The Beaked Gecko as it is known due to its slender, narrow snout which ends in a resemblance to a beak is found in various arid areas of the continent. This species is relatively common in its native range and can reach a snout to vent length of between 1&5/8″ to 2&1/2″ (45mm to 59mm) depending on the sex. The body is somewhat slender, with a relatively long tail which ends in a rather small ball shape.
In its endemic regions, it is known to mainly feed on termites which could be a reason behind the narrow beak-like snout that they possess. This species is not common in captivity as many breeders are deterred from keeping or studying them due to limited supplies of termites. I have found that they can easily be raised on other insect prey. If juveniles are obtained at a relatively young age, their first food source can be something similar to termites.
In the past, I have received young Rhynchoedura Ornata juveniles that were a mere 30mm total length, and as their first food source, I offered cricket nymphs (pinhead crickets) as a substitute. The first number of feeds of cricket nymphs were dusted with a calcium powder to disguise or resemble termites. There was no need to scent the cricket nymphs with termites. The cricket nymphs were devoured quite vigorously, and the geckos themselves were not stressed by the abundance on offer.
As the juveniles grew, I continued to use cricket nymphs as the main food source but reduced the dusting and increased the size of the crickets. Eventually, they would readily eat crickets that were about four times the size of a pinhead. I have not noticed a reduction in weight gain or any odd behavior by feeding crickets and believe that if they are not used to naturally eating termites when juveniles then they know no difference. I believe there would be difficulties in trying to convert adult specimens onto crickets.
This species is uniquely patterned and in most cases one of the more attractive terrestrial species around due to its pink/red colouration with patched markings along the body. Although they are a very small species, they seem rather active during both day and night hours when in a captive environment. Relatively easy to cater for in a 1-foot sized enclosure, with a small amount of sand substrate and a plastic or terracotta hide. Reasonable ambient temperatures of between 24–26 degrees will suffice with ¼ of the enclosure being heated from underneath using a 25W heat cord will give a temperature of 86°F (30°C) thus creating a perfect gradient. They enjoy receiving a light water spray once every two days and will readily drink droplets from the side of the enclosure.
This species is relatively easy to cater for, and unlike some other gecko species of a similar size like the Diplodactylus species does not have the ability to climb enclosure sides. When threatened Rhynchoedura Ornata does not make use of the run and hide routine but more or less has adopted a “play dead” drama show where they will lay still above the substrate floor when a hand enters their enclosure.
The female tends to be the larger of the sexes and can quite easily be noticed when gravid due to the large size of the eggs, which bulge quite prominently from her slender body. Eggs are laid between 19–25 days after copulation, however, this is dependant on the quantity of food made available. The incubation period is roughly between 55–65 days at 80°F (27°C).
All in all, Rhynchoedura Ornata is a wonderful little species to work with, but they should not be easily dismissed as a prominent termite feeder.
I will attempt similar feeding principles mentioned above regarding the non-feeding of termites later in the season on Diplodactylus Conspicillatus to see if similar success can be obtained.