First a little description on the genus of Uroplatus geckos. There are currently 17 species, split into four semi scientific groups, three of these species are still awaiting a description these are labeled with aff. (Affinity) between the genus and the species name. Lastly many were only discovered in the last 50 years. All Uroplatus are endemic (native, only found on) to the island of Madagascar and its loyalty islands such as Nosy Be where several species can be found. All members of the genus are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss from farming as well as charcoal ,and titanium mining. The most endangered of the group (genus) is the Uroplatus guetheri or "Guenther's leaf-tail gecko". This is due to its very limited and fragile primary forest on Madagascar's western side. It is a sad fact that mainy of these fascinating geckos could be gone in the wild in our life time.
Uroplatus geckos are with out a dought some of the most impressive and criptic animals on the face of the earth. As well as some of the most underrated. They boast impressive camo as well as a wide range of colors to mimic there chosen environment. It is unfortunate how little these beautiful animals are kept, and yet they are so well known by hobbyists and reptile bred sees alike. I was lucky enough to find a article on Uroplatus phantasicus in 2010. I was stunned by there deep red eyes and there devil's "horns" as we'll as the colors, and there leaf mimicry. I soon found out more about there care as well as how uncommon they were. Still to this day I don't know why.
Fast forward four years or so, I had been keeping many gecko species such as leopard geckos, crested geckos and gargoyle geckos, phelsuma, hemiliconyx as well as hemidactylus, just to name a few. But I still had yet to encounter these geckos first hand. One day while browsing the inter webs I found to my surprise a Uroplatus species that I had not yet heard of; The Uroplatus aff. Henkeli. They, like all members of the genus wore amazing camo and colors. Similar to all of the other leaf tails they were very unknown and there for highly underrated. I found out they could be kept between 68 and 78 with a high-ish humidity, they enjoyed crickets and roaches, as well as UVB, and lots places to climb and frolic during the night hours. After more research as well as a lot of asking around, I was lucky enough to find a trio of these awesome geckos. After keeping them I can honestly say they are my favorite creatures on the face of the earth as well the most underrated. I am amazed on a daily bases by the way the seem to melt into there chosen sleeping branch.
I spend many mornings in front of the row of Uroplatus tanks looking for them to then only find they were hiding right I front of my face. I hope that by reading this you will invest in these fantastic geckos or at least learn more about them and be amazed just as I am on a daily basis.
By Zane Johnson Wild Type Herps
all photos by the author