The gargoyle or New Caledonia bumpy gecko, Rhacodactylus auriculatus, is a middle size (adult SVL around 12.5 cm) nocturnal and semi-arboreal gecko living in the central and Southern parts of New Caledonia. Thus, it likes humid and temperate environments. It is perfect for beginners because it is docile and does not need much maintenance and a relative simple installation. Unlike the crested gecko, its tail regrow, which is convenient as males are aggressive. Indeed, it is not rare that females loose their tail while trying to escape from males.
The gargoyle gecko is characterized by the presence of bony humps emerging from the parietal bone, a thin tail and a massive body. Most individuals are pale to dark brown with a wavy banded pattern. The background color can be much lighter and even nearly pure white, but we observe that this vary a lot given the activity of the gecko and the terrarium’s temperature.
There are three types of pattern morphs: « patternless » when animals are uniform in colors, « reticulated » when the geckos have dark brown or black mottling and « striped » when there is a darker median line surrounded by dorsolateral stripes that can be red or orange. These morphs are called « red-striped » or « orange-striped » respectively.
The gargoyle gecko is very similar to the crested gecko and thus can be reared in similar conditions: vertical terrarium with branches or climbing plants as well as some hiding spots, 5 cm of earth or coco fibers and green plants such as Pothos, Chlorophytum, Dracaena, Zamioculcas or Ficus. Every evening, we spray our terrarium to increase the humidity level and we water the plants once per week. Given the room temperature where the terrarium is, you will need a heating system. In summer, the terrarium should be between 24 and 27°C during the day and in winter, the terrarium should be between 19 and 23°C. Thus, this species does not need much heat a small 40W bulb or a small heating pad might be sufficient if the terrarium is in your living room.
The gargoyle geckos like the « Repashy » powder, however they need more insects in their diet and will probably not be in great shape if fed only with Repashy powder or banana. Giving them insectes twice per week is ideal, without forgetting to add calcium to prevent any deficiency, in particular for breeding females that seem to be more fragile than the crested geckos.
Sexual maturity can occur after one year if they are properly raised. Similarly to the crested gecko, it is not difficult to determine the sex of adult individuals, males have two bulges at the base of their tail baring the hemipenises. It becomes trickier for the juveniles, but using the proper lens it is possible to distinguish males from females thanks to preanal pores. Indeed, males have up to five rows of preanal pores while females have none, or up two three rows of pseudopores.
Once females have reach sexual maturity, they lay two eggs, 4 to 5 times from March until September with 4 to 6 weeks intervals. They incubation time depends on the temperature and varies between 60 and 70 days. In this species, the sex is determined by the incubation’s temperature. Low temperatures will generate more females than males and an incubation around 27.5-29°C will increase the male to female ratio.
- Seipp, R., & Henkel, F.-W. (2000). Rhacodactylus: Biology, natural history & husbandry. Frankfurt am Main: Edition Chimaira.
- De, V. P., Fast, F., & Repashy, A. (2003). Rhacodactylus: The complete guide to their selection and care. Vista, Calif: Advanced Visions.