Readers’ Questions Answered: Creature Behavior

The creatures we have under our care, whether they are feeders or pets, can mystify us with their behavior as we strive to understand them and provide the appropriate conditions for them to thrive.


Question 1

I read that young Rhacodactylus species get along fairly well together. I have a crested gecko (15g) and a gargoyle (14g), housed separately, only introduced once (on ground neither had laid claim to), who reacted kind of weird. Crestie seemed very interested (not like in mating, just genuinely intrigued), but garg seemed super freaked! He scampered right away! I held him sort of near the crestie to give it a second chance, and he started breathing very fast and tried to hide. I separated them both again, and haven’t let them hang out since, I don’t wanna stress anybody out.

So I guess I’m just looking for clarification: is what I read a myth, or a guideline? I understand each animal has its own personality, and that I may just have a lil chicken-gargoyle, but I was just curious to hear what you guys think!

Kevin Jack responds:

I call it a MYTH.

Don’t read too much into that one encounter.  The next time they might just sit there and stare at each other.   You can’t predict what they will do from one time to the next, and that’s one reason to never put them together again.

When they’re young, they’re in “don’t get eaten” mode, so that’s likely why your gargoyle reacted the way it did.  However, they don’t exhibit stress in the ways we can normally pick up on, so it’s likely even the Crested gecko felt the same.   As they grow, you would likely find that the gargoyle would be the more aggressive of the two.  Gargoyles and Cresteds are different in temperament at adult size, so it’s a bad idea in general to introduce them.  Cresteds are known for easily dropping their tails from stress, and gargoyles are famous for eating one another’s tails and bullying smaller animals.  This is not a good combination.

As a side note, it would helpful for a new reptile owner to remember that reptiles are not mammals.  I know it sounds silly to say, but lots of new reptile keepers seem to think of them like hairless hamsters.  They do not need socialization with one another or us,  most of them are afraid when we pick them up and the reason we think otherwise is because they don’t display stress in a way that we will interpret correctly.
I appreciate you not wanting to stress them out, and it sounds like you’ve got the well-being of your animals in mind.  I wouldn’t put them together at all anymore.  It’s not helpful for them and the next time could end in one or both of them losing a tail, going off feed for a while or worse.

Here’s an excellent book for further research: Rhacodactylus: The Complete Guide to their Selection and Care.

Here’s another excellent book: Rhacodactylus: Biology, Natural History and Husbandry.

And a great forum so you can get some personal interaction with some excellent Rhacodactylus keepers: Repashy Forums.

Question 2

I am an education major in a Science Methods class.  We are raising meal worms and I am concerned that my meal worm has been sluggish and “pre-pupaing” for several days now.  How long does it take for a meal worm to turn into a pupa, aside from the maturity of the larva.

Justin Hansen responds:
The worms will start to stay in the same place and curl a little. From there it is about 2 to 4 days before each will be done pupating. The temperature has an effect with higher temps around 80 causing the entire process to speed up. As long as your worm still has a cylindrical shape and doesn’t look dried out you should be fine. I often thought that there were a bunch of dead worms on the surface of the grain only to find them alive when I picked them up. They seem to just remain still until they slough off the skin into pupae. After pupae it’s about a week until they are beetles.


Justin Hansen’s first reptile, an African Fat Tailed Gecko, sparked an interest that ended up consuming a dorm room in New York City and almost getting him expelled. Now that he has the space he is renewing his passion for breeding geckos. Currently focusing on Leopard Geckos he hopes to be able to branch out to other gecko species. He will be found at once he has a spare moment to finish the site.

Kevin Jack, or Pakinjak as he is called on most forums is probably the most snuggled man in New Hampshire thanks to his wife and three daughters.  He is a self-employed finish carpenter who enjoys good literature, good beer and a good cigar and often to bursts randomly into song like in an animated movie.   He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Bible Theology and knows just barely enough about most things to be dangerous.  If you want to know anything else, you’ll have to read the above article or email him yourself at [email protected].

What do you think?

Written by Aliza

Aliza is a home care speech therapist living in the Boston area. She successfully bred a variety of gecko species between 2005 and 2017. She currently cares for a large number of geckos as well as a few frogs and bearded dragons. Other interests which she pursues in her copious free time include work in ceramics, practicing aikido and surfing the internet.


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  1. What is your secret in incubating leopard gecko’s eggs? And can you do it without an incubator?

  2. Leopard gecko eggs can be incubated anywhere as long as you can maintain a consistent temperature that doesn’t vary more than a degree or two between 80-88 degrees and at a humidity over 80%. People have been successful incubating them in the cage and in places in their homes that meet these conditions, but it is most reliable to use an incubator. For additional information, google “leopard gecko breeding” and read caresheets.

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