Discover The Giant Gecko

Rhacodactylus leachianus, commonly known as New Caledonian Giant Gecko, is the largest known living gecko. The amazing size is only one of the really fascinating characteristics of this gecko. The broad vocal patterns and ability to communicate aggression has coined this gecko “Devil In the Trees” by locals of New Caledonia. The many different physical variations are characterized by locality and the beginning of line breeding is peaking interest of the reptile community. R. leachianus leachianus inhabits Grande Terre while the sub-species R. leachianus henkeli are slightly smaller and inhabit the satellite islands off the coast of New Caledonia. With so many unique characteristics, that can appeal to any level of hobbyist, the leachianus is at the top of the list of geckos from the genus to work with.

Distribution
The species leachianus is broken up into the greater Grande Terre species, Rhacodactylus leachianus leachianus, and the sub-species of the offshore islands, Rhacodactylus leachianus henkeli. Below are the common localities found in the hobby today.

  • R. leachianus leachianus (Grande Terre): Poindimie, Mount Koghis, Yate, Mount Humboldt and Riviere Bleue

 

  • R. leachianus henkeli (Offshore): Isle of Pines, Menore, Bayonnaise, Moro, Duu Ana, Nuu Ana, Nuu Ami, Koe, Brosse, Caanawa

Description
The Grande Terre species is the largest averaging 10.5″ (Snout to Vent Length) while the Offshore counterparts stay under 6″ (Snout to Vent Length). The  body of the Giant Gecko is almost uniform from head to tail with extensive dermal folds. A short tail that is used far less for balance than any of the counterparts of the genus. Average sizes are listed below, however the size is specific to localities and the figures below represent the average and largest lengths to date of all localities from their respective species. R. leachianus leachianus (Grande Terre): Average length of 10.5″ (Snout to Vent Length) with the largest specimen reaching 13″ (SVL, Type C) R. leachianus henkeli (Offshore): Average length of 5.9″ (Snout to Vent Length) with the largest specimen reaching 8.1″ (SVL)

Sexing
Sex can be determined at 3″ SVL using an 8x photographers loupe. Males will have pre-anal pores, and a post-anal hemipenile bulge. Females may also have femoral pores that can trick an untrained eye. Femoral pores lack the distinctive dark pit with crinkled edges and can appear smooth and shiny or slightly dimpled.
 
Longevity
Potentially long lived with an estimated expectancy of fifteen years in captivity.

Temperature
Much the same as other geckos of the genus a temperature range of 70F to 80F is adequate. Never allow the temperature to fall below 65F or above 85F as prolong exposure to extreme temperatures can lead to death.

Humidity
Humidity should be between 60-80% with a proper humidity cycle. Allow the enclosure to dry out for a period during the day. Giant Geckos are far more susceptible to bacterial infections than any other Rhacodactylus. Do not allow the environment to be completely wet. Limit the misting of the enclosure to the walls or areas that giant geckos do not readily rest at. Keep in mind that Bacteria thrives in moist, wet environments where sunlight is absent.

Diet
Giant Geckos are a frugivorous species – feeding on fruit and live prey. Fruit based meal replacement offered 3 times a week and left in the enclosure for two days and 1 to 2 feedings of live prey such as crickets or roaches is adequate. I generally offer 2oz of a meal replacement powder and by the second evening the entire 2oz is gone. More food is consumed on the second evening as the MRP is becoming ripe than on the first evening as it is fresh. Feeding live prey can be difficult at first. A robust prey item is more readily consumed than one which measures the width between the eyes. If crickets are not consumed then offer only one, slightly larger than the width between the eyes, at a time and leave it in the enclosure overnight. Roaches should be the same width between the eyes of the gecko and no larger. Coat all insects with a calcium/mineral supplement that contains Vitamin D3. Baby food is not a staple diet and leads to Metabolic Bone Disease. I highly recommend against feeding baby-food to any frugivorous species and instead using a formulated meal replacement powder such as Repashy Superfoods Crested Gecko Diet.

Housing
Since this is a semi-arboreal species a vertical rather than horizontal enclosure is recommended. You will want to find an enclosure that is suitable enough to hold humidity. Opaque plastic enclosures work great with holding humidity and allowing the gecko to feel comfortable. The enclosure should have ample hiding places, thick branches and sturdy foliage. Cork hollow and flats work well with this species. The substrate can be organic soil, coconut fiber, or paper towel. Hatchlings to Juveniles are recommended to be on paper towel only due to the potential of ingesting the substrate while hunting for live prey. Below are the recommended enclosures.

  • Hatchling (First year): A five/ten gallon enclosure.
  • Juvenile (Second year): A twenty gallon enclosure.
  • Adult (Third year+): A thirty gallon enclosure.

Breeding
We recommend reading Rhacodactylus: The Complete Guide to their Selection and Care.

Incubation
We only recommend SuperHatch as an incubation medium. Temperatures should be regulated between 72F and 80F. The greater the incubation temperature the shorter the incubation time, and lower the incubation temperature the longer the duration. Temperature sex determination (TSD) is effective with incubating Giant Gecko eggs.

Juvenile Care
We house single hatchlings in an opaque 5 gallon enclosure until they reach 10-15 grams in weight where we move them into a 10 gallon enclosure until they reach 60-75 grams in weight and by this time move them into a 20 gallon enclosure until adult hood where they will remain in a 30 gallon enclosure. Feeding is exactly the same as our adults with the only difference being the amount of food. Feeding live prey is important at this stage so coaxing the individual to feed on crickets and roaches is done with the methods above. A single cricket or roach as a robust prey item once or twice a week if consumed and coated with a vitamin/mineral supplement will aid in straightening a zig-zag tail that most hatchling to juveniles hatch with.

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