The leachie gecko or the Rhacodactylus Leachianus of the leachianus gecko species, goes by the common nickname New Caledonian Giant Gecko. There are two discernable subspecies of these geckos found on different islands of New Caledonia, Grand Terre and Pine. They are often quite vocal, emitting nocturnal squeaks, barks, growls or yips, making them popular pets.
Availability, Size, and Lifespan of a Leachie Gecko
Leachie geckos have a moderate lifespan in captivity of up to 15 years. Depending on the species, your gecko has a maximum size between eight and 17 inches long. Giant Leachie Geckos are among the largest living lizards. They produce small clutches, take a long time to mature, and are no longer exported from New Caledonia. These factors make them quite expensive, despite how ubiquitous they are with reptile breeders. In addition to breeders, leachie geckos are available online, at reptile shows and local pet shops.
Leachie Gecko Caging
Leachie geckos are semi-arboreal, so they require vertical and horizontal spaces to roam. In nature, leachie geckos sleep in tree hollows and crannies during the day, so set your gecko up in a vertical habitat filled with foliage and thick branches for climbing and hiding. Use a glass or plastic terrarium or a screened enclosure. All plants in the enclosure must be strong enough to bear your gecko’s weight. A suitable example of a sturdy plant is the Pothos plant. Other props or decorations made from bamboo poles of cork flats will also serve.
Juveniles need five to ten gallons of space and may become stressed in an enclosure that is too large for them. Sub-adults are happy with ten to 20 gallons of space, and adults need thirty gallons. Set the enclosure’s humidity between 60 and 80%, with a period during the day to allow it to dry out and help prevent mold growth. Mist areas that your gecko doesn’t normally recline on or the enclosure’s walls every day.
Deep clean the enclosure at least once a month. Change the substrate and clear any foliage with bacterial growth when deep cleaning. Remove feces daily and spot clean the area where it lay. Bio-active bedding will work very well and will require much less replacing.
Lighting and Temperature
New Caledonia boasts a warm climate, so keep your leachie geckos in a similar environment, between 75° and 80°F. Under-tank heaters or low-wattage red bulbs should be sufficient to create the temperature range. These geckos are nocturnal, so they don’t need special lighting to see. They do, however, need to soak up sunlight while they sleep, so rig up a full spectrum UVB light. Try to darken the area around their enclosure at night, so their circadian rhythm isn’t interrupted. In fact, you can purchase special red night lights that don’t interfere with your gecko’s sleep cycle. These lights let you observe your gecko’s behavior once they wake up. Use fluorescent lighting if you decorate the enclosure with real plants.
Use a soft substrate that won’t absorb too much moisture, such as coconut fiber, organic soil or paper towels. Change the substrate every week or as needed to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms. Paper towels are ideal for hatchlings, as the youngster’s substrate needs to be changed several times per week. Bio-Active substrates are an excellent choice for a juvenile to adult size leachianus.
Food for Your Leachie Gecko
Leachie gecko species feed on live insect prey (i.e., roaches, worms, crickets) and fruit. Use feeder insects that are slightly longer than the width between your gecko’s eyes. Sprinkle the feeders with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement powder, and offer them to your mature gecko once or twice a week. ReptiVite offers a high-quality supplement powder. Always let feeder insects gut load for 24 hours on nutrient-dense plants before you feed them to your geckos. Commercial gecko foods, such as Zoomed or Pangea, are available online and in pet stores. Serve up to two ounces of commercial food per meal. Offer your mature gecko a fruit-based meal replacement at least three times a week. Leave the meal replacement in the enclosure for two days for your gecko to nibble on. After two days, remove any uneaten food. Hatchlings need to eat at least four times a week. Begin hatchlings with small, dusted crickets and the fruit-based meal replacement. Adult leachies may also be interested in small mice as part of their protein intake. Appropriate fruits include mangos, bananas, peaches, grapes, pears, or berries. Make fresh fruit or a fruit-based commercial diet about 80% of your leachie gecko’s total diet. The remainder is an insect/animal protein source.
Fill a shallow bowl (to resist tipping over) with chlorine-free fresh water. Refresh the water every two days or as needed. Most New Caledonian geckos will be fine drinking out of a bowl. If you notice that yours isn’t drinking, try gently spraying them and the enclosure with water at least once a day, producing water droplets that may entice drinking. Using distilled or reverse osmosis water to spray will prevent mineral residue buildup and keep the enclosure looking nice.
Leachie geckos use their vocalizations to communicate with others of their species, so housing a pair together helps their mental health. These geckos will sleep through most of the day, but they spring into action once night falls. Their nighttime antics are another reason leachie geckos are sought-after pets. Although vocally social, leachie geckos can also be aggressively territorial. It is unadvised to add a second gecko to the enclosure once the first one has established its territory. If you decide to care for a pair, adopt them as juveniles at the same time. Your leachie will drop their tail if they feel threatened, so be gentle when introducing yourself. The tail regrows, but you don’t want to see your new friend be frightened. Hold off on handling them for a few months after you adopt them.
Handling Your Leachie Gecko
Give your gecko time to get accustomed to their new space before you shower them with affection. As handling experiences become more frequent, make sure they are positive experiences for your gecko. Let them get comfortable with you. This requirement does make them more challenging for children or first-time reptile owners.
Wait until hatchlings are between two and six months old before you start handling them. Again, the keyword here is “gentle.” Hatchlings may jump away or try and bite you before they increase their tolerance. Even with increased tolerance to handling, hatchlings are highly energetic and leap about their environment. Gently grasp the back of your gecko’s neck and support their bottom to prevent your gecko from injuring themself. Once you have lifted your gecko, relax your grasp, and let your gecko hold onto you. Clean your hands before handling your gecko. With hatchlings or adults, begin with 15- or 20-minute handling sessions at least once every few days. Gradually increase frequency to every day. Doing this should help them feel more comfortable being handled. You may wish to wear gloves for the first few sessions, just in case your gecko does flail. Once they wake up at night, they should roam their tank comfortably. If housing an adult male/female pair together, be aware that the female may become aggressive towards the male if she does not accept his mating attempts.
Leachie geckos need high humidity but not total moisture. In a very wet habitat, some leachie gecko species are prone to bacterial or fungal infections.Calcium deficiency and internal parasites are also common problems for leachies. Egg binding, a condition where a female is unable to lay the mature eggs she develops, is also common. These geckos come from warm climates and do not hibernate. Therefore, signs of lethargy may be a red flag towards stress or other health issues.