The Ultimate Gargoyle Gecko Care Guide

Gargoyle Gecko Care

The unique patterns of a gargoyle gecko and the ease of required care make them quite appealing to those who like exotic pets. If you are considering adding a gargoyle gecko to your collection, you may be wondering just how easy gargoyle gecko care is? This and other important topics will be discussed further along in this article. 

Gargoyle geckos are great for those who are not experienced with reptiles as they do not require a lot of special care. However, the care they do need must be done properly in order for them to be healthy and happy. When cared for properly, a gargoyle gecko can live for many years. 

If you would like to know more about these mesmerizing creatures and how to give them the care they need, continue reading this article for information that will make caring for these laid-back lizards a breeze. 

Gargoyle Gecko Care Overview

This section will discuss some basic information about the gargoyle gecko and give some background on where they originated, along with some other interesting facts. 

By the time you finish this article, you will have all of the general knowledge you will need to decide if you are willing and able to care for an exotic pet like the gargoyle gecko. 

Common Name New Caledonian Bumpy Gecko or Gargoyle Gecko
Scientific Name Rhacodactylus auricultatus
Origin Southern New Caledonia
Appearance and Size Around 8” when fully mature
Lifespan 15 – 20 years in ideal conditions
Temperament Laid back, nocturnal eaters and explorers
Handling Easy to handle, respond well to food
Diet Insects, fruits, plant nectars
Breeding Sexually mature around 15 – 18 months and weigh around 35 grams

Origin of the Gargoyle Gecko

As briefly mentioned above, the gargoyle gecko originates from the southern tip of the island of New Caledonia, which is located in the southwest part of the Pacific Ocean. The scientific name of these fascinating creatures was given by Arthur Bavay in the late 1800s.  

At one point, their popularity caused them to nearly become endangered. Thankfully, these intriguing creatures can be bred in captivity which has helped to replenish the wild population in their natural habitat. 

The next section gives more details about the gargoyle gecko and what is needed to properly maintain them so they can have a happy and healthy life. 

Gargoyle Gecko Care in Depth – Everything You Need to Know

This section will go into more detail on the requirements and care that must be given to keep a gargoyle gecko healthy and happy. 

If your gargoyle gecko is unhappy or in poor health, it will show in its behavior and appearance. 

Gargoyle Gecko Size And Appearance 

When first hatched, gargoyle geckos are around one inch long. Once they reach full maturity, they are around eight inches long. 

One thing that is appealing about the gargoyle gecko is the wide variety of colors and patterns with which they are decorated. 

Gargoyle geckos are polymorphic, which means that they do not have a standard color or pattern. That’s what makes them so cool; they are all individuals and have their own style. 

The following colors are typically found present in a gargoyle gecko’s unique markings: 

  • Browns
  • Greys
  • Orange
  • Red
  • White
  • Yellow

The gargoyle gecko displays its colors in a variety of patterns, typically resembling multicolored blotches or multicolored striped patterns. They are all beautiful and unique, which is why people love caring for them so much. 

Watch Out for Missing Tails on a Gargoyle Gecko

Gargoyle geckos are notorious for losing their tails. This does not affect their overall health; however, it can make their appearance less desirable. 

It is recommended that you never pull or grab the tail of an adult gargoyle gecko who still has its tail, as that action can cause it to fall off. They can lose their tails if they are stressed or as a defense mechanism. 

If you find that your gecko has lost its tail, do not fret; these crafty lizards can regenerate another tail. Most breeders will not give a discount for a gecko with no tail because it is such a common issue. 

The next section will discuss the lifespan of the gargoyle gecko when living in ideal conditions. 

Gargoyle Gecko Lifespan In Captivity 

When properly cared for, a gargoyle gecko can live to be around 15 – 20 years of age. Keep this fact in mind before making the commitment to care for one of these awesome reptiles. 

As with many pets, exotic or otherwise, the newness can wear off, and then you are left with a pet that ends up being neglected. Be sure you are willing and able to commit the time and energy it requires to care for one of these lizards. 

Gargoyle Gecko Temperament

Generally, the gargoyle gecko is a fairly laid-back lizard when living alone. When put in a habitat with others, they can sometimes exhibit aggressive behavior regardless of the other gecko’s gender. 

It is best to keep individual gargoyle geckos, or if you absolutely want multiples, it is important to provide a habitat that allows them to have their own spaces where they don’t display aggressive behavior. 

Handling a Gargoyle Gecko – What You Need to Know

These lizards are popular because they are so easy to handle. They are food motivated and will become more trusting and friendly as they see that this behavior is rewarded with a tasty morsel of some kind. 

When handled from the hatchling stage, these geckos become very docile and are content when being handled by their human companions. 

Once a gargoyle gecko has become acclimated to being handled by a human, they will be very relaxed, which makes it fun to interact with them. 

