Housing Giant Geckos

There are a number of basic requirements that aide in the selection of an enclosure for both Rhacodactylus leachianus leachianus and Rhacodactylus leachianus henkeli. The ability to hold humidity, appropriate size, access, heating and lighting. Both Grande Terre (R. leachianus leachianus) and Offshore (R. leachianus henkeli) require the same sized terrarium. A number of cages, varying in size, should be provided throughout the course of maturity from hatchling to adult.

 

 Enclosure, Substrate and Décor


There are three options when it comes to enclosures. Glass, plastic and screen are all available in varying sizes to meet the requirements of the three stages of growth. When selecting an enclosure you will want to base your decision around your climate, heating and air conditioning during the seasons and personal schedule. A plastic enclosure such as one of the Animal Plastics models works well in dry climates that do not see humidity above 60%. Drilling additional ventilation holes allows the enclosure to work well in more humid climates. Glass with a screen top or a partial screen enclosure also work well in humid climates.

Animal Plastics EnclosureA hatchling (first year) should be raised in a 5 to 10 gallon enclosure at the maximum. A number of breeders have had great success raising hatchlings in small shoebox tubs such as the Rubbermaid or Sterilite models. These small enclosures keep the gecko confined and able to feel a sense of security much like it would in a tree hollow. Drilling holes in these containers for ventilation allows for an adequate humidity cycle.

A juvenile (second year) requires a cage slightly smaller than that of an adult. This is done so that food is readily accessible. A single cricket at the bottom of a large cage may go unnoticed by the gecko. You want to make sure that all food is visible and easy to consume. A cage measuring 16"Lx16"Wx20"H (22 US Gallons) is adequate.

A single adult (third year) can be housed in an 18"L x 18"W x 18"H (25 US Gallons) enclosure at the minimum.The larger the enclosure the more hiding places, foliage and climbing area becomes available. Keep in mind that adults can become incompatible if housed together for long term or during introduction for breeding and have the potential to inflict injuries that can result in death. 


 

Décor
fake vine for geckosGiven the arboreal nature of these geckos large branches or cork hollow placed vertically should be available for the gecko to climb. Hatchlings to Juveniles can use the large bendable vines for reptiles. Every occupant should be provided with a hiding spot such as cork hollow and foliage. Artificial foliage is recommended since it is easily cleaned and unable to be consumed. If live plants are incorporated you will want to research the plants you introduce to make sure that none are poisonous if consumed.

Substrate
There are a number of substrates to choose from. For sterile environments and easy maintenance a lot of hobbyist use paper towel, newspaper or reptile carpet. The reptile carpet is nice because it can be cleaned and reused while newspaper and paper towel need to be disposed of. A more natural substrate can be soil or coconut fiber and found in most reptile stores or aisles. Phillipe de Vosjoli used a bio active substrate which consisted of soil that was watered and mixed weekly resulting in beneficial bacteria that broke down feces.

Note: Loose substrate like soil and coconut fiber can be ingested resulting in impaction. It is recommended that only adults are housed on loose substrates to limit the possibility of impaction.

Water
Misting the enclosure will allow the geckos to lap up necessary water. I keep a water bowl in the enclosure at all times allowing the gecko to drink water if desired. The downside is that water bowls must constantly be cleaned and refilled due to contamination

 

Temperature and Humidity
 


Temperatures can range from 74-78F during the day and a night time low of 68F. Temperatures should not rise above 85F or below 65F. For a breeding pair a brumation period of four months should be incorporated at the end of the breeding season and before the start of the coming season. A daytime temperature range from 68-70F and a night time temperature range from 65-68F. This allows the females to stop egg development and store necessary fat and calcium for the coming breeding season. There are a lot of options to monitor humidity and temperatures from both reptile and non-reptile companies.

Average High Temperature

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
°C 28 28 27 26 25 23 22 22 23 25 26 27 28
°F 83 83 82 80 77 74 72 72 74 77 80 82 78

 

Average Low Temperature

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
°C 23 23 23 22 20 18 17 17 18 19 21 22 20
°F 74 75 74 72 69 66 64 64 65 67 70 72 69

 


A humidity cycle is where the humidity raises and then falls through the course of a day. A constantly humid environment with standing water can cause serious health problems and possible death. I mist one side of the cage and leave the other side dry. I typically do a light mist once at night and once in the morning. Humidity can climb from 60-70% and as low as 40-50%. While misting, the gecko will lap up any water from the walls and decor. If there is any standing water or the cage does not dry out at one point in the day then more ventilation is needed. Drilling additional holes or installing screen round vents will increase ventilation.

Average High and Low Relative Humidity

% Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
High 85 86 86 84 83 83 80 79 79 81 82 83 83
Low 74 75 76 75 75 76 72 70 68 68 70 72 73

 

Temperature and Humidity tables courtesy of Emerson Sy.

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