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Breeding & keeping info
The long-term breeding work with Uroplatus phantasticus at BION Terrarium Center
by Anna Ivanuna & Lilja Krivosheeva
The Satanic leaf-tail gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus) is known from different localities in the central-east of Madagascar, and it is endemic to the island. The amazing exterior of this animals, specific behavior and small size supported a high popularity of this fantastic species in live collections all over the world.
U. phantasticus is a forest-depended species, as it prefers humid forests. It occurs from 400 m above sea level, reaching as high as 1300 m.
According with nocturnal activity, animals are secretive. They prefer habitats over 1,2-2 m above ground, with great quantity of plants. The diet of U. phantasticus includes different invertebrates.
The species is endangered because of Madagascar forests cutting down. No subspecies are described. However, the exterior of individuals from different localities can be considerably different.
BION provide keeping and breeding of U. phantasticus since 2008, and now we have a group of 13 males and 16 females in this project.
The typical enclosure conditions
We usually use the glass terrariums not less than 700x500x500 mm for our animals. The group of 1-2 males with 1-2 adult females can be comfortably placed there.
Substrate: small pieces of bark.
Decorations: the big number of thin branches and live plants is rather important for this species. If possible, you can place dried or live leaves into the enclosure. You can use feeding dish and water bowl, too.
Illumination: we provide our animals 10 hours day light (with 5 UVB full spectrum lamp) during the breeding season, and 8 hours long day during autumn and winter period.
Temperature and heating: the optimal temperature for U. phantasticus is 18-21° C (night)/22-25° C (day). The higher temperature can injure animals! The basking spot is not needed.
Humidity: 70-80 %, both youngs and adults. We spray our animals twice a day.
Diet: phantasticus prefer insects not less than 1-1,2 cm length. So, crickets and Shefordella tartara(coackroaches) of this size are the most useful. Our animals receive 2-3 insects 1-2 times per week. Be careful as this geckos demonstrate the high tendency to fatness. So, sometimes the only feeding per week could be health-giving.
Mineral supplements: we propose mineral supplements every second feeding (with insects), and sometimes we use D3 and vitamin complexes.
Hibernation: the delicate winter season is provided with the help of short day lighting, not with temperature lowering. This period goes during autumn and winter.
The first mature we observed for 18 month old individuals.
We keep adult animals in pairs, sometimes – 2 pairs in 1 enclosure. 1 female makes 2-3 clutches (1-2 eggs in every clutch) per season. We usually find eggs placed at the ground.
The period of gravidity takes 20-25 days, and incubation length is 85-110 days.
The temperature of incubation is 18-21° C (night)/22-25° C (day). The humidity should be 60-80 % (a drop of water should appear on the surface of vermiculite after pressing it).
We keep Juveniles separately in plastic boxes not less than 300x300x300 mm. The box replaces by bigger one every 1,5-2 month.
Till obtaining 1 month old, we recommend paper towels as a substrate. Later, you can use pieces of bark. Decorations are common with adults` enclosures.
Spraying, temperature and light for young U. phantasticus are the same, as for adults.
The diet includes the same species of insects, but you should choose the most usual size of larvae – 0,3-0,7 cm for the beginning. We feed young phantasticus 2-3 times a week, and offer 3 insects every time.
Calcium is very important for correct growth, but vitamins are not necessary (sometimes gut loading of insects is preferable to avoid poisoning of juveniles).
Fantastic geckos are liable to problems with shedding, which may be caused by low humidity or vitamin A deficit. To avoid it, the high humidity at the enclosures is necessary. Also, it`s useful to spray animals with solution of vitamin product “Chiktonik” (2-5 times a day, twice a week, with concentration 1 part of vitamin for 100 parts of water) if any signs of shedding problems are visible.
- Frank Glaw - Miguel Vences. 2007: Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag GbR 3rd Edition. 496 pp. Germany
- Sacha Svatek and Susanna van Duin. 2001. Leaf-tailed geckos – the Genus Uroplatus. Brahmer-Verlag, 161 p. Germany