Dehydrated Crested Gecko – Signs, Causes & Treatment

Water: the essential component that makes life on earth possible. What would we do without it? Every living organism on this planet relies on water to survive including, of course, your pet crested gecko. 

Without enough water in their system, crested geckos can become dehydrated, which can be detrimental and life-threatening if not remedied quickly.

Preventing dehydration in your crested gecko is a pretty easy task. Making sure to keep up with daily care, or using an automated system are the best ways to keep your crestie from suffering from the effects of dehydration.

It is important to keep humidity levels around 70% and to have a reliable way to monitor this. 

Crested geckos require that their enclosure be misted twice per day to provide water droplets for them to lap up when they are thirsty, which is not only irresistibly cute but essential to preventing dehydration.

Dehydration is a very serious problem in crested geckos, however proper care and husbandry are crucial to prevent them from getting dehydrated.

Signs of Dehydration in your Crested Gecko

Wrinkly Skin

Crested Gecko with wrinkly skin

When examining your gecko, one of the signs to look for when it comes to dehydration is the skin.

Take notice of any unnatural wrinkles, which look like the skin is saggy. Even checking how elastic the skin is would be a way to get a read on if and how dehydrated they are.

A lot of times crested geckos will look more skinny as well, losing the sort of fullness that they usually would have.


Crested Gecko with pale, dull skin

Another sign is if their color is somewhat dull and grayish. Having an unusually pale crested gecko can be a sign of many things, however, dehydration is a potential cause.

Sometimes their color will look almost like it has faded, and they can become much more pale than usual.

Shedding Issues

Stuck shed on Crested Gecko toe

When your crestie seems to be about to go into shed, make sure to frequently look in on them to check for any stuck shed, which is likely caused by dehydration and lack of humidity in the enclosure.

They tend to struggle most when it is time to shed around their toes, so taking a quick look at their feet never hurts to make sure that there is no stuck shed.

This can hurt your reptile and cut off circulation, which can be very painful and even cause them to lose their toes.

Editor’s Note
Keeping a close eye on your shedding reptile is typically a universal practice with keepers, however, you don’t want to get them out and handle them when they are feeling vulnerable like this unless you see that it is necessary, otherwise handling during shed would just cause them unneeded stress.

Behavioral Signs

Crested Gecko on stone looking tired

Changes in behavior can also be signs that your crestie needs some water. If you notice the cage is abnormally free of poops, I hate to break it to you but the heavens have not quite smiled upon you today, rather, your gecko could be constipated, which is a common symptom of dehydration.

Make sure to also take notice if your gecko is being particularly lethargic and do not respond to you or other stimuli like they usually do. This is quite serious and could be from a wide variety of causes, so make sure to contact a veterinarian if you are ever concerned.

Causes of dehydration in crested geckos

Dehydrated Crested Gecko

In many types of tropical reptiles, their primary cause for dehydration is just due to their environment being not quite what they need. Asking yourself these four questions can give an informal assessment of whether your gecko is dehydrated or on the way there.

Crested geckos require around 70% humidity in their enclosure

Here are some questions to help evaluate their current situation:

Are they a new addition?

New geckos can often be stressed and though their water may have been offered, stress could affect their aptitude to drink it. This might suggest that they may need a few extra opportunities to drink, for example, misting.

If so, where did they come from? An expo? Through the mail?

Geckos that are shipped or come from reptile expos usually have more limited access to water, so making sure they have plenty of opportunities to drink some water can be very beneficial to not only their health but also the acclimation process.

What is the climate like where you live? What is the temperature like where the gecko is kept?

Sometimes it can be easy to forget that low humidity and excess heat, for instance, can create an environment more likely to yield a dehydrated gecko. Sometimes things happen and the AC quits on us. Though it sucks for us big time, it can be even worse for our pets.

When was the last time they were misted and had a fresh refill on the water bowl?

This one may seem a bit obvious, but sometimes people forget to mist their enclosures. It helps to have reminders of some sort and a schedule or routine put in place to reduce these mistakes and help us become aware if they do occur.

Forming a routine when caring for any pets has been found in many cases to help owners keep up and feel more confident about their feedings, and could even alert them to any issues going on with their reptile because they will adapt to this routine as well. 

This will also be good for identifying outlying behavior, as consistency will give you a good feeling about your crested gecko’s personality and typical behavior.

How to treat dehydration in crested geckos

The best method for treating dehydration in crested geckos is by far to not have to deal with it in the first place. Regular maintenance and keeping up with husbandry are the key to keeping our little scaly buddies as happy and healthy as possible.

