gecko-care

How to Care for Your Leachie Gecko

February 16, 2021

leachie gecko

Leachie geckos (Rhacodactylus leachianus) are large, nocturnal, arboreal geckos native to the tropical forests of New Caledonia. They are known by many names, including leachianus gecko, New Caledonian giant gecko, and Grande Terre Giant Gecko.

Leachie geckos are the largest known gecko species, with large, blocky heads, chunky, wrinkled bodies, soft skin, and a short, stubby tail. They usually have a green, brown, and/or gray base color, with a pattern of white, orange, pink, and/or lavender splotches.

Due to their large size and less-handleable temperament, leachie geckos are intermediate-level pet reptiles. With good care, they can live 15-20+ years.

Minimum terrarium size for leachie geckos

The absolute minimum terrarium size for a single leachie gecko is 36”L x 18”W x 36”H. Of course, larger is always better!

Housing multiple leachie geckos in the same terrarium is not recommended.

Do leachie geckos need UVB?

Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for leachie 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 leachie geckos housed in an 36” x 18” x 36” terrarium are:

  • Arcadia ShadeDweller Kit — 6-8” above basking branch
  • Arcadia T5 HO Forest 6%, 22” — 10-12” above basking branch
  • Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 5.0, 22”— 10-12” above basking branch

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 leachie geckos

Despite the popular myth that leachie 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.

Leachie 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. General temperatures in the rest of the enclosure should stay between 75-80°F, and nighttime temps should drop to 65-72°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 leachie geckos

Leachie geckos are a tropical species, so the humidity inside their enclosure should be fairly high: 60-80%. 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 first thing in the morning and then again at night if needed. Aside from raising humidity, this also provides your gecko with an important source of drinking water!

Best substrate for leachie 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 leachie 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 leachie gecko terrarium

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

Since leachie 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 leachie gecko

Leachies 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 leachie geckos need to eat depends on age:

  • Hatchlings and Juveniles — CGD daily, insects 2x/week
  • Adults — CGD 2x/week, insects 2x/week

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

Feeder insects for leachie geckos: dubia roaches, discoid roaches, red runner roaches, crickets, hornworms

The key to balanced nutrition is variety, so make sure to offer a rotation of as many different foods as possible.

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 food and water bowls and a feeding ledge! Since leachie geckos are arboreal, they prefer to eat and drink up off the ground. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.

How to handle your leachie gecko

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Leachie geckos may or may not tolerate handling well, depending on the individual. If you have one that tolerates human interaction 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!


Image by gayleenfroese2 from Pixabay 


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