*** Disclaimer ; This care sheet was written by The Gecko Tree and this care sheet is based on what has worked best for us regarding feeding, health and husbandry. This care sheet should be viewed as a guideline on how to take care of your animal, as there are numerous ways to care for your pet that may work out best for you. If you have any concerns regarding the health of your animal, always contact a veterinarian. ***
15-20 years in captivity.
Latin name: Rhacodactylus auriculatus, commonly known as the Gargoyle Gecko. Uncommonly known as the Bumpy Gecko. The Gargoyle Gecko gets its name from the boney, knobby ridges found on its head above the ears that give it the "Gargoyle" appearance.
Gargoyles originate from New Caledonia; specifically the Island called "Grande Terre", also known as the "Mainland".
The Gargoyle Gecko is a semi-arboreal Gecko, enjoying being both up high in branches and down low in shrubs or on the ground. These Geckos require a lot of foliage and sturdy vines/branches to climb on. If they feel secure enough in their enclosure, they are known to bask out in the open during the day while they are sleeping. They reach a total length of 8 inches from snout to tail, however there have been some instances where people have had Gargoyles that can be a little larger at 8 1/2 inches. If a Gargoyle tail is dropped, this Gecko will be able to regenerate it. Regenerated tails can be quite shorter than original tails, and the patterning on the tail is significantly different from the patterning on the original tail so it should be fairly easy for you to determine if you have purchased a Gecko with a re-grown tail.
Some of the reasons why Gargoyle Geckos may drop their tail; Stress, fighting, fear, rough handling, improper husbandry, accidental pinching of the tail, and breeding.
Males have well pronounced hemi penile bulges; before these bulges develop they will have 6-8 rows of pre-anal pores with black dimples in each of them. Females will have a flat post anal area; however some of the females do develop “false” pores and can be mistaken to be a probable male. If you are sexing a young Gargoyle that has not physically reached sexual maturity, using a loupe will aid in seeing pores. However, this is not a guaranteed way to sex Gargoyles and if they are sexed this way they should be labelled "probable male/female" because "late bloomers" have been known to happen and your probable female may turn out to be a male. The best way to guarantee sex is to wait until the Gecko reaches appropriate age and weight, or wait to see if a bulge develops. In my experience, at about 20 grams, or 8 months of age is when I have been able to 100% confirm the sex of a Gargoyle Gecko.
We recommend feeding a varied diet. Please do not expect to purchase a Gargoyle Gecko and only plan to feed it 1 flavour or Repashy or 1 flavour of Pangea for the rest of their life.
Gargoyle Geckos are Frugivorous and Insectivores, feeding mainly on Fruit mixtures and insects. In my experience, I find that my geckos are attracted to larger prey items, and ignore the smaller ones offered. It seems as though they enjoy eating crickets that almost seem too large for them, but they chow them down without any problems.
The most recommended thing to feed a Gargoyle Gecko is Pangea Fruit Mix Complete or Repashy Crested Gecko Diet. There is a variety of fruit flavours available should you have a picky Gecko. The three diets I currently feed in rotation are Repashy Crested Gecko Diet, (Original and Mango Superblend), Pangea Fruit Mix Complete (All 5 flavours), and Black Panther Zoological (All 3 diets). Other things that are safe to feed as a treat are simply mashing up/blending fresh fruit provided there is proper supplementation added, or making a homemade fruit smoothie. Remember! Fruits high in citric acid such as lemons and limes should never be given!
As for insects, they can be fed calcium dusted crickets, wax worms, silk worms, phoenix worms and small horned worms. Be careful with worm selection though, as some worms are high in fats and provide no nutritional value so said worms should be used as a treat. When feeding crickets, I recommend dusting them with a product called Repashy Calcium Plus ICB. This is an all in one supplement that contains everything your geckos need.
Always remember that variety is key in any animal diet, but so is balance. Make sure that whatever product you decide to feed is nutritionally sound otherwise your gecko will pay for it!
