Leachianus Gecko Care Sheet
The leachianus gecko is also known as the New Caledonian giant gecko or simply as the giant gecko. It is therefore of no surprise that the species is the largest existing gecko.
Although their size can be daunting, they are rather easy to maintain. Commonly referred to as leachie, this New Caledonian giant requires a cool humid terrarium with a temperature range of 72 to 80 F.
Quick Reference Section
- Experience Level: Beginner
- Family: Diplodactylidae / Gekkonidae
- Scientific Name: Rhacodactylus leachianus
- Other Name: New Caledonian Giant Gecko
- Average Adult Size: 14 inches (360 mm)
- Lifespan: 10 – 20 years
- Clutch Size: 2 eggs
- Egg Incubation Period: 70 days
- Food: Commercial Crested Gecko Diet or Live insects
- Tank Size: 20 gallons
- Average Temperature: 80°H/72°L
- Humidity: 60 – 80%
- UVB Lighting: Optional
- Average Price Range: $1000 to $2000
- Conservation Status: Least Concern on IUCN Redlist
Facts and Information
As with other geckos from the genus Rhacodactylus, the Rhacodactylus leachianus is native to New Caledonia, a group of islands situated in the southwest Pacific.
The leachie can be found on the main island (referred to as Grand Terre) and several smaller islands of New Caledonia including the Isle of Pine, Moro, Duu Ana, Nuu Ami, Nuu Ana, Menore, Bayonnaise, Koe, Brosse, and Caanawa.
In fact, several morphs/variants of the leachie are named according to their locale of origin. (Leachies from different locations have different defining physical characteristics.) Their range elevation is 1640 to 3609 feet (500 to 1100 m).
The biological name of the species is Rhacodactylus leachianus. They belong to the family Diplodactylidae, and the genus Rhacodactylus (as already mentioned).
Although several subspecies have been proposed including the R. l. aubrianus, R. l. henkeli, and the nominate subspecies R. l. leachianus, recent molecular data suggest that the species has no subspecies, just variants.
The New Caledonian giant gecko is large in size reaches an average adult length of 14 inches (36 cm). This is the largest among geckos. The body is heavy, the skin is loose, and the tail is stumpy and short.
They come in a wide variety of colors including green, brown, gray, a mix of the colors already mentioned with blotches of lavender and pink, white with dark spots, and bands of orange. Their skin resembles bark which helps them blend into their environment in the wild. (They are arboreal lizards.)
Leachianus Gecko Habitat
These species are terrestrial and arboreal. They spend almost all their lives in trees. They live in montane forests, closed humid forests, and coastal forests where temperatures are generally between 72 and 75 F, and precipitation levels are very high. As nocturnal reptiles, they send their day resting in crevices and hunting/foraging at night.
As an arboreal species, I recommend housing the New Caledonian giant geckos in a vertical terrarium preferably one with all-glass panels. This allows heat to dissipate quickly as glass is a poor insulator.
The terrarium must have a screen top and front opening doors. The top screen allows for excellent ventilation while the front opening doors allow you to easily perform maintenance on the terrarium.
New Caledonian giant geckos are a territorial species and as such housing more than one specimen per enclosure isn’t recommended unless it’s a breeding pair.
They can get really aggressive when housed together. Even with breeding pairs aggression may ensue if the female doesn’t accept the male.
For adults, a 20-gallon enclosure is the smallest you should get. The Exo Terra terrarium which is 18x18x24 inches is a great choice. This terrarium has two front opening doors, a secure metal screen top, and a foam background.
Hatchlings can be housed in shoeboxes with air holes or critter keepers as they can be frightened and stressed by large enclosures. When they outgrow shoeboxes, you will need to move them to 10-gallon terrariums such as the Exo Terra 12x12x18 inches Kit.
New Caledonian giant geckos spend their day hiding in tree crevices until its night. With that in mind, it is essential to provide adequate hiding spots such as live foliage, a hide box, cork bark tubes, driftwood, and bark. Some live plants to get include Dracaena, Pothos, and Ficus benjamina. You can also decorate the terrarium with fake plants, forest branches, and jungle vines.
Since leachies are arboreal, the substrate is more for the plants in the terrarium than the reptile residents. I recommend an equal part mix of coco coir and sterile soil as potting soil.
Alternatively, you can also use peat moss, coco fiber, and cypress mulch. The hide box also needs a substrate. Half fill the hide box with peat moss, vermiculite, coco fiber or potting soil. The soil in there should be marginally damp and never overly wet.
The last substrate I recommend is paper towels. This is easy to find, and easy to replace. Damp paper towel works for both adults and juveniles. When you newly acquire a giant gecko use paper towels the first couple of weeks before switching to a different substrate. Hatchling should be housed in enclosures with paper towel substrate. Old newspapers are also a good alternative to paper towels.
The ambient air temperature should be 75 F. This isn’t a high temperature. When it comes to heating, you have several options available to you including a heat mat, ceramic heat lamp, or a mercury vapor lamp.
With arboreal reptiles, you can’t tape the heat mat to the underside of the enclosure since the reptiles hardly spend time at the bottom of the terrarium.
If you wish to use a heat map, tape it to one side of the glass terrarium. This creates a temperature gradient. If the gecko is cold, it can move towards the heat map, and move away when it’s too warm.
If you wish to use a ceramic lamp, try the AIICIOO Reptile Heat Lamp Bulb. Use that with a WILLHI Temperature Controller. The heat lamp should be placed over the terrarium but not centrally – it should be positioned over one side. This helps create a temperature gradient.
