What’s it like to keep a Mainland Chahoua gecko?
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Rhacodactylus chahoua are commonly known as the mossy New Caledonian gecko, short-snouted New Caledonian gecko, or mossy prehensile-tailed gecko. This species is an arboreal gecko found natively on the southern portion of the island of New Caledonia and on the outlying islands of Île des Pins and Grand Terre. Like the crested geckos and the gargoyle geckos, the. Chahouas are currently being evaluated as a possible candidate for protective status as endangered species, so there soon might not be any exports from New Caledonia anymore.
R. chahoua was first found in 1869 by Arthur Bavay, a French pharmacist and herpetologist. This is why this species is sometimes called “Bavay’s giant gecko.” It is bigger than crested geckos, but it doesn’t have any crests, and no eyelashes, either. Its body is very smooth, and its tongue is very long. It has sticky feet and a sticky pad on the end of its tail, too. In contrast to crested geckos, it can roll up its tail in a spiral! It will do so when it is scared.
R. chahoua is called “mossy prehensile-tailed gecko,” because it displays a moss or lichen-like pattern. Its mimikry is not as perfect as the one of a mossy leaf-tailed gecko, though; just compare their pictures. My mossy was literally hidden on its birch branch, and if it weren’t for its ever open eyes, you wouldn’t be able to spot him. Its colors range from rusty red and brown to green or gray. Some scientists think that the color depends on the locality: There has been some notation that color could possibly be a geographic indicator in this species, as the geckos from the outer islands most often display the lighter gray patterns. Chahouas commonly reach a snout to vent length (SVL) of 5.5 in (14 cm).
Their eggs are different from crested gecko eggs: R. chahoua lays two well calcified eggs that become adhered to one another shortly after laying. This is known as “egg gluing.” R. chahoua is the only Rhacodactylus (= sticky-feet) gecko that lays adhering eggs. The eggs are generally laid on top of the substrate (generally behind loose tree bark) and are guarded by the female. The eggs hatch 60-90 days after laying.
In captivity, this gecko is rarely seen – this might be because it is very expensive! Babies cost about $325, and adults $625 and upwards, depending on their age and looks. These geckos stay together as faithful couples, so the males don’t need a harem to breed. A male-female pair may be kept in a terrarium with a minimum size of 24 × 18 × 18 in (61 × 46 × 46 cm), but as with all arboreal geckos, the taller the enclosure, the better, because they like to climb branches.
I recommend you get your chahoua from a reputable breeder or a reptile show instead of from a chain pet store; then, you know about its lineage and can make sure it is healthy — furthermore, you can keep in contact with the breeder, ask questions, and get helpful tips and tricks. Most breeders also have a warranty in case the reptile arrives at your house D.O.A. (dead on arrival) or passes within the first 48 hours without your fault.
My chahoua didn’t live very long; I only kept one male, who lived on Crested Gecko Diet and occasional live crickets or fresh melon or mango pieces. It passed after about three years or so, with no apparent issue. I would not consider chahouas an entry-level pet, and they are definitely not suitable for little children. For the latter, I would recommend leopard geckos or crested geckos, since they are easier to maintain; also, leos are much more prolific, so children can watch them breed and the babies hatch. They are also much cheaper than chahouas. That being said, I owned a crested gecko x chahoua hybrid, Hermoso, my most beautiful gecko ever.