The Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko Is A Master Of Disguise
If you ever find yourself in Madagascar, trekking through some dense foliage on a hike, be on the lookout for the super unique satanic leaf tailed gecko.
Keep in mind, however, that it’s nearly impossible to spot these incredible little reptiles. In fact, you’d have to spend a lot of time observing dead leaves in said foliage, because these geckos are absolute masters of disguise.
The satanic leaf tailed gecko is only found on the island of Madagascar. You can see them in a variety of colours… if you can see them at all. They come in purple tones, orange, tan and yellow, and most commonly brown with dots.
Not only is the satanic gecko brilliant at blending in with their environment, but they also become more so with age! The older these geckos get, the more camouflage gets added into their ‘toolbelt’. It’s like they acquire more visual reference points as they age, and can blend in with an increasing number of their surroundings.
They May Be Small But They’re Defensive!
Uroplatus Phantasticus, the formal name for this incredible species of gecko, is between 2.5 to 3.5 inches long. That means it’s actually quite small when compared with other geckos in its category. They weigh under one ounce!
One of the neat things about this reptile, in addition to its incredible camouflage, is that if it is discovered, it can stand, scream a terrifying gecko-sound, and even bite! This is one of the reasons locals in Madagascar are afraid of what they call “the Devil’s gecko”.
What’s Up With The Leafy Look? And Why “Satanic”?
The leafy look of Uroplatus Phantasticus is for obvious reasons: blending in with its environment. Its unique camouflage allows it to rest during the day. However, at night, the leaf tailed gecko hunts on roaches, moths, crickets, snails, or anything that’s fooled by its leaf-like appearance.
Not only does the leaf camouflage help this gecko eat, but it also protects it from predators. In fact, the only way you’re likely to see one is if you hire a guide who knows the area really well. There are a lot of species that are only found on Madagascar, so if you do go, it’s a great idea to hire someone who can show you around.
Locals to Madagascar call the satanic leaf tailed gecko “the Devil’s gecko”.
In fact, a Belgian biologist added “satanic” to the gecko’s name partly because it’s complacent until threatened. Other devil-like qualities are the blackness of its mouth, the creepiness of its eyes, and the fact that it resembles an innocent, dead leaf until you get too close. Plus, check out the projections above its eyes! Those horns, which help them to camouflage so well, look pretty satanic too.
They’ve Got A Few Different ‘Leaf-Tailed’ Siblings
Believe it or not, nine other leaf-tailed geckos are on record. However, many others are likely out there we just can’t see them to catch and research them.
Isn’t that so cool to know that nature’s mystery still has the upper hand, even with all of our scientists and our tools?
These geckos, most of which you’ll find in Madagascar, are so extremely adept at hiding that scientists haven’t even discovered some of their species. Some of the larger versions of this species even have beards!
Can You Have A Satanic Leaf Gecko As A Pet?
Similar to another master of disguise we’ve written about – the snow leopard – the satanic leaf tailed gecko is in danger. Partly due to the unique pet trade business, this species is in danger of running out. Also, mothers usually only hatch two eggs. And because you’ll only find the satanic gecko in Madagascar, researchers believe this unique species of gecko is declining in numbers.
However, the official conservation status of the leaf tailed gecko is “least concern”. Researchers believe that there has been a decline, but there’s also the fact that you can’t really see them to gather adequate population statistics. So there’s that.
All of that to say… no, you can not have one of these geckos as a pet! Unless you’re a jerk. Let’s leave them in the wild to scare cockroaches, just as nature intended.
- Related: Another scary animal that will keep you up at night… check out the Vampire Parrot of New Guinnea