Rhacodactylus auriculatus – Care sheet
It is a semi-arboreal gecko endemic to the primary forest of New Caledonia. he lives in the south of the island of Grand Terre, on the island of Kotomo and in the isle of Pines.
The temperature in these areas in the summer season fluctuates between 20 ° C and 25 ° C almost all year round,
With a maximum temperature of 30 ° C and minimum temperatures that rarely drop below 20 ° C. In the winter season, the temperature rarely drops below 20 ° C. The relative humidity of this location varies between 60% and 70%
As an adult it reaches a length of about 190-210 mm in length, for an indicative weight of 40-65 grams.
The torso is robust, with slender limbs and tail and various shades of colors (morphs).
It is a robust and easy to manage gecko, a valid alternative to its crested cousin.
The comparison with C. ciliatus is almost a must (I remember that until not so long ago, they were both part of the genus Rhacodactylus). They are both crepuscular / nocturnal, insectivorous / frugivorous geckos that need very similar housing parameters. The main difference is certainly the natural habitat. Both from New Caledonia, auriculatus prefer low shrubs and bushes, due to their limited ability as climbers.
Unlike their ciliatus cousins, in fact, they do not have a great ability to climb on smooth surfaces due to the poorly developed subdigital lamellae. However, this underdevelopment is obviated thanks to very strong nails that allow it to grip rough surfaces such as trunks or branches.
Another difference is in the tail, which in ciliatus is plump while in auriculatus it is thin. The auriculatus, however, have the ability to regrow the tail following its detachment, which in the ciliatus instead occurs definitively
As already said, the auriculatus is a gecko with few needs, among other things very similar to those of the ciliatus.
So, for the convenience of the reader, I will report what has already been written in the breeding sheet of the other species with the necessary clarifications.
They need excellent air circulation and many hiding places arranged by plants (real or fake, it doesn’t change), trunks and enough space.
For air circulation it is sufficient to prepare one side of the terrarium entirely in fine mesh (possibly metal).
The only requirement is that the dimensions must be at least 50 cm per side (or at least 40 cm) at the base for a height of about 50/60 cm. In truth, I also use smaller tanks for a simple reason: the auriculatus is a gecko that prefers the low bush as bushes and the lower part of the trunks, with a ground activity tank (in fact it is called “semi-arboreal” in many texts) . This is both a habit of mine for reasons of space and an advantage for the gecko itself as the search for food (whether it is fruit or insects) is easier in smaller spaces. (Eye, I’m talking about smaller spaces, not sacrificing the welfare of the animal, of course)
For the furniture, you can use branches taken from a grove near the house (properly sterilized) and complete everything with fake plants which provide an excellent hiding place.
For the fund I admit to being indecisive for a lifetime. Alternatives can be wet peat, paper towels and terry cloths.
The peat gives an excellent natural effect, it “hides” the dirt of the auriculatus and allows to avoid having to prepare a den for the deposition for the females (we’ll get to that later). However, it is difficult to have to replace it all after some time and there is always a little risk of ingestion.
The paper towels and sponge cloths are useful as they are easy to clean, but they spoil the natural effect of the terrarium.
Lighting – Since this is a nocturnal species, lighting is not required. For live planted terrariums or aesthetics light may be used. There is no current proof that this animal requires UVB light, although some keepers prefer to provide UVB
Temperature and Humidity:
Although they come from a tropical environment, Gargoyle Geckos prefer cooler temperatures. During the day, temperatures in the upper 21°C and low 26°C are ideal. This can drop to the low mid 21°C at night. Gargoyle Geckos will become stressed if exposed to temperatures above 29,5°C. In most cases, room temperature will be adequate.
In winter, if we manage to maintain a minimum of 20 ° C, no heating will be necessary, while if the temperatures drop below this temperature, a low-power heating mat will need to be glued to the outside of a terrarium wall. , thermostated at 22 ° C – 24 ° C. I recommend: it must be on a wall, not on the bottom.
For the above reasons, forget about red spots, heating lamps.
Humidity – Spray the cage with water once or twice a day. Humidity levels should be between 50% – 70%
Auriculatus, like ciliatus, are insectivorous and frugivorous in nature, then the basic foods will be insects (above all) and homogenized with fruit (to a lesser extent). Insects are the foundation of the diet, but based on my experience, I believe that homogenized food should not be missing either. The basic insects are obviously cockroaches and crickets, with the support of meal moths. For baby food you need to have a little patience: not all geckos eat it willingly and many times they are also picky. In winter, the gecko itself generally feeds less, so it generally goes down to two portions of food a week.
Photo: Austin Reptile connection