Did you know that the largest species of gecko in the world can be kept as a pet?
Leachie geckos are considered to be the world’s biggest gecko! They are known for their giant, prehistoric appearance and unique vocalizations.
These giant lizards make fascinating and unique pets for owners with previous experience. However they are not as common as other pet geckos because of their temperamental nature.
Interested in what it takes to care for a Leachianus gecko? Continue reading for the best husbandry tips and our complete care sheet.
Leachie Gecko Overview
The Leachianus Gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus) is a large, heavy-bodied species found only on the tiny island of New Caledonia in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. Named after the English zoologist William Leach they are also known as the New Caledonian giant gecko.
Leachie Geckos are the largest gecko in the world and are thought to be an example of island gigantism. This is a phenomenon where isolated island species evolve to be much larger than their relatives on the mainland. Adults can reach 8 to 17 inches from head to tail which is significantly larger than their Leopard Gecko cousins who only reach 11 inches.
These giant, imposing geckos have triangular heads, heavy bodies and short limbs. Their skin is soft, loose and wrinkly. Like most geckos they also have adhesive toe pads and no eyelids. Their sticky toes help them to climb completely vertical tree trunks, a skill that is critical to their lifestyle.
Wild Leachianus Geckos live alone high up in the rainforest canopy. Their irregular patterns and muted colors help them to camouflage against the overlapping branches and tree bark. Both males and females are green, gray and brown with irregular yellow, lavender, pink, and orange patches down either side of their body.
Camouflage is the primary way these Geckos escape predators. When flattened against tree bark these lizards blend in almost perfectly.
During the day they hide from predators in holes in tree trunks or under overhanging leaves. At night they move about the treetops in search of small mammals, insects, ripe fruit and nectar to eat.
In their natural range of New Caledonia these lizards are protected to keep wild populations healthy. While Leachianus Geckos are not currently endangered or threatened, habitat loss and poaching continue to pose a danger to them.
Captive-bred pet Leachie Geckos are legally available to buy and sell as pets. However these lizards are tricky to breed and only lay two eggs per clutch. As a result they are relatively rare and a single adult can cost $1,000!
|Common Name||Leachie Gecko|
|Scientific Name||Rhacodactylus leachianus|
|Size||8 to 17 inches|
|Color||Mottled brown, green, and yellow|
|Diet||Insects, fruit, tree sap and nectar|
|Tank Size||≥ 40 gallons|
|Temperature||73 to 82°F|
|Humidity||50 to 75%|
|Price||$500 to $1,000|
Do Leachie Geckos Make Good Pets?
Leachianus Geckos are best suited for intermediate and advanced reptile keepers. They can be temperamental and are large enough that a bite may hurt. Therefore they are not suited to beginners, children or someone who wants a pet reptile to handle.
Leachies are also very sensitive to fluctuations in temperature and humidity which makes them susceptible to infections from incorrect tank setups.
Finally they are also on the expensive side for pet lizards. Their high price tag of $1,000 makes them not a good choice for beginners on a budget.
For those with the experience necessary to keep them healthy and happy Leachie Geckos make fascinating pets. They have a very unique prehistoric appearance and a bark-like vocalization. They are a good choice for someone who would like to own a large, tropical reptile that is mostly sedentary.
With an experienced owner who can provide the right care they have a long lifespan of over 20 years.
Part of the appeal of keeping a Leachie Gecko is their sizable enclosure which means owners can decorate it with a number of live plants and rainforest-like décor. They need a spacious enclosure that is taller than it is wide to accommodate their giant size and arboreal lifestyle.
An excellent alternative to a leachie gecko is a crested gecko. Cresties are much smaller, more docile and have simple care requirements which makes them suitable to beginners.
Leachie Gecko Care Guide
Leachianus Geckos are not the most difficult reptile species to keep, nor are they the easiest. This species requires a keeper who has a good knowledge of caring for tropical reptiles. Experience working or keeping temperamental lizards will also help.
When given the right care these Geckos can live as pets with few health problems. The trickiest part of keeping one is maintaining the right temperature and humidity within their enclosure. They are also a hands-off reptile that does not enjoy frequent handling.
This Gecko is native to the island of New Caledonia. New Caledonia is covered with thick jungles and mountainous forests and receives nearly 70 inches of rain each year.
They have evolved in this warm, topical, humid climate over thousands of years. As a result they are well-adapted to life in the jungle. Their adhesive toe pads and specialized tail allow them to easily climb among the leaves and branches of the forest canopy without the risk of falling.
Leachianus Geckos need tall, narrow tanks with more height than floorspace because they are a climbing, arboreal species.
Baby leachies can be kept in a 10-gallon tank until they are six months old, at which point they can upgrade to a 20-gallon tank for the next 12 months.
