The leaf tailed gecko is just one part of a nine family member species. This particular gecko isn’t as large as some of the other breeds out there while it will only reach up to 8cm from 30cm. One of the most interesting species and family members of the leaf tail family is the cryptic gecko. Known precisely for its name, it can use an ability the basically camouflages it into the background staying hidden. This is a defensive measure designed to allow it to blend into the natural environment and usually this is in a rainforest. They tend to come from the rainforests of Madagascar and need to have as much defensive capability as possible to survive.
You’ll notice that the larger members of the family are commonly known to have fringes all around the entire body and that they’ll have beards as well. When they lay their head down on a covered rock or some moss, you more than likely will miss them or not be able to see them, which helps them hide from predators in the wilderness. One of the most unique features of this is that it blocks out any chance of a shadow being formed and it will allow it to hide from just about anything.
Some of the smaller members in the family have their tails shaped as leaves which will allow them to lay flat and blend in with the leaves on the ground. Not only that but their bodies are said to resemble other leaves on the ground that are dead or they can often resemble slim branches as well. The leaf tailed gecko is known as the master of disguise because they’re not great fighters and that’s their only line of defense really, they have to blend in with the environment. They’re also not as particularly fast as some of the other breeds out there.
This particular species has rather large eyes because it helps it hunt nocturnal prey. Being a nocturnal animal itself like most reptiles, it will actively seek for prey no matter what the size is. Unlike some geckos, their mouths can open rather large and accommodate larger than normal prey. Not only that, but after they’re done hunting for the night and they feel they’re done, they’ll even return to the exact same spot they were previously. They can even be known to change their skin color from time to time to help blend in.
Different Species Of Leaf Tailed Gecko
First, you have the common leaf tailed geckos or also known as the Uroplatus Fimbriatus. As the name suggests, it’s one of the most common members of the family and you’re more likely to find these on Madagascar than you are the other eight species. It’s also going to be the largest of all the family members as well. If you’re looking for these, you’ll have to travel to the east side of the rainforest where they thrive. These geckos have been known to grow up to 30cm which is actually quite large for a gecko and marks them as one of the largest in the world. The first thing you’ll notice is that they have amber eyes and a vertical stripe pattern.
The next species is one of the most varied and colored species out of all of them and it’s known as the Henkles leaf tailed gecko or otherwise known as the Uroplatus Henkeli. They can be a wide range of colors, while some have been reported to be completely white, some of them have been reported to be colored orange and some of them have even been said to be completely pink as well. While it’s still a rather large family member, it’s still 5cm less than the common leaf tailed gecko. You won’t find many markings on this particular member though and usually has pink eyes.
Next up is the species known as the Uroplatus Sikorae or more commonly known as the mossy leaf tailed geckos. These only measure to a size of 18 and a half centimeters but are still decently sized for a gecko. They often resemble a mossy branch that look like some twigs or they can often resemble some lichen as well. They might have some distinguishable bumps on them as well and they’re more than likely to be found on off-shore islands or on the northern tip of Madagascar. There is however a sub-species of this family member which is known on the island of Nosy Boraha. The only real different you’ll notice is the coloration in the mouth, which where the Sikorae is black and the Sameiti has a flesh looking color.
The next up species will be the lined leaf tailed gecko or known by its alternative family name, the Uroplatus Lineatus. If you’re looking for this species, well you’ll have to go to the North East section of the bamboo forest. You can distinguish this particular breed by finding the brown lines on their head and they’ll usually have some running along their body as well. Also, you’ll notice that most of them tend to have a very vivid yellow background. They can reach up to 25cm which makes them a decently large specimen. If these are to be kept in captivity, then you’ll more than likely want some bamboo canes as well.
Then you have an eerie name but the satanic leaf tailed gecko or otherwise known as the Uroplatus Phantasticus. This species is rather small compared to other members of the family as it’s only going to reach up to 9cm in length at the very maximum. The entire body though is unique out of all the different members of the family because it resembles that of a curled up leaf. Also, the tail is leaf shaped as the name suggests and is truly an amazing sight to see. You’ll notice that they’re brown in nature or can be grey as well. There’s a wide variety of colors that you may find them in but the word satanic more than likely comes from the small horns it appears to have and the red eyes.
The next and final species can be found on the North Western tip of the island and it’s known as the Nosey Be leaf tailed gecko or by its alternative name Uroplatus Ebenaui. Not a lot is known about this species except for the fact it tends to mimic dead leaves quite well and blends in well for survivability.
