April 6, 2020
World’s Largest Gecko
- as seen by -Kevin Torregrosa
Working from home recently got me thinking about how zookeepers have always had a passion for animals that we developed through experiences we had when we were young. I have a six-year-old son that shares my interest in herps, and since the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping us at home and away from animals that I care for at WCS’s Bronx Zoo, we’d like to spotlight reptiles that excite us both.
A very interesting species is the New Caledonia giant gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus). As you probably already guessed, this is a large gecko that comes from New Caledonia, a French territory in the South Pacific. This bumpy-looking lizard typically inhabits the canopies of the rainforest. The species can grow quite big — over a foot long and nearly a pound in weight making it the largest gecko in the world. Those statistics may not sound very large until you remember that this is a gecko we are talking about. Some species of gecko barely makes it to three quarters of an inch in length.
The New Caledonia giant gecko is fascinating for more reasons than just its size. The species is nocturnal. It wakes up at night and comes out from hiding to check on things. It is a very vocal gecko communicating through various chirps, barks, and growls.
If a predator eyes it up as a meal, the gecko does have a trick up its sleeve beyond its size, bark, and bite. Like many lizards, the giant gecko has the ability to lose its tail when it is threatened. As a potential predator is distracted by the still wiggling tail, the gecko can make a quick escape. And, its tail will grow back for protection in the future.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Kevin and his son will share other fun facts about reptiles from the zoo and the wild while herping from home in future posts on Wild View.