Gargoyle Gecko, also known as New Caledonian Bumpy Gecko, Knob-headed Giant Gecko, and Rhacodactylus auriculatus, is a gecko species endemic to the southern end of the New Caledonia island in the southwest Pacific Ocean. The Gargoyle Gecko, along with other gecko species, are being considered for CITES’ protective measures, aiming to put restrictive methods on their exportation. This gecko is easy to care for, so if you are looking for a beginner-friendly reptile, this species may be an excellent choice for you. Read further to know more about the Gargoyle Gecko.
It was first described by French pharmacist, herpetologist, and malacologist Arthur Rene Jean Baptiste Bavay in 1869. This gecko species got its name from its bony horn-like bumps on its skull. Gargoyle Geckos are arboreal (lives in trees and branches) and crepuscular (active during twilight), taking refuge in scrub forests.
Characteristics of a Gargoyle Gecko
Average life span: 15 to 20 years
Average length: 8 to 10 in
Average weight: 45 to 65 g
Aside from the Gargoyle Gecko’s protruding horns, another notable characteristic is its thin, prehensile tail that can grasp or hold onto objects and that can regenerate if it drops off. Although Gargoyle Geckos can grip branches, vines, and other materials in the wild, they can’t climb sheer surfaces like glass.
Their colors vary from light gray to dark gray with red or orange patches found in different patterns from striped to mottled. Gargoyle Geckos also have the ability to shift colors, widely known as “firing up/down.” The gecko uses this technique by increasing and decreasing the contrast between its colors—darkening grays and brightening reds.
Gargoyle Geckos do not have eyelids. To keep their eyes clean and moist, they use their tongue to lick their eyes. Their toes are filled with millions of tiny hairs called setae that allow them to climb on vertical and smooth surfaces. Despite having a million setaes, Gargoyle Geckos are not as “sticky” as other arboreal gecko species.
Caring for a Gargoyle Gecko
This reptile is described as very handleable and mellow with easy-care necessities, making it an ideal choice for beginner-level hobbyists. A single, adult Gargoyle Gecko can be situated in a 10-gallon tank, but a pair of geckos would require at least a 20-gallon tank. The Gargoyle Gecko is a territorial species, so housing young, unsexed individuals is not recommended. Even adult males and females tend to be aggressive towards the same sex, so housing single male-female pairs together would be the safest choice. However, this pairing should only be done when the female Gargoyle Gecko is old enough and has a healthy breeding weight.
It might be tricky if you plan on sexing Gargoyle Geckos. Both male and female Geckos display bulges at the base of their tails. The male’s bulge would be larger, and they will have femoral pores on scales located between their hind legs. Breeding season takes place from December to August, and the female will lay 2 eggs every 30-45 days.
As arboreal species, Gargoyle Geckos will appreciate height in their environment. Make sure to provide branches, tall or hanging plants, and other accessories that they can climb on. Since they are natives to the subtropical region, these geckos need temperatures between 74 to 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes, they can live in higher temperatures, but they should never be kept beyond 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Gargoyle Geckos do not require any particular heating or lighting, but a low-level UB bulb and low wattage basking spot are recommended in a large enclosure.
Gargoyle Geckos value humidity in their lifestyle, so make sure you make your pet well-hydrated and are able to shed its skin quickly. Provide a water bowl with clean water for your pet. You can also mist its environment to keep humidity at an adequate range of 60 to 70%. You can measure temperatures using a digital hygrometer or thermometer.
In captivity, Gargoyle Geckos accept food items such as fruits, insects, and powdered gecko diet that are available in pet stores. Usually, these reptiles do not readily accept insects like Crested Geckos. However, they prefer relatively small insects such as dubia roaches, crickets, waxworms, black soldier fly larvae, butterworms, and the like. They should also be provided with vitamin & mineral supplements to keep them healthy.