New Caledonian giant gecko

Rhacodactylus leachianus

SUBFAMILY

Diplodactylinae

TAXONOMY

Ascalabotes leachianus Cuvier, 1829, type locality unknown. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Leach's giant gecko; French: gecko géant de Leach, caméléon géant; German: Neukaledonischer Riesengecko.

Images New Caldonia Anamals

I Coleonyx variegatus I Gonatodes albogularis

Lialis Burtonis

H Gekko gecko H Lialis burtonis H Rhacodactylus leachianus

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The species grows to 10 in (255 mm) in snout-vent length and is considered the largest living gecko. It is heavy-bodied, with extensive skin folds on the flanks and legs and partially webbed digits. The head is elongate; the feet are large, with broad, undivided pads; and the tail is very short. These geckos are brownish, greenish, or gray with darker punctuations (speckles) or reticulations (net-like patterns) or with white or pinkish bars on the flanks.

DISTRIBUTION

The species is native to New Caledonia. HABITAT

These geckos inhabit humid forest.

BEHAVIOR

The geckos are nocturnal, spending daylight hours motionless on tree trunks or branches. They make a variety of croaks, growls, and whistles.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

The species is insectivorous (insect-eating) and frugivorous (fruit-eating). It may eat fruits exclusively at certain times of year and also prey on nestling birds and lizards.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Clutches of two large (up to 1.6 in, or 40 mm) leathery-shelled eggs are laid in shallow nests in the ground. Sex determination may be temperature-dependent.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened. The species is widespread on the mainland and offshore islands, but deforestation and illegal collecting for the pet trade are causes for concern.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This is a highly desirable species in the herpetocultural trade. ♦

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