Gargoyle Gecko Care Sheet

Gargoyle Gecko

Introduction

The gargoyle gecko or otherwise known as the Rhacodactylus genus family member have been known to grow up to about 8 to 9 inches in length and are considered medium sized for their particular species. They’re considered to be one of the semi arboreal members of their family as well. While they grow longer than quite a few other different species of gecko, they’ve been considered to be quite chubby for their species as well. Their appearance has some very robust qualities that you might notice. One of the great particular features of the gargoyle gecko is that they handle being handled quite well and aren’t as fragile as some other species.

They’re known to be one of the more docile breed of gecko and aren’t known to be frightened easily or try to attack when they’re picked up or handled. If one does happen to escape, you won’t have to worry because they’re particularly slow movers and they don’t really jump at all, which is a plus for children or younger members of the household since they tend to move around a lot when holding animals. However, other members of that same Rhacodactylus family are known to be extremely jumpy and the family itself is known for being high strung on anxiety and hard to handle.

 

Housing

Picking out housing is the first step to housing any gecko and gargoyle gecko prefer to be enclosed in a cage or aquarium that’s taller than it is wide because of some of their behavioral habits. The number one rule of an enclosure is that it must be relatively tall because gargoyle gecko like to climb a lot and their feet allow them to do this. Much like a flying gecko, they don’t like to spend a lot of time on the ground and will more than likely spend a lot of time climbing up a cage or climbing up some shrubbery that you’ve placed inside of the cage.

When measuring and comparing a great sized tank that’s appropriate for your pet, you need to take into consideration how large and how old your gargoyle gecko is. If you have a juvenile or a hatchling gecko then you’re more than likely going to want at the very minimum a 10 gallon aquarium or enclosure. This is because it’s the very basis of what they can be supported in and be allowed to move around but they won’t be left with a lot of room. It’s not ideal to buy a 10 gallon enclosure though because you’ll be spending more later on when you upgrade the size of the enclosure and buy more substrate to accommodate for the upgraded size. Whether you get an aquarium or terrarium is completely up to you and either one is going to be fine in this case, the gecko aren’t picky about where they live.

Gargoyle gecko tend to start maturing relatively quickly compared to some other species of gecko which is why you must keep a consistent eye on their behavioral habits and growing patterns. If you see that it looks trapped or that it needs more room to move around, then it may be time to upgrade the enclosure. Now, when they get to be an adult and have outgrown that juvenile stage, then what you’re going to want is an enclosure that again is high enough for them to climb in but much larger in width as well. A decent aquarium for an adult gargoyle gecko will be around 29 gallons. Also, you may keep another adult as a pair inside the enclosure with a 29 gallon as well.

A lot of people like to furnish their aquariums so that it not only looks great and is cosmetically brilliant but because the gecko’s going to need things to climb on. You can’t just slap a gargoyle gecko inside of an empty aquarium with substrate, that would be extremely boring to watch so here are some of the ideas of things you can put inside of an enclosure to give it room to climb and to make it entertaining: You can consider adding things such as bark, some other furnishings sold by pet stores or you may even consider adding driftwood into the enclosure. Some people like to keep artificial plants in their enclosures as well which looks great but might clog up a lot of room and isn’t a requirement.

Important: If you have plans on housing some gecko together, then you need to make sure that it’s not two males or they will more than likely fight. A lot of the time, they fight purely for territory and domination status but sometimes they’ll fight just to fish so it’s best to keep the males separated if they live close together. You’ll want housing available for each and every single gargoyle gecko that you own and if you own a lot of them, it’s recommended that you use what’s known as the rack system. The rack system will act as a slide out drawer kind of like a dresser and will allow you to store many different gargoyle geckos individually without them fighting each other. You have to be extra careful though and make sure you’re locking the enclosure up every night so none escape.

Now when it comes to the substrate of the enclosures, you’re going to want to use something simple and something not grainy or sand like in appearance. While some geckos are ok on certain types of sand, there’s something called fine grain sand that you should avoid at all costs. This is because food tends to stick with the sand, and sand will get inside of your pet potentially causing damage from the inside out. So what’s the best kind of substrate to use? You might be surprised to hear this but it’s also the most effective and you more than likely have it right there in your kitchen, it’s paper towels. What paper towels do while they don’t look the best, they help the animal avoid what’s known as impactation.

