Leachianus gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus, care sheet
The Leachianus gecko is an arboreal gecko endemic to New Caledonia, where they inhabit forest habitats. These arboreal geckos are in fact the largest species of gecko in the world. They tend to be a mix of greens, browns and grey in colour. This heavy-bodied gecko has loose, delicate skin so handling although possible should be kept to a minimum to avoid unnecessary stress and skin damage.
Being perfectly built for the trees, your Leachianus enclosure will require a good amount of height and opportunity to climb. A minimum of 90 x 45 x 90cm should house an adult, but they would utilise more space if provided. This will give them adequate opportunity to climb and jump between branches to get sufficient exercise and stimulation.
In order to use the height of the enclosure, it is important to provide a secure structure made up of branches, logs, vines and foliage. It is particularly important to ensure they have adequate access to the top of the tank where the heat and UV will be.
As well as climbing opportunity, it is essential that enough cover is provided to make your gecko feel safe and able to hide from view. This can come in the form of coconut hides, cork bark or areas hidden under dense vegetation. For substrate, it’s best to use a good soil mix, as it will assist in humidity upkeep with its moisture-holding abilities. It will also create an opportunity for live vegetation.
Heating and lighting
Contrary to popular belief these geckos will require good quality heating and UVB - even as a nocturnal/crepuscular animal. Heating is best in the form of a basking bulb or ceramic heat emitter, either of which will need regulating with the relevant thermostat - ensuring the safety of your pet. Temperatures should be measured with an accurate digital thermometer and should sit at 27-28C at the hottest point of the tank. The rest of the tank will sit between 20-25C providing a good gradient.
During the night temperatures can drop to 15C which may not require additional heating. This mimics the natural drop in temperature seen in a wild habitat and creates a day/night cycle. It is also essential that UVB is provided as without it your gecko will not be able to metabolise key nutrients and so development and health is put at risk, even becoming fatal if left.
The best way to provide this is in a strip bulb such as Arcadia’s 7% ShadeDweller or 6% proT5 kit (this depends on the height of the enclosure) which should be used in a 12-hour cycle. All UV bulbs have a lifespan of between 6 - 12 months dependent on the bulb and brand. After the life span is up, the UV is no longer sufficient even if the bulb is glowing so it is vital that replacing it is kept on top of.
Leachianus Geckos come from a humid environment and this should be replicated in your enclosure. To achieve humidity, moisture-holding substrates, regular spraying, foggers and good water sources can be used. Using an accurate digital hygrometer to measure, your humidity should sit between 60-80%.
Your gecko may not drink from a dish so a waterfall or dripper is best to keep them hydrated. Additionally, broadleaf plants can provide an opportunity for water to collect, and your gecko may drink from this. Any water source will need to be cleaned regularly to prevent bacteria build-up.
Being omnivorous the Leachianus Gecko will naturally feed on a variety of insects and forest fruits. To replicate this in captivity, live food such as crickets, locust, cockroaches or calci worms can be offered, fruits such as banana, strawberry and mango and a good quality powder mix such as Repashy or Sticky Foot. All food will need to be supplemented with calcium, multivitamins and D3 ensuring your gecko is receiving everything nutritionally required of its body. The mixes and fruit should be provided on a feeding platform or a higher branch as they are more likely to feed on it.
Swell SuperStore species profile:
- Scientific name - Rhacodactylus leachianus
- Adult Expected Size - 12 - 15 inches
- Habitat - Forest habitats of New Caledonia favouring dense vegetation. Arboreal living.
- Required Enclosure Size - 90 x 45 x 90cm
- UV Lighting - 2 - 3 UVI (Enclosure height dependent)
- Expected Lifespan - 15 - 20 Years
- Temperature Gradient - 22 - 28C
- Humidity Levels - 60 - 80%
- Feeding - Omnivores - Live food such as crickets, locust, cockroaches or calci worm, fruit and powder mixes such as Repashy or Sticky Foot
- Handling - Can be jumpy but usually easily tamed, handle infrequently