Gargoyle geckos and crested geckos are both incredibly popular in the pet trade, and for good reason. They are relatively easy to care for, tolerate handling well, and are just plain beautiful. For many owners, the idea of housing these close relatives is very alluring, but is it actually a good idea?
Can gargoyle geckos and crested geckos be housed together?
While they have similar care requirements, housing gargoyle geckos and crested geckos together is not recommended. Housing these species together will result in stress, and captive geckos are known to become aggressive, fight, and even attempt to eat each other when forced to inhabit the same area.
In this article, we’ll cover why exactly housing these species together is a bad idea in depth.
6 Reasons Not to House Gargoyle Geckos and Crested Geckos Together
For as rewarding as keeping both of these species is, truthfully, cresties and gargoyles do not mix. This comes down not only to the individual species’ natural behavior, but also their general biology.
1. It Will Stress Them Out
Even if you are lucky enough to avoid all of the other negative outcomes we cover below, putting these geckos together will inevitably stress them out.
Both species are solitary in nature, and as we’ve covered in this article on housing gargoyle geckos together, wild geckos have a strong natural desire to give one another space. In fact, ecological observations of wild gargoyle geckos reveal that they deliberately space themselves out in different layers of trees by size to avoid conflict.
Being forced into any sort of unnatural conditions will stress your geckos out, making them vulnerable to disease and general discomfort.
2. One May Attempt to Eat the Other
You may think that geckos only pose a threat to crickets and papayas, but that’s where you’d be wrong; both species of geckos are known to have a varied and opportunistic diet in the wild, and this includes insects, reptiles, and even small mammals. Gargoyle geckos in particular are known to feast on other geckos and instances of cannibalism have been reported in both the wild and captivity.
If there is a significant size disparity between the two geckos, it is a distinct possibility that a particularly enthusiastic gargoyle gecko will try to prey on a smaller crested gecko.
3. They May Fight
Having two geckos of a similar size may reduce the likelihood that one may try to eat the other, but it won’t change the probability of fights between your pets. On their own, cresties and gargoyles are peaceful species that rarely bite humans. When it comes to one another, however, geckos are willing to bite and fight to the extent of serious injury if placed in close quarters with one another.
Placing two males together practically guarantees fighting, but even females are known to show subtle signs of aggression either in the wild or when placed in close quarters. Along with plenty of stress and bullying, fighting can result in wounds and often leads to tail-dropping. And unlike gargoyle geckos, crested geckos don’t regenerate their tails.
4. They Thrive Under Slightly Different Conditions
Crested geckos and gargoyle geckos are both New Caledonian geckos of the Diplodactylidae family, so they have very similar care requirements. Both species are crepuscular and semi-arboreal, meaning they are tree-dwellers that are most active at dawn and dusk.
The two species also share a similar diet consisting primarily of arthropods, flowers, and a variety of fruits. Despite all these similarities, though, there are many minute husbandry differences between these geckos, and they can make the difference between good and bad husbandry.
Crested Geckos Like Higher Humidity
Despite a significant overlap in their natural habitat, gargoyle geckos and crested geckos have different preferences in one of the most important aspects of their husbandry– humidity. While gargoyle geckos prefer 50-70% humidity with the need for their enclosures to fully dry out between mistings, wild crested geckos are known to live in 60-80% humidity ranges, significantly preferring the upper limit.
There is a significant overlap between these two ranges, but this balance is easily disrupted, resulting in skin and respiratory infections or difficulty shedding.
They Benefit From Different Tank Layouts
While both of these species enjoy a setup with plenty of perches, humidity, and vertical space, their ideal setups differ slightly based on biological traits. Crested geckos uniquely have sticky toes and tails, which makes them famously able to stick to smooth surfaces like glass and support up to five times their own mass.
Although gargoyle geckos also have these adaptations, their toes are noticeably rougher than their crested counterparts, and they have a much less coordinated vertical stride. As a result, they are much less secure on glass than crested geckos and instead prefer to perch on objects. While a perch-filled enclosure may be too crowded for a crested gecko, a more barren enclosure may limit a gargoyle gecko.