Impactation occurs when the animal ends up eating some of the substrate that it wasn’t supposed to. However, once they turn about 3 to 4 months old, if you would like to (you really don’t have to, you can keep using paper towels), you may switch to a safe substrate such as earth dirt or anything that involves coconut husk style substrate. These may not be the most effective but they’re the best to look at and they’re the safest kind of substrates available for gargoyle gecko. However, when it comes to the larger geckos, they’re going to be far less likely to develop problems with the bedding so you can experiment a little bit with the different type of bedding available.

Temperature

Maintaining an appropriate temperature is not only important but it’s highly vital to do so in order to avoid cooking or freezing your gargoyle gecko to death. Throughout a good majority of the year, you’re going to want to make sure that your enclosure is at a steady 72 degrees during the night and at a nice 82 degrees during the day time. There have been some sources that say you can vary these off by a few digits but it’s highly recommended that you stay with those recommended numbers.

 

Much like every other reptile, you’re going to want to have what’s known as a basking lamp or a heating lamp that’s strategically placed at one end of the enclosure to help keep it as warm as possible. The side that you place your basking light on is obviously going to be slightly warmer than the other side but that’s alright because you want the other side to be cooler for when it goes into the shelter. What giving them a cool area of the enclosure allows them to do is get out of the harsh light every once in a while and chill on a nice and cool surface. However, they like to be up in the air a lot and not on the ground so a shelter might not be as useful to gargoyle gecko as it is to other species of gecko.

A lot of people will tell you that you should be using UVB lighting but for gargoyle gecko it’s not really a 100% necessity and you can live without it. Ideally, there are a lot of different lighting options out there because it seems that this particular breed of gecko isn’t as sensitive to light that some other species are. If you’re really looking for an efficient bulb for the heat lamp, then you might want to look into getting a linear 2.0 fluorescent bulb for the best results because that will ideally provide all the UVB that the enclosure needs.

When it comes to the humidity of the enclosure, you’re going to want to make sure that it stays around a nice and crispy 50% without going too high over. This seems to be the general level of humidity that gargoyle gecko enjoy but this will ideally depend on what time of the day it is. There are several tools out there on the market or in pet stores available to measure the humidity inside your enclosure just make sure you don’t get the cheapest option so that you can get an accurate reading of the humidity. Gargoyle gecko should go through a process called misting that should happen at least once a day (some people say they do it twice a day for the best results).

What misting essentially is, is when you put water into a water bottle with a spray nozzle, and you spray down the cage so that there’s little water droplets that form on the cage. Not only that but you should be misting the animal as well because this will help them not only shed, but digest their food better and they’ll live a longer life if you do this on a regular basis. However, once the misting process is in session, you should allow the humidity to reach a high 80%, as this is normal for the enclosure and just keep an eye on things to make sure they return to normal. Within around 2 or 3 hours, you should notice that humidity levels are back to normal.

Food

When gargoyle gecko are out in the wild, they seem to eat a lot of different variants of food because you have to remember, they prefer to be up high off the ground and don’t spend a lot of time on the ground chasing down food but have been known to be great hunters as well. You can feed your gecko things like fruits and nectars and raise a healthy pet but the majority of gargoyle gecko pet owners prefer feed them the cost ineffective insects known as crickets. They come with a lot of nutrient value and are easy to find in any local pet store.

 

Depending on the general size of the gecko and the age of the gecko, you might even be able to feed them small little rodents such as pinky mice but this isn’t really a common food to feed this particular species of gecko and shouldn’t be done that often. Also, they tend to reject this food a lot if they’re not used to it and should be fed pinky mice at birth to get used to the live bait or thawed bait if this is what you plan on raising them on. If they refuse to eat the pinky mice, then switch them back to whatever they were eating before.

Gut loaded insects sometimes are a way to provide calcium and a great supplement of vitamins to your gecko but this really isn’t necessary and a lot of people who recommend doing this are vitamin companies trying to sell their products to you. Truth be told, while some owners feel this is necessary, the majority of the time, you can do just fine with feeding them raw insects without gut loading them (or also known as, sprinkling vitamins on them before feeding the crickets to them). You need to keep a close eye on your gargoyle gecko eating habits because what happens sometimes is they refuse to eat the smaller objects and won’t eat as much if their meals aren’t as large as they would like them to be. So keep a close eye on your geckos eating habits and make sure they’re actually eating their meals.

