How to Care* for Your Uroplatus (Leaf Tail) Gecko
(photo credit Wikipedia)
Leaf Tail Geckos belong to the genus Uroplatus, of which there are at least 13 species, a number of which are kept in captivity. They range from 3”-12” in length depending on the species and are nocturnal, arboreal geckos native to Madagascar. Their habitat is the temperate rainforest, featuring high humidity and moderate (65-85F) temperatures. Although the different species come in a variety of colors and patterns, they are most notable for their blotchy patterning that mimics the branches, lichens, and leaves (depending on the species) they spend the majority of their time perched on, and their flat, leaf-shaped tails. Due to the variety of their care requirements depending on the species and their need for very specific monitoring of temperature, humidity, and supplementation, Leaf Tail Geckos are generally considered to be advanced level pets.
Leaf Tail geckos spend most of their time at rest on thick branches, leaves or pieces of bark. The smaller species can be kept in a minimum sized enclosure of 12”x12”x18”, while the largest species require a minimum size of 18x18x24. Larger enclosures are always recommended, if possible. They appreciate substantial pieces of cork bark or thick, textured wood branches to perch on, and do well in a heavily planted enclosure with an expanded clay ball and mesh drainage layer topped by coco fiber or other vivarium soil mix. A front-opening enclosure is best for care and easy access. A water dish can be provided if desired, though Leaf Tail Geckos get most of their hydration by licking water drops from their environment. A hide can also be placed at the bottom of the enclosure.
Humidity of at least 80% in the evenings should be provided by heavily misting each night. Humidity levels can decrease during the day.
Heating and Lighting
Leaf Tail Geckos do not require additional heat as long as the ambient temperature in the room is usually between 65-80F. Additional heat can be supplied if necessary by placing a heat pad or heat cable on the back wall of the enclosure. If air conditioning in the summer months is not available, ice packs can be used in the cage to reduce the temperature on very hot days.
Leaf Tail Geckos are nocturnal, though there is much debate as to the extent to which they benefit from UV lighting since they tend to spend both sleeping and waking times outdoors on branches and leaves. Since the enclosures will require light for the plants, it makes sense to provide a full spectrum UV light for a maximum of 12-14 hours of daylight.
Food and Supplementation
Leaf Tail Geckos are insectivorous (insect-eating) and appear to prefer bugs to worms. They will eat primarily Dubia Roaches and Crickets. The size of the feeder should be appropriate for the size of the gecko.
Leaf Tail Geckos require calcium, vitamin D3, and other vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and development. The degree of supplementation varies with the specific Uroplatus species, and an expert in the species being kept should be consulted about the specific supplementation schedule. Supplements are generally provided by dusting live prey with calcium and vitamin D3.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Leaf Tail Geckos, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.