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Gargoyl Gecko (Rhacodactylus auriculatus) Gargoyl Gecko (Rhacodactylus auriculatus)

Equipment needed to keep the Gargoyle Gecko

Vivarium

For 1 or 3 Cresteds Vivexotics AX24 Vivarium

 

Lighting PT-2190 Repti Glo Compact NEW 13w with an Arcadia ADCH Fitting

 

Heating:  The bulb when on should give enough heat. A Royce heat mat 7x12” with a Komodo 300 thermostat as background heat set at 75F

 

Substrate: Orchid Bark     

 

DécorVines PT-3080 – PT-3082 Plants PT-3040 – 3052.

Branches well secured,

Pool Bark Effect small  

 

Calcium and vitamins: Exo-Terra Calcium +D3. Exo-Terra Multi Vitamin Powder.

Many reptiles require a diet based on live or fresh foods, due to their specific feeding habits. These are readily available, but in themselves do not offer a balanced supply of nutrients. To ensure your pet receives a properly balanced diet, it is important to increase the nutrient content of these foods with a nutrient supplement.


 
Care

General
The Gargoyle Gecko is a large, robust & very attractive species of gecko which can obtain sizes from 8-10" in length, and weigh roughly 40 grams, although certain individuals can approach 60g. They are relatively long-lived, with a lifespan of at least 15 years being quoted by most sources.
Rhacodactylus are relatively new to the hobby, having been introduced in 1994 after two independent parties "rediscovered" them from a presumed extinction. Rhacodactylus auriculatus occur only on the southern third of Grande Terre, the island that comprises the majority of the territory of New Caledonian.
Gargoyle Geckos are unique among Rhacodactylus in that they are only semi-arboreal, and are normally found in scrub habitat adjacent to primary forest. Like all Rhacodactylus, gargoyles are nocturnal and spend most of the day hiding away in tree hollows, behind bark or amongst the adjoining foliage. Despite this fact it is not uncommon to spot gargoyle geckos basking during the day.
Housing
Gargoyle Geckos are an ideal species to house in well-planted semi-natural display vivariums Substrate should consists of a 3” layer of coco fibre topped with a layer of Sphagnum moss. A selection of vertical & horizontal branches should be provided for perches. I have found the excellent artificial branches ideal for this purpose. Not only are they sterile and reusable, but can be adapted for placing in all manner of positions & arrangements. Their structure is also ideal for grip, including a firm base for their prehensile tails.
The preferred temperature range is in the mid 70
°
’s, meaning that in most homes they will thrive at room temperature without supplementary heating. They are very resistant to cool temperatures, and can easily handle night-time temperatures into the low 50´s as long as they are able to warm up in the day. They are however sensitive to high temperatures and should always be kept below 85 degrees. Above this, they can become stressed, and exposure to high temperatures for prolonged periods of time can be lethal.
A minimum cage size for an adult Gargoyle Gecko should be around 24 x 12 x 12; although it is always better to allow as much room for manoeuvre as possible. Good ventilation is also essential, and you should aim for a complete side or top of the viv to consist of mesh. We have found significant success in all screen cages with a vertical orientation although attention to room temperature will determine the type of viv you use.
Feeding
Rhacodactylus auriculatus are an omnivorous species with a diet high in small, non citrus soft fruit .along with crickets, locusts and the occasional waxworm. During summer this selection can be added to with the variety of free-range insects available in country meadows. All you need are a large net & the necessary patience.
The addition of a nectar mix containing fruit baby food, mashed soft fruits like Banana, Peach, and Apricot is also relished & provides an ideal medium for adding vitamin & mineral supplements to the diet. There is also currently available a commercial dried formula for Gargoyle Geckos which supposedly contains all the nutrients your gecko will need, although we prefer to mix this in with our own recipe and offer more variation to the diet.
Calcium supplementation is important in the keeping of all reptiles and amphibians, and the Rhacodactylus are no exception. Calcium supplementation is vital for healthy bones and the production of eggs in females. Luckily calcium can be easily added to the diet via the nectar mix, although we always offer a small dish of powdered calcium at all times for the geckos to help themselves.
Clean water should also be available at all times, although there is no guarantee that your gecko will drink from this source. With this in mind we always spray our charges twice daily with a fine water mist to help satisfy their water requirements & keep humidity levels optimum. Gargoyle Geckos are primarily nocturnal and will spend most of the day in hiding, therefore require adequate hiding places within the vivarium. However it is not uncommon to find Gargoyles basking during the day. Gargoyle geckos will utilise the full boundaries of their enclosure, and sufficient facilities to enable them to climb are a must.