Heating options that don’t emit light are best as they can be on 24/7 without disturbing the reptile’s sleep pattern.
As a reptile that thrives in humid environments, you have to mist the enclosure twice every day. To avoid leaving water droplets on the lizard, don’t mist it directly.
You can mist the side panels of the enclosure, the plants, and the substrate. Allow the enclosure to dry before misting it again. To ensure the humidity level isn’t too low or too high have a hygrometer positioned in the enclosure.
If you wish not to mist the enclosure, you can place the enclosure next to a cool mist humidifier such as the TaoTronics Cool Mist Humidifier.
As a nocturnal species, these reptiles don’t have much use for UVB lights unless you wish to use it to stimulate a day-night cycle which is needed. Likewise, you can place the terrarium in a sunlit room. Just ensure the enclosure isn’t in the direct path of the sun.
The terrarium should receive indirect sunlight only. This can be the only light source necessary if the room receives a lot of sunlight. For the live plants in the terrarium, you can supplement the light received with a fluorescent bulb.
Ensure the lights are off during the night to avoid stressing the reptile.
Feeding the Leachianus Gecko
Leachies accept crested gecko meal replacement diets. These are powdered and need to be mixed with water. They have several advantages over live insects. They are easy to store since they are powdered. Also, they contain all the nutrients the gecko need.
You needn’t worry about vitamin and calcium deficiency. Repashy Superfoods’ Crested Gecko Diet is probably the most popular choice. Create a puree by mixing one part food and two parts water. Pour the food into a shallow sturdy dish. Remove the food after 24 to 36 hours. Feed the New Caledonian giant geckos twice or thrice a week.
For treats, supplement the diet with live insects such as crickets, dubia roaches, mealworms, and waxworms. Dust the insects with calcium and vitamin supplements such as the Zoo Med Reptile Calcium with Vitamin D3.
The leachie needs water at all times. Provide a shallow sturdy dish of water. Since the lizard may defecate in the water, you need to change it daily. Clean the dish every time you change the water. Use a brush and water to clean the dish.
Leachianus Gecko’s Temperament
The New Caledonian giant gecko is more of a display pet. While some leachies may allow handling, some may not. They will lunge and attempt to bite when handled. These bites are usually painful but nontoxic. It is unwise to handle hatchlings.
Wait until they are 3 months before attempting to handle them. Young leachies are flighty. As they are handled regularly, they become quite docile. A New Caledonian giant geckos used to being handled since youth is more likely to be docile.
How long does the new caledonian gecko live?
This gecko is easy to care for and is hardy. With proper care, they can live to 20 years and even longer. However, most leachies grow to between 10 and 20 years before reaching the end of their lives.
Common Health Concerns
A healthy New Caledonian giant gecko is active, alert, eat regularly, have clear eyes, nose, & vents, and a healthy skin. If you notice the following, the lizard may be ill – floppy jaw, difficulty breathing, tiredness & inactivity, loss of appetite and/or weight, swelling around the limb, paralyzed limbs and/or tail, sores and bumps on the skin, and the inability to climb. If you notice any of these symptoms contact your local herp vet.
Some common health conditions include
This is usually a result of acquiring a leachie that is already infested. For this reason, you need to keep newly acquired reptiles in a separate enclosure and ensure they don’t have mites before integrating them into a communal enclosure, for instance, with the purpose of breeding.
For newly acquired New Caledonian giant geckos, lay a paper towel substrate, it is easier to spot the tiny mites on white paper. The mites appear as tiny black, red, or brown dots around the eyes and mouth of the lizard.
Quarantine affect lizards immediately. Treat by bathing the lizard in warm 80 F water, and wiping the mites off using mineral oils. You can also treat them with mite sprays such as Provent-A-Mite. The enclosure also needs to be disinfected.
Sand impactions and prolapse
This is caused when the gecko ingests large amounts of loose substrate. This occurs when they are fed insects or mice on the substrate. Symptoms include lack of appetite and constipation. To prevent, you can place the live prey on a flat plate or use paper substrate.
Metabolic bone disease (MBD)
This is common among captive reptiles since keepers fail to feed them diets that provide all the needed nutrients in specific, calcium and vitamin D3.
If you feed your gecko Repashy Superfoods’ Crested Gecko Diet, they shouldn’t suffer from this infliction. This diet contains all the needed nutrients.
Treat affected reptiles by increasing vitamin D3 and calcium supplement given to the reptile and feed them powdered Crested Gecko Diet. Take them to a vet if the disease is severe. Symptoms include weak jaws, kinked tails, and twitching limbs and toes.
These are the three most common health concerns to watch out for. Others include internal parasites and egg binding.
Pricing and Availability
The leachie is one pricey gecko. On average, they cost about $1000. Although they can be tough to find, there are several sources online that offer these magnificent lizards. Additionally, they are can be seen at reptile exhibitions and trade shows.
A few popular leachie morphs/genetic variants include Nuu Ana, GTB, Nuu Ami, Moro, Pine Island, GT Color, High Pattern, Grande Terre, Mt. Khogis, Yate, and High Color.
It is likely that the species R. leachianus wild population have been negatively affected by environmental degradation and the destruction of their natural habitat.
Another threat faced by the species is predation by species introduced by humans such as cats. Wild populations are protected and live in natural reserves. Regardless of the threats faced, the species is considered to be of least concern on the IUCN Red List.
These very large geckos are loved by many reptile keepers around the world. One peculiar and interesting characteristic of this giant is their distinct personality.
Some may be docile and friendly while others may be aggressive. They also make a wide range of sounds such as clucking, growling, and many others. If you have any comments on this interesting gecko, we would love to read them.