Housing will be the first and foremost essential step to owning a leaf tailed gecko or any kind of reptile because all reptiles require some kind of enclosure. I imagine you could try to let a bunch of reptiles live among you without any kind of enclosure but they would be severely dehydrated due to the temperature variance in your home unless you turned your place into a sauna.
The reason that reptiles require housing and structure is because of the things they require to stay not only healthy but alive. They require shelter, they require adequate lighting, heating and a place for eating that’s more suited to the wild. We’ll go over some of the basics of setting all of that up and hopefully you can setup a perfect home for your new leaf tailed gecko pet.
First, you’re going to want a cage or an aquarium type structure. Which one you choose is completely up to you but I will say that it’s a lot easier to hold your pets in an aquarium due to being able to control the temperature and humidity inside of the cage easier. So once you choose that, it’s time to move onto the decorations or doodads of the home if you will.
Depending on where your pet is from or what region of the world it’s from, you might want to setup your cage to resemble home as much as possible for the pet. You can either find your own from the forest or you can buy cheap and fake plastic looking toys that resemble logs and other tree like features that a rain forest has. This will not only make them feel at home, but give them things to do and some hiding spots which all reptiles love to have.
The next thing you’re going to want to have is a shelter. A shelter is essentially a hiding spot from the heat and the light. Any shelter you purchase or build is going to need to cut out the light from it completely and the only thing that should be showing on the shelter is an entrance hole. Inside, you want the minimal light getting in as possible. You’ll find your gecko spending a lot of time in a shelter, so you can either again, buy a cheap one or make one yourself. You can make them out of just about anything but it’s recommended that you do it with something with weight volume such as an empty butter container.
Now, there are some precautions and safety tips that you should follow when selecting and getting your cage/aquarium. You’re going to want to run your fingers through the entire enclosure and make sure there are no gaps or holes for the animal to escape. Not only that, but you want to make sure there’s no loose wires or anything sharp that the animal may cut themselves on as well as this may be costly when you have to buy a new shelter and a new pet. It all really comes down to personal preference and what looks the best to you on your personal budget.
Substrate is a very straight forward subject because the whole idea of substrate is to cover the enclosure floor. Most of them are just for decoration but some of them are great for creatures that burrow. Basically, you want to avoid some substrates because they can be incredibly harmful to leaf tailed gecko. First, you want to determine just what kind of substrate that you’re looking to lay down and how much you’re willing to spend.
Some substrate may look great but honestly isn’t worth the cost and the hassle in my opinion. However for juvenile or baby gecko, you’re going to have to forget what kind of substrate you’ll be laying down because instead of getting to pick and choose, you’ll be laying down paper towels or newspapers. Why? There will be many various benefits of using towels or papers over substrate and let’s examine some of them.
First, it’s very cost effective because honestly, what do paper towels or newspaper costs compared to other substrates? Now, look at the cost of some substrates such as dirt, moss or other fancy kind of substrate that may look like a realistic ground for gecko and may look great from the outside but it’s not recommended for younglings until they’ve grown into their bodies at least 6 months in and have a grasp on walking and what’s edible and what’s not.
Second, when you have to spot clean, it’ll be much easier. Let’s face it, no one likes cleaning up poop or fecal matter from a pet cage. However, like every other animal the leaf tailed gecko has to leave waste somewhere and it leaves it’s feces on the floor as you can’t really potty train them. When this happens, at least you’ll be able to spot the mess easy and clean it up. If you refuse to clean it up or you get lazy, well let’s just say that paper is really bad at hiding smell and you’re going to reek of it.
Also, when you have moss or dirt like substrate, it’s going to be less obvious when there’s spots that need cleaned. Not only that but juveniles have a tendency to eat anything they can find on the ground and if you have some fine grain sand lying on the ground, they might end up eating the sand. What happens when they eat the sand? You might have to go through this fun little process called impaction which could kill your pet.
So what kinds of substrates are recommended? Personally I would highly recommend some dirt like substrate wherever you can get it because this is what this particular species is most used to in the rainforest. They’re used to moist dirt like substances and that’s what they’re most commonly going to do good on. However, just remember that you’ll have to clean out your cage more and it’ll be messier as your gecko will have some dirt on them and will more than likely drag that dirt around different areas of your cage, including your water bowl.
Just pick something that’s to your liking and isn’t harmful to your gecko’s health while matching the environment. You usually have a lot of freedom and room to mess around here so go nuts and get creative.
