• Scientific name: Rhacodactylus auriculatus
• Natural Habitat: Gargoyle geckos are native to New Caledonia, a group of islands between Fiji and Australia.
• Lifespan: Average lifespan for a gargoyle gecko in captivity is 15-20 years.
• Size: An adult gargoyle gecko will reach 4 1/2 inches from snout to vent, and roughly 8 inches in total length.
Size: Minimum recommended tank size is 20 gallons for 1 adult gargoyle gecko. An arboreal setup with driftwood, vines, and plants is recommended due to their climbing nature.
Temperatures: Ideal temperatures range from 78º - 82º F during the day and 70º - 75º F at night. These temperatures are easily maintained by a low-wattage heat bulb or heat coil, thermometer, and thermostat.
Humidity: Recommended relative humidity for a gargoyle gecko tank is 50% - 75%. This can be maintained by using a misting spray bottle, automatic misting system, or fogger system. You can use a hygrometer to measure the tank's humidity.
Substrate: Coconut husk/fiber or a peat moss/soil mix are recommended. You may also use reptile carpet; this makes the tank easier to clean but is harder to keep the humidity high enough. Paper towels are recommended for babies less than 3-4 months old to help prevent impaction.
Cohabitation: Housing more than 1 gecko together is appropriate only under the right circumstances and if you watch them carefully from day to day. Two adult males should never be housed together, as they will fight especially in the presence of females. Adult females that are not aggressive can usually be safely housed together, but not always. A male gargoyle gecko can usually be housed with up to several females, given the tank is large enough in size to accommodate them all.
DIET & FEEDING
In the wild, a gargoyle gecko's diet consists of many things, including fruits, flower nectars, insects, and even small invertebrates like pinky mice. In captivity, they do very well eating a powdered gecko diet like Repashy or Pangea offered every other day. Powdered gecko diet should be removed 24-36 hours after initially being offered, as it can mold. They can also be offered calcium-dusted insects such as crickets or small dubia roaches once or twice a week, but it is not necessary since they are able to get full nutrition from powdered gecko diet. Full-grown adult gargoyle geckos may be offered a small pinky mouse every week or two. If feeding live prey, make sure to "gutload" it by feeding it carrots, spinach, or special gutload mix found at pet stores before dusting it with calcium + vitamin D3 powder and feeding to your pet. This is important for their health and prevents MBD (see Common Health Issues below). It is often helpful to use feeding tongs when offering live prey to your gecko. This reduces the chance of your gecko accidentally biting you and also promotes better hygiene.
SELECTING A GECKO
When picking out a healthy gecko, make sure it is well-rounded and has a straight tail; this indicates it is healthy and has been eating well. If selecting a male, larger crests around it's head are desirable. Make sure it walks straight and without a limp or wobble, to confirm it does not have MBD (metabolic bone disease). It's eyes should be clean and alert, indicating no diseases, trouble shedding, or past fights with other geckos or animals. It is also suggested to make sure the gecko tolerates handling before purchasing it, if you plan on handling it. This is especially important if children will be handling the gecko. If you are looking for a gecko, make sure to browse our list of gargoyle gecko breeders.
HANDLING, TAMING & BEHAVIOR
Placing your hand in your gecko's tank and letting it crawl on you is the best way to start taming your gecko and getting it used to your presence. This can also be used to gauge its temperament towards you. Tame geckos can be handled using the "hand-walking" technique, letting it walk from one hand onto the other one and then alternating hands again. When handling your gecko, make sure to minimize the distance between your hands and the floor, especially if it is a hard wood or concrete floor or if you have a jumpy gecko. Never close your hand around the gecko! This can cause internal injuries. Always sanitize your hands both before and after handling. When transporting your gecko, use a tupperware or critter keeper with air holes. Do not transport the gecko inside its regular tank, as the contents can shift during transport and injure your gecko.
COMMON HEALTH ISSUES
Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD) occurs when a gecko does not receive enough calcium in its diet. This leads to a softening of its bones, making it easier for the gecko's bones to break. Once severe, the damage will become permanent and the gecko will have trouble walking and shedding. Make sure to gutload & dust your feeders with calcium + vitamin D3 to avoid this!
Tail loss is a defense mechanism for gargoyle geckos and is somewhat common. If grabbed or if something is dropped on it or if they are feeling threatened in general, a leopard gecko can discharge their tail by flexing special connecting tissues that connect it to the rest of their body. Very little blood loss occurs, if any, because the blood vessels leading to the tail are constricted during this process. The tail will wiggle on its own for several minutes. If your gecko drops its tail, it is very important to practice clean hygiene to prevent infection. Paper towel substrate changed daily or every other day is recommended.
Pinworms are the Enterobius worm parasite, a very small white/clear roundworm that burrows into the intestinal tract, where it leeches nutrients and lays eggs to continue its life cycle. Also called a threadworm or seatworm. Pinworms are contracted usually by contact with a surface covered with eggs, which are microscopic and can survive for up to 3 weeks after being laid. Symptoms of a pinworm infestation include discomfort and a red, swollen vent. If you find pinworms on your animal or in its tank, a thorough cleaning of the tank and visit to a local reptile vet are recommended.
Mouth rot (infectious stomatitis) is a symptom of multiple diseases. It can be caused by infection via cricket bite or poor tank hygiene. A visit to a local reptile vet is recommended.
Gargoyle geckos are not known to carry Salmonella, as it is usually only found in aquatic animals.