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|African Golden Cat|
|Species Type||Leaf-tailed Gecko|
|Average Length||Total: 2.6 to 6 inches|
The Baweng Satanic Leaf Gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus) is a species of gecko indigenous to the island of Madagascar. It may also be known as the eyelash leaf tailed gecko or the fantastic leaf tailed gecko.
Distribution and habitatEdit
The species is endemic to Madagascar, meaning it is found nowhere else. It is an arboreal species that relies on its natural camouflage in the northern and central tropical forests of Madagascar.
Its adult size is 2.6 to 6 inches in total length, including the tail. As with all Uroplatus geckos the tail is flattened, but the leaf-like appearance is only seen in the ebenaui complex (U. phantasticus, U. ebenaui, and U. malama; although the tail size is much reduced in U. ebenaui). It has often been debated whether U. phantasticus is in fact the same species as U. ebenaui (the Nosy Bé flat-tailed gecko). However U. phantasticus possesses more, and longer, spines on the head, body and trunk. Other members of the genus Uroplatus have flattened tails that serve more to diminish the profile of the gecko while it is inactive. Some U. phantasticus geckos even have notches in their tails to further mimic a decaying leaf. This is also thought to be a form of sexual dimorphism, as the trait seems more common in the males of the species. In addition, U. phantasticus has an eyelash-like projection above each eye. During daylight hours, these adaptations help the gecko blend into its surroundings. At night it helps the gecko hunt for prey by providing camouflage.
Geckos possess no eyelids, just a transparent covering over their eyes, and so they use their long, mobile tongues to wipe away any dust or debris that gets into the eye.
The gecko occurs in a variety of colors, including hues of purple, orange, tan and yellow, but is often mottled brown, with small black dots on the underside that help to distinguish it from similar species.
A nocturnal reptile, with suitably large eyes, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko moves about its rainforest habitat at night feeding on insects. The adhesive scales under their fingers and toes and their strong curved claws enable them to move adeptly through the trees. The satanic leaf-tailed gecko is somewhat of an expert at avoiding predators, not only through their incredible mimicry, but through a number of behaviors: They can flatten their body against the substrate to reduce the body’s shadow, open their jaws wide to show a frightening, bright red mouth, and voluntarily shed their tail in order to trick a predator.
Like many reptiles, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko is oviparous, or egg-laying. Reproduction starts at the beginning of the rainy season when it lays clutches of two spherical eggs onto the ground under leaf litter, or in the dead leaves of plants.