- Scientific name: Uroplatus
English common name: Leaf-tail Geckos or Flat-Tail Geckos
Nederlandse triviale naam: Bladstaartgekko's
On the 2nd day of our trip through Madagascar, we went to Exotic Reserve Peyrieras. They had a bunch of Leaf-tail Geckos (Bladstaartgekko's). These weird creatures form a distinct group, yet the lineage and their place between other geckos is still a bit of a mystery. But let's not go that way.
The Leaf-tail Geckos (or Leaf-tailed Geckos) are within the genus of Uroplatus. They all have flat bodies and a flat leaf shaped tail. They are incredibly well camouflaged. In a reserve like Peyrieras it's easy. They just take them out of their cage and you make the photos. In the wild I've also encountered several Leaf-tail Geckos. I'm reasonably good at spotting wild life. But these geckos? The guide points them out. Still oblivious what he's pointing at. Only at closer inspection you actually see the gecko. Their camouflage is brilliant, they press their body flat against the trunk of a tree, blending in with the bark. The side edges of some species even have some mossy filaments so you won't see any transition between the gecko and the tree.
I love them. Even their eyes are camouflaged! When they open their mouths - when threatened they do so - you'll see less camouflage: bright orange and red colours. That sudden flash should scare away any predators :-) Have a close look at the Southern Leaf-tail Gecko (Mosbladstaartgekko). The camouflage is striking. I have pictures of this one on a trunk of a tree. You just don't see it. You really have to look closely. Look at the eyes as well. I've never seen such beautiful, spectacular and even camouflaged eyes. Weird marble pattern...
With the Giant Leaf-tail Gecko you can see how it blends in with the dead palm leaves. The colour and texture is just perfect. I've shown pictures of the Lined Leaf-tail Gecko (Gestreepte Bladstaartgekko) to my family. Especially my sister did not believe the picture was real. They sell a lot of toys and souvenirs to tourists in Madagascar. Made of sisal, palm leaves or raffia. She believed it was fake. It could not be a real animal. Until I showed her multiple pictures of the same animal, moving around. This Leaf-tail gecko has a stunning beauty with elegant lines. A marvel of natural design and evolution!