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Gargoyle Gecko

Nicole Cosgrove

Gargoyle Geckos were once the rarest species of lizard in captivity. Today, these lizards are bred in large numbers and have become standard in pet trade. Gargoyle Geckos originally come from New Caledonia, a set of islands located between Australia and Fiji. They are the ideal pet for beginners with limited lizard experience and they have simple, easy-to-meet life requirements.

Because these geckos are semi-arboreal, they love enclosures with lots of things to climb on. Their two bumps on their heads resemble little horns or ears that make them fun to observe. If you’re thinking about getting a gecko for yourself of a child, this is one of the best places to start.divider- lizardprint

Quick Facts about Gargoyle Gecko

Species Name: Rhacodactylus auriculatus
Family: Diplodactylidae
Care Level: Easy
Temperature: 78°F to 82°F
Temperament: Skittish at first, calm when comfortable
Color Form: Shades of brown, white, yellow, red, and orange with striping or blotchy patterns.
Lifespan: 20 years
Size: 7-9 inches
Diet: Live insects and fruit
Minimum Tank Size: 20 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Tall tank with screen tops and vegetation to climb

Gargoyle Gecko Overview

Also known as the knob-headed gecko from the two lumps on top of their heads, the Gargoyle gecko is a nocturnal, semi-arboreal lizard species. They are native to a group of islands called New Caledonia and have become one of the most popular gecko species in captivity.

Gargoyle Geckos are omnivores and eat a wide range of fruits, insects, and even small, young mammals in the wild. They fully mature after a year and a half and reach up to 8 inches long from the end of their small snout to the tip of their tail.

If you plan to bring home a Gargoyle Gecko, make sure you’re ready for a commitment. It isn’t hard to care for these lizards, but they live up to 20 years in captivity and stick around for quite a while. These geckos are fairly mellow once they are comfortable with the person who is handling them. They are amazing reptiles for beginners and don’t have too many demands. If you’re still confused about bringing a gecko home, read through this care guide to help you make a more informed decision.

Gargoyle Gecko_ Fiona Mille_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Fiona Mille, Shutterstock

How Much Do Gargoyle Gecko Cost?

Even though the Gargoyle Gecko is incredibly popular and widely available in most pet shops today, they are an investment at first. Look for geckos that are in good health and come from a reputable breeder or reptile shop. The price of a Gargoyle Gecko changes based on where you buy them and the color patterns they have. Most people pay anywhere from $200 to $500 for this species of lizards, plus the cost of the supplies to set up their new home.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

The Gargoyle Gecko has one of the best temperaments compared to other lizards, and that’s why they have grown so popular over the past few decades. These lizards are a bit skittish at first. New handlers should hold them for short periods and slowly increase their amount of time with them. Once you establish a bond, these lizards are fairly mellow when in a comfortable space or situation. They are fun to watch at night when they are most active but still admirable during the down when they rest.

Appearance & Varieties

One physical attribute that makes these geckos such a popular choice is that they aren’t too big or too small. They average about 8 inches long and weigh under 60 grams. You may pay more or less for them based on their colors, but they have a range to choose from. Find these lizards in white, brown, grey, yellow, orange, and red colors with different patterns that look either more splotchy or striped.

These reptiles have small claws that allow them to grip onto surfaces and help them climb. Don’t worry, though; they won’t be climbing up the smooth walls of their glass tank. One of the most identifiable features of these geckos is their head with two bumps or horns on top. They also have a tail that they shed when scared and regenerate over time.

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How to Take Care of Gargoyle Gecko

Not sure you’ll be able to care for a Gargoyle Gecko the way they deserve? Here is everything you need to know about this lizard’s habitat before you make a decision:

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Geckos are going to spend a large majority of their life in their enclosure, so you want it to represent their natural habitat as closely as possible. Give them plenty of room to move around, climb, and lounge so they can live a happy life free from worry.

Terrarium

Gargoyle Geckos do best when homed in large plastic or glass terrariums with a screen top. Because they spend a large portion of time in trees out in nature, they prefer a tank that taller than wider. Adult Gargoyle Geckos must have at least a 20-gallon tank, but you can put them in even larger spaces if you want a more impressive display.

