Why are giant geckos, Rhacodactylus leachianus, so expensive?
Giant geckos are kept in pairs, require large enclosures, have a long generation time, and on average in large colonies produce 4 babies a year. There are years when some pairs do not breed, or have bad first clutches or are/become incompatible. In the same amount of space one keeps R. leachianus, you could house up to 3 males and 12-18 female leopard geckos, which could produce 150 babies a year. That’s 300 babies if raised from hatchlings, by the time a giant gecko pair produces its first clutch. In addition, breeders hold back and raise up babies for selective breeding, which further increases costs and reduces sellable output. Grande Terre giant geckos usually don’t kick in before they are 3-4 years old.
If giant geckos are so valuable why do hobbyists sell off their adult pairs?
Many hobbyists want to get into giant geckos to make money but lose patience after a couple of years. In addition, factors like pair compatibility and inconsistent breeding can add to the frustration.
Can giant geckos become tame?
If you mean, can they be picked up and handled for brief periods of time, then the answer is definitely yes with henkeli. Grande Terre tend to be more restless and aggressive, but with regular brief periods of handling many tolerate brief periods of handling.
As a pet, what is the most responsive of the Rhacodactylus?
Rhacodactylus chahoua are alert, wonderful animals that usually are easily handled and can become tame enough to come to the front of a cage or climb on a hand when you offer them food. Males of all Rhacodactylus species are somewhat more responsive than females. Rhacodactylus trachyrhynchus trachyrhynchus, the most expensive and least available of the Rhacodactylus is one of the most inquisitive and responsive. My male readily climbs on my hand and starts eating as I place a container of food in its cage.
Rhacodactylus sarasinorum start off as the most flighty of all Rhacodactylus but adults with some regular brief handling make delightful gecko pets as well as good displays.
Crested and gargoyle geckos are very handleable and generally tame but not what you would call outgoing. R. leachianus will tolerate brief periods of handling but are not a particularly responsive species.
I received my leachianus three days ago and it has yet to eat, should I be worried?
This is a common question. Newly purchased leachianus can take up to two weeks to settle in a new cage and start eating. If healthy, they will eventually feed.
My leachianus refuse to take crickets, what can I do?
This is another common question. As far as feeding, I rigidly stick to a regime whether my geckos eat or not. With all rhacs my regime is T-Rex diet or mixed baby foods (the latter with a vitamin/mineral supplement + calcium/D3 supplement) TWICE A WEEK and calcium/D3 supplemented crickets (2-3 for small animals) of the right size (about width of head for smaller leachies) ONCE A WEEK. I remove uneaten crickets after a day. All leachies eventually take crickets. When larger, many will also take live pink or fuzzy mice. However, you can successfully raise jumbo healthy leachies by feeding them Leachianus diet THREE TIMES A WEEK and NO animal prey.
Why are you producing hybrids? Most hobbyists are against hybridizing.
First of all, the hybrids we offer are population and subspecies hybrids not interspecies hybrids. Realize that some of the island forms of henkeli (Nuu Ana, Nuu Ami, K etc…) are believed to be near extinction. In many cases, the total leachianus populations on small islands may number under a hundred, all very likely closely related genetically. At least one island form we collected (Island I, total population under 30) has been a very poor producer, (one viable baby every one to two years and no viable father/daughter breedings). In our opinion, crossing small island forms to produce beautiful, vigorous and outcrossed animals is a sound course for the hobby. Unlike with leopard geckos where occasional imports have invigorated or introduced mutations in captive populations, the chances of additional wild-collected animals becoming available are very slim. Realize also that no one differentiated between small island henkeli morphs before Frank Fast and I identified the insular forms and submitted a preliminary key to the New Caledonian government.
How about Grande Terre x henkeli hybrids?
These are subspecific hybrids. Our view is that the future of giant geckos eventually will lie in producing designer animals, as with leopard geckos and many other popular herps. Large, beautiful, tame geckos that are living art, why not?
