Animal Information

Gargoyle Geckos (Rhacodactylus auriculatus)

Gargoyle geckos are native to New Caledonia. This reptile comes from a group of islands between Fiji and Australia. Gargoyle geckos are primarily tree-dwelling, they make outstanding displays in naturalistic vivariums.

This gecko was once considered among the rarest lizards in captivity. Today gargoyle geckos are bred in large numbers and have become standard in the pet trade. Gargoyle geckos reach a moderate size of 4 to 4.5 inches snout-to-vent length (SVL), and 8 inches in total length.

Gargoyle Geckos live 15 to 20 years

Gargoyle Gecko Housing

Baby gargoyle geckos are best housed in large plastic terrariums or in standard (20 inches) ten-gallon reptile tanks with a screen top. Adult gargoyle geckos should be housed in 20-gallon tanks with screen tops. Larger tanks will allow for better displays. In areas with moderate to high relative humidity, gargoyle geckos will fare well in screen cages. These tanks have the advantage of being light and easy to clean. You can keep one male and several female gargoyle geckos together. Male gargoyle geckos may fight, particularly when in the company of females, and should not be kept together.

Sexing

Sexing gargoyle geckos is a fairly straightforward process. Males have a prominent bulge at the base of the tail which contains hemipenes (male sex organs); female’s don’t. If the reptile is a male, this bulge develops between 18-25g.

Some breeders claim to be able to determine the sex earlier by examining for femoral pores with a magnifying glass or a jeweler’s loupe, but this isn’t always accurate, so sex cannot be truly confirmed until hemipenes develop (or don’t).

Gargoyle Gecko Lighting and Temperature

Reptiles are ectotherms (body temperature varies with environmental temperature) so it is important that you provide the proper temperature range for activity and feeding. A thermometer is essential to make accurate temperature measurements.

Gargoyle geckos like temperatures of 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. It can drop to the low 70s at night. In most areas, this temperature range will be reached during the warm months of the year without additional heat. In summer, place gargoyle geckos in a cool room if the temperature exceeds 87 degrees. During the winter gargoyle geckos will tolerate night drops into the 60s.

The easiest way to provide heat is a low wattage incandescent bulb or a ceramic heat emitter in a reflector type fixture placed on the screen top over one side of the tank so that the temperature of basking areas (branches) reaches the desired range. You must always keep one side of the tank unheated so that gargoyle geckos can choose a cooler area to regulate their body temperature. You can also use a subtank reptile heat pad or heat tape under one side of the tank regulated by a thermostat.

If you have live plants in your vivarium additional light can be provided by a fluorescent bulb running the length of the tank. Gargoyle geckos tend to rest in foliage or shelters during the day and are active at night. You may turn off the lights at night or provide a night time bulb.

They do not require UVB light if fed a diet that contains vitamin D3.

Gargoyle Gecko Substrate

Gargoyle geckos spend most of their time above ground so a variety of substrates can be used. For simple maintenance purposes, reptile carpet is attractive and easily cleaned. For a more naturalistic look, a peat moss based soil mix that doesn’t contain perlite will work well. Coir (coconut fiber pulp now sold in reptile stores as compressed bricks) mixed 50 percent with soil is a good choice for growing live plants.

Gargoyle geckos feel comfortable resting in foliage and like to climb wood. Good landscape materials include cork bark sections for vertical and ground level shelters and climbing areas. Dried wood branches angled across the length of a vivarium provide resting and activity areas. Do not over clutter the tank. Leave plenty of open space. Live or artificial plants in combination with wood and bark will provide the security gargoyle geckos need to rest in the open and add a decorative element to the display. Good plant selections include small ficus benjamina, dracaena and pothos.

Gargoyle Gecko Food

Repashy Superfoods “Crested Gecko” Diet has played a key role in making these geckos among the most popular of lizards kept as pets because it excludes the need to feed live insects. Gargoyle geckos thrive when fed this diet exclusively, which has been tested with thousands of geckos for more than 10 years. The diet is mixed with two parts water and offered in shallow dishes three times a week as much as these geckos will eat at a feeding. The diet is allowed to remain 24 to 36 hours before removal.

If you cannot find the Crested Gecko Diet, an alternative is to feed a mixture of pureed baby foods available in supermarkets such as banana, peach, apricot or mixed fruit with 10 percent pureed chicken.

A reptile powdered vitamin/mineral supplement needs to be added to provide all necessary nutrients for your gargoyle gecko.

In addition to fruit, gargoyle geckos relish insects and some hobbyists choose to offer these as either a primary diet or as supplementary diet. You should select the length of insect equals the width of the head of the lizard. Insects should be lightly coated with a vitamin/mineral supplement that contains calcium, Vitamin D3 and a complement of other essential vitamins and minerals. They should be offered three times a week as a primary diet or once a week as a treat/supplement to the Crested Gecko Diet.

Gargoyle Gecko Water and Humidity

Water should always be available for gargoyle geckos in a shallow water dish. These geckos also require a relative humidity of at least 50 percent and preferably 70 percent. In dry areas, the tanks should be lightly misted nightly or a cool air humidifier placed in the room.  Gargoyle geckos will drink droplets of water that gather on the sides of the tank and plants. So misting is extremely important.

Gargoyle Geckos Tails

In nature, gargoyle geckos will usually lose their tails and end up with a tiny pointed tail nub. “Taillessness” is a normal condition for adults gargoyle geckos. In captivity, hobbyists like their gargoyle geckos with tails, but this requires keeping animals individually and pampered to prevent tail loss.

Gargoyle geckos are notorious for plucking off each other’s tails and the tailless condition occurs during at least part of the year when this species is kept in groups. This normal phenomenon makes the gargoyle gecko commonly sold as tailless in the trade. On the bright side, there are no discomforts and the gargoyle gecko will readily regenerate tails, which besides a difference in scalation, end up looking like the originals.

Gargoyle Gecko Handling and Temperament

Newly purchased gargoyle geckos should not be handled, but first allowed to settle in for three to four weeks to let them adjust to their new environment and to make sure they regularly feed. When you start handling your gargoyle gecko, make handling sessions short, no more than five minutes. Baby gargoyle geckos tend to be flighty and can be injured in the course of handling. For this reason, you should wait until they are at least 3 inches SVL before handling. Gargoyle geckos readily bite when they are young to subadult, but seldom when adult. They have long sharp teeth and their bites will result in superficial skin lacerations that will bleed. Fortunately, they bite as a warning and quickly let go. When adult, gargoyle geckos tend to be mellow and rank among the best of lizard pets.

You Can Name This Gecko!

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