Critter of the Week: Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko

CONSERVATION STATUS

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

 Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Family: Gekkonidae

Genus: Uroplatus

Species: U. Phantasticus

Binomial Name: Uroplatus Phantasticus

RANGE

The satanic leaf-tailed gecko is found only in the northern and central tropical forests of Madagascar, and is also called the eyelash leaf-tailed gecko or the fantastic leaf-tailed gecko. Their generic name comes from the Latin words meaning “tail” and “flat.” The specific name comes from the word “imaginary” since it has such a unique appearance.

There are a few different species of leaf-tailed geckos, giving them different colors and variously textured skin. The satanic leaf-tailed gecko usually has a brown or darker appearance to make them look like bark or leaves, with some cases of red or other colors. Their large eyes do not have any eyelids, so these leaf-tailed geckos lick their eyes to keep them free of dust and debris.

The leaf-tailed geckos live solely in trees thanks to their sticky toes. Not only are the bottoms of their toes made of millions of tiny plates, but they also have curved claws for extra grip. These plates allow movement across smooth vertical surfaces like glass. If that doesn’t provide enough holding power, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko can also use its tail to wrap around branches.

 

 

Satanic leaf-tailed geckos hunt during the night, feeding mostly on insects and occasionally small rodents and reptiles. During the day, these geckos use a variety of tactics to stay safe from predators like eagles, snakes, and rats. Besides camouflage, they can also flatten their bodies to minimize their shadow, open their jaws wide to show their bright red mouths, or shed their tail and run away!

 

 

Like most reptiles, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko lays eggs instead of having live births. Relatively little is known about the reproductive behavior of these geckos, but scientists do know that their mating period starts at the beginning of the rainy season. Female leaf-tailed geckos lay two to four spherical eggs inside dead plants or under leaves. The eggs hatch after 60-70 days and the babies will be left on their own to become self-sufficient.