A full grown Leachie Gecko can be up to 17 inches long and should be housed in a 40-gallon glass terrarium with a screen top and front-opening doors. A good Leachie Gecko enclosure needs to be 40-gallons to accommodate its large size and ideally, it should have live plants to help mimic their natural habitat.
Leachies need tall tanks stocked full of plants, moss, and hollow logs. Adding live plants like ferns and mosses helps stabilize and regulate humidity levels. Cork bark, hollow branches and a foam backing against two sides of the tank will also help them to feel safe.
Daytime temperatures in the tank should remain between 73 and 76°F with a basking spot of 84°F. At night temperatures can dip down to 72°F.
Use a ceramic heat emitter or under-tank heater stuck to the side of the enclosure to warm the tank.
Humidity is a vital aspect of a Leachie Gecko habitat. The ideal humidity is between 50 and 75% which can be achieved with a reptile fogger or by generously misting the tank twice a day.
Use a hygrometer to measure the tank’s ambient moisture throughout the week at several spots.
Leachie Geckos are nocturnal but they still need access to UVB radiation. This is true for most Geckos and is why Leopard Geckos also need UVB in their setup. This type of light helps their bodies absorb calcium from their food and stops them from developing metabolic bone disease.
Suspend a 5% UVB light fixture 12 inches above their basking spot to provide the right level of UV light.
Substrate is not as important to a Leachie Gecko because they rarely spend time on the ground. They are excellent climbers so it is more common for them to be climbing in the treetops after dark!
The best substrate is a 2:3:1 mixture of organic topsoil, coconut coir and peat moss. This substrate mimics their natural habitat, while retaining enough moisture to keep humidity levels high. Change their substrate once every three weeks to prevent bacterial growth.
Leachie Gecko Diet
Leachianus Geckos are opportunistic omnivores that eat both plants and animals. In the jungles of New Caledonia they hunt for small mammals, insects and other lizards in the treetops. They also supplement their diet with fruits, flowers, tree sap and nectar.
As pets it is also important they have a varied diet to keep them healthy.
Feed your Leachie Gecko a combination of pre-formulated crested gecko diet, fresh fruits and live insects. Commercial crested gecko diets are suitable for leachies provided that they are supplemented with enough protein.
You should feed a Leachie Gecko two ounces of crested gecko diet four times each week. Feed them in a shallow bowl that is elevated and attached to the side of the tank.
Twice each week an adult can also be fed four large crickets or dubia cockroaches, along with two mealworms. Food should be dusted with a powdered vitamin D3/calcium supplement twice a week. Once a week feed no more than three tablespoons of fruit. A monthly pinkie mouse can be offered as a treat.
|Diet||2 ounces of crested food||2 ounces of crested food||2 ounces of crested food||2 ounces of crested food|
|Insects||4 large crickets and 2 mealworms||4 large crickets and 2 mealworms|
|Supplements||Powdered vitamin D3/calcium||Powdered vitamin D3/calcium|
|Fruit||Three tablespoons of pureed bananas, pears, grapes, mangoes, plums or peaches|
Leachianus Geckos prefer slightly overripe fruit so you can leave the crested gecko diet in their bowl for up to 36 hours. After this point remove any uneaten food and wash the dish.
Good fruits for Leachie Geckos include bananas, pears, grapes, mangoes, plums and peaches. Fruit should either be pureed or cut into bite-sized pieces.
Make sure your gecko has constant access to a bowl of clean, dechlorinated water. You can also mist the cage every few days to create water droplets for them to drink from.
Leachies are sturdy, giant Geckos that look very different from other tropical gecko species. Their wide, barrel-shaped bodies are heavy and covered with loose skin that has a soft velvety texture. Leachies have flat feet and toes, as well as claws which are absent in most gecko species. The bottom of each toe has velcro-like ridges that create a strong grip on hard surfaces.
Leachie geckos are most famous for their impressive adult size which is why they get the name New Caledonian Giant Gecko.
Although they hatch at only 4 inches in length, adult New Caledonian Giant Geckos can reach 8 to 17 inches from head to tail after just 1.5 years of growth. A large adult leachie may weigh over 11 ounces!
The tail of New Caledonian Giant Geckos has a wide, flat pad close to the body that helps them grip and a stubby portion that can curl around branches.
In contrast to their small tails are their striking, triangular heads which are just as wide and blocky as their body. Their eyes are large and typically pale blue with a thin vertical pupil. Instead of eyelids their eyes are covered with a clear, protective layer called a spectacle.
Males can be differentiated from females by their slimmer bodies and broader heads. They also have a hemipenal bulge just under their tail, as well as a line of dark scales above their cloaca which are preanal pores.
Morphs and Colors
Leachie Gecko morphs are captive-bred individuals that have specific color and pattern combinations. Breeders develop them over several generations by selectively breeding for certain markings, colors and patterns. Certain reptile species such as corn snakes have hundreds of morphs, while others have few or none. Leachianus Geckos currently have 23 different morphs.
