How to Care for Your Gargoyle Gecko
(photo credit Jonathon's Jungle Roadshow)
Gargoyle Geckos (Rhacodactylus auriculatus) are mid sized (10’12”) nocturnal, semi-arboreal geckos native to New Caledonia. Their habitat is the temperate rainforest, featuring high humidity and moderate (65-85F) temperatures. Gargoyle Geckos have chunky bodies and thin tails. They are smooth scaled with a mottled pattern that is most often either striped, banded (“reticulated”) or blotches. Coloration ranges from gray or black to red, brown and orange. When calm or at rest, Gargoyle Geckos display a more pastel coloration (referred to as “fired down”). When active, colors can change dramatically and feature brighter shades with more contrast (“fired up”). Gargoyle Geckos have bony prominences on each side of the head, reminiscent of the architectural “gargoyle” figures, from which they get their common name. Gargoyle Geckos have special toe pads called “lamellae” which allow them to adhere to smooth surfaces like glass. Gargoyle Geckos have no eyelids. They have have bred very well in captivity and currently exhibit a wide variety of colors and patterns.. Gargoyle Geckos are generally considered to be a beginner pet.
Gargoyle Geckos spend most of their time at rest on thick branches or pieces of bark. Although they are able to adhere to glass walls, they are somewhat less effective than true arboreal geckos, since they spend most of their time in the wild in scrub brush. Most keepers provide vertically oriented enclosures for them, though some are kept in shorter cages. An adult Gargoyle Gecko can be kept in a minimum sized enclosure of 12”x12”x18”, though a larger enclosure is recommended. They appreciate substantial pieces of cork bark or thick, textured wood branches to perch on. Due to their heavy bodies it is difficult to find plants that they won’t crush, though sansevieria can work well. A front-opening enclosure is best for care and easy access. Many Gargoyle Geckos are kept in planted enclosures with an expanded clay ball and mesh drainage layer topped by coco fiber or other vivarium soil mix. Gargoyle Geckos can also be kept on non-particulate substrates such as paper towel with real plants in pots or artificial plants. A water dish can be provided if desired, though gargoyle geckos get most of their hydration by licking water drops from their environment. A hide can also be placed at the bottom of the enclosure. Humidity of at least 80% in the evenings should be provided by heavily misting each night. Humidity levels can decrease during the day.
Heating and Lighting
Gargoyle Geckos do not require additional heat as long as the ambient temperature in the room is usually between 65-80F. Additional heat can be supplied if necessary by placing a heat pad or heat cable on the back wall of the enclosure. If air conditioning in the summer months is not available, ice packs can be used in the cage to reduce the temperature on very hot days. Gargoyle Geckos are nocturnal and do not require lighting beyond the ambient light in the room. Planted enclosures, however, do require light for the plants and a bulb that promotes plant growth should be chosen and run on a timer to allow a maximum of 12 hours of extra “daylight”.
Food and Supplementation
Gargoyle Geckos are frugiverous (fruit eating) and insectivorous (insect eating), though some Gargoyles are less inclined to eat insects. Their primary diet is usually purchased as a powdered fruit nectar which is rehydrated by adding water. There are many brands and flavors of this diet. It’s important to be sure that the specific brand produced states that it is a “complete diet”. The product is generally referred to as “Crested Gecko Diet” or “CGD” (although originally provided for Crested Geckos, it is equally nutritious for Gargoyles). Recently, CGD brands have appeared which incorporate powdered insects with the fruit. An adult Gargoyle Gecko is usually fed a small bowl of CGD three times a week and insects, usually crickets or roaches, twice a week. Not all Gargoyle Geckos will eat live prey. It is not considered to be essential, though it is useful especially for juveniles who need more protein as they grow to adult size. Some Gargoyle Geckos can learn to like crickets or Dubia Roaches. To accustom them to this food, hold the gecko gently and poke a feeder at its mouth. Most geckos will bite the feeder and may eat it. If they come to recognize it as food, they are more likely to hunt once the feeder is introduced. Gargoyle Geckos require calcium, vitamin D3 and other vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development. These supplements are incorporated into the commercially available “complete” CGD diets. In addition, live prey can be dusted with calcium and vitamin D3 every other feeding.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Gargoyle geckos, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.