Little Geckos Will Become 'Giants'


Two baby Madagascar Giant Day Geckos (Phelsuma grandis) hatched last month from eggs laid by adults currently living in the rainforest habitat at the Tennessee Aquarium.

DSC_9341Photo Credit: Tennessee Aquarium

In spite of their name, the babies are only a few inches long right now. The Aquarium's experts are caring for these tiny reptiles behind the scenes in a special Gecko nursery.

The Aquarium’s herpetology team says the pair are currently growing well and “eating like champs.”

The Madagascar Giant Day Gecko has a bright green body with brilliant red markings. The red markings fade as the Gecko ages, so the adults are mostly green in color. In the wild, these Geckos feed on insects, small reptiles, nectar and pollen. Adults can grow to around 12 inches in length.

Geckos are a type of Lizard. Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are native to the tropical forests of northern Madagascar, and a few other locations to which they have been introduced by humans.

Madagascar Giant Day Geckos are rumored to be the inspiration for the Geico Gecko of advertising fame.

Rare Baby Geckos' Tails Look Like Leaves

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Five Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Geckos (Uroplatus henkeli) have arrived at Lincoln Park Zoo – the first-ever successful hatch at the zoo for this rare Lizard species. The hatchlings will be on exhibit at Regenstein Small Mammal-Reptile House in the coming weeks.

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20181011_CB_leaf-tailed gecko_898x477Photo Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo

The zoo’s Henkel’s Leaf-tailed Geckos were given a breeding recommendation from the Leaf-tailed Gecko Species Survival Plan® (SSP), which manages the species’ population throughout zoos accredited by the The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP recommendations – which determine the exact individuals that  should breed with each other – are made using demographic and genetic analyses conducted by population biologists at the AZA Population Management Center, which is based at Lincoln Park Zoo.

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Geckos are named for their distinctive namesake tail. That remarkable appendage and their rough brown and green skin helps these Lizards camouflage themselves against tree bark with uncanny ease.

Tiny pads on the feet of Henkel's Leaf-tailed Geckos produce a strong adhesive effect, enabling them to climb and cling to a variety of surfaces. In the wild, these Lizards spend most of their time in the treetops, feeding on insects. They descend to the ground only when laying eggs in leaf litter on the forest floor.

Although adults can grow to 11 inches long, hatchlings are much tinier, as you can see in the photos. The newcomers are welcome arrivals for a species that is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

These Lizards are found only in Madagascar, where they face threats from logging operations and from deforestation as people burn the forest to make small farms. They are also collected illegally to supply the pet trade and are routinely taken from protected areas within Madagascar.

See more photos of the hatchlings below.

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Coin Sized Carrot-tail Viper Geckos Are Hatching

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Sedgwick County Zoo currently has two tiny Carrot-tail Viper Gecko hatchlings.

The Zoo reports there are several more eggs incubating, and if all goes well, they expect two geckos to hatch every couple of weeks.

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4_carrot-tail viper geckoPhoto Credits: Sedgwick County Zoo

The Carrot-tail Viper Gecko (Hemidactylus imbricatus) is native to arid rocky regions of southeastern Pakistan. They can be found under rocks during the day. Their distinctive pattern provides excellent camouflage amongst stones and pebbles.

Only about an inch in length at hatching, adults reach a total length of about three and a half inches.

To avoid the heat of the day, these tiny desert dwellers hunt for insects in the early morning and late evening. Their oddly shaped tail stores fat and water for when food is scarce.

Females lay one to two eggs per clutch, each the size of a pea, and the eggs are produced every two to three weeks for as many as twelve clutches per year. Incubation takes from 50 to 60 days, at temperatures of 81 to 86F.

The Carrot-tail Viper Gecko is currently classified as “Least Concern” According to the IUCN Red List: “Hemidactylus imbricatus has been assessed as Least Concern. Despite some habitat loss and degradation, its population is unlikely to be undergoing significant declines to qualify for listing in a threatened category. Further research is needed to identify if a significant future decline triggers a higher threat category.”

