Gargoyle Gecko (Rhacodactylus auriculatus)
Published: September 28, 2017
Last Updated: December 6, 2021
Gargoyle geckos (also known as the knob-headed giant gecko) are a nocturnal, omnivorous species of gecko native to New Caledonia, a group of islands between Australia and Fiji. They are not present on the Isle of Pines, however. They are arboreal in habit, occupying humid forest and maquis habitats where they can be found on shrubs, saplings, and strand vegetation (Snyder, 2007).
Gargoyle geckos get their name from the bony horn-like protrusions found on their skulls. They are typically light to dark gray with patches of orange or red color arranged in varying patterns from mottled to striped. They have a limited ability to change color, known as “firing up/down.” This process increases or decreases the contrast between their colors, brightening reds and darkening grays.
These geckos reach maturity around 15-18 months old and measure between 8-10” (20-25.4 cm) from snout to tail, and weigh around 45-65g, depending on gender and genetics. Average lifespan is between 15-20 years with good care.
- Like most geckos, gargoyles do not have eyelids. Instead, they use their tongue to keep their eyes clean and moist.
- Gargoyle geckos’ toes are covered with millions of tiny “hairs” called setae that enable them to adhere to and climb up vertical and smooth surfaces. However, gargoyles are not as “sticky” as other arboreal gecko species.
- Gargoyle geckos have a prehensile tail that they use as a fifth foot while they climb. The same hairs found on their toes can be found on the tip of this tail. They can also voluntarily cut off their own tail to escape from predators like a biological “get out of jail free” card. Unlike crested geckos, they are able to regrow the tail over time.
Gargoyle geckos are mellow, very handleable pets with easy care requirements, which makes them excellent beginner-level reptiles.