Leopard Geckos VS Crested Geckos

Which Is The Better Pet Lizard?

Leopard geckos and crested geckos are two of the most common pets in the reptile hobby. They’re fairly simple to care for, they don’t take up too much space, and they’re typically easy to handle.

Diaz, Vicky. Comparing Geckos. 2022, Get Psyched Reptiles, North Carolina.

I wanted to share some of the differences between the two geckos so anyone interested in getting a gecko can understand why one might be a better fit for their life than the other.

Neither pet is objectively better than the other, but depending on where you live, what you’re comfortable with, and what kind of terrarium you want in your home; they’re might be one that’s better for you.

New Caledonia VS The Deserts of Iran

These two animals come from very different parts of the world. Crested geckos are Island dwellers, while leopard geckos are from arid desert lands.

This means that their natural habitats, as well as their captive habitats, are polar opposites.

Crested geckos were once thought to be extinct until, in 1994, the species was rediscovered.

The group of islands they were found in are called New Caledonia, a group of islands located in the South Pacific.

http://www.whereig.com. New Caledonia Map.

The climate in New Caledonia is semi-tropical and the weather is fairly consistent all year long. However, temperatures do slightly rise and drop with the seasons, averaging 75 degrees Fahrenheit down to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a short high of 82 degrees Fahrenheit in the warmer months. In New Caledonia you will find these geckos climbing and jumping on low trees and shrubs.

This locomotion tactic and habitat layout is reflected in the standard recommendations we use for their terrariums in captivity.

Diaz, Vicky. Crested Gecko. 2022, Get Psyched Reptiles, North Carolina.

Leopard geckos on the other hand couldn’t have it more different.

Leopard geckos are found throughout Asia and the Middle East. They can be found in Northern India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran in arid, mountainous deserts.

Long, Gavin. Leopard Gecko Habitat Range Image. 2022, The Leopard Gecko Blog.

The weather conditions that leopard geckos have grown accustomed to in these places are arid, low humidity, and hot. In winter the weather can get all the way down to 50 degrees, driving the geckos underground to semi-hibernate.

Instead of jumping through trees, they’re used to walking across rocks and having clay-like soil underneath their feet. This is also heavily reflected in the captive care for these geckos.

Diaz, Vicky. Leopard Gecko In Terrarium. 2021, Get Psyched Reptiles, North Carolina.


Given the extreme differences in origin of these two species, their diet does have a distinct difference.

Crested geckos are omnivores, who will opportunistically eat any insect small enough for them. They’ll eat things like crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, fruit, and worms. They also eat fruit.

Leopard geckos, however, are pure insectivores who will only eat insects small enough for them to catch. They’ll commonly eat things like centipedes, beetles, spiders, etc.,


As far as sleep cycles are concerned, crested geckos are nocturnal while leopard geckos are considered crepuscular. Nocturnal animals will likely be awake during the night and asleep during the day. Crepuscular animals, on the other hand, are most likely to up at both dusk and dawn.

Something else notable that differs between the two animals are how their bodies handle losing their tail. Both animals can drop their tails if they’re feeling stressed or threatened, but only a leopard gecko will regrow it’s tail.

This difference is due to the fact that a leopard geckos tail is vital to survival, because it’s used as a place to store excess fats and nutrients.

Crested geckos don’t store fat in their tails, so once it falls off it stays off. The animal will not suffer or struggle to survive without its tail.

This difference is likely due to the fact that food is far more scarce in a desert, so leopard geckos have to prepare for a potential loss in food.

Captive Care

Now that we know where these geckos come from, what they eat, and a few other differences between these geckos, we can talk about how different it is to care for these animals in captivity. Before I start I want to say that this is NOT a full care guide, I’m just giving some information to help you decide which animal might be a better choice for you. You would need to do more research before owning one of these geckos.

The first difference you’ll see in my geckos enclosures, pictures shown below, is that the crested gecko has a vertical enclosure while the leopard gecko has a horizontal one.

