New Caledonian gecko

Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Genus and Species: Rhacodactylus leachianus
  • A New Caledonian gecko
  • A New Caledonian gecko
  • A New Caledonian gecko
  • A New Caledonian gecko
  • A New Caledonian gecko
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New Caledonian gecko

The arboreal and nocturnal New Caledonian gecko is the largest known gecko species, growing to lengths of about 14 inches and weighing 8 to 12 ounces. It is a vocal lizard that produces an array of sounds, including grumbles and growls. New Caledonian geckos have the ability to detach—and later regenerate—their tails when threatened.
Physical Description
New Caledonian geckos are a yellowish green or brown color with white or cream blotches along their bodies. They are a sexually dimorphic species; males tend to have a broader head and more slender body than females. When threatened, these geckos can detach, and later regenerate, their tails. 
Size
New Caledonian geckos typically measure up to 35.5 centimeters (14 inches) and weigh between 227 and 340 grams (8 and 12 ounces), making them the largest known gecko species. 
Native Habitat
New Caledonian geckos are found exclusively on the islands of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. They inhabit the high canopies of rainforests throughout the southern and eastern portions of the main island, as well as several of the smaller surrounding islands. 
Food/Eating Habits
These geckos feed on invertebrates and fruit. They occasionally eat smaller lizards, newborn mice and nectar. At the Smithsonian's National Zoo, they eat crickets, mealworms, minced fruit and nectar.
Reproduction and Development
Females lay two soft-shelled eggs per clutch and, depending on their calcium reserves, can produce three to four clutches per season. The eggs incubate for 60 to 90 days before hatchlings emerge. The young hatchlings are typically 8.9 to 10.2 centimeters (3.5 to 4 inches) long, and their sex is determined by the temperature during incubation. Eggs incubated at a higher temperature result in a shorter incubation period and have a greater chance of producing male hatchlings.

New Caledonian geckos are listed as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List, as of a 2011 analysis.

Habitat disruption is a primary concern for their long-term survival. Predation by introduced rodents and cats, as well as the introduction of a species of fire ant, has also affected gecko populations, as has illegal collection for the pet trade. Currently, the New Caledonian gecko's population has been deemed stable, and they are thought to have a wide distribution. Though wild populations of these geckos are not directly managed, they can be found in multiple protected areas and reserves within their native habitat.

You Can Help

  • Purchase goods that are produced using sustainably sourced materials, such as reclaimed wood or Smithsonian Bird Friendly Coffee. By choosing products that do not contribute to deforestation, you can help protect habitat for wildlife.
  • Be a responsible pet owner. Keep cats indoors or under restraint if outside, and never release animals into the wild that have been kept as pets. 
  • Choose your pets wisely! Many wild animals do not make good pets. Always do your research before bringing any animal home as a pet. Know where your pets come from, and consider if an animal should be kept as a pet.