How Do I Introduce a Gargoyle Gecko to Its New Home?

When you first bring your gargoyle gecko home, it is imperative that you do not try to handle it or interact too much with it for the first two weeks. 

It needs time to: 

  • Adjust to its new home and learn that you are there to care for it
  • Build up its trust in you before you get too excited and force yourself upon it 

After the initial two weeks have expired, you may gradually start to: 

  • Touch 
  • Pet 
  • Hold your gecko 

Do this in very small increments at first until it is completely comfortable with being handled. 

If the gargoyle gecko does not have enough time to adjust and does not trust you, its health can be affected because it is stressed. To keep it happy and relaxed, it is important to follow these recommendations. 

The next section will discuss what you need to know in order to provide a well-balanced diet for a happy and healthy gargoyle gecko. 

Gargoyle Gecko Diet 

When in their natural habitat, a gargoyle gecko will feast upon a vast array of insects as well as some fruits and nectar from plants. Typically most gargoyle gecko owners simply feed them a powdered crested gecko diet.

In captivity, the following insects are commonly given as food or an occasional treat to give the gargoyle gecko’s diet variety and provide realistic hunting situations to mimic their natural habitat: 

  • Crickets
  • Feeder roaches
  • Mealworms

When feeding your gargoyle gecko a live diet, be sure to cover the food in a supplement powder that contains vitamin D3 to ensure it is getting enough of the correct nutrients. 

Many gargoyle geckos enjoy a nice fruit puree as well. This also should have some supplemental powder that contains vitamin D3 sprinkled in to keep your gecko’s diet well balanced. 

Feeding Meal Replacement Powders

If you wish to avoid the hassle of feeding your gecko live insects, a popular meal replacement that many reptile owners use is Repashy™ Crested Gecko Meal Replacement Powder

This powdered supplement can be used as the main food source and is recommended by many reptile breeders and owners because it is easy, and it does a great job at providing all of the necessary nutrients that a gecko needs to be healthy. 

It takes the guesswork out of balancing their diet, so you don’t have to worry if they are getting all of the proper nutrients that they need to be healthy and happy. 

Repashy offers many varieties of flavors and also has a gel form if you don’t want to use powder. This meal replacement can be purchased online or at most exotic pet stores. 

Other brands of reptile supplements that are sufficient to use as a complete meal replacement include: 

  • Pangea™ Growth and Breeding Meal Replacement Powder (available in multiple formulas)
  • T-Rex™ Sandfire Super Foods Crested Gecko Meal Replacement Powder
  • Zoo Med™ Crested Gecko Meal Replacement with Probiotics

It is important to always provide a shallow dish of fresh water. Even if you never see your gecko drink from it, they will soak in the water to regulate their temperature, and it will also help shed their skin by softening it so it can slough off. 

The next section will discuss what you will want to know about the gargoyle gecko’s habitat. 

What Does A Gargoyle Gecko Need For A Habitat and Substrate?

 When it comes to designing a habitat for your gargoyle gecko, it pays to remember the old adage, K.I.S.S, which stands for Keep It Simple Silly. 

In other words, don’t go crazy adding so much foliage and decorations that you cant see what’s going on. That said, proper housing is an essential aspect of gargoyle gecko care. 

It is important that you allow enough room in the enclosure for your gecko to move around and feel comfortable. The enclosure shouldn’t be any smaller than a 10-gallon tank. If you are keeping a pair of gargoyle geckos, be sure to provide a much larger enclosure so they do not become territorial. 

Just keep in mind that the larger the enclosure, the more difficult it can be to regulate the temperature. 

Simple Enclosures are Best for Gargoyle Geckos

A gargoyle gecko prefers a simple enclosure with just the right amount of foliage and things to climb on. Most keepers simply use large plastic terrariums to house their gargoyle geckos. Another option would be a basic 20-gallon tank with a secure screen top.

Many geckos have suction-cup-like feet that make them excellent climbers, especially on slick surfaces such as glass. 

This is not the case with the gargoyle gecko. Oftentimes they are referred to as clumsy lizards due to the shape of their feet and the somewhat awkward way in which they move and climb. 

Provide Texture for Easier Climbing

When providing things for your gargoyle gecko to climb, be sure they have some texture to them so the gecko can grip them better without slipping or sliding off – remember, they’re clumsy. Small branches and sticks with rough bark work well. 

Corkwood is also a commonly used material. You can create shelters and climbing structures for your gargoyle gecko with corkwood. 

When adding foliage to your gecko’s enclosure, you can add live plants that will grow and provide additional oxygen and potentially food or switch out cuttings from trees and plants that grow on your property. 

Just make sure to choose safe plants before using them in your enclosure. In addition, make sure to purchases branches and other enclosure decors through a pet store or online. Never pick up branches or plants that you find outside. They can easily be contaminated with harmful mites, parasites, and other things that can be harmful to your gargoyle gecko. 

