Leachie Gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus)
Leachie geckos (Rhacodactylus leachianus) are a nocturnal, omnivorous, arboreal lizard native to the islands of Grande Terre and Isle of Pines in New Caledonia, as well as certain small nearby islands. Grande Terre is the territory of R. l. leachianus, while Isle of Pines is home to R. l. henkeli. Their preferred habitat is the forest canopy, descending rarely.
Leachie geckos are the largest geckos in the world, with the R. l. leachianus growing 14-17″ / 36-43cm long and R. l. henkeli averaging 9-12″ / 23-30cm long. They have a large triangular head, blunt snout, lidless eyes, vertical pupils, loose velvety skin, sticky toe pads with claws, and a short tail. They have a mottled pattern that gives the impression of moss or lichen, but coloring varies by subspecies. R. l. henkeli is the most colorful, with green, brown, gray, white, orange, and pink on their color palette. Meanwhile, R. l. leachianus sticks to brown, black, and gray.
Like other New Caledonian geckos, leachie geckos are fairly easy to care for as far as reptiles go. When you pay attention to providing appropriate leachie gecko care, you may expect a lifespan of 20-30 years.
Leachie Gecko Shopping List
These are products I personally recommend for setting up a functional leachie gecko enclosure. Some of the links in this care sheet are paid links — if you’d like to know why ReptiFiles uses paid links, visit this page.
- Front-opening 48”L x 24”W x 48”H enclosure
- 40w Exo Terra Daytime Heat Lamp, x2
- Zoo Med Mini Combo Dome Lamp Fixture
- Zoo Med Rheostat
- Arcadia Forest 6% T5 HO UVB kit
- Zilla 24/7 Digital Power Center
- Zoo Med Digital Thermometer/Hygrometer Combo, x2
- Exo Terra Mister
- Zoo Med Eco Earth, 60 quarts
- Environmental enrichment
- Pangea Magnetic Gecko Ledge, large
- Biodegradable Gecko Feeding Cups, 1oz
- Crested gecko meal replacement powder
- Miner-All Outdoor calcium powder
Leachie Gecko Enclosure Size
Leachie geckos are quite active, and require an enclosure that is large enough to give them adequate opportunity to explore, hunt, and generally exercise natural behaviors. They are also arboreal, which means that they are a tree-dwelling species, and need a terrarium that provides a generous amount of climbing space.
The minimum recommended enclosure size for R. l. leachianus is 48”L x 24”W x 48”H / 120 x 60 x 120 cm or equivalent.
The minimum recommended enclosure size for R. l. henkeli is 36”L x 18”W x 36”H / 90 x 45 x 90 cm or equivalent.
Here are some enclosures that are appropriate for housing leachie geckos. Where possible, larger is always better!
- Exo Terra Natural Glass Terrarium Large X Tall (36″ x 18″ x 36″)
- Zen Habitats 2’x2’x4′ PVC Panel Reptile Enclosure
- Carolina Custom Cages Bio Deep Hybrid 24LX24WX48H
- Zen Habitats 4’x2’x4′ Original PVC Panel Reptile Enclosure
Can multiple leachie geckos be housed in the same enclosure?
It’s best not to house multiple leachie geckos together.
Lighting & UVB for Leachie Geckos
Leachie geckos are nocturnal, which means that they are primarily active at night. This means that they are likely to prefer cooler temperatures, are exposed to low levels of indirect UVB during the day, and have exceptional night vision.
At minimum, lighting should be provided for 12 hours/day. However, if you wish to provide seasonal cycles to stimulate natural hormonal cycling, you can either manual switch between 14 hours/day during summer and 10 hours/day during winter, or use a smart timer such as Kasa to sync your lights with your local sunrise and sunset times.
Leachie geckos are capable of surviving without UVB lighting as long as they get a certain amount of dietary vitamin D3, but they can’t thrive unless it is provided as part of their environment. UVB lighting can be tricky, because in order to get the right strength of UVB (measured by UV Index, or UVI), distance must be considered.
As a rough estimate, to provide appropriate UVB to a leachie gecko in a 36-48” tall enclosure, you will need one 22″ Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 5.0 or Arcadia Forest 6% UVB bulb in an Arcadia or Vivarium Electronics fixture for best results. Place the basking branch so the gecko can’t get closer than 9-12” below the lamp.