In my experience, I have had success with this feeding schedule;
· Sunday - Crickets dusted with Calcium Plus ICB or MinerALL Indoor
· Monday - Nothing
· Tuesday - Commercial Diets (Repashy, Pangea, BPZ)
· Wednesday – Nothing
· Thursday - Remove old dishes, replace with new Repashy, Pangea, BPZ
· Friday – Nothing
· Saturday - Remove old dishes, replace with new Repashy, Pangea, BPZ
DO NOT EVER feed your Gargoyle a diet consisting of baby food.
Baby food is one of the leading causes of Metabolic Bone Disease in the Rhacodactylus genus. Baby food is not a healthy, complete or balanced diet for your animal. It is high in sugar, and can be very addictive for geckos. Baby food alone does not have the necessary proteins, fats, fibres, calciums, vitamins, etc to form a health well rounded diet for your gecko.
**NOTE: WE DO NOT HOUSE ANY OF OUR GARGOYLES TOGETHER, AND WE DO NOT ADVOCATE HOUSING. **
Garglets and Juvenile Gargoyles should always be housed separate due to their aggressive and nippy nature. If housed together, you run the risk of eaten or dropped tails, injured and/or missing toes, some pretty serious battle scars, and even in some cases, death. It is also best to keep them separated because Gargoyles can bully each other and prevent the others from eating, as well as cause unnecessary stress.
I personally do NOT house adult Gargoyles together. The only time I put them together is for breeding purposes. When housing together, there have been instances documented where adult females biting the backs of the necks of other females and mounting them, attempting pseudo-copulation, and when the female being mounted tries to escape, the other female becomes more aggressive and pursues her.
We do not advocate co-housing, and we never will simply because the risks and consequences outweigh the rewards. Aside from saving on housing and space, I really do not see any benefit or substantial positive reason to house these animals together. If you are working with your first Gecko, and would like to get a second one, I would recommend investing in a second enclosure. If buying another enclosure is too much of a hassle for you, then you should not be buying a second gecko.
Colors and Morphs
Gargoyle Geckos come in a variety of different colours, some examples are; White, Grey, Black, Brown, Cream, Orange, Red, Yellow and Salmon. The 3 standard Morphs of Gargoyle Geckos are Striped, Reticulated and Blotched. However, some of these morphs can cross and you may end up producing a mix of a Stripe x Reticulated. Myself, and other breeders have also noticed that breeding reticulated x reticulated together produces more of a banded morph than a reticulated morph.
Gargoyles are known for their drastic colour changes, whether they are completely pale white in the middle of the day and black and yellow, or fire engine red in the evening, it always fascinates me how quickly the colour can come and go. There hasn’t been any determination yet as to why the colour change happens. Some Herpetologists have suggested that these changes are because of mood, temperature, breeding season, stress and/or time of day, humidity, proper husbandry, and of course so they are able to camouflage from predators.
Gargoyles can withstand a range of temperatures as cool as 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night time and as high as 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime. However it is not recommended to keep them consistently at such high temperatures of 80F, and such low temperatures of 65F, in my experiences they are best kept at room temperature between 72F-76F, and thrive and have a good appetite at this temperature range. It is best not to exceed temperatures above 85F for extended periods of time because temperatures this high can be cause extreme stress, dehydration and can be fatal. Temperature fluctuations are also to be expected. A temperature drop overnight is completely normal, and mimics what happens naturally. Most people worry when the temperatures cool down over night. Take the opportunity to look up the daily forecast in New Caledonia and you will see night time drops to 17C/18C/19C are completely normal. As long as your night time temperatures are not dropping below 65F, and your day time temperatures increase, this is ideal.
