Northern leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus alluaudi)
Keeping and breeding at BION Terrarium Center
DESCRIPTION, DISTRIBUTION AND BIOLOGY
Northern flat-tailed gecko (Uroplatus alluaudi Mocquard, 1894) is one of the smaller species of the genus. Snout-to-vent length of adult individuals (SVL) is 65–80 mm, tail length (TL) is 35–40 mm (total length 100–120 mm). Total length of juveniles is 40–60 mm. The head is large, moderately flattened and ends in a short, rounded snout. 13–16 supralabials are present and the rostral scale is undivided (Angel, 1942). The body is slightly cylindrical and a bit flattened. Coloring varies from beige to hazel brown with diffuse dark brown to black patterns and sometimes pale (cream to white) cross-bands. The tail is comparatively short and moderately serrated, its distal part tapers towards the tip (Bauer, 2013; Bohme, 2014). Males can be identified with certainty by means of their hemipenal bulges (Svatek, van Duin, 2001). The earliest age for sexing is 4-5 months. The elder your animal is the bigger is the chance of correct sexing.
This species is endemic to Madagascar as well as other species from Uroplatus genus. They inhabit tropical rainforests of the northeastern part of Madagascar, national park The Montagne d'Ambre (D’Cruze N. et al., 2008). They can be usually found on the lower parts of the trees to a height of 2 m, mainly on branches, trunks and vines (Bauer, 2013; Bohme, 2014).
When working whith 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 often escape from the terrarium. They also autotomize their tails if handled in the wrong way or being irritated. New tail will grow in a couple of months.
Due to mass deforestation and destroying of their natural habitat they have IUCN Status indicated as “Near Threatened” (https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/172759/6912597). 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 adults in 45*45*60 cm (17,7*17,7*23,6 in) terrariums, babies – in 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, layers of bark for climbing, hollows, living plants and shards as shelters. Substrate — crushed bark, covered with dry oak leaves. Water dish is obligatory.
Lighting. Zoo Med 5 UVB lamp is used during breeding season for 10-14 hours a day; during resting period (December – Feb) for 4 hours a day.
Temperature. Daytime temperature is +21 – +24 °C, at night – +19 – +21 °C; at the time of winter dormancy – +17 – +20 °C. 40W incandescent lamp is used as both lighting and heating source.
Humidity. Humidity level is maintained at 60–80% with double spraying during the day.
Diet. The diet for adults consists of Turkestan cockroaches (Shelfordella tartara), snout moths and crickets with the size of insects not more than 15 mm. We offer 1–2 insects to each lizard 1–2 times a week. It is strictly recommended not to use wild caught insects for feeding. 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. Sometimes if an animal is still hungry we can offer one or two additional feeding items. For females during ovogenesis we offer soft-shelled snails. 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. 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 a week. We add mineral supplements "Repashy" with D3 with every second feeding. Babies usually eat the shed skin. We believe that it is essential for appropriate functioning of digestive system.
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 wintering are as follows: +18 - +19 °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 a day. Wintering lasts for 2,5-3 months. 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 and keep males and females together till the next preparing for winter dormancy.
U. alluaudi gain sexual maturity at the age of 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, dry leaves or turf. Gestation period is about 20-25 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 at +23 °С at night and +24 °С at day. Humidity is 75-85%. Incubation period is 76-130 days. Female usually becomes receptive for new mating during the first 5 days after oviposition. Copulation lasts for about 15-20 minutes.
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..D’Cruze, N.; Köhler, J.; Franzen, M and Glaw, F. 2008. A conservation assessment of the amphibians and reptiles of the Forêt d’Ambre Special Reserve, north Madagascar, Madagascar conservation & development, 44-54 pp.
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..Bauer A. M. 2013. Geckos - The Animal Answer Guide. Johns Hopkins University Press, 159 pp.
7..Böhme, Wolfgang 2014. Herpetology in Bonn. Mertensiella 21. vi + 256 pp.
8..Angel, F. 1942. Les Lézards de Madagascar, Mem. Acad. Malagache: Tananarive XXXVI, 193 pp.