If your crested gecko has started burrowing, having never done this before, you might be puzzled as to what has caused this change in behavior. Many new owners wonder whether or not this is normal or if there is a problem that they are unaware of. If you have ever wondered why your crested gecko is burrowing, know that there are a number of reasons for this. Moreover, most can be quickly and easily rectified. Below I list four of the more common reasons for crested gecko burrowing.
1. Incorrect Temperature/Humidity
If the temperature of your crested gecko’s enclosure is too high, it is likely that your pet will start digging down into the substrate to try to cool down in the damp soil. So if your crested gecko has suddenly started digging, the first thing to do is check the temperature in the enclosure.
The temperature setting in a gecko’s enclosure during the day should hover around 75F.
Crested geckos do not really like the temperature to be too high, so even if it is up by just a degree or two, it can cause them to try to find a way of cooling down. This includes digging or hiding in a cooler part of the enclosure.
Many owners will use a heat mat underneath or to the rear of one side of the enclosure. This will give their gecko a warmer and a cooler side in the enclosure, enabling it to regulate its body temperature as needed.
The night-time temperature should not drop below 55F, so it is best to utilize a thermostat with a timer. This will allow you to keep the temperature at the optimum levels for your gecko. You can buy good quality heat mats, thermometers, and thermostats online (these previous links all from Amazon, which open in a new tab) or a local pet store.
Humidity is also an issue for crested geckos. If the enclosure is too dry, your gecko might start looking for a more humid place to go (usually into the damp substrate). To help keep the environment humid, try spraying the walls of the enclosure with water during the day.
2. Egg Laying
If your crested gecko is female, do not be surprised to see her digging from time to time. If you have a lone female, be aware that these reptiles can, and do, lay eggs even if they have not mated with a male. The eggs in this situation are obviously unfertilized and so will not hatch, but the female will lay them regardless.
Gravid (egg carrying) females will dig a number of holes in which to lay their eggs. They typically lay only one or two eggs per hole, so do not be surprised to see your pet digging a number of holes in the substrate.
3. Lack of Stimulation
When you become a crested gecko owner, you have to ensure that your new pet’s habitat is perfect in terms of providing warmth, shelter, and food. In addition to this though, you will need to provide stimulation for your pet in the form of hides, obstacles, and other things that will enrich its life.
If your crested gecko is bored, it might begin digging for something to do. It is important that you offer things that will stimulate your gecko’s mind and body. Fortunately, there is a host of different things that you can add to the enclosure to help stimulate it. These include rocks, caves, and plants, all of which can be purchased at a reptile store or online. Here is a good selection from Amazon (opens in a new tab).
4. Illness or Distress
Unfortunately, not all causes of digging can be so easily rectified. If your crested gecko is ill, it may want to hide away. The easiest way for it to do this is by digging down into the substrate. Stress can also be a cause of digging, and this can often occur when a crested gecko moves to a new home.
If you are worried about your pet and are sure that its habitat is suitable, it could be worthwhile contacting an experienced exotic vet for advice, especially if you notice other signs of distress or illness such as a loss of appetite or abnormal stools.
As you can see, there are a number of reasons why a crested gecko might dig. Some do so in a bid to get cooler when the temperatures in the enclosure are too high or when humidity is low. Others will do so out of boredom or because they are stressed. It is your job to figure out the cause and then take the necessary steps to resolve the issue.
As always, if you are worried about your pet, I recommend speaking to a vet for expert advice.