This gorgeous gecko is Tiny, a NEW CALEDONIAN GIANT GECKO or HENKEL'S GIANT GECKO known by the scientific name Rhacodactylus leachianus. This is one of four species in my collection from the islands of New Caledonia off the east coast of Australia and this particular species is actually the largest living gecko species on earth!
In my opinion New Caledonian giant geckos have one of the most amazing eyes of any living thing:
New Caledonian giant geckos live on many of the different islands within the group which make up New Caledonia and there is lots of variation in terms of size, colour and pattern within the populations on different islands. Tiny is not actually from one of the populations which gets the largest in terms of adult size but she is still considerably heavier than any of my other geckos, weighing in at well over 200g on her third birthday in late April 2014!
Tiny has a beautiful pattern and there is quite a bit of variation in her colouration depending on time of day/temperature/mood and other factors as shown in the selection of pictures below. The skin of giant geckos is a great deal more wrinkly than that of any of my other geckos, making them look very cute!
Whilst they will eat insects and other small animals like the other New Caledonian geckos in my collection, fruit plays a very important part in the diet of the giant gecko in the wild. In captivity they will readily eat pureed soft fruits such as mango, banana, papaya etc. and there are also specialist powdered gecko diets available, created by experts in the nutritional needs of these geckos, which can be mixed with water and fed as a complete diet. Tiny is very fond of this special diet, especially the banana and strawberry flavoured varieties!
Like my other New Caledonian gecko species, Tiny has incredibly specialized feet which allows her to grip to any solid surface, enabling her to climb trees with ease but also surfaces such as metal, wood, plastic and even glass! Children of all ages love to watch demonstrations of geckos climbing and to be honest so do I! Here is a view of her rear feet, showing the wide toe pads with a series of ridges known as lamellae. These lamellae are each covered in hundreds of thousands of tiny hairs called setae, which in turn are covered in thousands of tiny flaps called spatulae which amazingly enable them to grip perfectly onto solid surfaces!
Here is a close-up of just one of her feet whilst it is stuck to the glass at the front of her vivarium!
Tiny was bred in Kent in the UK and hatched on April 24th 2011, the day after my own birthday. When I received Tiny just over two weeks later she weighed just under 6g and looked somewhat more tiny then than she does now as you can see below, especially when pictured sitting on my thumb!
Here she is having just hatched! This photo was kindly sent to me by Nick & Amanda Lumb of Lilly Exotics, the breeders of this gecko. Nick and Amanda breed and sell many species of lizards as well as being official UK distributors of one of the most popular brands of powdered gecko diet as discussed above. Check out their website here: www.lillyexotics.co.uk