Any crickets or any food that you feed to the gecko should never exceed the size of a gecko’s head because the food may become stuck in the mouth of the gecko and you’ll have to get it out or else you run the risk of the gecko choking to death. They have however been known to eat items as large as their head without a problem, but just make sure you’re keeping a close eye on them.

Gargoyle geckos will typically drink droplets of water that are formed on the sides of the tank and plants that may be present in the enclosure.  Some gargoyle geckos will regularly drink water from a dish (which should be present in the enclosure) so it is important to always provide clean water as well as to mist the enclosure regularly to ensure that they’re getting the proper humidity and cool surroundings at the exact same time.

Handling

One of the great features of the gargoyle gecko is that they’re amazingly easy to handle and they’re super easy to grab. It’s been said by breeders and pet owners worldwide that gargoyle gecko are easily the most easy to handle type of gecko out there on the market. They’re very laid back, they won’t jump at you and they’re very docile creatures which makes them an excellent family safe pet (which is a huge plus for anyone with young ones). As long as they’re handled properly, aren’t in the process of eating and are fed quite well, it’s not very common (in fact extremely rare) for gargoyle gecko to bite anyone when trying to handle them.

Do not ever pick up a gargoyle gecko by its tail or any type of gecko for that matter. When you’re picking up a gargoyle gecko you want to make sure you go to for the body and do a scooping motion first rather than trying to grab it and pick it up. However, if you’d prefer to let the gecko come to you, then what you can do is lay your hand out in the middle of the cage in front of it and let it take some time to walk up onto your hand. This is known as the coaxing method and is a great method of allowing your pets to become used to you. Some people state that if you nudge them on their backs and push them a little bit it’ll assist them in getting up to your hand, but from other’s experiences, you can just let them come to you.

However, if you decide that you want try to surprise a gargoyle gecko or grab it suddenly, then like all other reptiles they may be prone to biting. However even then, this isn’t very common and if you do happen to get bit, then you shouldn’t have to panic or worry about anything, because they don’t really leave much of a mark, they only do it when frightened suddenly. They’re not harmful (especially when they’re young and their bite isn’t that powerful).

Hand walking is another common tactic employed by pet owners to allow them to not only to let them get used to your touch but to settle them down when they’re feeling restless. If they start to walk around or you feel them being restless inside of your palms then what you can do is hold them in one hand and put your other hand with an open palm out to the other one. Then, what you want to do is let them walk from one hand to the other and eventually they’ll either calm down or you can put it back in the enclosure to let it roam around. Sometimes, geckos don’t want to be bound when handled and they don’t want to be restricted to one place.

The best way to go about this is to sit on the floor, preferably in a room without a lot of hiding spots just in case the gecko happens to get free. You can do this until you’ve successfully gotten used to their behavioral patterns or they’ve gotten used to you handling them, or you could do this just so they get used to their owner. You’ll find that with the more and more sessions that you do, they’ll become used to you quite quickly and they aren’t going to jump or be anxious when you try to handle them in the future.

Breeding

If you’re looking to breed or you’re thinking about breeding gargoyle gecko, then you should be pleased to know that one of the easiest breeds of gecko to effectively breed is the gargoyle gecko. There isn’t too much work involved in the process and it’s relatively cost effective as well because not much more is required to do so. You see, unlike the human interaction process, two geckos that are placed together in the same enclosure will commonly begin to mate because they don’t have a rigorous selection process, they just commonly mate with whoever is closest to them. Males and females that are grouped together aren’t going to fight much like the male on the male process works (they will and actively do fight when grouped up).

So as long as both geckos are generally healthy and taken well care of, they will begin to breed once they’re introduced each other. However, even though the geckos in general have a very aggressive behavioral attitude, if you place on male together with two females, none of them will begin to fight, they will get along just fine and the male will pick a female to mate with. However, you don’t want to overdo this as some people do have trouble with the male and female fighting due to their aggressive nature and territorial issues. To address this issue, you want to introduce them to each other every few days and don’t let them overstay their welcome, only do this a few days at a time.