All Rhacodactylus have a prehensile tail with an additional adhesive pad on the tip. This is used as an extra limb and allows them excellent manoeuvrability. They also have the ability to leap several feet by using their strong hind limbs as a spring. Care should be taken during handling in view of this ability, and safety is paramount. Try to guide your gecko to land on your other hand or to the safety of its refuge.
Rhacodactylus are also very vocal, with growls, barks and clicks observed especially during mating.
They are remarkably receptive of human contact, and we have noticed similarities with Panther Chameleons for human interaction. Although nervous at first, when offered a hand to perch on they oblige and are happy to spend a few moments interacting with you if you allow them the freedom to manoeuvre. Allowing your hands to be used as a ladder is most effective & will help to create a bond between you & your gecko.
Always allow your gecko to take the lead, and never grab or clasp the gecko forcefully. To a reptile, the feeling of being forcefully removed can instinctively mean it’s about to be eaten by a predator and is very stressful. Be gentle at all times.
Breeding & Hatchling Care
Sex determination in Gargoyle Geckos is a fairly simple procedure, although it takes longer for them to sexually mature than other Rhacodactylus. It is possible to sex Gargoyles at the age of 6 months; however sexual maturity isn’t reached until at least 12 - 18 months. . Males develop obvious hemipenal bulges at the base of the tail, whilst females have a noticeably prominent calcium sac. Beware of any which are sold as guaranteed sexed if they are below 6 months of age, or claims that they have been incubated for female etc.
Rhacodactylus auriculatus are supposedly one of the more difficult species of Rhacodactylus geckos to breed in captivity; through years of experience with other gecko species we can determine that selection from unrelated bloodlines is paramount. We cannot over emphasise the importance of meticulous selection if your intentions are to breed this species. Always acquire captive bred specimens direct from the breeder themselves... Only this way can you be sure of the origin and full history of the individual. Also always ensure that your male and female are guaranteed unrelated. Invariably the reasons for infertility, egg failure or deformed hatchlings are often down to inbreeding.
I keep all my adults as breeding pairs, preferring this ratio to monitor individuals. We find that keeping most geckos in trios or groups can cause problems with hierarchies being established & the subsequent stress & lack of feeding opportunities this can entail. When pairing, we always introduce them together into new cage at the same time. This should cut out some of the territorial behaviour, although it is vital to monitor relationships as not all pairings are successful.
Assuming breeding has been successful, the female will seek out a laying site up to a week before depositing her eggs. Once laid, eggs are best transferred to a suitable incubator for development. If the eggs are left in situ, there is always the danger they or subsequent offspring will be consumed.
Eggs can be incubated at a temperature setting of between 77
° and 82°
F. The usual incubation times under these conditions are around 60 - 75 days, although this can vary considerably with temperature fluctuations.
The most critical stage with hatchlings is during their first shed, which should occur within a day. It is vital to supply sufficient humidity to help with this shed. Humidity will continue to be a vital factor throughout the first 3 months, as inability to shed quickly & effectively can put enormous strain on the young geckos. Care is basically the same as the adults, but on a smaller scale.
We recommend each hatchling is raised individually for correct monitoring. The same foods can be offered to hatchlings as with the adults and suitably sized live prey should be offered 3 times per week under observation. Excess live prey should be removed to prevent stress. At all other times they should have access to a bowl of fruit nectar mix. Water requirements are best supplied by misting the enclosure twice daily.
Conclusion
Rhacodactylus - especially R.ciliatus - have proved to be very popular with today’s keeper due to their attractive morph variations, hardiness and their friendly interactive nature. We would thoroughly recommend Gargoyles as one of the best species for anyone with basic prior experience with keeping geckos. They have such attractive personalities & characteristics, and are certainly one of our all time favourites. We are sure you will feel the same.
Please remember - what works for me may not always work for you. There are so many ambient variables involved with heat, humidity & ventilation etc and some fine tuning subject to your selected environment may be necessary. These Care Guides are written through our own observations over several years of experience with the species.
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