This is going to be highly essential to providing the best temperature possible but before you start setting temperatures and setting up different numbers around the enclosure, there are some things that you’re going to need. First, you’re going to need a heating lamp that hangs above the enclosure and more importantly, you’re going to need an accurate thermometer as well. Now, as far as what the temperature should approximately be, that’s going to depend on whether it’s day time or night time.
During the day time, you’re going to want to shoot for 72 degrees and then during the night you’re usually going to want to see it go down to 65. They like to have a drop in temperature at night and the basking period is only in the day anyways, which that heat allows proper and efficient digestion of their food. Don’t be alarmed if you notice some sudden changes of temperature during the different seasons because this is completely normal and expected. It’s going to get colder in the fall and winter seasons as your house naturally gets colder.
Don’t crank up your thermostat to something ridiculous like 90 just to keep it warm, believe me the gecko will be fine. The temperatures mentioned above should serve as an average of numbers during the summer but can tend to fluctuate a few degrees here and there. Now, humidity is another thing that you need to worry about and to make it short, you need to keep the humidity around a healthy 50% or sometimes even a 60%. There are a couple of ways you can help influence this but you won’t know what the humidity is without having a measuring device in there to help measure the humidity.
Some thermometers have them that are digital and new age. A lot of people prefer to slap some old school dial thermometers on the side and I don’t recommend doing this. These can be off by give or take quite a few degrees and you don’t want to be off by a few degrees when you’re trying to breed geckos. The leaf tailed gecko is very tolerable to different temperatures unlike some other breed of reptiles that require a very strict temperature layout.
In order to help keep humidity at a decent high, you’re going to want to take practice in something that’s known as misting. First, get an empty water bottle that you’re sure is clean and free of anything, and then fill it up with some water. What you’re going to do is gently spray or “mist” the enclosure and the gecko. What this essentially does is not only helps keep it moist, but helps when it’s time to shed its skin and keeps the humidity up as well.
Feeding your pets is one of the most common misinformation spots on the internet, especially when it comes to geckos or the leaf tailed gecko. Commonly though, the eating habits of a leaf tailed gecko aren’t much different than they are of a regular gecko or any kind of reptile. There are a lot of different things on the menu that they’ll eat but to be honest, the gecko will eat different kinds of substrate if they get hungry, curious or just bored which is why geckos in general need a lot of attention and care.
First, I’m going to go over the type of food that I wouldn’t recommend feeding your gecko and explain why you shouldn’t be feeding it to them. Then I’m going to discuss the benefits and cons of the multi-vitamin world and if it’s really a crock or not.
First, you have what’s known as the wax worm which is commonly known as the fatty food of the reptile world. It’s highly advised that you stay away from using these as a typical meal for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they’re very high in fat materials and aren’t going to provide your gecko much good in that area. They should only be used very sparingly and should only be used as snacks rather than meals if you absolutely feel this necessary.
Mealworms are the next topic of debate and there’s a lot of debate in the community because while using these as meals provide a lot of different nutrients for reptiles they also have a deadly side effect. A lot of mealworms and alike have something that’s known as a parasite. What these parasites do is dig into the reptile and will even go for the lung and try to infect it. It’s a scary thought but you could end up paying a huge bill just to be told that there’s nothing you can do for your pet if the worm makes it into the lung and refuses to come out.
Ideally, mealworms will be completely up to you whether you want to use them or not but please use them with caution and perform weekly checks for signs of parasites. You might notice some bumps on the belly or some spots that look irregular. Of course, parasites don’t happen to too many pets but it’s still a huge problem in the reptile community and it’s caused by things like mealworms. You shouldn’t be superstitious or anything but you should be better safe than sorry, so make sure you just keep an eye out on what kind of mealworms you’re feeding them.
Then you have other random insects that you can find in the wild which are also a horrible idea. Now, I understand that when leaf tailed gecko are out in the wild, they’ll eat just about anything and everything that they please but you have to understand, these creatures are born into captivity and aren’t used to the wild. They more than likely aren’t getting the nutritional values and vitamins that they should be unless you’re actively giving it to them. Rather than surviving based off their own survival instincts, these creatures are going to completely rely on you for survival.
Now then, the main food that you should be feeding these geckos is mainly crickets. Why? First off, the leaf tailed gecko mainly enjoys a meal that’s alive and active. It keeps them on the move and they’ll enjoy the food more if they felt like they actually chased it down. Also, crickets come packed with a lot of nutrients that your leaf tailed gecko need to not only survive but to function optimally. You don’t have to necessarily feed them only crickets but it definitely doesn’t hurt to put them on a cricket only strict diet.
