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New Caledonian Giant Gecko

Appearance

The New Caledonian Giant gecko is the world’s largest known gecko species. An adult will measure an average of 35.5cm (14in) long and weigh between 227 and 340 grams (8 and 12 ounces). Animals on the island of New Caledonia are larger with those on surrounding islands being smaller on average.

Across their body the skin is colored yellowish green, grey or brown with spots of white or cream across it. Their coloration helps with camouflage when in the trees. Across the body they have large folds of skin.

Male New Caledonian giant geckoes have a broader head and thinner body when compared to a female. Their eyes are large.

This gecko has both toe pads for climbing and a small claw on each toe. They can also hang on using specialized scales on their tail.

At the end of the body is a tail. If threatened this tail can be detached and later regenerated.

Diet

The New Caledonian giant gecko is an omnivore. Their diet is made up of fruits, flowers and insects. Small vertebrates and nectar are also occasionally consumed.

new caledonian giant gecko

Scientific Name

Rhacodactylus leachianus

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

227-340g (8-12oz)

Length

35.5cm (14in)

Lifespan

Captive 15-20 years

Diet

Omnivorous

Range

They are found exclusively on New Caledonia and some surrounding islands.

Habitat

New Caledonian giant geckoes make their home in the coastal, closed humid and montane forests.

new caledonian giant gecko

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Reproduction

Females lay two eggs per clutch which have a soft shell. They can lay up to 10 clutches per year though three or four is most common. The eggs are sticky when laid and it is thought that the female glues them to a tree trunk.

Incubation last 60 to 90 days though this is influenced by the temperature they incubate at. Higher temperatures lead to a shorter incubation period.

The temperature during incubation will also determine the gender of the hatchlings. Higher temperatures are more likely to create male offspring.

At hatching the young measure 8.9-10.2cm (3.5-4in) long.

Behavior

New Caledonian giant geckoes are arboreal and spend their time in the trees. Males live on lower branches where they can defend their territory against other geckoes while females spend their time higher in the trees.

They are primarily nocturnal and will rest during the day in tree crevices and hollows. On occasion they have been seen to bask in morning sun.

Small groups of New Caledonian giant geckoes will form made up of a male, many females and their young.

These lizards are highly vocal and make a number of grumbles and growls.

new caledonian giant gecko

Predators and Threats

They face predation from birds and introduced predators such as rats, dogs and cats. In an attempt to scare off predators they will hiss. They also have a powerful bite which they can use to defend themselves.

Humans present a threat through habitat destruction and degredation. They are captured for the pet trade with this threat being especially present on smaller islands where the trees are shorter and it is easier to catch them.

Another threat is electrocution on powerlines which are built through their habitat.

Quick facts

Locals call the New Caledonian giant gecko the ‘devil of the trees’ due to the vocalizations they make.

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Photo Credits

Top

By _paVan_ from Singapore, Singapore – New Caledonian Giant Gecko, Singapore Zoo, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65696995Top

Middle

By Hectonichus – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=77488051

Bottom

By Alfeus Liman AKA Firereptiles at en.wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Attribution, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=592880

References

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK


Smithsonian’s National Zoo. 2020. New Caledonian Gecko. [online] Available at: <https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/new-caledonian-gecko> [Accessed 2 October 2020].


Peoria Zoo. 2020. New Caledonian Giant Gecko – Peoria Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.peoriazoo.org/animal-groups/reptiles/new-caledonian-giant-gecko/> [Accessed 2 October 2020].


Australian Reptile Park – Wildlife Park Sydney & Animal Encounters Australia. 2020. New Caledonian Giant Gecko Habitat, Diet & Reproduction. [online] Available at: <https://reptilepark.com.au/animals/reptiles/geckos/new-caledonian-giant-gecko/> [Accessed 2 October 2020].


Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. 2020. New Caledonian Giant Gecko Attraction | CFZ Animals. [online] Available at: <https://www.centralfloridazoo.org/animals/new-caledonian-giant-gecko/> [Accessed 2 October 2020]


Whitaker, A.H. & Sadlier, R.A. 2011. Rhacodactylus leachianus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T176166A7191028. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2011-1.RLTS.T176166A7191028.en. Downloaded on 02 October 2020.

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