- New Caledonian giant gecko, Rhacodactylus leachianus
- 30 centimetre(s)
- New Caledonia ()
The largest extant species of gecko is the New Caledonian giant gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus), aka Leach’s giant gecko, which can reach lengths of 30 centimetres (11.8 inches) from snout to vent, or around 36 centimetres (14 inches) when including its stumpy tail. Adult specimens weigh in the region of 200–300 grams (7–10.5 ounces). Endemic to the South Pacific island of New Caledonia and nearby isles, this reptile is a tree-dwelling species that is mainly active at night, when it feeds on insects, fruit, spiders and sap, among other things.
According to local folklore, New Caledonian giant geckos are able to steal a person’s soul. That superstition, along with their growl-like vocalizations, have led to them gaining the nickname of “devils in the trees”.
There have been reports that this species may be capable of parthenogenesis – the ability for females to produce offspring without a male – but this has yet to have been scientifically confirmed.
The largest gecko ever is the extinct Delcourt’s giant gecko (Hoplodactylus delcourti) of New Zealand, known from only a single mounted taxidermy specimen, measuring a total length (including the tail) of 61 cm (2 ft). It had been on display at the Marseilles Natural History Museum in France for more than a century before it was recognized by the curator, Alain Delcourt, in 1979.
At the other end of the spectrum, the smallest living geckos are the dwarf geckos of the genus Sphaerodactylus. Two in particular – S. ariasae from the Dominican Republic and S. parthenopion of the British Virgin Islands – stand out for their diminutive dimensions, with adult examples of both recorded at 16–18 mm (0.62–0.7 in) from snout to vent. This puts them among the world’s smallest reptiles, only surpassed by Madagascar’s leaf chameleons which can reach as small as 14 mm (0.55 in).