This beautiful gecko is an individual of a species known commonly as the MOSSY NEW CALEDONIAN PREHENSILE-TAILED GECKO with the scientific name Mniarogekko chahoua, formerly Rhacodactylus chahoua. Many people who keep these amazing geckos, including myself, often refer to them simply by the name CHAHOUA.
My adult male (above and below) is named Yoda and he is hugely popular with everyone he meets!
As you can see from the picture above Mniarogekko chahoua is another gecko species which is very variable in terms of colour and pattern, just like my crested geckos. All three of these species come from the same group of islands called New Caledonia, which are off of the eastern coast of Australia. All of them have beautiful eyes but I think that the eyes of chahoua might be the most amazing of them all, see what you think here!!
As well as having beautiful eyes, chahoua also demonstrate amazing camouflage skills. The picture directly below is of Yoda as a baby, along with a second baby chahoua I used to own, sitting on a piece of cork bark. Can you see both?? Yoda is certainly easier to spot than the second one (he is on the bottom left of the picture in case you’re struggling to find him!), but as you can see they both have excellent colour and pattern for camouflaging on this kind of bark.
There is just one individual (again Yoda) in this next picture and once again he is quite well hidden – at a glance a bird or other predator would almost certainly not notice him, which of course is the reason they are camouflaged in the first place!
Chahoua are very sociable geckos and can often live together perfectly happily – this is my favourite photograph of three babies together!!
Despite different shades of greys and browns being their main colours as juveniles, as in the pictures above, as adults they can be an absolutely stunning mixture of greens and reds. The difference in overall colour between juveniles and adults is very clear in this picture below of Yoda (right) and a new baby chahoua which I acquired in February 2014!
Here are another couple of photos of the juvenile above, taken just a few weeks later when the colour and pattern have continued to develop – the change is quite remarkable!
Most chahoua demonstrate quite striking colour changes even at different times of the same day! Pictured below is Yoda in bright & colourful and dull colour forms, both pictures taken within a 24-hour period!
Unfortunately soon after I had bought my first ever chahoua it had a horrible accident, in which its tail became trapped in the lid of its enclosure as it jumped at the exact same moment I closed the lid. When geckos feel threatened or in any kind of danger, for example when their tail is bitten or pulled by an animal attempting to eat them, they are able to lose their tail to escape from the predator – a truly amazing process known as autotomy.
Sadly when this gecko’s tail was trapped he dropped (or autotomised) the tail very quickly, leaving it wriggling around on the floor of the enclosure for a couple of minutes. This wriggling distracts and confuses the predator allowing the gecko time to escape, which in their rainforest home could mean the difference between life and death. The picture directly above was taken just a couple of hours after the tail had been autotomised.
Whilst I was extremely upset to have caused the accident to happen, it was absolutely fascinating to watch the wriggling action of the tail after it had been dropped. Also, unlike my crested geckos, which cannot regenerate any part of their tails after they have been dropped, chahoua can regenerate their tails! The ‘new’ tail is made of cartilage rather than bone, and can sometimes look quite different in both colour and shape to the lizard’s original tail. The pictures below show how quickly the tail can regenerate in a chahoua, the first picture having been taken exactly one calendar month following the tail being dropped:
The next picture shows the tail regrowth just 18 days after these first pictures above. You can see clearly how large the tail has grown and also how variable an individual gecko’s colouration can be at different times too, again just like my crested geckos!!
These last pictures were taken another 18 days after the ones above, on February 23rd 2011, a total of just 67 days after the tail was dropped. It is amazing just how large the tail grew and the speed at which it occurred!
In these last two pictures you can quite clearly see the ‘join’ from where the tail has regenerated, and also that it is a slightly different colour to the base of the original tail.