(These recommendations are approximations. It is strongly recommended to use a Solarmeter 6.5 to determine the best placement to achieve a UVI of 2.0-3.0 in the basking area at the top of the enclosure.)
Leachie Gecko Temperature Requirements
Humans are warm-blooded, which means that our body temperature is automatically regulated. Leachie geckos, however, are cold-blooded, and they need to move between areas of different temperatures in order to regulate their body temperature. In the wild, leachie geckos depend on sunlight for the warmth they need. In captivity, sunlight can be replicated with a white incandescent heat lamp.
- Basking area temperature: 86-88°F (30-31°C)
- Ambient temperature: 72-78°F (22-26°C)
- Nighttime temperature: 66-72°F (19-22°C)
A cluster of two 40w white incandescent bulbs such as the Exo Terra Daytime Heat Lamp should be plenty to achieve the basking temperatures that you need for a leachie gecko. However, exact results will vary based on your room temperature. If you notice that the basking area is too warm, dial down the heat down with a rheostat or switch to lower wattage bulbs. If your basking area is too cool, you will need higher wattage bulbs.
The basking area should be a sturdy branch directly under the heat lamp. Because your leachie gecko is arboreal and will be living in a tall enclosure, the warmest temperatures will be at the top (near the heat lamp), and the coolest temperatures will be toward the bottom. You will need thick vines, branches, and foliage at all levels to allow for proper thermoregulation. Leachie geckos are very sensitive to heat stress, and require access to areas of cooler temperatures in order to stay healthy!
To track basking temperature, use a digital probe thermometer, with the probe zip-tied to the basking surface under the heat source. Most reptile-brand digital probe thermometers function well.
Leachie Gecko Humidity Requirements
Leachie geckos do best in a high-humidity environment, with an average humidity of 60-80% as measured by a digital probe hygrometer with the probe placed in the middle of the enclosure. Humidity levels that are consistently too high or low can cause health problems for your gecko. However, it is natural for humidity to be lower in the warm area and higher in the cool area. It is also normal and healthy for humidity levels to rise at night and fall during the day. Levels as low as 50% during the day and 100% at night are fine.
To raise the humidity in your gecko’s enclosure (and provide an extra source of drinking water), use a pump-style pressure sprayer such as the Exo Terra Mister to wet down the enclosure every evening, and again in the morning if needed. Alternatively, you can automate this process by installing an automatic misting system such as Mistking.
Leachie Gecko Substrate Options
Because leachie geckos are arboreal (tree-dwelling), they don’t spend much time on the ground. Although it’s not necessary to use bedding for them, it’s very useful for helping to stabilize humidity. It also acts as a cushion if they fall from their perch, which may happen when they’re hunting.
It’s best to use at least 3″ of a moisture-retentive substrate that is similar to the soil of a tropical forest floor. Here are some reliable options:
- DIY tropical mix: 60% organic topsoil, 40% coconut fiber
- Zoo Med Reptisoil
- Zoo Med Eco Earth
- Exo Terra Plantation Soil
- The Bio Dude Terra Fauna bioactive kit
For best results, add a generous layer of leaf litter on top.
Feces and urates should be removed daily, and contaminated substrate should be scooped out and replaced. Substrate should be completely replaced once every 3-4 months, depending on your needs.
Decorating Your Leachie Gecko Terrarium
Decorations play a vital role in your gecko’s enclosure as environmental enrichment. Enrichment items encourage exercise, stimulate your pet’s natural instincts, and help promote overall wellbeing. And, of course, they make the enclosure look nicer! Without décor, your terrarium is just a glass box with dirt and a feeding ledge. Just because leachie geckos can climb up glass doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have other climbing materials available. They also need places to hide that are not on the ground.
Enrichment options for leachie geckos:
- braided vines
- magnetic ledges
- cork hollows
- live or artificial foliage
Sturdy live plants that work well for leachie gecko terrariums may include dracaena, heart-leaf philodendron, money tree, pothos, spider plant, and wax plant.
Arrange these items in a way that encourages your gecko to climb and explore, and provides a variety of options for places to sleep during the day.
