Fantastic Leaf-tailed Gecko
Also known as Eyelash Leaf-Tailed gecko & Phants
The Fantastic Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus) is native to tropical forests of Madagascar. They can live 4 - 10 Years and grow to 2 - 6 Inches. Their conservation statis is Extinct (EX).
The Basics for Fantastic Leaf-tailed Geckos
- 12"width x 12" depth x 24" height
- Peat moss, vermiculite, soil, newspaper
- Heating lamp
- 72 - 85 ° F
- 65% – 95%
- Mealworms, butter-worms, crickets, wax-worms, super-worms
This gecko is found within the deep rainforests of Madagascar (this species is only found in Madagascar) and its quite an interesting species, thanks to its incredible tail. Leaf-tail geckos have the ability to sit on a thin branch and blend in with the environment surrounding it to make it look like part of a small tree. This is a defense mechanism for its life in the rainforest where there are so many predators around.
The Leaf Tailed Gecko is one of the smallest geckos you’ll find consisting of just 2 – 6 inches at its full adult size including its tail. They rely solely on nightfall for moving around the rainforest feeding on much smaller insects and trying to avoid predators on their travels. They are professionals at doing just that thanks to their ability to blend in with other leaves and trees.
Leaf-tail Gecko Care Sheet
This species of leaf-tailed gecko is a bit easier to care for than the other. This is due to their overall size as adults. A suggested minimum is around 12 inches in width and depth by 24 inches in height and this can accommodate up to two fantastic leaf-tail geckos. It is important to furnish their enclosure with as much vertical space as possible. Building up toward their lighting elements will allow them a nice gradient of temperatures for regulating their body temperatures.
These geckos can easily be kept as pets but you’ll need to mimic the hot, humid temperatures they are used to in Madagascar. This should be accomplished by providing a heating lamp and misting often. Male geckos aren’t as territorial when it comes to other male geckos so you can keep them in pairs but it’s recommended to have one male and one female in any one tank. Place small plants and trees within their enclosure with an optional hide. Dense leaves and vegetation should be used in all spaces of their enclosure, especially towards the top. This acts as a hide and helps them to escape the lighting and the heat. Provide dense, leafy plants that reach the tops of their terrarium. Live plants are acceptable and suggested!
As for the type of enclosure, its dealer’s choice really. You can opt for a screen cage, glass aquarium or, probably the most widely suggested, a well-ventilated terrarium.
A variety of substrates can be used in your fantastic leaf-tail gecko’s cage provided it is good for retaining moisture but not getting soggy. You don’t need much. Simply cover the bottom of their cage in 2 – 3 inches of substrate. The most common is a mixture of peat moss and vermiculite or soil.
Temperature, Humidity & Lighting
Fantastic leaf-tail geckos do best in moderate temperatures with high humidity. Try to maintain a humidity between 65% – 95% and temperatures between 72 – 80 ° F during the day. At night the temperature can drop between 60 – 65 ° F.
With such as high humidity its easy to see why a glass enclosure is recommended. A well-ventilated glass terrarium will help retain some humidity, as opposed to a screen cage, and also provide ventilation. A heating lamp is required and should be placed over the top of their cage. This will help you achieve the maximum temperature of 80 (and possibly up to 85) at the top of their cage, while the bottom of the cage has a decrease in temperature.
Lighting your leaf-tail gecko’s cage can be tricky. This species is nocturnal and thus doesn’t require a UVB light. However, if you’ve decided to use a terrarium with live plants then the UVB becomes a requirement. A UVB 2.0 for plants will be a worthwhile investment. As for the gecko, he or she needs 12 hours of light/dark. This can be achieved by purchasing a basic timer.
You likely won’t need this but I felt it worth mentioning, exo terra makes a night-time lamp (its called a “moonlight lamp”). If you find your temperatures are getting to low at night this may prove useful.
The main diet of your leaf-tail gecko should consist of crickets. They enjoy hunting and chasing down their prey and its fun to watch them in action. Adult leaf-tail geckos should be fed every other day and the amount largely depends on your pet. Start with a few crickets at a time and take note whether they eat all of them or not. Any crickets remaining in their cage after a short period of time should be removed.
With that being said, you can also treat them to a few other insects such as mealworms and the occasional wax worm. Be mindful of their substrate as mealworms spend their lives underground. Depending on the substrate you’re using, they might work their way into it.
Reproduction & Handling
Reproduction occurs once a year during the start of the rainy seasons of Madagascar and will lay a clutch of two eggs, which are always laid out of sight under a bush covered in dead leaves or plant litter.
Fantastic leaf-tail geckos are good at being handled but as they are small so be careful they don’t jump out of your arms as you’ll struggle to get them back in their enclosure. Handle with care for a few minutes daily to let the reptile get used to you and its environment.