They Have Slight Dietary Differences
As we discussed above, gargoyle geckos and crested geckos have roughly the same base diet. In captivity, formulations meant for both species have proven effective for healthy development.
That said, crested geckos are significantly more insectivorous than captive gargoyle geckos, which often thrive on a fruit-based formulated diet. Swapping food dishes may not be a big deal, but feeder insects can easily be snatched up by a gargoyle gecko rather than the crestie that requires them.
5. They May Have Breeding Activity
Despite being entirely different species, captive geckos in a small space will often display breeding behaviors. While this behavior is perfectly natural between males and females of the same species, having a crested gecko and a gargoyle gecko show interspecies mating behavior has a variety of negative effects.
Gargoyle Geckos and Crested Geckos May Be Able to Interbreed
Interspecies crossings have been reported within the Diplodactylidae genus, specifically between crested geckos and chahoua geckos. Crested gecko and gargoyle gecko hybrids have not been documented in any official sense, but it’s possible that a pairing would occur.
To some of you, the slim possibility of hybridizing these two species may sound interesting and fun, but it’s truthfully a terrible idea, especially for novices. For as similar as gargoyle geckos and crested geckos may be, they are, at the end of the day, two different species which would not breed and produce healthy offspring in the wild.
Not to mention the fact that crested geckos were only recently rediscovered in the wild by chance, so maintaining a healthy captive population pool is considered important for conservation reasons.
Hormonal Behavior Can Lead to Negative Health Effects
Even if your female doesn’t produce fertile eggs, that doesn’t mean she’ll come out of the breeding process without difficulty. Egg binding is an unfortunately common occurrence even in females kept alone, especially in young geckos.
The formation and laying of eggs is metabolically hard on females, as it directly taps into stored nutrients such as calcium. The presence of breeding activity may induce the female to lay more frequently, possibly leading to metabolic bone disease if she is not carefully fed and supplemented.
Males May Bully Females
With the use of biting and other acts of aggression, gecko courtship is not for the faint of heart. This is highly stressful for both parties, and it is common for breeders to have dropped tails. Males of both species mature at an earlier age than females and are known to bully them before they are fully mature.
Not only can this be incredibly stressful for the female, but the physical injuries and premature laying caused by such bullying may lead to a variety of diseases.
6. They May Compete
Often, gecko owners neglect to realize that their little lizards spend much of their day actively seeking out ideal spots and food. When you place two lizards in the same enclosure, competition will inevitably result.
They May Compete for Ideal Spots
As with other lizards, gargoyle geckos and crested geckos are ectotherms, or cold-blooded. In order to maintain a proper internal temperature, cold-blooded animals rely on environmental warmth and must regulate their temperatures and metabolism by moving around throughout the day.
If your enclosure is set up properly, it will feature a temperature gradient that allows your geckos to move around and find the perfect amount of warmth.
On another note, a location may be favorable to geckos based on the security it offers. Both geckos are small species which may be prey to birds, mammals, and other reptiles. Accordingly, hiding spots offer these geckos plenty of comfort.
Whether it’s a matter of temperature or security, your geckos may either be forced to fight for a chosen spot or miss out on it entirely.
They May Compete for Food
Although competition for ideal spots is stressful enough for your geckos, competition for food can be detrimental to their health. Even with multiple feeding dishes throughout the tank, it’s distinctly possible for your larger gecko to intimidate its smaller tank-mate away from food dishes or simply overeat from these containers.
As you might expect, not getting enough food is incredibly stressful and potentially even fatal.
Gargoyle geckos and crested geckos are fascinating and similar species, but as tempting as it may be to house them together, it isn’t worth the risk. Rather than face the possibility of one gecko making a snack out of the other, fighting, or even more subtle issues such as competition, it’s better to give them separate enclosures. Not only is heartbreaking to see your geckos injured but it could lead to expensive veterinary bills which only increases the cost of these geckos.
This way, you can ensure the safety and happiness of your lizards and have fun designing two great tanks!