Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko
(Uroplatus  henkeli)

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Picture of Gecko courtesy of: Amy Brotcke
Name: Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko
Scientific name: Uroplatus henkeli
Range: Northern Madagascar
Habitat: Humid rain forest
Status: Not threatened
Diet in the wild:  Vitamins, crickets, and wax worms
Diet in the zoo: Large invertebrates
Location in the zoo:  Herpetarium

Physical description: 

The length varies from 10 to 13 in. / 25 to 33 cent. with a triangular shaped head.  The snout of the henkeli is 120 -160 mm / 4.8 - 5-6 in. The geckos tail, feet, and hands consists of specialized plates each bearing numerous microscopic hook like cells that allow them to cling to smooth surfaces, and glass.  The tail on the gecko is in the shape of a leaf.  Henkel's are olive green or a brown with dark spots, blotches, or flecks.  The anterior side of the gecko is usually a whitish color.  The males and females can be identified by the different coloration: males are yellowish brown and the females are grayish.  The eyes of both sexes are beige or pinkish brown with red spots, which gives the overall appearance of the eye color to be a brick red color. 

General information:
The Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko is one of the most unique Geckos in the entire genus. The geneus contains 9 species: U. henkeli, U. malahelo, U. lineatus, U. sikorae, U. fimbriatus, U. alluaudi, U. guentheri, U. ebenaui, U. phantasticus.  The species of Uroplatus are not endangered, but due to the cutting down of the rain forest many of the species are found in undisturbed parts of Madagascar.  Herpetoculturists are setting up colonies to maintain the species of Uroplatus.U. henkeli is one of the species that are most frequently kept by breeders; also U. henkeli is frequently imported from Madagascar.This method of importing the Uroplatus is very unhealthy and causes stress to the reptile.  CITES is not currently protecting the genus, but at the current rate of deforestation the genus will soon be threatened. 

Avoiding Danger:

U. henkeli will hide under plants or rocks for protection from its predators.  This gives the gecko a camouflage effect making it hard for the predators to detect it.  Also, when the U. henkeli is attacked, it lets out a screeching distress call that startles the predator, which sometimes results in the gecko's escape. 

Special anatomical, physiological
or behavioral adaptations:

U. henkeli has no eyelids, and a vertically oriented pupil.  The pupils have 4 small pinhole openings that shut out the light during the day.  At night the pupils dilate to permit the passage of available light (moonlight) thus allowing the gecko to see while it searches for food.The gecko licks its eye to clean it from dust or other particles.  U. henkeli's tail can drop off when it is frightened, and it can regenerate a new tail.  When the new tail is regenerated the appearance of the tail is different: longer, shorter, or inflated. 

Picture of gecko courtesy of: Rocky Mountain Herpetculture

Comments about the geckos of the Fort Worth Zoo:

Henkel's Gecko at the Fort Worth Zoo

The geckos like to hide in things such as hollow trees, cork bark, and behind plants.  The female gecko has two eggs that are buried in the floor, and it takes about 90 days to hatch.  The gecko is a nocturnal reptile that can distinguish between light and dark.  Since the gecko is a nocturnal animal, the gecko is fed primarily during the evening hours.   The snout of the gecko is very fragile, so the animal is fed with tongs or a small cup with a thin sponge layer inside for protection. 

Personal Observations:
During the day the gecko spends most of their time sleeping on branches and cork bark.  The larger sized gecko can survive in chamber no smaller than 2 x 4 x 3 ft/ 60 x 120 x 90 cm.  On the other hand the smaller gecko can survive in a chamber that is 2 x 3 x 2 ft / 60 x 90 x 60 cm.  The environment should include cork bark chips, peat moss, leaves, branches, and UVB lighting. 

Picture of gecko courtesy of: George Williams

Source Materials and Related Links:
Web sites:
Jim Marlett, Leafed-tailed Gecko-Uroplatus henkeli
Amy Brotcke, Uroplatus Henkeli
Petra Spiess, Nature's Dead Leaves and Pez Dispensers: Genus Uroplatus (Flat-tailed geckos)
Articles online:
Author not available, Leaf-tailed Gecko, Encyclopedia of Australia, 01-01-1999.
Other sources and personal conversations:
I visited the zoo 
Personal conversation with Dr. Mary Anne Clark
Other geckos at the Fort Worth Zoo:  Giant Leaf-tailed Gecko,   Leopard Gecko

Page author:{short description of image}Rolanda Botello

Send E-mail to  r_botello@hotmail.com

or to mac@whozoo.org

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