Now, moving onto the topic of these so called vitamins that every pet owner just seems to have to have, are they for real or is this one big crock pot? A lot of people have different and mixed results on these vitamins because some people report success and some people report no change at all so do some of these pills have the sugar effect on their owners? They think the situation of their pet is improving and nothing is really improving at all?
If you feel any signs or see any hints that your leaf tailed gecko is coming down with a vitamin deficiency such as slow movement, uncoordinated or isn’t eating their food as much, then yes, getting more nutrition obviously is a must and vitamins are a great way to do that. So how do you do it? The easiest way is to sprinkle calcium powder on crickets before feeding time and to make crickets eat some B vitamin food and have them held for 24 hours.
It’s best if you feed your gecko once every day but once they grow older, you can get away with feeding them once every two days. Just feed them accordingly and use common sense. Look for signs of any kind of infections or parasites and try to treat them early on to prevent anything serious.
When you’re looking to breed leaf tailed gecko, you want to follow a couple of simple and easy to follow rules that most gecko follow. A lot of people prefer to breed the satanic leaf tailed gecko because they like the look of them or just like the name. They’re a very beautiful species but first, you should figure out exactly which species you want because this should be done before purchasing them in the first place.
However, you should know something about the satanic family member, because they’re one of the hardest to care for when it comes to their newborns and you’re going to have a lot of trouble raising their offspring. Not only that, but they definitely don’t make it easy on you when you’re trying to breed and are highly un reliable, they have their name for a reason.
Unlike some reptiles that can breed during nearly any time during the year, the most successful breeding time for a gecko of just about any species seems to be near the winter time. Some people say they have success in spring but the general consensus state that you should be doing it in winter. What you’ll want to do is increase the light cycle to 12 hours a day and you’re going to want to make sure you’re using UV lighting. This kind of lighting increases calcium absorption from the females which helps increase your odds of having eggs successfully.
Now, you want to make sure that your substrate is very moist but you don’t want it to be overly moist to the point of where it’s damp, just a little wet like mud right after it’s rained and starting to dry up. At this point in time, you should be spraying a couple of times a day to make sure that it stays moist. Just remember, don’t drench or overdo it to the point where water puddles start to form. Drop the temperature a few degrees and make sure it stays consistent that way as this breeds the best conditions for breeding.
When you’re feeding them during this time, it’s important that you keep a close on eye on the number of crickets that are out and roaming about because you want to make sure that they’re eating them all and that they’re getting a healthy nutritional dose of vitamins during this time as well. You’ll also notice that females will become hefty as well which is completely normal. After a while, they will breed and you will have hatchlings about a few months later.
Health And Safety
Now when you’re dealing with some fresh imports, you’re going to run into the issue of mites a lot. It’s not a problem you can particularly avoid when you have imports. Now, there are some different medications and sprays out there that actually kill mite and they shouldn’t give you too much trouble. You can find a lot of different mite sprays at pet stores and most of them work quite well if you tackle the problem early on and don’t let it grow into a huge problem.
All you have to do is simply spray a cotton swab or gentle rag surface and then you can dab it on the mite that you’re trying to rid of. This is most commonly helpful for mites that don’t seem to want to leave and tend to try to hide in places like toe pads. It might work on the very first try or it might take several applied instances to completely rid of the mite before you see some improvement. However, make sure that you keep the chemicals or spray away from the eyes, the nostrils or the mouths of your geckos as well, you shouldn’t get it anywhere near that.
Now some mites like to hide in tricky areas such as right between the eyes or other close by areas and if this is an issue for you, you can let a veterinarian do it or you can take a pair of tweezers and do it very carefully. Sometimes, mites will have a good hold onto the gecko and will be a pain in the behind to remove. That’s why you want to use say a cotton swab or something such as a q-tip that you can dab on to the animal and remove the mite or at least apply the application. Some people have said they have success in using vegetable oil but this isn’t talked about a lot or proven so use it at your own risk.
There are some products that you should stay away from though such as Provent-A-Mite. The reason being that it can be highly hazardous to the health of your smaller geckos and might even be fatal if you’re not careful. If you’re not careful, it might even get into the food that you’re feeding your geckos and cause serious problems for all of the pets eating from that food supply, so just be careful and look up reviews on different mite removal sprays before buying them.