Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko

Uroplatus phantasticus

The Species

Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko (scientific name: Uroplatus phantasticus), a nocturnal reptile endemic to Madagascar, is adept at escaping predators. Belgian-British zoologist George Albert Boulenger first described this species in 1888, giving it the name Uroplatus (Latinized Greek for ‘flat-tail’) phantasticus (Latin for ‘imaginary’).

It has a conservation status of Least Concern.

The ‘Satanic’ reference in its common name perhaps comes from its eyes (which can be red) and horn-like features above the eyes. This gecko is tiny: adults can usually range between 3–6 cm in size, are generally brown in color but can also be shades of brown, yellow, orange. To escape predators (snakes, rats, owls and such), it employs various tricks: it can mimic the texture of a dead leaf, shed its leaf-like tail, flatten its body to reduce its shadow, or bare its jaws to scare.

Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko

Role in Ecology

Geckos are generally vital to maintaining fragile ecosystems as they help to contain the population of insects, cockroaches, spiders and worms. Uroplatus phantasticus is not very tolerant to changes in its rainforest habitat, and changes in its immediate environment will affect the ability of this species to survive.

Importance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity (or Biological Diversity) is a term that describes the variety of living beings on earth, and includes diversity across species, within species, and across ecosystems. It is vital to maintaining the balance of the ecosystem. According to scientific estimates there are 8.7 million species on the planet.

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