Rhacodactylus leachianus - New Caledonian giant gecko Caresheet and bioactive maintenance
Rhacodactylus leachianus - New Caledonian giant gecko
Leachianus geckos, or "Leachies" are known to be the largest arboreal species of gecko from New Caledonia, found hiding among the bark of the lush tropical rainforest. They are much like Crested Geckos which are also found on the same islands. These geckos have a similar feel to their skin like the Crested Geckos. Leachies have a beautiful, cyrptic color range of greens and browns to blend in perfectly with their surroundings. This is one unique adaptation they utilize in their life to avoid predation or to hunt.
Being crepuscular they are active mostly at dusk/nighttime and use that time to hunt and forage for their main diet of fallen fruits, small birds, rodents and other geckos.
These geckos typically reach a length of 14-20+ inches. Some of the larger localities of leachies are a representation of "Island Gigantism." These geckos are known to live well past the age of 40 years. They are an active, intelligent, full of personality gecko for the wanting enthusiast.
What's needed for this large species you ask?
- Front-opening 18” x 18” x 24” glass terrarium (You will need a larger enclosure for adults).
- For smaller geckos
- 25w Zoo Med Basking Spot Lamp
- Exo Terra Reptile Glow Light, small
- Plug-in lamp dimmer
- Arcadia ShadeDweller UVB ProT5 Kit
- Bio Dude Solar Grow T5 HO Single Bulb Light Strip, 12”
- Zilla 24/7 Digital Timer Power Center
- Temp gun
- Exo Terra 2qt Mister
- Bio Dude Digital Thermometer / Hygrometer
- Terra Fauna Bioactive Kit 18 x 18 x 18/24
- Bio Dude Crested Gecko Clean Up Crew Pack
- Bio Dude Crested Gecko Starter Plant Pack
- Pangea Mini Gecko Feeder Magnetic Ledge, x2
- Small gecko feeding cups
- Crested gecko diet powder
- Miner-All Outdoor Calcium Powder
For an adult Leachie, the smallest enclosure tolerated is the 18"Lx18"Wx24"H terrarium by Zoo Med or Exo Terra. Larger is always recommended for this species. They will quickly relish a larger enclosure as long as it is built correctly and has plenty of tight spaces and crevices. Smaller hatchlings and juveniles prefer being in smaller spaces and can go into the 12"Lx12”Wx12”H Exo Terra glass terrarium till they are large enough to be moved. Having a large bio active enclosure set up and healthily running before adding the geckos is recommended. This is due to their large and messy nature.
As they are crepuscular it is often seen that they do not necessarily require UVA/UVB. However, this is not the standard of care the Bio Dude recommends and recommends full spectrum lighting because it provides health benefits such as aiding in digestion and proper vitamin D3 processing to prevent Metabolic bone disease.
In the wild, Leachies have been observed to put a small portion of their body within the sunlight reach to get the needed UVA/UVB and heat intake and return to hiding till dusk. For this reason we recommend the 12" Arcadia ShadeDweller UVB ProT5 Kit for the 18"x18”x24''enclosure. The basking branch should be 6" away from the lamp for the best Intake position, 12 hours a day. Always remember to replace this light every 12 months after turning them on, we recommend keeping a record with the date the light was turned on so it can be replaced on time.
Although it's very often to see Rhacodactylus care information stating they do not require heating, these geckos will actively use a 85° basking spot to regulate their body temperature for proper digestion and temperature regulation. The overall inside temperature as a whole should not reach over 83°. Leachies need a range of temperatures to happily thrive inside the enclosure. A lower wattage light bulb on a dimmer and timer will help achieve proper temperatures. We recommend a 25 watt basking bulb to start and work your way up as the temperature needs adjusted. The below temperatures are recommended for all life stages.
Day time basking 80°-85°F
Cool side 70°-75° F
Night time 65°-75°F
Leachies are from a tropical chain of islands so they have a high humidity requirement of 60% to 80% for proper shedding. We suggest spraying down the enclosure twice a day, once in the morning and once at night with a sprayer or misting system, monitoring it using a hygrometer with the probe secured inside the enclosure in a cool area out of direct heat exposure to get better readings. Providing a shallow but wide water dish is a good way to not only give the gecko an option for water at all times, but adding humidity to the enclosure. Waterfalls are not recommended with this species. Larger plants that retain water can also be used as opportunity zones. Plants such as Bromeliads, snake plants and and other sturdy bodied plants make great foundations for opportunity hydration zones and humidity pools.
To achieve bioactivity with this species you will need to ensure you have a deep substrate with a functioning drainage layer. Leachies create a large amount of bio waste within the enclosure, so a well drained soil such as Terra Fauna is recommended with the HydroGrow drainage layer. If you are planning a larger enclosure with Trees the Dude’s Terra Firma can be used with the SuperGrow drainage layer. Incorporating your essential bacterial and fungal strings with a substantial clean up crew populations such as larger isopod species and tropical springtails are necessary for long term health of your soil. Millipedes, Earwigs and mealworms are also great alternatives to use in conjunction with your other clean up crew.
When setting up your enclosure it is very important that all branches and logs are sturdy and not able to fall over. Cork tubes are relished by this species and should always be provided. Small trees such as Ficus can be used. Smaller branches, single magnetic ledges are not recommended for this heavy species. It is imperative to provide a mild basking area so if your giant decides to bask UVB/UVA and heat can easily be absorbed with whatever opportunity zones are established.
Feeding the giant
As a main diet Leachies relish premade gecko diets; such as Repashy or Pangea. Being crepuscular this species will mainly eat during the dusk hours. It is also recommended to also live food such as crickets, dubia roaches and even an occasional pinkie mice for breeding girls. The feeding dish for the crested gecko diet or pangea fruit mix should be wide but not too deep as the gecko being heavy bodied is likely to knock it over. A magnetic feeding ledge will help with this. Adult leachie geckos will go through 1.5-2oz of crested gecko diet every other day to every two days. Hatchlings should be provided fresh food and water at all times with day breaks of live prey such as crickets and small dubia roaches in a bowl. Feeding in the evenings is recommended as they are most active at this time. Supplementing your geckos with calcium powder and multivitamin dusted feeders or premixed diets is a good way to make sure they are getting the necessary vitamin intake for the best health. Gutloading with the Dude’s Bug Grub is highly recommended for all insects.
While being called the “devil among the trees” by locals these geckos are easy to handle and typically do not have an issue with shorter handling periods. Being large they are easy to keep track of using the “hand to hand” method, passing the gecko from one hand to the other while it explores you as a moving tree. Leachies can be quite vocal gecko, making chirps and barks often expressing protest when anyone passes their terrarium. They might be testy at times during breeding season but that is normal for reptiles as a whole and should be expected.
- Josh Halter