Gargoyle Geckos require moderate to high humidity. If there are problems with low humidity, it will lead to difficulty in shedding, as well as respiratory infections. Humidity that is too high can lead to mold growth, and skin infections from the animal being kept too wet. It is imperative that they shed completely, especially around the toes and tail tip so there is no build-up of excess skin because this can be painful for them and even result in the loss of toes due to lack of blood flow. The best way to maintain proper humidity is to mist twice a day. Do one heavy misting at night time, as this is when they are the most active, and one heavy misting in the morning before heading off to work/school. It is important that the enclosure has a dry out period throughout the day before the next misting. The goal is to have fluctuating humidity levels, mimicking what happens in the wild. Humidity levels are highest in the morning and evening naturally, and reduce throughout the day once the sun is out.
These Geckos do not require any additional lighting because they are nocturnal and the supplementation is taken care of in the commercial diets that are offered. However, if you feel the need to use a UVB light, or if you are using a live planted enclosure you absolutely can and it won’t hurt them, just ensure that the light doesn’t produce too much heat and ensure that your gecko can completely escape overhead lighting if they want to. They will still need a dark space in their enclosure to be able to go and hide through-out the day. (Cork bark tubes work great for this) Also ensure that there is ambient room lighting in the room the Gecko is located in, in order to promote a proper photo-period.
It is best to wait until the Gecko is at least 2 years old before breeding in order to make sure the female is ready, age wise, health wise, weight wise and supplement wise. A breeding Female Gargoyle should weigh in at 50 grams before even considering breeding and the male should weigh close to the same amount to prevent the female from bullying or injuring the male. A female will lay 2 eggs every clutch approximately every 4 to 6 weeks throughout their breeding season. On average most of my females run on a 45-47 day cycle.
A female that is bred too early can suffer some extreme consequences including becoming egg bound, and calcium crashing. If a female is egg bound, a vet visit is required. If left untreated, a female will die. Calcium crashing is when a female is not being fed a proper diet, therefore her body does not have enough calcium to sustain herself and produce healthy eggs. If a calcium crash is not caught in time, a female will die. If you are considering breeding, please make sure that your female is in stellar health before you even attempt to breed as breeding could risk the life of your Gecko and these Geckos should be considered pets first and foremost before they are considered a breeder.
Gargoyle Geckos should be kept on paper towel/blue shop towels until they are at least 15 grams. Gargoyle Geckos can be very clumsy hunters when they are young, so having a dirt substrate can be a risk of impaction. Once they are larger, in the 15-20 gram range, they can be switched over to a substrate like eco-earth/coco-fiber or transition into a live planted enclosure. The substrate should be kept damp, not soaking wet. Substrates to avoid are; Sand of ANY sort, bark chunks. Also avoid any dirt like substrates that have fertilizers in them as fertilizer is toxic to Geckos.
Incubation for any species of Rhacodactylus is best done at room temperatures. Incubation temperatures of 68 degrees Fahrenheit up to 75 degrees Fahrenheit work best. However, higher incubation temperatures may hatch babies out sooner, but result in smaller hatchlings and the result could be high mortality rates or smaller, weak structure over all with geckos that fail to thrive. In my experience so far, it is best to incubate at room temperature, between 68F-70F. Eggs will take longer to incubate in cooler temperatures, but will result in larger, healthier babies when it comes time to hatch. The incubation medium that I use that has worked the best for me is Repashy Superhatch/Pangea Hatch/Aquatic pond soil. My current incubation time for Gargoyles is between 110-130 days.
Gargoyles can develop MBD (Metabolic Bone Disease) if not properly supplemented with Calcium and Calcium D3. Too much Calcium and not enough calcium can both be the cause of MBD, if you notice the spine kinking, kinks in the tail, swollen limbs, under bites, appendages bending in ways they shouldn't be bending, and bent toes are all signs of MBD. Another leading cause of MBD in Rhacodactylus Geckos is people who insist on feeding baby food to their Geckos. Please, do not EVER feed your Geckos baby food. Baby food was not meant for Geckos, with was meant for human babies. Baby food is all high in sugars and preservatives, and does not provide an appropriate nutritional balance for your Gecko. MBD can be stopped and even in some ways corrected depending on the age of the gecko and the extent of the damage.
Written by: Heather Jodoin Foucault