gecko-care

Chahoua Gecko Care Sheet

May 17, 2021

chahoua gecko

The chahoua gecko (Mniarogekko chahoua) is a 10-12” long arboreal, nocturnal lizard native to New Caledonia. They prefer the tropical forests of Grande Terre and the Isle of Pines for habitat, where they can usually be found in the forest understory.

Chahoua geckos have a blunted triangular head, large feet with sticky toe pads, a muscular prehensile tail, velvety skin, and large round eyes with vertical pupils. Exact size, color, and pattern tends to vary depending on locality, but generally speaking, chahoua geckos resemble moss and/or lichen, colored with a variety of greens, browns, reds, pinks, and/or whites.

Chahoua geckos are fairly easy to care for and tolerate humans well, making them suitable beginner-level pet reptiles. When cared for properly, then can have a 20+ year lifespan.

Minimum terrarium size for chahoua geckos

As a medium-large arboreal gecko, the absolute minimum terrarium size for a single chahoua gecko is 18”L x 18”W x 36”H. Of course, larger is always better! 

Housing multiple chahoua geckos in the same terrarium is not recommended, and may result in fighting if attempted.

Do chahoua geckos need UVB?

Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for chahoua geckos. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits. 

The best UVB bulbs for chahoua geckos housed in an 18” x 18” x 36” terrarium are:

  • Zoo Med T8 ReptiSun 5.0, 18”
  • Arcadia ShadeDweller Kit, 12”

For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb every 12 months!

Lights should be on for 11 hours/day during winter and 13.5 hours/day during summer to simulate seasonal changes in day length. All lamps should be turned off at night.

Best temperature for chahoua geckos

Despite the popular myth that New Caledonian geckos do best at room temperature, they do benefit from having a low-temperature “basking” area. After all, they’re still reptiles, and that means they need a range of temperatures in their enclosure that allow them to thermoregulate.

Chahoua geckos should have a low basking temperature between 82-85°F, as measured by a digital probe thermometer with the probe positioned in the basking area. The cool zone of the enclosure should stay between 70-75°F, and nighttime temps can drop as low as 65°F.

Provide heat for your gecko with a low-wattage incandescent bulb. White heat bulbs are the best way to imitate the warmth of sunlight indoors, and considered to be a superior form of reptile heating by experts. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. 

Best humidity levels for chahoua geckos

Chahoua geckos are a tropical species, so the humidity inside their enclosure should be fairly high: 60-80% on average. Occasional lows down to 50% and highs up to 100% are acceptable. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

Increase humidity by misting your gecko’s enclosure 1-2x/day with a spray bottle. Mist every evening and then again in the morning if needed. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your gecko with an important source of drinking water!

Best substrate for chahoua geckos

Providing a layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help maintain correct humidity levels and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for chahoua geckos:

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.

Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.

How to decorate a chahoua gecko terrarium

An empty terrarium makes for a bored chahoua, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of decor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

Since chahoua geckos are strictly arboreal, at bare minimum you will need a branch for your gecko to bask on and some live or artificial foliage for it to hide in. However, it’s best to include other items, such as:

What to feed to a chahoua gecko

Chahoua geckos are omnivores, which means that they need to eat both plant- and animal-based foods to get the right nutrition. In the wild, they primarily eat insects and fruit. As pets, it’s best to feed them high-quality, specially-formulated crested gecko diet (CGD) supplemented by live insect feeders.

How often chahoua geckos need to eat depends on age:

  • Hatchlings and Juveniles (0-12 months) — CGD daily, insects 1-2x/week
  • Adults (>12 months) — CGD every 2-3 days, insects 1x/week

Best crested gecko diets: Pangea, Repashy, Leapin’ Leachie, Zoo Med, Lugarti, Black Panther Zoological, Gecko Pro

Feeder insects for chahoua geckos: dubia roaches, discoid roaches, crickets, hornworms, mealworms, darkling beetles

The key to balanced nutrition is variety, so make sure to offer a rotation of as many different foods as possible. CGD should be offered from a small bowl in a wall-mounted feeding ledge rather than on the ground.

Supplements

You will also need a calcium supplement. We recommend Repashy Supercal NoD, lightly dusted on all feeder insects. It’s okay to occasionally skip a dusting.

Water

Of course, don’t forget a wall-mounted water bowl too! Chahoua geckos mostly prefer to lap droplets of water off walls and leaves after the enclosure has been misted, but it’s still important to provide a more consistent drinking source as well. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.

How to handle your chahoua gecko

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. That being said, chahoua geckos usually tolerate handling well. Here are some tips for success:

  • Don’t grab the gecko from above. Instead, scoop from below.
  • Support its entire body and all four feet.
  • Start with short handling sessions at first, then gradually make them longer.
  • Put the gecko back in its enclosure only when it’s calm.

Your gecko may be a bit jumpy at first, so let it hop from one hand to the other until it has calmed down.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!


"New Caledonian Mossy PrehensileTailed Geckos (Rhacodactylus chahoua)" by Paul:Ritchie is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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