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Reptile Hatchings at San Diego Zoo Boost Rare Species

Two rare reptile species native to two delicate island ecosystems—the Black Tree Monitor, native to the Aru Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea; and the Mossy Leaf-tailed Gecko, native to Madagascar—have reproduced at the San Diego Zoo and offer hope for two little-known, yet important species.

Monitor_001_WebPhoto Credit:  San Diego Zoo

Four Black Tree Monitor babies hatched from eggs laid in January and are the first ever hatched at the zoo.  The young lizards weigh about two-fifths of an ounce each, and are doing well.

Black Tree Monitors live in the hot, humid forests and mangrove swamps of the Aru Islands off the coast of Papua New Guinea. They are dependent on the forest canopy to survive, but most of the regional forest on the Aru Islands has already been lost. Other threats to the species include the pet trade and non-native predators, such as foxes and cats. With the threats the Black Tree Monitor faces in the wild, establishing insurance populations in accredited zoos will help ensure the survival of the species.

Mossy Leaf-tailed Geckos face similar challenges in the wild, and have also experienced recent breeding success. The zoo received a confiscated group of mossy Leaf-tailed Geckos in 2010. The geckos have since produced eight hatchlings, with several generations now thriving at the zoo.

Leaf-tailed Geckos have evolved to resemble leaves, blending into their forest surroundings to avoid predators and better ambush their insect prey. However, more than 80 percent of Madagascar’s forests have been decimated by logging, agriculture, housing development and other human activity, threatening the future of the species. With these ongoing threats, keeping healthy satellite populations outside of Madagascar is increasingly important as a safeguard against extinction.

Rare Electric Blue Geckos Hatch at UK Park

Electric Blue Gecko baby on pen (EBG1)The reptile team, at Cotswold Wildlife Park, is celebrating the arrival of three Electric Blue Gecko babies. 

Electric Blue Gecko (EBG4b)

Electric Blue Gecko baby on pen (EBG12)

Electric Blue Gecko baby on finger (EBG3)Photo Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

It is the first time the park has successfully bred this species. Electric Blue Geckos are only found in a small area in Tanzania and are classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).

Survival for these striking creatures in the wild is fraught with peril. They inhabit less than eight square kilometers of the Kimboza Forest in Tanzania, within which they exclusively dwell in the leaf crowns of one specific tree (Pandanus rabaiensis). Tragically, these beautiful lizards are in high demand from the illegal pet trade, which alone wiped out at least 15% of the population in Kimboza Forest between 2004 and 2009. Illegal collectors cut down the Pandanus rabaiensis trees to collect the rare geckos, destroying their delicate habitat and population numbers at the same time.  They also face severe habitat loss from illegal logging, agricultural demands and climate change. Based on a recent study, this species is considered to be threatened with extinction in the near future.

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “Our specialist Reptile Department has been working on perfecting their husbandry techniques with this species, and these hatchlings are an excellent reward for their dedication. It is a real achievement for the park and we are continuing to get eggs and have a high success rate.”

They are a brand new species to the park. Not long after their arrival, the reptile team noticed tiny eggs in the corner of their off-show enclosure. After approximately sixty to ninety days, three tiny Electric Blue Geckos hatched. The babies are healthy and currently off-show in climate-controlled incubators.

Continue reading "Rare Electric Blue Geckos Hatch at UK Park" »

Cold Blooded Baby Boom in the UK


Cotswold Wildlife Park, in the UK, is experiencing a summer baby boom of the cold blooded variety.  The Reptile Section is awash with new births, including some of the smallest newborns in the entire collection. These include: four Mangrove Snakes (bred for the first time at the Park), six Blood Pythons, three Crested Geckos, four Asian Giant Forest Scorpions and a multitude of Lyretail and Checkerboard Cichlids.

