Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Giant Leaf-Tail Gecko

A different sort of image capture I took whilst visiting MOLA at the Fort Worth Zoo last weekend. MOLA stands for the "Museum of Living Art", a very cool and state of the art Herpetarium!

Giant Leaf-tail Gecko

Largest of the Leaf Tailed Geckos of which there are ten species. Up to 12 inches or more in length. Coloring is variable; many have a beige or gray background with black cross-banding, while others are olive green or almost white with brown banding. The anterior side is usually a whitish color. This gecko has a large triangular head, prominent eyes with a pink polka-dot appearance, vertically oriented pupils, flaps of skin around the edges of the head and body, long slender limbs and along, broad, flat tail shaped like a leaf. 

Rainforest of Madagascar. 

Insects and other invertebrates. 

Nocturnal and arboreal. Two eggs are laid by the female and hatching occurs in 85-95 days. Three clutches may be laid per year. 

Geckos are known for their ability to run on smooth vertical surfaces. Their toes are splayed at the end and the pads thus formed are covered with numerous microscopic bristles. It is assumed each bristle finds a tiny irregularity and attaches somewhat like Velcro. Just before the foot is lifted to move on, the toes curl up at the ends in order to disengage the bristles. Their excellent camouflage (skin flaps and tail shape, as well as color) helps keep them safe from predators while resting during the day on tree trunk or branch. They have a limited ability to change color depending on mood or changes in temperature or lighting. The whole tail may be dropped in escaping a predator. The regenerated tail is different: it may be longer, shorter or broader than the original. 

Uroplatus are also known as Flat-tailed Geckos. These geckos have no eyelids and lick their eyes to remove dust or other particles. It is not desirable to import wild caught geckos for the pet trade. In addition to endangering the species, such geckos are in poor condition from being stressed, dehydrated and carrying a high parasite load.