Though this sounds great, it is not possible in every situation.  A lot of times crested geckos will be obtained from some sort of breeder, whether online, through an expo, etc., which typically requires transporting the gecko over some distance.

With the predisposition to dehydration from these circumstances, it is super helpful to feel confident in your ability to assess the severity of the situation and to make the correct decisions when it comes to dealing with the issue.

This is by no means to condemn these methods of obtaining a gecko, however, understanding some of the risks involved can help your crestie adapt and become more comfortable with their new home faster.

Severity LevelExample IndicatorsTreatments
MildSlightly loose-looking skin, trouble sheddingLetting them sit on a moist paper towel, misting the enclosure, and checking the temp.
ModerateLoose skin with wrinkles and lower elasticity, discoloration (pale), constipationLonger/more frequent sessions with a moist paper towel, misting, checking enclosure parameters, and consulting a vet for further instruction
SevereSaggy skin with many wrinkles, lots of stuck shed, looking grayish, constipation, lethargyConsult a vet: severe dehydration is very serious, try soaking in warm shallow water to stabilize, will likely get subcutaneous fluids (through injection)

Editor’s Note
If you are ever in doubt or feel concerned in the slightest about any animal and are not 100% confident that what they have is easily treatable at home, please consult an exotic animal veterinarian for help. This can truly save your pet’s life.

When it comes to any form of dehydration, the best and most commonly used practice in the reptile hobby seems to be allowing your gecko to hang out in some sort of small container (such as a deli container) and letting them sit on a wet paper towel, which creates almost a tiny version of a sauna. 

Soaking your reptile in very shallow water (just covers their feet) will also allow them to drink as much as they need and rehydrate their skin as well. This can be pretty stressful for them sometimes, so they should not be doing this regularly.

It also never hurts to rehydrate your crestie when you see they are about to go into shed. This is generally just helpful for them to give them a bit of an advantage and will usually greatly reduce the risk of complications, not to mention your gecko will not have to work as hard and can finish shedding much sooner.

Preventing dehydration in your crested gecko

First and foremost, the best way to keep a happy and hydrated crested gecko is to keep up with their regular maintenance. Understanding the signs mentioned previously will also allow you to interpret any early signs and be proactive in preventing any further dehydration, saving not only your pet, but time, stress, and money as well.


Bearded Dragon misting

Since crested geckos are naturally from the tropical rainforests of New Caledonia, they require a pretty humid enclosure. The best way to provide this for them is to give them a good misting twice a day.

To do this manually, use either a spray bottle or a garden misting bottle with a pump to spray down the enclosure enough to where ample droplets form on the walls for them to lap up.

For those of us that like things easy, there are many misting systems such as this one here, that will mist the enclosure on a timer, reducing the number of trips it takes. This is especially helpful for people with many reptiles.

Water Bowl

Crested Gecko soaking on water dish

Having a water dish in your crested gecko’s enclosure is a great way to ensure that they have a backup of sorts to keep them hydrated.

The dish should be pretty shallow to keep your gecko from drowning if any accident were to occur. Make sure to keep the water clean and fresh, which will allow your gecko to view it as a viable source of water.

Lastly, make sure to use some sort of water conditioner such as Reptisafe to ensure that some of the more abrasive chemicals in our tap water do not harm your pet. Products such as these also add essential electrolytes for your gecko to keep healthy and balanced internal chemistry.


What if my gecko will just not drink?

If your crestie is too weak to drink, take them to the vet immediately, as this could be a sign of severe dehydration that is very serious. Expect the veterinarian to administer fluids through injection, as that is a likely treatment you will come across in this instance.

How do I know when my crested gecko is acting lethargic?

Crested geckos are not the most active pet out there. With different personalities, some could be much more active or flighty than others.

A way to check to see if your crested gecko is lethargic when you may not know their typical behavior as well is to simply interact with them and watch how they respond. They should be receptive to your voice and movements and have a good posture where they are not laying down or sprawled out.


When a crested gecko’s enclosure is thoroughly misted in conjunction with the presence of a water bowl, the chances of having a dehydrated gecko are pretty low. 

Though this is great for crested geckos that are already adapted to things going smoothly, not every situation is ideal and measures must be taken to address any of the issues that could arise, making sure to always be prepared and cater to any unmet needs that could arise with obtaining a new gecko.

All in all, dehydration is very preventable in the majority of cases, and luckily is a super easy fix when identified and treated promptly.

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