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Spectacular New Species of Leaf-Tailed Gecko Discovered in Australia

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Madagascar’s bizarre Leaf-Tailed Geckos (Uroplatus spp.) are on the wish lists of many lizard enthusiasts.  Even after decades of keeping reptiles in zoos, I was shocked by the sight of my first specimen.  Equally unique are Australia’s fantastic Leaf-Tailed Geckos (genus Saltuarius).  In color, shape (some look like insect-chewed leaves!), movement and body position, both groups take camouflage to its extreme.  The recent (October, 2013) discovery of a new Australian species, the Cape Melville Leaf Tailed Gecko, has caused quite a stir.  Its Latin name means “exceptional, extraordinary and exquisite”…and it is very fitting! I know that I’m not alone in being thrilled that there are still such unusual creatures waiting to be found.

NE Australian rainforest

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Adam.J.W.C.

A Tiny Range and Very Specific Habitat

The Cape Melville Leaf Tailed Gecko, Saltuarius eximius, seems limited in distribution to the Cape Melville Mountains on the Cape York Peninsula in tropical northeastern Queensland, Australia.

Only 6 individuals have been found, all on granite boulders beneath a rainforest canopy (please see habitat photo). This same mountain range is also home to 3 endemic (found nowhere else) frogs and 2 endemic skinks. Read More »

How to Feed Insect-Eating Pet Lizards – the Best Live Foods

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  From tiny Day Geckos to stout Water Dragons and lumbering Savanna Monitors, many popularly-kept lizards feed primarily upon live foods including insects and other invertebrates. The most important point for insectivorous lizard owners to remember (and one that my regular readers are sick of seeing!), is that crickets and mealworms alone, even if powdered with supplements, are not an adequate diet for any species.  Dietary variety is essential.  Fortunately, with a bit of planning, we can collect, breed or purchase a huge array of nutritious invertebrates for the lizards in our collections.

Beetle grub

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Toby Hudson

From specialists such as Horned and Caiman Lizards to Tokay Geckos and other generalists, the needs of individual species vary greatly.  Please post below for specific information on the lizards in your collection.

Wild Caught Insects

I firmly believe that reptile keepers should place much more emphasis on collecting insects and other invertebrates.  While caution concerning pesticides and toxic species is warranted (please see articles linked below), the risks can be managed. Some notable successes that I and colleagues have had with a variety of delicate reptiles can be credited in part to the use of wild-caught insects. Read More »

Pet Lizards – Fascinating Species for those who keep Reptiles as Pets

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. From minute House Geckos to massive Water Monitors and endangered Rhinoceros Iguanas, an amazing array of fascinating lizards is now available in the pet trade. Fortunately, many are being bred in captivity, and new discoveries concerning their needs occur regularly.  But the range of choices of pet lizards can be overwhelming. Not all species are suited for each keeper, and some, although popular, are best avoided by private collectors.

Drawing from decades of work with hundreds of species at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos, today I’d like to highlight the pros and cons of some popular lizards. Detailed care information can be found in the linked articles, or by posting your questions below. Scores of other species could be used in place of those I have suggested…please be sure to write in with your own favorites, so that other readers may benefit from your experiences.

Chuckwalla (Sauromalus obesus)

Frilled Lizard

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Miklos Schiberna

This stocky desert-dweller was once difficult to maintain in captivity, mainly because its UVB requirements were ignored. Today’s high-output florescent UVB and mercury vapor bulbs have changed this situation, and captive bred animals are now readily available. Read More »

Geckos – Setting Up a Terrarium, Gecko Supplies, and Gecko Facts

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Gecko fans are fortunate indeed (I included, as I’ve worked with a great many in zoos and the field)…over 150 species are available in the pet trade, many of which do quite well in modest enclosures.  Among geckos we find lizards of every conceivable description – rainforest dwellers, desert specialists, burrowers, gliders, giants and many others.  Today I’ll review some guidelines that will help you to set up terrariums for a variety of species.  The following information can be applied to most available geckos, but details will vary.  Please post below for information on individual species.

Frog-Eyed Gecko

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Andrew S. Gardner

Natural History

The family Gekkonidae contains over 1,050 species.  Among lizards, their diversity is exceeded only by the skinks.

Geckos may be found in deserts, rainforests, woodlands and grasslands.  Some associate with people voluntarily –the aptly-named House Geckos favor our dwellings, while Tokay Geckos are established in Miami and other large cities.  Five species are native to the USA, but approximately 15 have been introduced from elsewhere.  Geckos range in size from the 1.2 inch-long Reef Geckos to the stout, 15 inch-long New Caledonian Giant Gecko.

The amazing ability of some geckos to run upside-down on ceilings was first recorded by Aristotle in the 4th Century.  Gecko feet are being studied with a view towards creating new adhesives. Read More »

Geckos in the Terrarium – Feeding Day Geckos

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  Day Geckos, those brilliantly-clad gems of the lizard world, are growing in popularity in zoos and private collections alike.  Small wonder – the 52 described species, all placed in the genus Phelsuma, are active by day (of course!) and, when properly kept, quite willing to breed and exhibit a wide range of behaviors in moderately-sized enclosures.  Feeding Day Geckos isn’t hard, as most eagerly feed upon crickets and mealworms, but their nutritional needs will not be met on this all-too-common diet.

Gold Dust Day gecko

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Thierry Caro

If your Day Geckos are to live long, healthy lives and reproduce, a good deal of effort must be put into providing a varied diet.  Fortunately, most herp keepers find the extra work – such as collecting or breeding “alternative” insect species – enjoyable, and well worth their efforts.  The following foods and techniques have served me well throughout my zoo and private animal-keeping careers.  The information can be applied to most species, including Standing’s, Gold Dust, Giant, Spotted, Lined and Peacock Day Geckos.  However, details will vary.  Please post below for information on individual species. Read More »

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