Gunther's leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus guentheri)
Keeping and breeding at BION Terrarium Center
DESCRIPTION, DISTRIBUTION AND BIOLOGY
Günther’s leaf-tail Gecko (Uroplatus guentheri, Mocquard, 1908) is a medium-sized species of the Uroplatus genus. Adult specimens’ average SVL is 70–95 mm, TL is 30–55 mm (total length 100–150 mm). Total length of juveniles is about 50 mm. The large head ends with a blunt, rounded snout. 16–19 supralabial scales are present, rostral scale is divided. The cylindrical body is rather flattened and lacks dermal fringe flaps (Angel, 1942). Small conical scales are scattered all over the dorsal surfaces. The basic coloration is beige to grayish brown with a fine vertebral line running from the back of the head to the tip of the tail with some irregular dark cross-bands. Ventral surfaces of the body and limbs are plain white. This species possesses deep armpit pockets. Original tail shows a slightly serrated fringe. Males can be easily sexed by the presence of well-seen hemipenal bulges (Svatek, van Duin, 2001).
Uroplatus guentheri inhabit patches of dry deciduous forests of western and north western Madagascar. It has been found roosting in shrubs and low trees of up to 5 meters height (http://uroplatus.info/uroplatus-guentheri).
When working with this animals one should keep in mind that they are nervous and very fast. You should always keep an eye on them as they can escape from the terrarium. They have a tendency to autotomize their tails if irritated more often that other species of the genus. Due to mass deforestation and destroying of their natural habitat they have IUCN Status indivated as “Endangered” (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/172927/6943019). The species is also listed in CITES Ap. II. Therefore development of breeding methods and creation of ex situ populations for this species is extremely important (Dubyna et al., 2019).
KEEPING AT BION TERRARIUM CENTER
Keeping. We keep this species at terrariums of 45*45*60 cm (17,1*17,1*23,6 in) for adults, and at terrariums of not less than 30*30*30 сm (11,8*11,8*11,8 in) for babies. The decoration of the terrarium includes horizontal and vertical branches of medium thickness, lianas, layers of bark for climbing, hollows, living plants and shards as shelters. Substrate — crushed bark, covered with dry oak leaves. Paper towel 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 (December – Feb) for 4 hours per day.
Temperature. Daytime temperature is +24 – +25 °C, at night – +19 – +20 °C; at the time of winter dormancy – +16 – +20 °C. 40W incandescent lamp is used as both lighting and heating source.
Humidity. Humidity level is maintained at 60–80% with double spraying (morning and evening) during the day.
Diet. The diet for adults consists of Turkestan cockroaches (Shelfordella tartara), snout moths and crickets of appropriate size. It is strictly recommended not to use wild caught insects. We offer 1–2 insects to each lizard 1–2 times per week. If the animal shows signs of obesity, the frequency of feeding is reduced to 1 time per 2 weeks. There is always a bowl with fresh drinking water in the terrarium. 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. Sometimes if an animal is still hungry we can offer one or two additional feeding items. We gutload the insects with fruit, greens and vegetables and sometimes bee pollen as an additional source of vitamins and bioactive elements.
Diet of juveniles is the same as for adults, but the insects should be of appropriate size. Frequency of feeding: 2-3 insects per 1 young gecko 3 times per week. 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 like as males) 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 winter dormancy are as follows: +18 - +20 °C at daytime and +16 - +17 °С at nighttime. It is necessary to ensure that there are no signs of dehydration (twisted tail, clavicles visible, protruding hip bones). We provide 4 lighting hours per day. Winter dormancy lasts for 2,5-3 months. We offer 1 low-fat insect per head, once a week. Winter withdrawal algorithm is reverse to input and lasts for 2 weeks. After that we form pairs. Females are usually receptive for mating immediately after the end of winter dormancy. Introducing a female to the male at this time is essential for successful breeding. Copulation lasts from 10 to 25 minutes.
U. guentheri gain sexual maturity at the age of about 18 months. Breeding season lasts from April to September. Females lay from 3 to 5 clutches per season (1–2 eggs in each). Females lay eggs in the substrate and cover them with bark or leaves. Gestation period is about 30-35 days depending 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. There are two temperature options for incubation: 1) constant temperature of +25 °С; 2) daytime temperature – +22 – +24 °С, nighttime – +19 – +21 °С. Humidity is 70-80%. Incubation period is 83—109 days.
We keep juveniles separately. All keeping requirements are identical to those for adults. Hatchlings normally shed within a couple of days after hatching. If a baby cannot shed on its own, you can help it by tearing the linear peel on its face. But as a rule, most of these animals 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..Frank Glaw, Miguel Vences. 2007: Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Vences & Glaw Verlag GbR 3rd Edition. 497 p. Germany.
2..Sacha Svatek and Susanna van Duin. 2001. Leaf-tailed geckos – the Genus Uroplatus. Brahmer-Verlag, 161 p. Germany.
3..Mocquard, F. 1894. Diagnoses de quelques reptiles nouveaux de Madagascar. C.R. Soc. Philom, 3-5pp. Paris 9.
4..Dizier, Herve Saint. 2012. Keeping and Breeding Uroplatus guentheri (Mocquard 1908). Gekko 6 (2): 7-13
5..Dubyna Anastasiia, Tkachev Dmitri, Neizhko Ivan, Nekrasova Oksana, Marushchak Oleksiі // Development of breeding techniques in herpetoculture as an approach to leaf-tailed 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.
6..Angel, F. 1942. Les Lézards de Madagascar, Mem. Acad. Malagache: Tananarive XXXVI, 193 pp.