The Aquarium’s eight New Caledonian Giant Geckos (Rhacodactylus leachianus) have been on an egg-laying spree in recent weeks. This species, which guests primarily see during education programs, can lay eggs at many times of year, but spring is the most common season in which they are found, usually in clutches of one or two, says Animal Care Specialist II Jennifer Wawra,
“Each of our female geckos has a nest box with dampened sphagnum moss, which is where we typically find the eggs,” she says. “On occasion, they will lay them around their enclosure outside of the nest box.”
An adult New Caledonian Giant Gecko poses for the camera.
Geckos don’t typically congregate in the wild, so there is no fun name for a group of them (a la “a congress of salamanders” or a “pitying of doves”), but we can just invent one. How about a “glut of geckos?” Sounds good.
OK, so the Aquarium’s glut of geckos consists of seven females and one male. The females include three long-time members of the collection and four that were hatched and raised on-site.
This spring, our glut has produced 13 eggs, nine of which animal care specialists think will be viable. The most recent was found on April 25.
Several New Caledonian Giant Gecko eggs collected in April wait in a gravel tray. This species can incubate at room temperature.
One female was seen mating with our male and has produced eggs, but in a neat biological trick, two other eggs came from females who haven’t been with a male in a while. Female New Caledonian Giant Geckos can store sperm for later fertilization, sometimes for a year or more. (Many other species are capable of sperm storage or “hoarding,” including Domestic Chickens, Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnakes and the Common Octopus.)
“One of the most recent geckos we hatched was from a female that hadn’t been with a male in over a year,” Wawra says.
Based on the date they were laid, the eggs should begin hatching in June, with the most recent ones hatching in August. This species’ eggs can incubate at many temperatures, including room temperature, which Wawra says most frequently produces female babies.
When they do hatch, though brace yourselves for maximum scaly cuteness, because we’ll have a new hoard of two- to three-inch baby geckos to oooh and ahhhh over. The Geckos will reach full size in two or three years. After about a year, they’ll be about half as big as adults.
Animal Care Specialist II Jennifer Wawra holds a juvenile New Caledonian Giant Gecko born at the Aquarium.