Description and Background

The New Caledonia Giant Gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus), or just Leachies, is a native species found on the island of New Caledonia and the surrounding islands as well. Now there are actually subspecies of R. leachianus and those species depend on which island they are found on. Since the species of Leachianus can get quite complicated, I’m going to leave that out for now. Leachianus are the largest gecko in the genus of Rhacodactylus, growing to be about 14 inches in length. They can live to be about 20 years old in captivity which is a pretty long lived species. Leachianus are nocturnal, which means they are asleep during the day but awake at night. They are also arboreal, which means they live in the tops of trees. Leachianus have small stumpy tails which almost look out of place. They also have skin which looks as if it’s too loose for it’s body. Their tail and bottom of their feet are covered in small hairs called setae. These structures are what allow the geckos to climb on virtually any solid surface. Leachianus come in various colors such as grey, brown, white, green and even pink, depending on which island they come from. They also have many different markings such has stripes and blotching. At night their colors are much more prominent due to them “firing up”. This means that they are awake and ready to go searching for food. Leachianus can make great pets if the owner handles them regularly. They can be quite nippy and make an almost barking noise at you if they do not feel like being handled at the moment. Other than this they do actually make good pets for people of all ages.


Leachianus do not need a lot of room to be comfortable, but the terrarium does need to be taller than it is wide. Leachianus less than 4 months should be housed in no larger than 10 gallons. Sometimes, if you house young geckos in too large of enclosures, they may not eat. Leachianus older than 4 months can be kept in a minimum of 20 gallon terrariums. You may also be able to use a screen enclosure as long as you find a way to keep the humidity up. There are many specially made enclosures out there for Leachianus which have many benefits over a regular terrarium. They open from the front for easy access and are tall so the geckos can climb and have space to jump around. Most commonly used aquariums for Leachianus are the ExoTerra Natural Terrariums. They come is sizes like 12 x 12 x 18 which is ideal for a young Leachianus or 18 x 18 x 24 which is good for 1 adult Leachianus. For a breeding group of 2 or maybe 3, a 40 gallon aquarium, potentially larger if you can afford, would be ideal.

Temperature, Heating, Lighting

Leachianus like to be kept at room temperature, normally between 72 - 80 ºF (22 - 26 ºC) for most of the year. They can tolerate nighttime temperatures as low as 65 ºF (18 ºC) as well. Never allow the tank to reach around 85 ºF (29 ºC), as this will stress the animal out and cause illness. One side of the tank should be cooler than the other side so the geckos can thermo-regulate. Breeding geckos should be kept at temperatures of 75 - 78 ºF (24 - 26 ºC). A 4 month cooling period of 65 - 70 ºF (18 - 21 ºC) is needed for breeding Leachianus to rest. 12 - 14 hours of light is appropriate for most of the year. 10 hours of light is needed during the cooling period for breeding Leachianus. They can even cease breeding if given less than 12 hours of light. No light is needed at all but is useful if you would like to see your geckos. UVB light is not necessary but definitely useful to the geckos and live plants.


The humidity level should not drop down below 50%. Leachianus should have several hours of higher humidity, normally around 60% - 80%. In most cases this can easily be accomplished by misting the tank once or twice a day. An automatic mister is also a great investment as it saves you from remembering all the time. It is very important to allow the cage to dry to normal humidity in between mistings. Too high of humidity for too long will lead to mold and could potentially harm your geckos if they ingest it. Putting a small container filled with Sphagnum moss will help them with their shedding and consistently keep the humidity up in that one location.


You can use peat moss or other soils that promote good humidity in the terrarium. If using soil or moss, put a layer of pebbles or Hydroton to drain excess water. Paper towels are also acceptable, although they are not very naturalistic. Leachianus are messy eaters so if feeding them insects, then feed them in a separate cage so they do not ingest the soil or moss.

