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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". 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 8 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, green, and red, with varying patterns of blotches and striping. They are commonly captive bred for particular traits of pattern and color.
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.
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.
Rhacodactylus species are relatively new to being kept in homes and there is much still to be learned. 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 or cocohusk. Automatic misters can be purchased online or from a pet store. Live plants will also help maintain a high level of humidity.
The cage should include many branches, plants (live or artificial), and other decor for the gecko to climb on and hide in.
- 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