GARGOYLE GECKO CARE SHEET (Rhacodactylus auriculatus)
Gargoyle Geckos are a medium to large sized semi arboreal member of the Rhacodactylus genus. They grow to about 8-9 inches in length and are usually quite chubby and robust in appearance. They are very docile animals and they tolerate handling very well. Gargoyle Geckos are slow moving and less jumpy than most other Rhacodactylus geckos.
Gargoyle gecko enclosures should be taller rather than longer as gargoyles like to climb and prefer to be up off of the cage floor. A good size tank for a hatchling or juvenile gargoyle gecko is a 10 gallon aquarium or terrarium. As the gecko matures you will need to increase the size of the enclosure. A single adult or an adult pair can be housed in a 29 gallon aquarium or terrarium.
Gargoyle geckos need to climb so provide plenty of cage furnishings such as cork bark, driftwood, and artificial vines and plants.
For hatchling and young juveniles you should use paper towel for the cage bottom. This will prevent the geckos from becoming impacted from eating the bedding. Once the gecko is 3-4 months old you can switch to a bioactive set up if you are looking to obtain a more natural look. Although adults are much less likley to ingest the substrate and become impacted, it is still reccomended to have a generous layer of Sphagnum Moss and Leaf Litter on top of your soil based substrate in a bioactive set up.
Temperature, Heating, and Lighting
Temperatures should be maintained between 72 and 82 degrees for most of the year. Gargoyle geckos will benefit from the use of a small wattage basking heat lamp placed to one far end of the tank. In most cases a 50 watt bulb will do the job. The basking spot temperature should not exceed 85 degrees and care must be taken to ensure that the gecko can retreat to an area that is considerably cooler. UVB lighting can be used but is not 100% necessary. A 2.0 linear fluorescent or compact fluorescent bulb will provide plenty of UVB and UVA should you choose to use one.
Gargoyle geckos like a humidity level around 50% with brief periods of higher humidity. Mist your gecko once or twice a day and allow the enclosure to dry out between mistings. The humidity level should be allowed to reach 80 to 100% following the misting routine and should return to normal within 2-3 hours. Maintaining proper humidity is key optimal gargoyle gecko care for health and shedding.
Diet and Feeding
In the wild gargoyle geckos eat fruits, nectars, insects, small invertebrates, and even small mammals like pinky mice.
Most gargoyle geckos in captivity do great eating the Pangea Complete Gecko Diets. You can also offer dusted and gutloaded insects once or twice a week or for adults an occasional frozen thawed pinky mouse. Gargoyle geckos tend to prefer larger prey items and may turn their nose up at smaller items. They can tackle a cricket that is about the size of their head with no problem. Dust any insects with a good calcium powder with vitamin D3 and make sure to feed the crickets a good gut-load diet prior to offering them to your gecko.
Gargoyle geckos will drink droplets of water that gather on the sides of the tank and plants. Some gargoyles will regularly drink water from a dish so it is important to always provide clean water as well as to mist the enclosure.
Gargoyle geckos are among the most handleable of all reptiles. They are typically quite docile and are not prone to biting as long as they are handled properly. When picking up a gargoyle gecko you want to scoop rather than grab. You can coax them onto your hand by nudging their back end gently with your other hand and they will walk right on. If you grab them they will become frightened and could potentially bite, although the bite is not terribly severe especially with young animals. Once they are on your hand they will usually sit still but if they feel like moving you can walk them from hand to the other until they calm down. Some gargoyle geckos will leap so make sure you ready to catch them with your free hand. It is best to be sitting down on the floor at first until you get used to their behavior. After several handling sessions your gecko will most likely sit still and not leap at all.
Baby Gargoyle Gecko Care
The care for babies is exactly the same as for adults. You should pay close attention to shedding as some gargoyles will shed all of their skin except the skin on their toes. If this happens you can place your gecko into a ventilated container such as a Tupperware dish, with some moist paper towels to help loosen up the skin. After 20-30 minutes take the gecko out and gently try to remove the skin with a moist Q-tip. If the skin does not come easily repeat the process, do not force the skin off!
Determining the sex of gargoyle geckos takes a little practice. You can determine the sex of juveniles with good reliability using a sexing loupe which is like a magnifying glass. Male gargoyle geckos will have 3 or more rows of pores visible on the underside just above the vent. Females may have one or two rows of pseudo pores which is why it can be tricky at first. Pseudo pores with appear like pores but will not have the dark pin point in the center of the scale that actual pores have.
Incubation temperature seems to play a role in determining the sex of the hatchlings. Eggs incubated at temperatures of 70-75 produces more females and temperatures of 75-79 produces more males.
Breeding gargoyle geckos is fairly easy, simply introduce a healthy adult female to a healthy adult male and they will breed. Since gargoyle geckos are so aggressive it is best to house the animals separately and only introduce the male into the females enclosure for a few days at a time. Breeding can be quite rough so keep a close eye on them both as they are likely to get injured. Tail loss and other minor injuries are not only expected but are unavoidable.
Eggs & Incubation
Gargoyle geckos will lay their eggs about 20-35 days after successful copulation. Provide an egg laying container that is at least 4-5 inches deep and filled with a lightly moistened mixture of peat moss and vermiculite or similar substrate. You should be able to dig a small hole in the substrate with out it caving in. Eggs are usually laid toward the bottom of the container and you should dig through it every few days to see if she has laid them.
Once the eggs are laid, remove them and place them into an air tight container with moistened vermiculite, perlite, or SuperHatch. The egg laying medium should be moist to the touch but not dripping with water. Eggs will hatch at room temperature provided it stays between 70-79 degrees. To influence the sex of the hatchlings you can use and incubator and maintain a steady temperature described above in the Sexing section.