This tiny Fantastic Leaf-tailed Gecko hatched at the Houston Zoo on February 17 is easy to spot perched on top of a pencil. But in the wild, these lizards are so well camouflaged that they’re nearly impossible to find.
Fantastic Leaf-tailed Geckos are found only on Madagascar, where their coloration mimics dead leaves and twigs. Their legs look like tiny branches and their tails resemble dead leaves – complete with veins and ragged edges. Even zoo keepers have a hard time finding the lizards in their enclosure.
This species is also called the Satanic Leaf-tailed Gecko, due to their pointy, raised brow ridges. Like other Geckos, these lizards lack eyelids, so they clean their eyeballs with a swipe of the tongue. They are nocturnal, feeding mainly on insects.
Due to extensive habitat destruction from cattle grazing, logging, and agriculture, Fantastic Leaf-tailed Gecko populations are decreasing.
See more photos below.