which I acquired in August 2015 from my breeder friends Nick & Amanda Lumb at Lilly Exotics. This gecko is classed as a 'super Dalmatian' due to the quantity of spotting and she is easily the spottiest individual I have ever owned!
Prior to acquiring this female my spottiest Dalmatian crested gecko was Splodge (below), father to Splodge Jr. along with many many more babies over the years. He is the male who lives with Harley & Quinn as well as Mrs Splodge (hence her name) and he is HUGELY popular with everyone he meets!
The most surprising thing about Splodge is that when he first hatched he looked absolutely nothing like he does now. In fact I would never have believed he would turn out to be so stunning based on the colour he used to be, or so spotty based on how few spots he had when he hatched! He was one of my first ever baby crested geckos and is the one on the left in the picture below, taken shortly after he hatched in September 2007. As you can see he has changed a HUGE amount since then!
This is what makes crested geckos so exciting to keep and especially to breed, as you can never tell what the new babies will look like OR how they will end up looking when they are fully grown because they change so very much during their development!
Here are some more pictures of just a few of the many (many!) babies I have hatched since I started breeding this wonderful species in 2007:
Baby crested geckos (like most species) demonstrate an innate defensive behaviour towards larger creatures (i.e. me)! Due to their small size newly-hatched baby geckos in the wild are at risk of predation by lots of different creatures so they make themselves look as big and scary as possible when faced with any kind of threat, including opening their mouth REALLY wide as the one below is demonstrating! It's a bit too cute to be threatening but it is trying hard!!
With regular handling (assuming it is done correctly and represents no perceived threat to the gecko) they become calm very quickly and in all my years of keeping and breeding crested geckos I have never once been bitten by one!!
Like all lizards, crested geckos have to shed their skin regularly during their lifetime. Prior to shedding their skin a gecko's colours appear very different to usual as you can see here, in this picture of the fabulous Splodge at the early stages of shedding his skin:
As you can see from this picture, Splodge does not look his usual vibrant self at all! This is because the old outer skin has separated from the new skin and is ready to come off - it actually looks a bit like he is wearing a thin plastic bag over his entire body!! If you look on his head you will see that there are a couple of small tears in the old skin, showing that it is fully loose and ready to be shed (and in the case of these geckos, completely eaten)!
The picture below shows how the skin looks when it starts to be torn (usually bitten) and you can see clearly how the new skin underneath is much more brightly coloured than the old skin which is being removed during the shedding process!
Here is Splodge's skin after he had finished the process, taken at night when his colouration is a lot brighter than during the day when the photos above were taken!
Crested geckos have many amazing and interesting features but my favourite by far is the fact that they have no eyelids and have to lick their eyes to clean them! The brilliant picture below shows one doing this perfectly and I must say a big thank you to my friend Sharon Crawford for being in the right place at the right time and trying hard to capture the moment so well on her camera, especially after I have failed to do so myself despite many previous attempts!
All text and images Copyright © 2016 Jonathan's Jungle Roadshow