My baby leachianus has a wavy tail. Is this a defect?
Baby leachianus are sometimes born with wavy tails and we suspect that this is sign of a slight calcium deficiency in the egg yolk, and ultimately the mother. Late clutches often show this. Wavy tail is common enough in babies and it is not a defect. With good diet and care, most end up as straight tailed adults.
What are the most beautiful of the leachianus?
Of the wild collected types, to date, Nuu Ana and Nuu Ami are hands down the most beautiful. Nuu Ana have high contrast crisp edged bright white blotches with fine crisp black speckling. They also commonly have a yellowish background color. The original Nuu Ami had bright pink blotches and cadmium yellow spots. To date, captive bred-Nuu Ami have not developed as many bright yellow spots as wild adults. This is a puzzle that needs to be resolved. We suspect it’s either diet or exposure to a UV source that will bring out the yellow over time.
How long before baby leachianus show adult color?
Leachianus babies take at least eighteen months before they show the general adult
pattern and color and up to ten years for some forms to show the final adult color and pattern (probably true for Nuu Ami). Giant geckos are not for impatient hobbyists.
How would you rank chahoua a compared to other Rhacodactylus?
They display probably the best combination of traits: complex pattern and color combinations, nice demeanor and potential for responsiveness and good display potential.
Why are they so expensive?
They take at least two years before they start breeding, are best kept in pairs and on average in colonies produce only 3-4 babies a year per female. Actual production tends to be less than for leachianus. Considering the work involved, they are actually a steal at current prices.
Are they colorful?
The Isle of Pines variety (possibly a subspecies) are very variable and can have combinations of pinks, oranges, green, browns, and white. The mainland forms we have seen so far have been more uniform, ranging from brown to pastel copper orange.
How do I care for chahoua?
Buy and read our book
I live in Arizona and every baby chahoua I’ve bought to date has died. What’s the problem?
We’ve had others mention this problem. Baby chahouas require humidity of at least 70% and heat between 74ºF and 82ºF during the day. We recommend nightly spraying of the cage. Besides this requirement, they’re easy to raise and grow relatively fast.
My female chahoua just laid eggs and her tail appears wavy and kinked, should I worry?
Chahoua have high calcium requirements when breeding. Their eggs are more calcified than those of other rhacs so apparently can cause greater calcium depletion as they pass through the shell gland. Make sure you supplement the food of deficient females with calcium carbonate and D3 powder. The tails of most females “straighten out” after a couple of months.
What’s a better choice for a pet, a male or female?
Most of the year, both sexes are docile. Female chahoua will become aggressive a day or two before laying and a for a couple of days after laying. This behavior is a good indicator to be on the lookout for eggs. As a single pet, males are generally good choices.
How are chahoua as a breeding investment?
As a breeding investment, chahoua are reliable and steady, although you probably won’t become rich breeding this species. They do have good potential for selective breeding and whoever establishes bright red or orange lines will doubtlessly do well.
How do I breed chahoua?
Buy and read our book.
Can I keep gargoyle geckos with crested geckos?
The answer is ‘no’ when they’re juveniles and ‘yes’ when they’re adult. In our experiments, juvenile gargoyles will bite off tails of baby crested geckos. To date, we have not had adult crested geckos lose tails to adult gargoyles when kept together.
How are gargoyle geckos different than crested geckos?
Their care is identical. Juveniles when kept in groups are notorious tail nippers unless offered food daily. What we like about gargoyles is that many will be out during the day and bask under incandescent spotlights. This makes them a nice display animal. They also offer great potential for selective breeding of a wide range of morphs.
How do I care for gargoyle geckos?
Buy our book. It has everything need to know to be successful with gargoyle geckos.
Do they require basking lights?