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Lyretail Cichlids with fry 2 DR CWPPhoto Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, said, “The Keepers at the Park are delighted with the boom in births and hatchlings in the Reptile House.  It is a real achievement to breed some of these species and a testament to the hard work and dedication of the Reptile Department in species that do not always get the same attention as the cute and cuddly!”

Three Crested Gecko babies were hatched on July 10th. Geckos are one of the most diverse groups of lizards on Earth and are an incredible example of animal engineering. The ribbed flesh on their toes enables them to scale vertical surfaces, even polished glass! Engineers with the US Department of Defense’s research project, DARPA, have been looking into creating ‘bio-inspired’ gloves for soldiers based on the Gecko’s ribbed toes.

The new breeding pair of Mangrove Snakes has successfully produced young for the first time. Two yellow and black striped snakes hatched in June. These reptiles are brilliantly camouflaged in the brightly sunlit, leafy mangrove habitat, making them masters of disguise in the wild. The Park’s Blood Pythons also produced six young.

An unexpected birth came from a new species to the collection, the Asian Giant Forest Scorpion. Keepers were pleasantly surprised when the female produced young just weeks after arriving at the Park. The young are born one by one after hatching and expelling the embryonic membrane. The brood is carried on the mother’s back until the young have undergone at least one molt.

Meanwhile, the Insect and Invertebrate House has seen multiple fish births of two species of Lake Tanganyika Cichlids. The Park’s Lyretail and Checkerboard Cichlids have recently produced young. These fish are secretive shelter spawners, and their fry are smaller than a grain of rice.

See more photos below the fold.

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Fantastic Leaf-tailed Gecko Hatches at Houston Zoo

1922048_10152349918072526_38494264_nThis 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. 


1911713_10152349855352526_734417867_nPhoto Credit:  Stephanie Adams / Houston Zoo

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.

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Meet Leo and Lisa, Sao Paulo's Leopard Geckos


Two little Leopard Geckos, named Leonardo and Mona Lisa, hatched on May 10 at São Paulo Zoo in Brazil. They are very healthy and lively, according to the zoo’s staff.



Photo Credits:  Carlos Nader (1,2,4); Cybele Lisboa (3)

Leonardo and Mona Lisa were born after 89 days of incubation, weighing only about 0.1 ounce (3 g) each. Leopard Geckos are solitary animals, thus their parents were together only during mating season. Females can lay up to 10 eggs per season, always in pairs, with an interval of about 15 days between each laying.  Incubation time varies with temperature, and lasts from 36 to 107 days.

The hatchlings are already showing different preferences for their meals: Leo prefers mealworms and Lisa prefers crickets. The biologists weigh the lizards every week, and in the first month, they gained about .03 ounce (1g).  As adults, Leopard Geckos weigh 1.7 ounces (50 g).

Leopard Geckos inhabit the deserts of Asia. As adults, they have "fat" tails that are used to store energy, because food is scarce in their environment. A Gecko can detach its tail at will, and the tail will twitch for a long time to deceive predators as the Gecko runs away from danger. Although they would prefer to keep the tail and energy supply, this mechanism will most likely save the Gecko's life, and it will eventually regrow a new tail.

See more photos of Leo and Lisa below the fold.

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Two Little Coatis Born at Exmoor Zoo


Two baby Coatis are charming visitors at the U.K.’s Exmoor Zoo. The pair was born earlier this month.  Native to Central and South America, Coatis use their long, flexible snout to search for insects, spiders, fruit, and small animals. 




As close relatives of raccoons, Coatis exhibit agility, intelligence, and adaptability.  They can be found in a variety of habitats, from tropical rain forests to high mountain slopes. Coatis commonly forage on the forest floor, using their pig-like snout to push aside leaf litter as they look for food.  They are easily identified by their long, striped tail.  Coatis may travel in loose groups of up to 25 individuals.

While not listed as threatened, Coatis face pressures from habitat destruction and unregulated hunting.

Photo Credit:  Exmoor Zoo