Diet and Feeding

You can feed the geckos just the Pangea Fruit Mix Complete and they'll be totally okay. It is recommended to feed your geckos this at least 4 - 5 days a week. Other options are feeding insects such as crickets, silkworms, waxworms or roaches. The insects should be no larger than the space between the gecko’s eyes. Whenever feeding them insects, make sure to dust them with good calcium and vitamin D3 powder. Also, you must "gut load" your insects to insure that they are actually nutritious for your geckos. Leachianus will also eat virtually any fruits and vegetables offered to them. Baby food puree is also often offered to them with great success but only as a treat.


Leachianus normally drink the water off of the walls and plants that you spray. This alone is a major reason that you should mist your tank daily. A water dish should also be present in the tank for drinking and humidity. Most geckos will not drink from the water dish, but some have been known to become trained to drink out of them. Only use distilled, dechlorinated, or reverse osmosis water.


Leachianus typically shed once a month. The shed is almost never seen because it happens over the period of a day. The way to tell if your gecko is about to shed is if their skin becomes very dull and opaque. The high humidity requirements tend to make this process very quick and painless. Areas to watch out for are the tails because there have been problems in the past with the tips of the gecko's tails not properly shedding. Soaking them in warm water for 30 minutes should help the skin come off much easier. A shed box may also be placed in the terrarium to aid in shedding. This could be as simple as a Rubbermaid container placed in there with a hole cut into the lid and moist sphagnum moss placed inside of the container. 

Handling Leachianus

They are very hardy geckos, therefore they are pretty easy to handle. Geckos that are newly purchased or less than 2 weeks old shouldn’t be handled. Wait about 1 - 2 weeks for newly bought geckos to start handling about 5 - 10 minutes a day. Once they are comfortable you can handle them for no more than 20 minutes a day. You may have to hand walk the geckos if they are jumpy to get them to calm down. Also watch out for high jumps. When holding them, keep them close to the ground so if they manage to jump from your hands they will not fall too far to the ground and get hurt.


Cleaning is very simple for Leachianus. Spot cleaning should be done at least once a week. The more geckos you keep in one cage, the more frequent you need to spot clean. Once a week you may also want to wipe off the glass because the geckos like to walk in their food and track it all over the place. Once a month you should take everything out of the tank and clean it with an appropriate cleaning solution, like chlorhexidine. Chlorhexidine is what most breeders recommend to use and is what veterinarians use for disinfecting everything. Completely reptile safe and will dry in 5 minutes. If using soil and moss, change that once a month as well to prevent bacteria growth.


The Leachianus health is normally very good and disease free. They tend to be very hardy geckos. A few common diseases include:

Diarrhea: This is a very easily reversible condition that happens mostly when the geckos diet is high in pureed foods. Make sure to feed the gecko a well balanced diet of insects and Pangea Fruit Mix.

Dysecdysis: This is a skin disorder and it happens when the gecko cannot shed properly. This disease normally happens when the humidity drops too low for too long. This can be fixed by soaking the gecko in water for an hour and peeling the skin off.

Floppy Tail Syndrome: This happens when the gecko sits vertical on glass walls. This will make the pelvis unable to support the tail and cause the tail to flop around. The only way to really prevent this is to make sure there are hides in the enclosure that are horizontal, allowing your gecko to rest its tail.

Metabolic Bone Disease (MBD): This is basically a lack of Calcium, Vitamin D3, and/or Phosphorous, which weakens your Leachies bones. Signs of MBD are bumps in the legs, back or tail, or jerky and spastic movements. Most of the time MBD can be treated by making sure you have the correct temperatures and providing adequate multivitamins to a well balanced diet.

Pneumonia: This is a respiratory condition and can happen when the gecko tank is poorly ventilated. This can often occur when the temperature remains too low for too long. This can be fixed by raising the temperature and adding screens for ventilation. 

