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How to Care for Your Leachie Gecko

How to Care for Your Leachie Gecko

Leachie geckos (Rhacodactylus leachianus) are 10”-14” long, nocturnal, arboreal geckos native to New Caledonia. Their preferred habitat is temperate rainforest, spending most of their time foraging in the trees.

Leachie geckos have large heads, chunky bodies, wrinkled, velvety skin, and stubby tails. Like other arboreal geckos, leachies have sticky toe pads and no eyelids. As the largest known geckos in the world, they are a good example of the island gigantism phenomenon, although size varies by subspecies. Their color varies from a moss-like patchwork of greens, browns, and grays, to an earthy base color with blotches of pink, lavender, orange, or white. 

Leachie geckos are intermediate-level pet reptiles due to their large size and less friendly disposition. However, they are fairly hardy, and with good care can live 20+ years.

How much space do leachie geckos need?

Leachie geckos may not be very active compared to other arboreal lizards, but they still need an enclosure that is large enough to allow them to thermoregulate and exercise other natural behaviors. A single leachie gecko should be housed in absolutely no smaller than an 36” x 18” x 36” terrarium, although larger is always better, and will be happily used!

Cohabitation (keeping multiple leachies in one enclosure) is not recommended, and may result in fighting if attempted.

Do leachie geckos need UVB?

They can survive without it, but it’s still recommended. UVB gives them all of the vitamin D that their bodies need, stimulates better appetite and activity, and generally allows them to be healthier than they would be without.

Leachie geckos do best with low-strength UVB as part of their enclosure. The best UVB bulbs for leachies housed in an 36” x 18” x 36” terrarium are:

  • Arcadia T5 HO Forest 6%, 22”
  • Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 5.0, 22”
  • Arcadia ShadeDweller Kit

The UVB bulb should be housed in a reflective fixture and placed close to the heat lamp, about 10-12” above the basking branch if you are using a T5 HO bulb, and about 6-8” above the basking branch if you are using the ShadeDweller kit. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so you can’t give your gecko UVB by placing its terrarium in front of an open window. Also make sure that the fixture your UVB bulb is in does not have a clear plastic bulb cover.

Leachie geckos should receive 11 hours of light during winter and 13.5 hours of light during summer. This simulates natural seasonal changes in day length and encourages healthier hormonal rhythms.

What basking temperatures do leachie geckos need?

Despite popular myth, leachie geckos do benefit from having a basking area. After all, they’re still ectotherms, which means that they need a temperature gradient in their enclosure to help them regulate their metabolism and stay healthy.

Leachies should have a low basking temperature between 82-85°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe placed on the basking surface. Temperatures in the rest of the enclosure should stay between 75-80°F. Heat lamps should be turned off at night. Nighttime temperatures should be between 65-72°F.

Provide heat for your gecko by imitating the sun with a low-wattage heat lamp placed on one side of the enclosure. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.

What humidity levels do leachie geckos need?

Leachie geckos need a high humidity environment with an average humidity of 60-80%, as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe in the middle of the terrarium. 

Misting your gecko’s enclosure with a sprayer first thing in the morning and again at night will help create the right humidity levels. It also provides an important source of drinking water!

What substrate is good for leachie geckos?

Although leachie geckos are an arboreal species and don’t spend much time on the ground, placing a layer of substrate on the floor of the enclosure helps maintain humidity. As an added perk, it also tends to make the enclosure more attractive.

Ideally, this substrate should resemble what leachies naturally live on in the wild — in this case, tropical soil. It should have small particles and hold moisture well. We recommend the following substrates for leachie geckos:

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.

Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.

What décor can you use in a leachie gecko terrarium?

It’s terribly boring for a gecko to be stuck in an enclosure with nothing in it except substrate and food/water bowls. It doesn’t matter how big the enclosure is if you don’t put things in it for your pet to use and interact with. Leachies appreciate a fairly densely planted enclosure with either live or artificial plants, which can make their terrarium a great piece of home décor!

At bare minimum, you will need a branch for your gecko to climb on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:

Leachies are a relatively heavy arboreal species, so make sure any branches, vines, and plants that you install are strong enough to withstand the animal’s weight.

What do leachie geckos eat?

Leachie geckos are omnivorous, which means that they need to eat a balanced diet of plant and animal matter in order to get the nutrition that their bodies need. In the wild, they primarily eat invertebrates, small vertebrates, fruit, nectar, and sap. In captivity, it’s best to feed them high-quality, specially-formulated crested gecko diet (CGD) supplemented by live insect feeders.

How often leachie geckos need to eat depends on age:

  • Hatchlings and Juveniles — CGD daily, insects 2x/week
  • Adults — CGD 2x/week, insects 2x/week

Best crested gecko diets: Pangea, Repashy, Leapin’ Leachie, Zoo Med, Lugarti, Black Panther Zoological, Gecko Pro

Feeder insects for leachie geckos: dubia roaches, discoid roaches, red runner roaches, crickets, hornworms

Remember, the key to great nutrition is variety!

Supplements

Although crested gecko diet doubles as a vitamin supplement, you will need calcium powder to dust on feeder insects. We recommend Repashy Supercal NoD.

Water

Although your gecko will get most of its drinking water from daily mistings, it’s a good idea to also provide a wall-mounted water dish. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.

Do leachie geckos like to be handled?

Few reptiles actually “like” to be held. When it comes to leachie geckos, they vary in terms of how well they tolerate handling and human interaction. Keep in mind that your gecko is an individual, and respect its preferences. If it tolerates handling well, be gentle, and whenever possible, pick up the gecko from below instead of grabbing it from above — this approach is less scary and stressful for them. They may be a bit jumpy at first, so let them hop from one hand to the other until they have calmed down.

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.


"File:Diplodactylidae - Rhacodactylus leachianus.JPG" by Hectonichus is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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