However, the breeding process for gargoyle gecko can be rough and strenuous on both the male and female in the enclosure, so you need to make sure you’re keeping a close eye on both of them. They’re more than likely going to get injured as there really is no surefire way to prevent fighting or injuries that are caused directly from mating. Injuries you should expect and some that really can’t be avoided are some tail loss and you’ll notice other minor injuries and scrapes as well, so you want to be prepared for that.

After a gecko has successfully impregnated a female gecko, commonly for the gargoyle gecko the result will be the laying of the eggs after about 30 days. Sometimes, as some owners have reported, it can happen as early as 20 days and it may happen as late as 40 days but the typical point of egg laying seems to be around 30 days flat. For the eggs, you’re going to want to provide a special container or tub that the egg can rest in and grow until they hatch. Ideally, any kind of tub or container could work but you need to make sure that it’s 4 to 5 inches deep and has a soft substrate available inside for the eggs such as moss or vermiculite. What this substrate allows you to do is, dig some small ditches or holes in the substrate without it shifting or caving in and destroying the egg.

This is ideally where you want the female to be laying her eggs so get her into that spot and what you want to do is, come back every day single day to check and see if any of them have been laid or not. When she has, you’ll notice that the majority of them should be down towards the bottom of the container so be careful when searching through your tub of egg safe substrate so that you don’t harm any eggs. Some people check every few days but its better off if you do a daily search if you have the time so that you can help prepare the eggs on the same day that they’re laid.

Now, the next part is highly essential to having healthy eggs and ensuring that they’ll stick around long enough to hatch. When the eggs have been laid, you’re going to want to remove the eggs and place them inside of a container that you can ensure is air tight. Don’t use a container that isn’t air right. You can use a lot of different products here but if you want something that’s quick and easy, you can grab yourself some moistened vermiculite and place that in the air tight container. Another essential step is to make sure that the container is moist.

What we mean by moist is that it should be pretty wet but the container shouldn’t feel like a cold beer bottle and dripping water off of it leaving water rings behind when you lift the container. Now, what you’re going to want to do ideally is keep the room at a perfect temperature of 75 degrees. Of course, this can vary and tamper off during the night to a cool 70 degrees for the eggs but during the day, you’re going to want more along the lines of 75 degrees or up to 80 degrees. Some people report different results and easier hatching with 80 degrees as their room temperature during the day.

Some people say that you can easily influence the sex of the hatchlings and what exactly they will be by controlling the room temperature and some people have dismissed that theory as a myth. However, if you want to give it a shot, you’ll want to make sure that you’re using an incubator and maintain a steady temperature which is usually pretty similar in nature to the temperature of the gecko’s enclosure. However, it’s going to be a little more warm to ensure that there’s plenty of heat and that they’ll be able to break out of the shell of the egg once they do hatch.

Determining The Sex

If you’d like to determine the sex of a hatchling, then you’re going to want to do a little practice makes perfect routine because it’s not easy on the first try but if you keep at it, it’s relatively easy. Now, when you’re dealing with juveniles, there’s a relatively easy way to determine the sex of the baby gecko and that is by using something known as a loupe magnifying glass. This is will allow you to see things that the normal eye without magnification may miss or just overlook.

You’ll notice that with the aid of a loupe magnifying glass, you’ll see some pores on the underside of the gargoyle gecko. In males, they’re going to have 3 or more rows of these pores visible and they should be located just right above the vent. However, while females might have these same rows, they’re only going to have two rows of these pores but that’s where the magnifying glass comes in because both sexes have them and sometimes it’s hard to determine just how many rows there are. It’s more about observation and carefully examining the underside to determine the sex and it gets easier with practice.

The different between female and male spores is that you’ll notice on the females, there’s not going to be a dark little pin point on the very center of the scale. On the males, there’s a very small pin point dark spot on most of the pores which is easy to see with magnification. Now, as far as the incubation process and the temperature influencing just what sex the babies will be born as remains debatable but it’s common to know that if you incubate them at approximately 70 degrees or a little higher, then you’re more than likely going to have females. However, at about 75 or up to 80 degrees, you might just have a better chance of breeding males. Some people say it works and some people call it bogus, you’ll have to try it for yourself.