Tanks with screen tops are ideal because they are easy to keep moderately humid with lots of light. They are also easy to clean, which makes them a more intelligent choice if gifting the gecko as a pet to your child.

Gargoyle Gecko_ BarboraPeskova_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Barbora Peskova, Shutterstock

Substrate

Because these gecko species spend most of their time up in the branches and vegetation, you can use various substrates on the bottom surface. Reptile carpet is best if you want something that is both attractive and easy to clean. Peat moss is better if you desire a more natural look. Coconut fiber substrate is becoming more popular in reptile cages as well. Compare the pricing of each of these and make a decision based on your budget and the look you’re going for.

Lighting and Temperature

Reptiles are ectotherms, and their body temperatures change based on the environmental temperatures. Keeping your geckos in the right temperature range is crucial to their health, and you must buy a thermometer to keep in your tank at all times.

Gargoyle Geckos are healthiest when kept between 78°F and 82°F. Temperatures at night should remain around the low 70s. Winters tend to drop the heat to 60°F. They will survive this, but it’s better to keep their temperature regulated.

Ceramic heat emitters or incandescent lights with low wattage are the easiest ways to provide heat to your geckos. Keep one side of the gecko tank unheated so that they have a choice to cool down if needed.

Plants

Geckos spend a lot of their time resting in leafy foliage and climbing on wood. Cork bark, wood branches, and artificial plants all provide good shelters for the geckos. You can also give them some shelters at the ground level to hide in every once in a while. If you prefer using natural vegetation, Ficus and Dragon trees are two safe options.

Gargoyle Gecko_ awon Shah_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Awon Shah, Shutterstock

Do Gargoyle Geckos Get Along with Other Pets?

We don’t recommend putting your male Gargoyle Geckos in the same enclosure as other males. They have small teeth and get aggressive towards one another, especially when in the presence of females. If you want to have more than one gecko in your enclosure, put one male in the tank with several other females for the happiest grouping.

If you have typical cats or dogs at home, it might make your gecko a little nervous if they are always lingering around. Keep your enclosure in a separate bedroom with the door closed so that they don’t have to live in a stressful space.

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What to Feed Your Gargoyle Gecko

Gargoyle Geckos are omnivores, and they eat many different kinds of fruit, plants, insects, and even some mammals. In captivity, their main source of food comes from live crickets, fruits, and pureed meats. Crickets are their primary source of protein, but they also enjoy snacking on fly larvae, butter worms, roaches, and waxworms. Some of their favorite fruits include bananas, peaches, and apricots.

Keeping Your Gargoyle Gecko Healthy

Water and humidity are the two most crucial aspects of keeping your Gargoyle Gecko healthy. Their environment could mean life or death and the last thing you want is for your lizard to become dehydrated. Always provide geckos with a shallow dish of clean water. This aspect is the most time-consuming because you have to give them new water and clean the bowl every day.

Geckos also thrive when the humidity level is between 50% and 70%. Lightly mist the inside walls of the tank with water every night or keep a cool air humidifier placed in the room at all times. To keep the environment in perfect shape, purchase a humidity gauge and thermometer so that you always know they are at the right levels for optimal health.

Breeding

Breeding time for Gargoyle Geckos starts in December and lasts all the way to August. To breed them, simply introduce a healthy adult male and female. After mating takes place, the female lizards bury two eggs every 30 to 45 days. These eggs get buried in the substrate on the bottom of the enclosure. Once laid, remove the eggs and put them into an airtight container with moist vermiculite or perlite. The eggs hatch at room temperature, or when the room is between 70°F and 79°F.

Keep a close eye on your geckos when breeding them. It can sometimes turn a little aggressive, which could result in a tail loss for one of them.

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Are Gargoyle Geckos Suitable for You?

Not everybody loves reptiles, but those who do know that they are one of the most interesting pets to have. Gargoyle Geckos are the perfect choice for you if this is your first experience with lizards or even if you’ve dealt with dozens. They are docile compared to a lot of other species and are happy with the basics. Their care is minimal, but the benefits of having them around is worth the little bit of work required. These geckos are fun to watch or handle and make the perfect pet for someone who wants to experience what life with a gecko is like.


Featured Image Credit: Skifbook, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.