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Introducing the Nosy Be Gecko (or Spearpoint Leaf-Tailed Gecko) – Part 2

Orange Nosy Be GeckoPlease see Part 1 of this article for information on an interesting newcomer to the pet trade, the Nosy Be Gecko (Uroplatus ebenaui).  Today we’ll take a look at some related species and the gecko family in general.

Other Geckos in the Genus Uroplatus

All 12 species that have been assigned to the genus Uroplatus, collectively known as “Leaf-Tailed Geckos”, are endemic to Madagascar and considered threatened due to extensive deforestation.  Cryptic colors, nocturnal ways and arboreal habitats render it likely that other species await discovery…hopefully before they disappear forever.

The largest Leaf-Tailed Gecko, Uroplatus fimbriatus, reaches 7.6 inches in length and gapes widely to display its bright red tongue when disturbed.  More than one neophyte zookeeper has called in a veterinarian to examine the apparently injured tongue upon first observing this display!

Leaf-Tailed Geckos bear an uncanny resemblance to dead leaves or bark, with the tails of some species sporting holes and irregularities that seem to have been chewed by insects.  They also adopt poses and movements that heighten their camouflaging coloration and body form – the Nosy Be Gecko, for example, can hang head down from a branch in near-perfect mimicry of a dead leaf.

The eyelids of Leaf-Tailed Geckos are fused to form a protective, immobile covering known as the brille.  Leaf-tailed Geckos use their tongues to clean the brille.

Gecko Diversity

The 1,180+ species of geckos described thus far comprise the second largest lizard family, the Gekkonidae (the largest family, the Scincidae, or skinks, boasts over 1,200 members).  New species are being discovered with regularity – several just this month (June, 2010, please see article below).  Geckos are found throughout much of the world, and reach their greatest diversity in desert, tropical and sub-tropical habitats.

Geckos range in size from the various Shaerodactylus species, some of which are full grown at 1.2 inches in length, to the New Caledonian Giant Gecko (Rhacodactylus leachianus), a bulky creature that tops out at nearly 15 inches.  Other species, now considered extinct but which some folks believe may still survive in Madagascar, reached 24 inches in length.

People-Oriented Geckos

House Gecko
A number of small species, known collectively as “House Geckos” (Hemidactylus spp.), follow human habitation and are widely transplanted. Several, including the Mediterranean House Gecko, H. turcicus, (please see photo) are well-established in the Southeastern USA.  The nocturnal House Geckos, invariably more common in and around homes than in more “natural” surroundings, ambush moths and beetles drawn to lights.

Because of their easy accessibility and interesting ways, House Geckos have been studied in detail and have revealed much of interest concerning territoriality and other types of behavior.

Further Reading

Article describing new Geckos recently uncovered in West Africa.

Cincinnati Zoo video of Leaf Tailed Geckos showing amazing camouflage abilities.


House Gecko image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Hexasoft

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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