No, but in our experiments gargoyles raised under an incandescent basking light can become very reddish or orange. This is a skin response to the light/heat and not genetic. If removed from the light they eventually return to their duller color. Possibly the light/heat maximizes an animal’s potential for showing red and orange coloration.
How are gargoyles geckos as a breeding investment?
They breed by 18 months and you can get 6-8 babies a year per female. Besides that their potential for selective breeding outrageous designer animals is, as Donald Trump would say, “huge”. Bright orange, red and yellow gargoyles are possible, as should be mostly black, near white and a variety of patterns. From a breeder standpoint, gargoyles are one of the best!
How about variation in form?
You can also selectively breed gargoyles with unusually knobby heads.
How do I breed gargoyle geckos?
Buy and read our book.
Is the pinstriped trait dominant or recessive?
That’s a hard one. The pinstripe gene appears co-dominant but at least one other gene may play a role in the full pinstriped condition. If you breed a full pinstriped to a non striped crested you will get babies with partial pinstripes. Pinstriped to partial pinstriped and partial pinstriped to partial pinstriped can yield some full pinstriped babies.
Is the dalmatian trait dominant?
Yes, it is either a dominant or co-dominant trait. You can selectively breed to produce heavily spotted ‘dalmatians’, which could qualify as ‘Super dalmatians’. We’re big fans of ‘dalmatian’ cresteds. Because it is an independent trait, the ‘dalmatian’ pattern can be introduced and combined with other traits.
Why is it so difficult to figure out the genetics of crested gecko colors and patterns?
Crested geckos come in a variety of colors and patterns that are the result of multiple interacting genes, thus, many crested gecko morphs are polygenetic. A few independent traits, such as the dalmatian pattern mentioned above, are single genetic traits that are easily controlled when breeding, but most crested gecko morphs can only be established through rigorous selective line breeding.
This store was selling crested geckos without a tail and I complained to the store owner about his selling defective animals. He said this was normal for crested geckos. I answered that was impossible. Who’s wrong?
You are. In the wild, at least on the Isle of Pines, the great majority of mature crested geckos are tail-less. As you know, crested geckos will not regenerate lost tails.
How do I set up my crested geckos?
Buy or read our book.
What’s your take on sarasinorum?
They’re a real nice display gecko. Although they are the most flighty of the Rhacodactylus as juveniles, adults often display a calm demeanor and are handleable. They have a real nice personality, one of the best of any gecko.
Can other geckos be kept with sarasinorum?
With adults, adult cresteds and gargoyles will fare well. Sarasinorum are a good choices for a community display in a large setup. Lots of experiments can be carried out on mixed species setups.
How different are they to keep from other Rhacodactylus?
They can be kept in the same type of setup. They are climbers and are often active high up in the tank?
Why aren’t the white collared sarasinorum more readily available?
We’re not sure but they generally do not seem as easy to breed as the other form. Their price remains high, two to three times the price of brown sarasinorum and rarely available. This is a morph that will require more work to firmly establish.
New Caledonian Live-Bearing Geckos
Rhacodactylus trachrhynchus and Rhacodactylus t. trachycephalus
Why are New Caledonian live-bearing geckos so expensive and difficult to obtain?
The small subspecies, which is due to be raised to full species status, is one of the rarest lizards in the world. The total population at best numbers under two hundred. They take 3-4 years to mature and have 2 babies a year, and not always every year. They are and should be one of the most expensive lizards on the market. There are even fewer of the larger mainland subspecies in captivity, which are the second largest of the giant geckos. 2500-3000.00 a baby is not unreasonable for these geckos
When do you expect to offer any for sale?
Maybe in 2010.
How are they as captives?
The smaller subspecies can be flighty. The larger one is a very inquisitive, alert and responsive gecko. They will learn to come out when you offer food and some will calmly climb on you and start feeding from a cup. As a side note, Rhacodactylus trachyrhynchus have the sharpest teeth of any Rhacodactylus and in our opinion can give the worst bite of the bunch.