Tail Loss

Most Leachianus will not lose their tail but if they do, there is no need for alarm. Most tail losses occur from aggression, pinched tails, or even trouble shedding. Their tails WILL eventually regenerate and there will be no harm done to the gecko itself. It is merely a defense mechanism. In fact, the gecko will lose little to no blood at all because the capillaries in the tail close almost instantly. This means that a tail loss is not a medical emergency, and it will recover very fast. The new tail that eventually grows looks similar but darker in color and sometimes patternless.

Breeding Leachianus

Males can be as young as 2 years old when beginning to breed. Females should be at least 3 years old to begin breeding to increase success. Females should be anywhere between 120-180 grams, depending on which island they come from, when ready to successfully breed and males should be around the same for each female. One male can be kept with 2 or maybe 3 females to start breeding. Keep the temperature between 75 - 79 ºF (24 - 26 ºC), dropping about 5 ºF at night. Lightly mist the cage 1-2 times daily, particularly at night when they are active. Give the breeding geckos high quality food to help with the eggs. Mostly dusted crickets (Calcium and D3 powder) along with the Pangea Fruit Mix. An egg laying container should be placed inside the terrarium. The container should be large enough to hold the gecko and dig 3 - 4 inches down. Container substrate should be 50/50 moistened eco earth and sphagnum moss. Hide the container so the gecko feels safe enough to lay the eggs there. Check the container everyday and remove the eggs immediately so they don’t dry up. Females will usually lay about 30 days after copulation. The number of clutches expected each year can range between 1 – 6 clutches of 2 eggs but 2 -3 clutches seem to be average. Place eggs in an airtight container with 2 inches of slightly moistened SuperHatch. Do not turn the eggs over as this will kill them. Mark the top of the eggs just in case they get moved for whatever reason. Open the container once per week to allow ventilation for a few seconds. Eggs should be kept at around a steady 72 ºF (22 ºC) and hatch in approximately 60 - 120 days. The higher the temperature, the shorter the incubation period. The lower the temperature, the longer the incubation period, which is normally better. If you have a pair of geckos that is not breeding, you must looking at key factors such as temperatures, age, nutrition, and cage space.

Sex Determination

Determining the sex is easiest when your gecko is older than 6 months. Male Leachianus will have a very noticeable hemipenal bulge, which normally develops between 5 - 9 months of age. Females lack this bulge. For Leachianus younger than 6 months, you will have to use a jeweler’s loupe to try and determine their sex. For males you will see 3 or more rows of visible pores on their underside by their vent. They will be white pores with a dark center to them. Females will have one or sometimes 2 rows of pseudopores on their underside as well. Their pores will be lacking the dark center.

Baby Leachianus Care

Care for baby Leachianus is identical to adults with few exceptions. Babies should be kept in no larger than a 10 gallon tank or critter keeper. In fact, they may even be more comfortable in a medium Herp Haven Kritter Keeper. Tanks should be simplistic with paper towels, few branches and easy food access. Hatchlings may not eat until their first shed is complete, normally 2 - 3 days old. You may even have to help them shed the first time. Spray the tank 1 - 2 times a day and feed them 1/8 inch crickets or Pangea Fruit Mix. Do not hold babies until about 2 - 3 weeks of settling into their new enclosure. 

Recommended Items Checklist

Exo Terra terrarium

Exo Terra Compact Top Canopy

1 Repti-Glo 5.0 compact light

1 Repti-Glo 2.0 compact light

Ecoearth/Coconut Fiber

Magnetic hides and food dishes

Water dish

Pangea Fruit Mix Complete

Automatic mister/Spray bottle

Shedding hide

Sphagnum moss

Cricket Food

Cricket Water

Calcium and D3 vitamin powder (Only if feeding insects)

Spray bottle




Digital Scale

Hydroton Balls(If using live plants)

Zoomed Terrarium Mesh (If using live plants)

Live plants (philodendron, ficus, pothos, dracaena, bamboo)