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Mossy Prehensile-tailed Gecko

Mossy Prehensile-tailed Gecko (Rhacodactylus chahoua) Care Sheet - Information

Taxonomy
(Rhacodactylus chahoua)

  • Kingdom:
  • Animalia
  • Phylum:
  • Chordata
  • Class:
  • Reptilia
  • Order:
  • Squamata
  • Family:
  • Diplodactylidae
  • Genus:
  • Rhacodactylus
  • Species:
  • chahoua

Mossy Prehensile-tailed Gecko
(Rhacodactylus chahoua)

Mossy Prehensile-tailed Gecko (Rhacodactylus chahoua)

Mossy Prehensile-tailed Gecko

Rhacodactylus chahoua has several common names that people use to describe this species. Those names include the Bavay's Giant Gecko, Short-snouted Giant Gecko, Short-snouted New Caledonian Gecko, Mossy Prehensile-tailed Gecko and the Mossy New Caledonian Gecko. Those who are familiar with this species often refer to their Rhacodactylus chahoua as "chewies". These geckos range in color from rusty red - brown, green or gray. Their name is a tribute to their moss or lichen-like patterns their bodies are adorned with. Mossy prehensile-tailed geckos are nocturnal omnivores.

Distribution

The mossy prehensile-tailed gecko is native to the island of New Caledonia and inhabit the main island of Grande Terre, Iles Belep (Ile Art only), and the offshore isle of pines (Île des Pins). They are typically found close to rivers, streams, or other water sources on the mainland. This species inhabits gallery and closed forests. It is nocturnal and arboreal. It shelters by day in tree crevices and holes and forages at night in the canopy. [1]

Enclosure - Housing

As an arboreal species, vertical space is more important than the amount of floor space the enclosure has. The Exo-Terra Front Opening Terrariums make wonderful enclosures and come in a variety of sizes. The Exo-Terra 36"W x 18"D x 18"H (90 x 45 x 45 cm) front opening terrarium is ideal for a pair of Rhacodactylus chahoua. An Exo-Terra 24"W x 18"D x 18"H (60 x 45 x 45 cm) front opening terrarium is adequate for a single Rhacodactylus chahoua. Younger Rhacodactylus chahoua can be housed in the Exo-Terra 12"W x 12"D x 18"H (30 x 30 x 45 cm) front opening terrarium.

Substrates

Some keepers use bed-a-beast, peat moss, sphagnum moss and cypress mulch, or they use a mixture of a few. You want to cover the floor with 1 to 1 1/2" of whichever substrate you use. The suggested substrates all retain moisture well, which will aid with the humidity.

Enclosure Decor

As an arboreal species, the enclosure you provide should have branches granting the geckos access to all parts of the enclosure. Artificial vines can be used to create an attractive display enclosure. Cork bark is also a great additive. The natural colors and markings of Rhacodactylus chahoua makes them blend in wonderfully with the cork bark. Cork bark can be leaned against walls, adhered to the walls with silicone, or rested upon the floor of the enclosure. Rocks can also be added to help occupy floor space as a climbing material, leaning material for cork bark, or simply as an enclosure decoration.

Heating

Rhacodactylus chahoua do well within the 75°- 85° temperature range, during the summer months. If you are cooling your Rhacodactylus chahoua for the winter, a temperature range of 70°- 74° is ideal. Evening temperatures can drop 5- 10 degrees.

Temperature Control

Temperature control is vital to good husbandry. It is our responsibility to ensure that our geckos have adequate temperatures to properly digest their food, thermoregulate, and maintain a healthy immune system. In order to do this, monitoring and control of the enclosures temperature is vital. In order to know what temperatures you have within your enclosure, you must be using a quality thermometer. The thermometer you choose to use will allow you to adjust the temperatures within the enclosure with accuracy, and will allow you to monitor them to make sure they are sufficient. Having a thermometer is not the only thing you should be concerned with. The type of thermometer you use is equally important. A quality thermometer will yield accurate temperature readings. If you attempt to use a lower quality thermometer, you could find yourself providing sub-par temperatures even though the thermometer reads they are accurate. Below we have descriptions of the three most commonly used thermometers.

Digital Thermometers

The best digital thermometers are those that read both the indoor and outdoor temperatures at the same time. These units have an external probe that is designed to be placed out of a window while the base unit remains inside. From the comfort of the indoors, you can see the temperature of both the room you are in, as well as the temperature outside. This type of digital thermometer can be purchased at varying retail stores such as Target and Wal-Mart. Unbelievably, these can actually be bought for under $15.00 and sometimes as low as $10.00. The investment in this single unit will allow you to place the base of the unit over on the cool end of the enclosure and have the probe resting on the warm end. With this single unit you will be capable of monitoring both ends of the enclosure at the same time, and with great accuracy. This is the best solution for monitoring the temperatures.

