It can be a bit hard to decipher the behaviors of your crested gecko. In general, they just love to eat and lay around, but what does it mean when they start digging? Are they trying to find a way to escape? Or do they just love to dig? Also, is it normal for crested geckos to dig?
One of the main reasons why crested geckos dig is for the females to lay eggs. Another reason is the fact that the temperature in their vivarium or enclosure is not right. Therefore, they dig through the substrate in order to regulate their body’s temperature. They also dig just for the fun of it.
So if you are starting to worry if there is something wrong with your crested gecko as he or she has started digging, put your worries to rest as this is normal behavior. If there are any problems, they can easily be solved by making a few adjustments in their enclosure.
If you want to know more about the reasons behind the digging behavior of crested geckos, then you came to the right place. So read on!
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Why Your Crested Gecko Is Digging: The Reasons
The following are some of the reasons as to why your crested gecko is digging. Keep in mind that even though this digging behavior is regarded as normal, you should always check if your crested gecko’s digging is too excessive.
If the behavior causes them harm of any kind, make sure to consult your vet or at least inhibit him from any digging.
1. Laying Eggs
As mentioned earlier, this is one of the primary reasons why your crested gecko is digging. If you have a female crested gecko and you suddenly see her digging through the substrate, this simply means that she is laying her eggs.
She might have been gravid for a while. Gravid is the term used for reptiles who are carrying eggs. The thing is, you may not notice that she is gravid as crested geckos do not bulge that much when they are carrying eggs.
As part of normal crested gecko behavior, they will not just leave their eggs laying around. They will dig through their substrate in order to incubate them and keep them safe. You will also notice that there are going to be several digging holes.
The reason behind this is that they will only store one to two eggs per hole. After that, if they still have more eggs to lay, they will dig another hole to lay eggs in. They do this in order to ensure the quality of the eggs.
It is sad to note that not all of the eggs will develop properly. Therefore, your gecko is just making sure that if one egg turns bad, it will not affect the others.
This is not always the case, in fact, there are many owners who have reported that the healthy eggs were unharmed by the bad one. But you really have to give it to your female crested gecko as she is just exercising caution to the extremes. Such protective mothers, right?
2. Temperature Regulation
Crested geckos always need to be in an enclosure where the temperature is just about right. They prefer cooler temperatures, but that does not necessarily mean that they do not need heat. A slight difference in temperature can easily stress them.
Therefore, if they feel that the temperature is off in their tank, they will try to dig through the substrate in order to thermoregulate.
Thermoregulation is a process where they will try to stabilize their body’s temperature to the right one by making use of other means, like digging and hiding in the hole.
In this case, their tank might be too hot for them. Hiding in their caves is not enough, so they resort to digging holes and staying there for them to be cool.
- During the day, they prefer the temperature to be at 24º C or 75º F. You can do this by not adding too much heat to the tank and just let the natural light do the heating for you. If you live in a cold area, you can achieve this temperature by putting a small heat map at the back of the tank.
- At night time, when the temperature drops to 13º C or 55º F that should be okay, just make sure that there is still a heat source open so as not to let the tank be any cooler than this temperature.
- Remember that keeping the tank at 28º C or 82º F for a long time will stress your crested gecko immensely. Therefore, you should always check the temperature of the tank using a reliable thermometer. Further, you should take time out of your day to habitually check if the temperature in the enclosure is right. You would not want frozen or fried crested geckos, right?
3. Lack Of Enrichment
Having the perfect enclosure is vital for you to provide the best quality of life for your crested gecko. This means that it should be able to house their basic needs like food and water as well as regulation of temperature.
More than that, there should also be things that can stimulate their bodies and minds in order to provide enrichment.
Such things are plants, leaves, rocks, caves, and the like. In such a case where they do not have these things that provide enrichment, they will resort to digging to make up for it.
Digging itself is an enriching activity, and once they manage to dig a hole big enough for them to burrow in, it acts as their cave.
This is still good, however, you should not let your crested gecko provide for his own enrichment. As the owner, you have the responsibility to provide for his enrichment needs. Also, if you do not provide these things, he will eventually grow bored with digging.
When this happens, he may appear sluggish even during the night. Much worse, he may result in picking at his own skin. He may also develop biting behaviors when you try holding him.
4. Hiding Something
If all is well in his or her enclosure like the temperature is right, she is not gravid, or there are a ton of activities for enrichment, but he or she is still digging, this is just a sign that they are trying to hide something.
This is not a regular behavior of crested geckos, but some owners have said that their crested geckos tend to dig holes in order to hide something.
The things that they are hiding can be leaves, pebbles, or even food. What is so interesting is the fact that they just hide these things for the heck of it. They do not revisit the holes, as they simply forgot about it.
Therefore, there is still not enough information regarding the reason why they sometimes do this digging and hiding behavior. It is not a problem when they just hide leaves, pebbles, and the like. However, it can pose a problem when they start to hide food.
The reason behind this is that the food will eventually spoil. This will pave the way for other microorganisms such as mites to inhabit the enclosure. Having some mites are good in order to break down materials in the tank and provide for a much healthier substrate.
However, there is the possibility of also having parasitic mites that will endanger your crested gecko. When the spoiled food is broken down with the substrate it will be harder to keep the tank clean.
Therefore, it is best to always check the digging holes of your crested gecko to see if he has hidden away any food.
5. Distressed Or Sick
You have arrived at the tricky part, welcome!
We brand this reason as being tricky because just like we mentioned before, digging is a perfectly natural behavior of a crested gecko. So it will be hard to tell when they are digging due to them being stressed or sick.
Good thing, there are some signs that you can look for in order to tell if they are digging due to being sick or stressed. These are the following:
- A stressed crested gecko will do everything in his power to lay completely flat in the presence of stressors. When they are overly distressed and laying flat on the ground is not enough, they will resort to digging and hiding in the hole.
- When you try to entice him with food and even though you bring the food near his dig site, he does not come out and just stays in the hole.
- When the constant digging affects his sleeping pattern. Meaning, he does not even sleep during the day, instead, he just keeps on digging, this can be a sign that he has internal parasites.
- A sign that he is stressed due to handling him for extended periods of time is that when you finally put him back in his tank, he immediately retreats to his cave or starts digging a hole for him to hide.
In order to make sure that your Crested gecko is not stressed, you should read our following articles:
- Why your Crested gecko is awake during the day (It’s bad!)
- Why Crested geckos do not need light at night
- Why Crested geckos should not swim
- 11 reasons why your Crested gecko is so aggressive
How can you tell if a crested gecko is stressed? Look for heavy breathing signs. When their chests are moving in and out while their throats are bobbing and not relaxed, they are most probably stressed. Their tails may also wave and twitch. They also do an S formation, which means back off.
Do crested geckos burrow? Crested geckos do not burrow as much. However, if they do so it is because their tank lacks humidity or is too hot. They dig holes in order to thermoregulate. They will eventually come out once the temperature is right for them.