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What is a Gargoyle?

Many people hear the word gargoyle and picture stone creatures perched along medieval buildings and cathedrals, but these gargoyles are a type of gecko that originate from New Caledonia.  As they grow into adulthood, they develop small, bony protrusions on top of their head that are said to resemble the horns of gargoyle statues.  Fun Fact... did you know that gargoyle sculptures originally served as water spouts to channel and "spit" rain water away from buildings?

Species Information

This species of gecko, known as Rhacodactylus auratus, originates from New Caledonia and is closely related to  the crested gecko.  Both require similar care and eat the same foods, which are readily available in the pet trade.  Gargoyles are nocturnal so they are most active at night and spend their days sleeping while perched on branches.  They come in a huge variety of patterns and colors, which can be quite complex and allows them to blend in with the environment.  These animals also do something known as being "fired up" or "fired down."  This means they can become much more pigmented, showing their colors more boldly, or can appear quite pale.  Unlike chameleons they still retain their original pattern but the colors can brighten or fade.  These changes can happen at any time and in a matter of minutes but as a general rule, gargoyles are usually "fired up" at night when they are active.  


New Caledonia is a cluster of islands located in the South Pacific far east of Australia.  Habitats and humidity can vary between locations but gargoyles tend to live in areas with more humidity where fruit is readily available.  Rainfall varies by month and season but it rains year-round with cooler and drier winters.  Temperatures stay relatively mild ranging from 60° F to the upper 80's; rare heat waves over 90° F can be fatal to this species.  Gargoyles can be found high up in the rainforest canopy or perched within smaller trees and shrubs.  Tropical fruits such as papaya, mangoes, bananas, and coconuts dominate the area.  At night, some geckos may come to the ground to feed on fallen fruit or to lay eggs in the damp soil, but the majority of their lives are spent climbing in the trees.  Gargoyle geckos are actually endemic to New Caledonia, meaning that in the wild, they are found no where else in the world.


As with many smaller animals, gargoyles probably don't survive as long in the wild but in captivity they can live up to 20 years.  As with crested geckos, this species will often eat the tail of another but gargoyles will grow them back in time.  They are also quite territorial and hatchlings have been known to eat each other so it is always best to keep them separated as pets.  Purchasing captive-bred animals from a reputable breeder means you are less likely to obtain a pet with hidden health problems.  However, as with all new pets, you should isolate them from your other animals for the first two weeks to make sure no illnesses arise.  This way you aren't putting your other animals at risk of becoming ill or contracting parasites.  All of my animals are captive bred, I quarantine any new animal, and they have had no health problems other than a female getting a small scratch during breeding, which healed quickly.


My pet gargoyles were purchased from reputable breeders at top dollar prices in order to get beautiful, robust, and genetically diverse pairs.  They live in large, bio-active tanks where I have designated nesting sites.  I then remove the eggs for incubation and after hatching, I maintain detailed records of their growth.

I keep my gargoyle hatchlings in small, temperature regulated bins where they can easily find their food and water, and can keep warm to ensure healthy growth.  As my animals age, they are moved to larger tanks with substrate and vertical perching sites.  My tanks have water dishes and daily misting systems.




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