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The gargoyle gecko or New Caledonian bumpy gecko, Rhacodactylus auriculatus, is a species of gecko found only on the southern end of the island of New Caledonia. Its habitat is threatened by deforestation on the island. This gecko, along with several other Rhacodactylus species are being considered for protective measures by CITES, which would put restrictions on their exportation. This gecko was first described by Bavay in 1869.
This reptile gets its common name from the cranial bumps that give the appearance of horns or ears; In fact, auriculatus is Latin for "ears" or "eared", depending on the case. Other characteristics of this gecko include a thin prehensile tail which will regenerate if it drops off, as well as small toe pads. Although these geckos have to ability to grip vines, branches, and other obstacles, most do not have the ability to climb sheer surfaces, such as glass. As small as one inch long (from snout to vent) and weighing 3 grams at hatching, it reaches an average length of 7 to 9 inches and 60 to 70 grams in weight. They are considered a small to medium size gecko.
They occur in many colors, including varying shades of greys, browns, white, yellow, orange, and red, with varying patterns of blotches and striping. They are commonly captive bred for particular traits of pattern and color, like most captive geckos.
Gargoyle geckos are nocturnal and arboreal, making their home in scrub forests. The female lays two eggs per clutch which hatch 60 to 90 days after they are laid. The female can lay 8 to 9 clutches per year.
In captivity, it is fairly easy to hand tame these geckos, because they adapt to a human touching them, and know food comes when one is around sometimes.
They have been observed in captivity to be very adventurous, and some will appreciate a change up in tank decorations. They can propel themselves almost three times their body length to reach a vine or tree branch, yet their feet do not have as much traction as other gecko's feet do, so they slip every now and then, making them seem clumsy. Moving about is no problem to them, as long as their skin is kept moist, it will stretch and accommodate their movements. When handling one, one should pay close attention to him/her as they are very quick.
Gargoyle geckos make interesting terrarium animals. In captivity, these geckos will accept fruit mashes, fruit and powdered gecko diet (mixed with water). Crested Gecko Diet, or CGD, is commonly fed as a primary food source. Gecko food can be purchased from companies that specialize in it, such as Repashy or Pangea; these foods have the correct nutritional balance of vitamins and minerals, which is not found in basic fruit purees. As treats, these geckos readily accept live foods such as crickets, feeder roaches, and waxworms., which should be gut loaded, or dusted with vitamins and calcium as extra precautions.
Rhacodactylus species are relatively new to being kept in homes and there is much still to be learned, since many species were thought to be extinct. An adult gargoyle should be housed in a twenty gallon tall tank, or something of similar size. Gargoyle gecko males should always be housed separately or as a part of a breeding pair or trio with females. Males housed together will always fight. Juveniles are known to be very aggressive towards cage mates as well. Cannibalism of cage mates' tails, toes and other extremities is not uncommon. Except during the breeding season, they should be housed separately, no matter the gender, age, or size.
Maintaining a humidty level around 50-60% is ideal. Misting the cage will help achieve this, as will using a substrate that holds humidity, such as moss, cocohusk, or wood chips, since they wont be spending much time on the ground. Automatic misters can be purchased online or from a pet store. Live plants will also help maintain a high level of humidity, but need as much attention as their tank mates.
The cage should include many branches, bendable vines, plants (live or artificial), and other decor for the gecko to climb on, and hide in.
Females can be housed together, but males need to be housed separately, as they can be quite territorial, and may harm one another.
- Whitaker, A.H.; Sadlier, R.A.; Bauer, R.M. (2009). "Rhacodactylus auriculatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Gargoyle Gecko Care Sheet Reptile Specialty