Diaz, Vicky. Crested Gecko 2. 2023, Get Psyched Reptiles, North Carolina.
Diaz, Vicky. Leopard Gecko. 2023, Get Psyched Reptiles, North Carolina.

Since crested geckos are made to climb and jump it makes sense that you’d keep them in something with more height. Providing them with things like tall cork bark, branches, plants, etc., will give them room to climb and jump in the way that they would in New Caledonia.

A leopard gecko will need more horizontal space, but they can climb slightly. They don’t vertically climb, but you will find your gecko climbing hides if they have more of a horizontal incline.

Another difference between these species is how you’ll manage temperature and humidity.

Crested geckos will need a humid environment with moderate temperatures that are around the 72-85 degree Fahrenheit range. The humidity will average about 70% with a “dry” period during the day. To achieve this you’ll mist the terrarium 1-2 times daily and allow the humidity to drop for a period of time between sprays. For temperature you can usually just let your house average a temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit and add a heat lamp if the temperatures begin to drop too low.

Leopard geckos will need a hotter environment but they will also still need access to a “cooler side” of their terrarium. The “hot side” will usually be around 90 degrees Fahrenheit while the cooler side would be around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Their humidity should be around 30-40%. The humidity shouldn’t really take much work to achieve since most homes are in this range, but you’ll need a heat mat or heat lamp on the hot side to get to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You should keep the mat and or lamp on one side only so the other side can be the cool side.

What about their diets?

Crested geckos are really simple to feed in captivity. Brands like Pangea and Repashy offer full meal powders that you hydrate with a little bit of water. This paste-like food is put into a small bowl and usually put on a high shelf in their terrarium since they like to eat up high as opposed to eating from a bowl on the ground. You can give crested geckos insects like live “dusted” crickets as well to supplement their diet, but they don’t need a lot of insects since they have their fruit diet.

Leopard geckos will only eat live insects. You’ll need to keep a variety of insects, that are alive, in order to give your leopard gecko a proper diet. Staple insects are typically crickets and dubia roaches. Insects like meal worms, wax worms, super worms, etc., can be fed for variety, but shouldn’t be fed too often because they’re lower in protein and more fatty. A diet with too much protein can be dangerous so a variety is necessary and these more fatty options should not be completely avoided. This means you’ll need to be comfortable working with lots of insects, cleaning their insect carriers, and feeding them.

What’s it like handling them?

It can take some time getting used to handling these geckos, but once you are they’re pretty simple to work with. Crested geckos can sometimes be flighty, so you’ll have to be fast and high alert. They’ll jump on you, on things near you, and even on someone next to you; so be mindful where you have them out.

Leopard geckos can also be flighty, but in my experience they are a little more tame. They’ll usually sit on you if you’re warm and only really climb on your clothes if you let them. They do sometimes get the random urge to try and leap off of you so you’ll also need to be highly alert.

The main difference here is that crested geckos jump around so you’ll need to be ready for a chase. Leopard geckos will just give you a heart attack when they attempt to make a 5 ft leap off your shoulder. Not to mention with both of them you should avoid anyone touching their tails. They could both drop them if they feel stressed enough.

Which ones the best fit for you?

Once you consider how different their care is you might know which one you want, but if you’re anything like me these things don’t help at all. That’s why I keep both species. They’re both amazing in their own ways, so if you’re looking to get a gecko I recommend; watching videos about them, see if you can visit a nice reptile facility to interact with the animals, and look into any local reptile rescues to see what geckos they have available.

As far as price goes I’d say they both cost about mid-range to care for. Between terrariums, decor, and food it’ll be a couple hundred dollars for an initial setup. You can find cheaper used items, which will help with the price, but either way the prices will just about equal out between the two geckos.

Some people prefer not having a lot of insects so they go with a crested gecko. Some people prefer to not worry about misting so much so they get a leopard gecko. Either way if you do the research and put in a little bit of work they’re both simple to care for, fun to interact with, and there’s always room to learn more and build neat bio-active setups for both of them.

If you find this article at all helpful, let me know which gecko you prefer!

Stay Psyched,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s