Rhacodactylus auriculatus

Size: 19 to 21 cm adult average.

Weight: 40 to 60 grams adult average.

Distribution: New Caledonia. Southern half of Grande Terre.

Habitat: Lowland scrub and forest.

Description: Nocturnal, mainly arboreal prehensile tailed gecko with three main pattern morphs being mottled, reticulated or striped.

Sexing: Males develop external large hemipenal bulges and pre-anal pores. Juveniles can be sexed at approximately 15+ grams.

Temperature: Maintained at 21-25°C during the day, dropping to a minimum of 18°C at night. Always properly protect the heat source as an unprotected heat source can cause severe burns if an animal comes into contact with it.

Lighting: Being a nocturnal species it seems not to require additional UVA/UVB lighting, but one may be provided for limited periods with no detrimental affects. Background lighting should be controlled with a timing device left on 10-12hrs a day in summer with a 2-4 hour reduction during winter months. As with the heat source, always properly protect the light source as this too may become hot after prolonged used.

Humidity/Water: Humidity should be kept high 50 to 70%. A misting should take once a day during the early evening. Also include a shallow water dish containing fresh water which should be changed daily.

Diet: feeding on crickets and soft fruits. Feed a number of appropriately sized crickets approximately two times a week with a twice weekly feeding of a commercially available Rhacodactylus powered diet, fresh pureed fruit  offered in a shallow dish. All fruit should be non citrus. Turkey or chicken baby food may also be sometimes taken. Food should always be removed at the first signs of spoiling. Females that are producing eggs should be monitored very closely for any early signs of calcium deficiency.

Housing: A minimum size of 40cm x 40cm x 60cm ( L x W x H ) is recommended for an adult pair. Our best results as regards growth have been attended when gargoyles are housed as singularly. Hatchlings should always be housed singularly as they can show aggression at an early age and will use their cage mate’s tail as additional source of nourishment. Never house males together as they will fight and can inflict serous damage, females will occasionally show aggressive behavior to both male and female animals. . If a number of animals are to be housed together make sure they are of a similar size and always closely monitor first introductions to identify any incompatibility. Peat or coconut fiber substrate can be used for juveniles/adults. Hatchlings are best kept on kitchen roll. Being a semi-arboreal species, climbing branches and cork bark should be used, also provide a different hide spot for every occupant. Plenty of foliage either real or artificial should also be used. A hide box half filled with a mixture of moistened vermiculite, peat and sphagnum moss should be included to facilitate shedding and egg laying if a natural substrate is not used. Fecal matter should be removed immediately with a complete cleaning accruing every month.

Breeding: Gargoyle geckos should be kept at 21-25°C during the day and 18-20°C at night for a couple of months prior to breeding. Animals kept in pairs have more productive than those kept in trios or more. They can produce up to 10 clutches in a season, laying two soft-shelled eggs every 5 weeks. Females should be at least 34 grams in weight before breeding is attempted and should be monitored closely for any early signs of calcium deficiency.

Incubation: Eggs should be incubated in an aerated plastic container, on a medium of vermiculite or perlite mixed with filtered water at a ratio of 2 parts medium to 1 part water, by weight and at temperatures between 21-26°C. Eggs normally hatch in 90-140 days. Any discoloured eggs should be put to one side in the container, do not discard as these eggs could still be viable, if they collapse and mould is visible they should be discarded immediately.