Most Leachie Gecko morphs are actually normal geckos descended from wild individuals captured from different regions. The color and size of these giant geckos varies depending on where they originated in New Caledonia.
One of the most popular leachianus gecko varieties is the Nuu Ana. Nuu Ana geckos were originally collected from Île Nuu which is a small island off the eastern coast of New Caledonia. These lizards are smaller with an attractive, yellow-green base color dotted with white and pink patches.
Black leachianus geckos are one of the few true leachie morphs available. These melanistic geckos carry a genetic trait that causes their skin to produce an excess of dark brown and black pigment. As a result they are a rich, velvety black. They develop patterns as they mature, but their colors remain muted and shadowy.
Wild Leachie Geckos live solitary lives. Both males and females have established home ranges of up to 3,000 square meters that they rarely leave, except to mate and lay eggs. Males mark their territories through loud vocalizations such as chirps, squeaks, and growls. These bark-like vocalizations are very loud and discourage other geckos from trespassing.
Local people in New Caledonia refer to this species as “the devil in the trees” because of how loud their nighttime noises are.
As pets Leachie Geckos keep this territorial nature and may not welcome your intrusion into their enclosure. They will initially chirp or hiss to indicate irritation or anxiety. If this warning fails, they will not hesitate to bite. A bite from a Leachianus Gecko can be very painful thanks to their strong jaws.
In general this species tends to be less willing to be held or interacted with than other pet geckos.
The personality of your individual leachie will ultimately determine how well it takes to being held. Pets raised from hatchlings are usually more docile because they have been acclimated to interacting with a human from a young age. With a patient and slow approach some more docile leachies will be tolerant of handling.
Leachie geckos are a surprisingly long-lived species of reptile. The lifespan of a Leachie Gecko can be over 20 years if kept in a good tank setup, fed the right diet and given regular veterinary care. Both males and females have a similar lifespan and no significant differences have been found in their lifespans. Pets live longer than wild individuals because they are safe from predators and harsh environments.
Habitat, diet and veterinary care are all an essential part of raising a healthy, happy leachie to an old age.
Some common Leachianus Gecko health problems can include:
- Metabolic bone disease
Dysecdysis is a health issue that happens when a gecko is unable to shed properly. Retained shed can be a problem if the skin of the tail, fingers or toes does not come off. Over time the dead skin restricts the blood flow to these extremities which can cause infections or even the loss of digits.
Metabolic bone disease is a life-threatening condition resulting from calcium deficiency and a lack of UVB light. It causes bones to soften and can lead to deformities, paralysis and death. Providing a UVB light over the basking spot and feeding calcium-rich foods will prevent this illness.
Fungal and bacterial infections are common in Leachie Geckos. These infections manifest as rough, discolored or flaky patches of skin and are caused by high humidity, low temperatures and a dirty environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Much Does A Leachie Gecko Cost?
As far as geckos go the Leachianus species is expensive. Both hatchling and adult Leachianus Geckos can cost anywhere between $500 and $1,000. They are so expensive because they are hard to breed in captivity. Breeding them is possible, but it takes a very specific environment and a great deal of patience. Once they have successfully bred, they only lay 2-3 eggs per clutch.
How Big Do Leachianus Geckos Get?
New Caledonian giant geckos are considered the largest species of gecko in the world. A large adult can reach 17 inches long and weigh over 11 ounces. These lizards are sturdy, heavy and average 14 inches from head to tail.
What Size Tank Does A Leachie Gecko Need?
Leachianus Geckos need at least a 40-gallon tank, though larger sizes are always better. A 55-gallon tall terrarium (24 inches long by 18 inches wide by 36 inches tall) is an excellent choice for a single adult. As arboreal lizards they are excellent climbers and should be housed in an enclosure that is taller than it is long. Their tank should ideally have live moss and plants such as bromeliads, ferns, and pothos to mimic their natural habitat and regulate humidity.
Leachie geckos can make great pets for those who have experience caring for tropical reptiles. They are a great choice for reptile keepers who can maintain precise temperature and humidity levels within an enclosure. Because of their giant size, price, and temperamental personality they are not recommended for beginners.
Caring for a Leachianus Gecko takes precision and an eye for detail. However, this prehistoric-looking species is highly rewarding and is prized for their eye-catching looks.
Leachie geckos have beautiful patterns and colors and a unique lifestyle that makes them popular with many.
These lizards are the largest gecko species in the world and adults average 14 inches long. As pets they need a spacious terrarium with plenty of décor, plants, and hiding spaces to keep them happy. These eye-catching reptiles are fascinating to observe in their habitat and should be handled rarely.
What do you like best about leachies? Let us know in the comments.