Meet the Gargoyle Gecko
The gargoyle gecko is also from New Caledonia and is usually the next gecko for those who have crested geckos and have decided to try another gecko species. The Rhacodactylus genus is unique in the fact that they all are fairly mild mannered, with the exception of some grumpy R. leachianus I've seen, and they can be kept and bred successfully without the need for live insects in their diet. Gargoyle gecko care is identical to that of the crested gecko, with the only exception that babies should not be kept together, as they tend to bite (and eat) the tails of their cage mates.
Although care is identical to that of a crested gecko, gargoyles are most definitely a different animal in terms of behavior. As evidenced by their heavier body and smaller toe pads, they are not as adept at climbing, therefore not as arboreal and they tend to be found closer to the ground in the wild. In captivity, they seem to spend more time out in the open than crested geckos.
Although they are often very mellow when being handled, they seem to be more feisty towards each other. As mentioned earlier, their tails (unlike crested gecko tails) will grow back if they are dropped. In fact, a fully regenerated tail is almost impossible to distinguish from an original tail.
Speaking of tail autotomization, another unique behavior I've noticed is that adult females tend to eat the tails of their male counterparts on an almost regular basis. My male breeders are almost always without a full tail, because once their tail grows back to a couple inches long, the females will eat it again. I have been keeping these geckos for several years and have yet to ever find a dropped tail in one of their cages, so they apparently don't go to waste!
Hatchling gargoyles, at least in my experience, don't seem to have much interest in insects. Once they get a little older, they will take them, but the insects have to be relatively large to get much attention. I was once told by a breeder that he used to feed hatchling pictus geckos to his breeding adult gargoyles. Call me a softy, but all I would end up with is a big colony of pictus geckos if I tried that! Fortunately, gargoyles go nuts for Crested Gecko Diet MRP and do extremely well on it.
Gargoyles take slightly longer to mature and may lay slightly fewer eggs each season, making them just a little less prolific than Crested Geckos. Still, they're a very prolific gecko once they get going and make for an excellent breeding project. Their eggs are very oblong compared to that of a crested gecko.
Although it's been said they're the smallest of the Rhacodactylus genus, that is not the case if you get a good, strong bloodline. My gargoyles are descended from several bloodlines and are typically about 15% larger/heavier than my crested geckos...and my cresteds are known to be large. That said, some of the older bloodlines in the US (brought into the country back in the 1980's) seem to produce small gargoyles that don't breed particularly well (in my experience). This issue, in my opinion, is probably the result of a shallow gene pool.
I have a relatively small collection (5 breeding groups) of gargoyles, just for fun. My group was selected based on my personal preference, which includes gargoyles with a red base colors and white gargoyles with highly contrasting black patterns.
Black & White Group
True white is a rare color in reptiles and I think it's amazing to see a big, stout gecko covered in white. I also have one animal that is almost pure white almost all the time, which you'll see in the first two pictures below. Her pattern will show up as pale grey on rare occasion, but she is still the purest white gargoyle I've ever seen.
It's no secret that I like red, so if there's a red version of any species I keep, you know I have to have it! The first gecko pictured is a gorgeous female that's mostly black & white, but she has some red and has proven to be great for producing red offspring.
Just for a reference, the first picture is a red line x black/white line cross, and the third picture is of a juvenile that is just now starting to show signs that it will become a red adult. The second and fourth pictures are the successful results of a project I've been working on for several years.