Adding Appropriate Substrates to the Enclosure

When it comes to the subject of what substrate to use, there are many options available. Since the gargoyle gecko spends much of its time elevated in the foliage, the substrate is not as much of a concern as with many other pet reptiles. Though it is still very important. 

If you are going for ease of maintenance and a clean look, a great option is to use a Reptile Carpet such as McClan Zoo™ Reptile Carpet to line the bottom of the enclosure. 

To give your gargoyle gecko’s habitat a more natural appearance, you can try using a soil mix that contains peat moss. Just be sure whichever soil mix you choose does not contain perlite as it can cause a blockage in your gecko’s digestive tract if they ingest large amounts of it. 

Sanitize and Clean The Habitat Regularly

To keep your gargoyle gecko’s habitat clean and free of bacteria, it is recommended that you spot clean it throughout the week and then once per week do a thorough cleaning. Be sure that you have an alternative habitat or terrarium for your gecko to hang out in while you are doing a deep clean. 

It is important that you sanitize everything in the enclosure thoroughly with something that is approved as safe for reptiles and any living plants that may be in the habitat. The next section will discuss how to maintain the proper temperature, humidity, and lighting for your gargoyle gecko’s enclosure. 

Keep Your Gecko Healthy: Temperature, Humidity, and Lighting

A very important step that needs to be carefully attended to if you want your gecko to live a long, happy and healthy life involves keeping its habitat: 

  • At the right temperature
  • With the right humidity level
  • Providing the appropriate amount of light 

Since a gargoyle gecko is an ectotherm, it is necessary that their enclosure is kept at an appropriate range of temperature and humidity at all times.

An ectotherm is another name for reptiles whose body temperatures change along with the temperature of their environment. 

If the gargoyle gecko’s habitat is not kept in the correct temperature and humidity range, it can affect their appetite and feeding habits as well as their activity levels. 

The Right Temperature Matters

To keep your gargoyle gecko happy and healthy, it is best to maintain an average daytime temperature of around 78°F – 88°F on one side of the enclosure and 74-75 on the other side. During the night hours, the gargoyle gecko can handle temperatures that drop to the lower 70s. 

When the colder months arrive, these geckos can handle temperatures in the 60s but prefer to be warmer. If you already keep your house close to these temperatures then you might not need heating or lighting at all. Otherwise, it would be best to find a source of heating for their enclosure. 

An under-the-tank heating pad is a great choice for keeping your lizard comfortable. You can also use a heating lamp or low-wattage halogen or incandescent bulb.

Provide Areas with Varying Temperatures

Another important fact to pay attention to is that the enclosure needs to have areas with different temperatures so the gargoyle gecko can regulate itself. 

If you are opting to use a heat light, be sure to keep it to one side of the habitat so the lizard can move to a cooler location if they so desire. 

Providing areas of varying temperatures for the gargoyle gecko keeps them happy and allows them to regulate their body temperature, so they are comfortable at all times. 

Adding Live Plants to a Gargoyle Geckos Habitat

If you choose to grow live plants in your habitat, you can use lighting to keep your plants healthy. A good example would be the Exo Terra Natural Daylight Reptile Lamp. 

If you are providing the proper vitamin supplements containing vitamin D3 to your gargoyle gecko, it is not necessary that you use a UVB light. 

Plants that are commonly used in a gargoyle gecko’s enclosure could include: 

  • Bird’s Nest Fern
  • Bromeliads
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Dracaena
  • Dwarf Umbrella Tree
  • Lemmon Button Fern
  • Mother-in-law’s Tongue
  • Pink Quill
  • Pothos
  • Small Ficus Benjamina

Make sure that you get these from good sources and that they do not contain soil with harmful chemicals. 

Monitor Humidity Closely for Best Results

When it comes to the level of humidity in a gargoyle gecko’s habitat, they are happiest when it is around 60 – 70% humidity. 

To maintain the proper humidity level, it is important to purchase a digital hygrometer, so you will always know where the levels are and if you need to make adjustments. In some cases, it may be necessary to gently mist the plants and substrate from time to time to regulate humidity. 

Breeding Information for Gargoyle Geckos 

Once the gargoyle gecko has reached 15 – 18 months of age, they are considered sexually mature and able to breed. 

When sexing a gargoyle gecko, you can tell the males apart from the females because they have a larger bulge at the base of their tails. Females also have more femoral pores than males. 

Typically gargoyle geckos breeding season begins in the month of December and ends around August. During this period of time, the female will lay two eggs approximately 30 – 45 days apart. 

She will bury the eggs in whatever substrate is provided or in a laying box if you provide one for her. It takes around eight months for the eggs to hatch. 