Feeding Your Leachie Gecko
Leachie geckos are omnivores, which means that they need a balanced diet of both plant- and animal-based foods to get the nutrition that they need. In the wild, they eat mostly fruit and insects. In captivity, how often leachie geckos need to eat depends on age:
- Juveniles (0-12 months) — CGD daily, insects every other day
- Adults (>12 months) — CGD every other day, insects 1-2x/week
Crested gecko diet (CGD) must be offered via a wall-mounted feeding ledge, not placed on the ground. Personally I prefer magnets to suction cups.
Best feeder insects for leachie geckos: crickets, dubia roaches, discoid roaches, grasshoppers/locusts
Pinky mice and small lizards such as house geckos can be used as occasionally (<1x/month) treats.
The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for your pet is VARIETY. Provide as varied of a diet as you possibly can, and you will be rewarded with a healthier pet that always looks forward to mealtime. I prefer to use a rotation of at least 3 different kinds/flavors of CGD.
Crested gecko diet is already fortified and balanced with a variety of vitamins and minerals. However, feeder insects need to be “dusted” with a light coating of calcium powder to balance the calcium-phosphorus ratio.
Although your gecko will get drinking water from daily mistings, it’s best to always keep a bowl of clean water available on the feeding ledge. This bowl should be scrubbed out with veterinary disinfectant such as Rescue or F10SC weekly for good hygiene.
Handling Your Leachie Gecko
Once you’ve brought your gecko home, it’s tempting to start playing with them right away. But wait 2 weeks after buying before beginning handling — your gecko needs time to settle into their new home, and handling on top of that can cause additional stress. If your gecko hasn’t eaten by the time the 2 weeks are over, do not handle and make an appointment with an experienced reptile vet.
After the 2 week waiting period is over, introduce yourself to your gecko by putting your hand in its enclosure every night for a few minutes so it can get used to your scent and presence. They should already be relatively familiar with you, since you’ve been in their space replacing water, offering food, cleaning up, etc. Let it come to you! (Food bribes with a pair of soft-tipped feeding tongs can be helpful here.)
When you begin handling, start with 5 minute sessions every other day, gradually increasing the length of the sessions and escalating to daily. Support the feet, body, and tail and keep your movements slow. If the gecko is acting flighty or spastic, “treadmill” it from one hand to the other to wear it out a bit. Never grab the tail, as it is detachable! Consistency is key to successful taming.
Stay close to the ground or a soft surface (ex: bed, couch) in case the gecko jumps. You want handling to be a positive experience, and injury is not a positive experience. It’s best to handle your gecko in the evening rather than during the day so you don’t disturb its rest.
Bauer, A. M., Russell, A. P., & Doherty, J. (1992). Vocalizations of the New Caledonian giant gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus. Amphibia-Reptilia. https://ur.booksc.me/book/49124570/58a316
Bauer, A. M., & Sadlier, R. A. (2001). New data on the distribution, status, and biology of the New Caledonian giant geckos (Squamata: Diplodactylidae: Rhacodactylus spp.). Amphibian & Reptile Conservation, 2, 24–29. http://amphibian-reptile-conservation.org/pdfs/Volume/Vol_2_no_1/ARC_2_1_24-29_e9_low_res.pdf
Cooper, Jr., W. E. (2000). Correspondence Between Diet and Food Chemical Discriminations by Omnivorous Geckos (Rhacodactylus). Journal of Chemical Ecology, 3, 755–763. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1005488507840
Hamper, R., & Bergman, J. (2013, November 4). New Caledonian Giant Gecko Care Sheet. Reptiles Magazine. https://reptilesmagazine.com/new-caledonian-giant-gecko-care-sheet/
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(N.d.). Oceania Geckos. Retrieved March 17, 2021, from https://www.oceania-geckos.com/care-sheet-rhacodactylus-leachianus/
The ReptiFiles Leachie Gecko Care Sheet is a simplified care summary, not a full ReptiFiles care manual. While I have done my best to ensure that the information contained is accurate, due to time constraints, the research behind ReptiFiles care sheets is not as thorough as the research involved with my full-length care manuals. I strongly encourage readers to do their own research from high-quality, reputable sources outside of just this care sheet as part of preparing for your new pet reptile.