Will our Trainee Veterinary Nurse has a passion for exotic reptiles and would like to share his interest with our readers…….
“The Crested Gecko (Rhacodactylus Ciliatus) is a unique species and is indigenous to New Caledonia, a set of islands off the coast of Australia. They were thought to have been extinct, until 1994 when they were rediscovered after a tropical storm in the area. They can be identified by their prominent crests that run down the sides of their bodies from their eyes to the area just at the base of their tail. They grow to roughly 8 Inches from snout to tail tip and weigh approximately 30+ grams. Their diet consists mostly of fruit, but they also eat: locusts, crickets, nectar and beetle larvae”. They come in many different morphs (patterns) for example: Patternless, Dalmatian , harlequin & Flame. They live and breed in groups of one male and several females and these will lay generally two eggs , every 6-8 weeks (providing they have enough calcium in their stores on the roof of their mouth). The eggs incubation period is roughly 65-120 days depending on the temperature you keep them at. Crested Gecko’s are adapted for climbing high in the trees in their natural environment thanks to their special toes which have tiny hairs on them called ‘spatulae’ which help them cling to even vertical surfaces. They have special muscles around the base of their tails that enable them to drop it (“Autotomy”) when threatened so the attacker is distracted by the wiggling tail and the gecko is able to escape being eaten. Their main threat in the wild apart from Habitat destruction by humans is an invasive species known as the little fire ant that was accidentally introduced, possibly by shipping boats coming from South America to New Caledonia. This ant has a very painful sting relative to its size and attacks not only Crested geckos themselves but are also is diminishing the Geckos food sources like insects as well. They attack in swarms overpowering their prey with their nasty sting.