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Uroplatus sikorae - Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko | by Thor Hakonsen
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Uroplatus sikorae - Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko

Uroplatus sikorae is a species of gecko commonly referred to as the Mossy leaf-tailed gecko. This species, endemic to Madagascar, is found in primary and secondary forests on the island. It has the ability to change its skin color to match its surroundings and possesses dermal flaps which break up its outline when at rest.


It is a CITES II protected animal due to habitat loss and overcollection for the pet trade


The generic name, Uroplatus, is a Latinization of two Greek words: "ourá" (οὐρά) meaning "tail" and "platys" (πλατύς) meaning "flat". Its specific name is a Latinization of the name Franz Sikora, a German fossil-hunter and explorer of Madagascar. The species was first described by German zoologist Oskar Boettger but not published until three years after his death.[1] Its common name refers to the mossy-like camouflage patterns and colors of the lizard's skin.


The genus Uroplatus contains 12 species endemic to Madagascar; Uroplatus sikorae is the only species within this genus containing a subspecies: Sameit's Leaf-tailed gecko Uroplatus sikorae sameiti, named for Joachim Sameit.[2] This subspecies was identified in 1990, the chief identifier is the inside of its mouth is pink as opposed to the black coloration of the parent species.[2]


Phylogenically it has been placed within a monophyletic complex consisting of three other species of Uroplatus: U. fimbriatus, U. giganteus, U. henkeli.[3] This complex represents the larger species of the genus


Mossy leaf-tailed geckos are nocturnal and arboreal. Their eyes are large, lidless, and have yellow sclera with elliptical pupils, suited for the gecko's nocturnal habits. The mossy leaf-tailed gecko ranges in size from 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) when measured from nose to base of the tail. They spend most of the daylight hours hanging vertically on tree trunks, head down, resting. During the night, they will venture from their daylight resting spots, and go off in search of prey.[4]


As with all Uroplatus geckos, the tail is flattened and leaf-like. U. sikorae has coloration developed as camouflage, most being grayish brown to black or greenish brown with various markings meant to resemble tree bark; down to the lichens and moss found on the bark. U. sikorae has flaps of skin, running the length of its body, head and limbs, known as the dermal flap, which it can lay against the tree during the day, scattering shadows, and making its outline practically invisible.[4] Additionally, the gecko can change its skin color to match its background similar to the chameleons of Madagascar.[5]


Mossy leaf-tailed geckos are insectivores eating insects, arthropods, and gastropods



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Taken on November 15, 2008