Temperature Guns

Temperature guns are an accurate and swift method to check out the temperature of your reptile cages and environments instantly, at any time. Using infrared technology, you simply aim the hand held device exactly at the point you are looking to get the temperature of, and you press a button. Within seconds, you get the exact temperature reading for that location.

Radial Thermometers

Every petstore carries these things. They are small round thermometers that adhere to the wall of the enclosure with a sticky pad. They typically cost $5.00 or less and these are often used by new enthusiasts as the first thermometer investment they make. Unfortunately, while a bargain, you get what you pay for. These thermometers have been known to be off by as much as 5-10 degrees! Don't waste your money!

Stick-on Thermometers

These should never be used on your enclosures and are a complete waste of money. They were initially designed for monitoring tanks that had water in them. For that purpose, they are generally reliable though even serious fish enthusiasts believe a digital thermometer is far more reliable.

Lighting

Like most reptiles, a photoperiod of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness is preferred. During the summer months, the daytime photoperiod can be extended to 14 hours if you wish.

Mossy Prehensile-tailed Geckos are nocturnal thus they require no special lighting. UVB lights can be used to simulate daylight but is not necessary for them to absorb calcium or Vitamin D-3. As a gecko that utilizes high amounts of calcium during egg production, low level UVB could be beneficial for a few hours each morning after she has been bred. More research needs to be done on the UVB impact to make any type of definitive statement toward or against its use.

Humidity

Mossy prehensile-tailed geckos reside in humid regions so they have a moderate humidity requirement. Moderate should not be misconstrued for "wet". A consistent humidity level of around 65-80% is adequate. Your substrate, a large water bowl, and regular misting can help achieve this. Allowing the substrate to dry out between misting is recommended.

A piece of cork bark leaned against a wall is the simplest way to maintain a completely dry location in the enclosure. When misting you should avoid spraying this area. This will offer your Rhacodactylus chahoua a location where it can dry itself.

Diet

Mossy prehensile-tailed geckos are omnivores. Their natural food items are fruit, insects, nectars and small lizards. In captivity, many of us feed the Crested Gecko Diet (CGD) formulated by Allen Repashy and supplement with insects that have been gut loaded and dusted with calcium and a vitamin supplement. Herptivite is a great vitamin supplement. Rep-cal is a trusted calcium supplement line. Crickets or roaches should be the staple insects. Gut loading them prior to feeding is essential, as your gecko will be eating whatever it is your feeders have in them. The better the diet your insects are receiving, the better the diet your chewie is receiving. Live prey should be offered 2 times per week and offer the CGD 3 times per week. When offering the gut loaded and dusted insects, toss in one at a time in the evening and allow the geckos to eat as many as they want. Once they show disinterest, stop feeding them.

Water

A large water dish can be left in the enclosure at all times. This will offer the geckos a place to drink but will also raise the humidity. Corner water dishes work well. Many gecko owners find their geckos prefer to drink from the water droplets left from misting.

Lifespan

The lifespan for Rhacodactylus chahoua can exceed 20 years.

Sexing

Males possess noticeable hemipenal bulges when they are sexually mature. Females do not have hemipenal bulges.

Breeding

Several breeders suggest waiting until your female is between 2- 2.5 years old before she is introduced to a male. Those females that are bred earlier tend to develop calcium related issues as a result of the calcified eggs they produce. Males reach sexual maturity at 1.5 years.

Male and females being introduced need to be monitored for compatibility. If aggression is seen, they will need to be separated. You may or may not witness copulation. The female will lay her eggs anywhere she feels is adequate. You can provide a moist hide for her. If you are using a moist hide, you may want to avoid using a substrate in the breeding tank. This will encourage the female to lay the eggs in the moist hide. You can also offer her a corner of the enclosure that has sphagnum moss or pieces of cork bark. The female will protect her eggs, which will help you know when you have found them.

You can either collect the eggs for artificial incubation or you can allow them to remain in the enclosure and see if they hatch on their own.

If you will be incubating them, the eggs should be placed in deli cups with 2-3 small holes and 1-2 inches of moistened vermiculite and/or perilite. Make sure you squeeze out any excess water. Eggs should be placed in a slight indention in the substrate to prevent them from moving. Place the eggs at least 1/2" apart to allow for growth/expansion. Eggs can be incubated between 80°- 84° degrees.

Calcium

The eggs produced by these geckos severely deplete the calcium reserves of the female. A dish of calcium should be left in the enclosure at all times when breeding. This will allow the female the ability to replenish her reserves on an as-needed basis.

Attribution

Rhacodactylus chahoua - © Alfeus Liman
1. Whitaker, A.H. & Sadlier, R.A. 2013. Rhacodactylus chahoua. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T176181A7193573. Downloaded on 06 October 2015