Cork-bark leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus pietscmanni)
Keeping and breeding at BION Terrarium Center
DESCRIPTION, DISTRIBUTION AND BIOLOGY
Uroplatu pietschmanni (Böhle & Schönecker, 2004) is one of medium-sized representatives of the genus and was described only in 2004. The species is named after German gecko breeder Jürgen Pietschmann (1949–2005) (Beolens et all., 2011). Adult specimens may attain a SVL of 90–100 mm and TL of 40–50 mm (total length 150–170 mm). Total length of juveniles is 50–60 mm.
These geckos have flattened bodies, large heads and well-developed spiny scales found in the occipital area. The dorsal part of the body, limbs and tail are scattered with spiny scales of variable sizes. The fringe of the tail heavily undulates so that its contour resembles a dry oak leaf. These features enable these geckos to stay almost invisible on pieces of bark or trunks of big old trees. The dorsal basic color consists of various brown hues resulting in a bark-like pattern. A whitish line runs from the snout tip to the eye sockets. Irises are partially white. Males can be easily sexed by the presence of hemipenal bulges at the earliest age of 4-6 months (Greenbaum at all., 2007). Females don’t have the above mentioned bulges and are generally bigger than males.
This species is found in Fierenana, Ambatovy and Analamay, Madagascar, at 900-1,200 meters a. s. l. (http://www.edgeofexistence.org/species/uroplatus-pietschmanni/). They live in the forest canopy at low population densities (Ratsoavina at all., 2013). They are exclusively nocturnal and spend most daylight hours lying on tree trunks or hiding in hollows (http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Uroplatus&species=pietschmanni).
Due to mass deforestation and destroying of their natural habitat they have IUCN Status indicated as “Least Concern” (https://www.iucnredlist.org/ja/species/172906/6939382). The species is also listed in CITES Ap. II. Therefore development of breeding methods and creation of ex situ populations is extremely important (Dubyna et al., 2019).
KEEPING AT BION TERRARIUM CENTER
Keeping. We keep adult males and females separately or in pairs, at 70*50*50 cm (27.5*19.7*19.7 in) terrariums; juveniles are kept only separately – at terrariums of not less than 30*30*30 сm (11,8*11,8*11,8 in). The decoration of the terrarium includes horizontal and vertical branches of medium thickness, lianas, big pieces of bark, hollows, living or artificial plants and various shelters. Substrate - crushed small pieces of bark with layer of dry oak leaves. Paper with a box of wet coconut substrate as moist chamber is also an option. Water dish is obligatory.
Lighting. Zoo Med 5 UVB lamp is used during breeding season for 10-14 hours per day; during resting period (Jan - Feb) for 4 hours per day.
Temperature. Daytime temperature is +23 – +25 °C, at night – +20 – +21 °C; at the time of winter dormancy – +16 – +20 °C. Heating with 25W incandescent lamp is used only during wintering months to maintain daytime temperature. During breeding season we use no heating source. UVB is important for successful breeding.
Humidity. Humidity is 60–80% both for babies and adults with double spraying during the day.
Diet. Diet for adults contains Turkestan cockroaches (Shelfordella tartara), and crickets (Jamaican field crickets (Gryllus assimilis) and Mediterranean field cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus). Locusts and soft-shelled snails are used as additional food and treats, which are given 1-2 times per month. We offer 2–3 insects per head 1–2 times per week. If the animal shows sign of obesity, the frequency of feeding is reduced to 1 time per 2 weeks.
It is strictly recommended not to use wild caught insects. Sometimes if an animal is still hungry we can offer one or two additional feeding items. We offer soft-shelled snails for females during ovogenesis. All insects should be gut loaded and dusted with vitamin-mineral supplementation every other feeding. Sepia or cuttlefish “bone” powder works well as a source of calcium. Insects are dusted with it prior to the feeding session. We gutload the insects with fruit, greens and vegetables and sometimes bee pollen as an additional source of vitamins and bioactive elements.
Diet for babies is the same as for adults. We use insects of appropriate size. We offer 3 insects per head 2–3 times per week before age of 1.5 months; 3 insects per head 1–2 times per week after age of 1.5 months. We add mineral supplements "Repashy" with D3 with every second feeding.
BREEDING AND RAISING AT BION TERRARIUM CENTER
Winter dormancy is necessary for successful breeding. Animals are placed inside individual terrariums (females cannot be kept in groups – only separately) with paper as a substrate. After placing the animals in a special laboratory, the temperature, spraying intensity (from 2 to 1 session per day) and daylight hours (by 1.5-2 hours per week) decrease within 2 weeks. Temperatures during wintering are as follows: +18 - +20 °C at daytime and +16 - +17 °С at night. It is necessary to ensure that there are no signs of dehydration (twisted tail, clavicles visible, protruding hip bones). We provide 4 lighting hours a day. Wintering lasts for 2 months (January - February). We offer 1 low-fat insect per head, 1 time a week. Winter withdrawal algorithm is reverse to input and lasts for 2 weeks. After that we form pairs (groups). One should keep an eye on the female since she might be aggressive towards the male. In such case the pair should be re-formed and another male should be placed with the female.
U. pietschmanni gain sexual maturity at the age of 18 months. Breeding season lasts from April to September. One female is able to make from 3 to 5 clutches per season (1–2 eggs in each). Females lay eggs in the substrate and cover them with bark, dry leaves or turf.
Gestation period lasts 30-40 days and depends on the female. The eggs are transferred to the incubator without changing polarity. A small recess is made in vermiculite and each egg is placed in such a recess individually at no more than 2/3 eggs’ height depth. The eggs are incubated on vermiculite or “Seramis” substrate at +20 at night and +22 at day. Humidity is 75-85%. Incubation period is 110-150 days.
We keep juveniles separately. All keeping requirements are identical to those for adults. Hatchlings normally shed within a couple of days after hatching. As a rule, most of the animals that haven’t shed during first 5 days, are weak and do not survive to reproductive age. Babies usually eat the shed skin. We believe that it is essential for appropriate functioning of digestive system.
1.. Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA
2.. Böhle &Schönecker, 2004. Neues aus Madagaskar: Haltung und Zucht und Lebensweise von Uroplatus pietschmanni BÖHLE & SCHÖNECKER 2004. Draco 5 (18): 40-44
3.. Dubyna Anastasiia, Tkachev Dmitri, Neizhko Ivan, Nekrasova Oksana, Marushchak Oleksiі // Development of breeding techniques in herpetoculture as an approach to leaftailed geckos' (Gekkonidae, Uroplatus) conservation // Abstract book of 62nd International Conference for students of physics and natural sciences “Open Readings 2019” on March 19-22? Vilnius, Lithuania. – Vilnius. – 2019 – P. 467.
4.. GREENBAUM, Eli; AARON M. BAUER, TODD R. JACKMAN, MIGUEL VENCES & FRANK GLAW 2007. A phylogeny of the enigmatic Madagascan geckos of the genus Uroplatus (Squamata: Gekkonidae). Zootaxa 1493: 41-51
5.. Ratsoavina, F. M., N. R. Raminosoa, E. E. Louis Jr., A. P. Raselimanana, F. Glaw & M. Vences 2013. An overview of Madagascar’s leaf tailed geckos (genus Uroplatus): species boundaries, candidate species and review of geographical distribution based on molecular data. Salamandra 49 (3): 115-148