Separate After Breeding to Allow Healing Time

Since the breeding process can be quite aggressive between the male and female gargoyle gecko, it is highly recommended that you separate the two once breeding is completed so the female can recover and relax again. 

Oftentimes during breeding, the geckos will bite and scratch one another. Another important fact to keep in mind if you are breeding gargoyle geckos is that the temperature of incubation can determine the gender of the gargoyle geckos. 

For example, if the incubation temperature is kept on the warmer side, you can expect to have males. Conversely, if the incubation temperature is kept on the cooler side, you can likely expect to have females. 

The next section will discuss common health issues you will want to know about for your gargoyle gecko. 

Common Illnesses and Other Issues of the Gargoyle Gecko

Fortunately, the gargoyle gecko is a rather robust lizard that does not tend to have a lot of issues as far as its health is concerned. 

One thing that you do need to keep watch for is what is called metabolic bone disease. To prevent this disease, provide ample light sources and/or vitamin D3 and calcium supplements. 

The other issues that some gargoyle gecko caregivers encounter are bacterial and respiratory infections. These issues are usually caused by a habitat that is not maintained properly. To avoid these types of infections, be sure to keep your enclosure regularly cleaned and disinfected. 

Before adding supplements or making any big changes to your Gargoyle gecko care it is always best to consult with a veterinarian. 

Can I Find a Veterinarian, and When Do I Use Them?

We have briefly discussed common health issues that can occur with the gargoyle gecko. You may be wondering how to find a veterinarian and when you should take your gecko to be examined. Proper veterinary care is important to keep any pet happy and healthy for many years. 

When searching for a veterinarian, it is best to look for someone who specializes in exotic pets. Not all veterinarians have experience dealing with reptiles and other exotics; therefore, it is important to research your options to find the best possible care for your gargoyle gecko.  

If you would like to know more about how to find the best veterinary care and when your gargoyle gecko needs to be examined, continue reading for helpful tips. 

Finding the Best Veterinary Care for Your Gargoyle Gecko

It is important that you establish a relationship with a veterinarian who is experienced in handling and caring for exotic animals and reptiles. 

Oftentimes your average small animal veterinarian does not treat many exotic animals and will stick to more commonly domesticated species such as dogs and cats and the occasional guinea pig. 

To find your best option:

  • Do your research, don’t just settle for the first veterinary practice that you come across
  • Call around to multiple veterinary practices to see what their comfort level is with exotic pets and if they have experience treating gargoyle geckos
  • Ask other people in the area if they have any recommendations for a veterinarian who treats exotic pets
  • Get online and check out reviews to see if anyone stands out as an exceptional option to care for your gargoyle gecko

Now that you’ve found a vet, how do you know when to go to the vet or when to let something run its course? 

When to Take Your Gargoyle Gecko to the Vet

Sometimes knowing when to take your gargoyle gecko to the veterinarian can be difficult. You don’t want to be running back and forth all of the time if it is not necessary, yet on the other hand, you don’t want to neglect an issue that should be seen by a professional. 

These tips may help clarify any questions you may have about when to go to the vet. 

Now that you have found a veterinarian who will accept you as a client and you are happy with your decision, it is time to bring your gecko in for a wellness exam. This is a good time for the veterinarian to get to know your lizard and check it out to see that everything appears as it should. 

A veterinarian with experience in treating gargoyle geckos will be able to tell you if anything does not look normal and give you tips on how to keep your gecko healthy for many years. 

When conducting a wellness exam, your veterinarian will likely perform the following health checks:

  • Fecal parasite exam to be sure that your gargoyle gecko is free of harmful parasites
  • Overall appearance, color, skin texture
  • Temperature
  • Weight
  • X-Rays to check for any blockages or growths that the naked eye can’t see

A good rule of thumb is that if you are ever on the fence about whether or not you should take your gargoyle gecko to see the veterinarian, you should give them a call. 

It is always better safe than sorry, so if you have doubts or concerns, it is best to consult a professional who has the necessary experience to handle your situation. 

Is the Gargoyle Gecko Right For You? 

Hopefully, this gargoyle gecko care guide has helped you decide if it is the right pet reptile for you. Though keeping any pet reptile has its challenges, the gargoyle gecko would be considered beginner-friendly. Just make sure you take proper care seriously and that you are ready for the commitment. 

Recommended Products 

  • Essential 3 Vertical PVC & Aluminum Enclosure From Custom Reptile Habitats or the Exo Terra Glass Natural Terrarium 
  • McClan Zoo™ Reptile Carpet
  • Repashy™ Crested Gecko Meal
  • Zoo Med Digital Combo Reptile Terrarium Thermometer Humidity Gauge
  • Universal Rocks Watering Bowl

Another option would be to get the complete Crested Gecko Kit from Custom Reptile Habitats. Though this is for crested geckos, the care for these two reptiles is very similar and would work great for the Gargoyle gecko. 

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