Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Spending most of its time in vegetation just a few metres off the ground (2), this nocturnal lizard searches for insects on which to feed (5). Daylight hours are spent resting head downwards on small trees (2). Henkel's flat-tailed gecko lays clutches of just two spherical eggs (2), which are carefully deposited on the forest floor, generally under fallen leaves, beneath a piece of wood, or amongst dead leaves still attached to a plant (5). After more than 90 days of incubation, the eggs hatch to reveal juveniles measuring 60 millimetres long (2). Not only is Henkel's flat-tailed gecko a master of disguise, but it holds several other tricks to help it escape predators. It can cause confusion by voluntarily shedding its tail, and can frighten enemies by opening its mouth wide and revealing the bright red cavity inside (5). Such defensive behaviour is often accompanied by loud, distress calls (2).
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Description

Henkel's flat-tailed gecko is most remarkable for its incredible ability to conceal itself in its forest habitat. Not only does its grey or brown colouration act as superb camouflage against bark (2) (3), but a fringe of skin edging the head and body enables it to blend into tree trunks by breaking up the outline of the body and preventing any shadows from forming (2). Some individuals also have charcoal-coloured bodies patterned with a lighter grey, which closely mimics the appearance of lichen (3), and the relatively short and flattened tail can resemble a dead leaf (2). Henkel's flat-tailed gecko has a fairly large, triangular head and bulging eyes which are light pinky-brown, or beige with red spots (2). The pupils are vertical slits, indicating its nocturnal habits (2) (4). Like other geckos, the feet of Henkel's flat-tailed gecko are another striking feature, with the large toe pads providing impressive adhesion when climbing (4) (5).
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Distribution

Range Description

This species is endemic to Madagascar and has a disjunct distribution. It is known from the northwestern Sambriano region and the offshore island of Nosy Be (Andreone et al. 2004), and Ankarafantsika. It is also found in western Madagascar in Tsingy de Bemaraha.
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Continent: Indian-Ocean
Distribution: Madagascar, Nossi Be = Nosy Bé  
Type locality: “Wald von Loucoubé, Nosy Bé”
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Range

Endemic to Madagascar, Henkel's flat-tailed gecko occurs only in the extreme north and northwest of the island (5).
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is dependent on primary forest, including western deciduous forest (C. Raxworthy pers. comm.). In the Sambirano region, this arboreal species inhabits primary low-altitude rainforest, and in the west it occurs in deciduous dry forest (Glaw and Vences 2007). This species is also occasionally seen in bamboo forest (Andreone et al. 2004, Glaw and Vences 2007). It usually spends most of its day head downward on small trees (Glaw and Vences 2007).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Henkel's flat-tailed gecko is an arboreal species that inhabits dense primary rainforest at low altitudes (2) (5). It apparently also occurs in secondary forest, but at very low population densities (5).
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
VU
Vulnerable

Red List Criteria
B1ab(iii)

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2010

Assessor/s
Raxworthy, C.J. & Vences, M.

Reviewer/s
Böhm, M., Collen, B. & Ram, M. (Sampled Red List Index Coordinating Team)

Contributor/s
De Silva, R., Milligan, H.T., Wearn, O.R., Wren, S., Zamin, T., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Lewis, S., Lintott, P. & Powney, G.

Justification
Uroplatus henkeli has been assessed as Vulnerable. Although it has a fairly a wide distribution in Madagascar, it occurs in four disjunct areas and is dependent on primary forest habitat. Taking these discontinuities of range into account, its estimated extent of occurrence is approximately 12,000 km². Its forest habitat is threatened by ongoing logging and expanding agriculture and the species itself is collected for the pet trade. Collection even occurs within protected areas. Further research into the population, harvest levels, and threats to this species should be carried out.as an increase in threat levels may warrant listing in a higher threat category. Taxonomic revision may also lead to a much smaller distribution range than is currently assumed for this species.
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Status

Listed on Appendix II of CITES (1).
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Population

Population
There is no population information available for this species.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
Forests in the Sambirano region are being lost or degraded due to human activities including logging, the expansion of agricultural activities, including slash-and-burn 'tavy' farming, and associated brush fires. This is likely to have a significant effect on this species due to its dependence on primary forest habitat. The species is also collected for the pet trade. Despite occurring within protected areas, illegal collecting continues, however, there is no information on the number of individuals harvested or traded (Andreone et al. 2004).
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Like other geckos of Madagascar, Henkel's flat-tailed gecko is undoubtedly threatened by the continued destruction of Madagascar's forests. Nowhere is this species considered to be abundant, and whilst it is apparently able to tolerate some degradation of the natural habitat, in such areas it is only found at even lower densities (5). This rarity makes Henkel's flat-tailed gecko very vulnerable to the second major threat it faces: collection. In recent years, this astonishing lizard has become very popular amongst reptile hobbyists (5). While there are some reports that this species is bred by hobbyists (3), others state that the vast majority of Henkel's flat-tailed geckos in the trade have been harvested from the wild (5). Just taking into account legal trade, 3,000 individuals were reported as exported from Madagascar in the years 2001 to 2003. Illegal collection poses a particular problem; a decline in flat-tailed gecko populations in Lokobe Strict Nature Reserve on Nosy Be Island was attributed to illegal harvesting (5).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
This species is listed on Appendix II of CITES. There are protected areas within the range of this species, such as the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, which is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, improved management is required to reduce the rate of illegal harvesting within protected areas. Further research into the population, harvest levels, and threats to this species should be carried out, and further taxonomic study is required to assess whether this species is, in fact, a species complex. Depending on the outcome of such study, the distribution area of this species may turn out to be much smaller than is currently assumed (M. Vences pers. comm.).
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Conservation

Henkel's flat-tailed gecko occurs in at least two protected areas, Manongarivo and Tsaratanana Intergrated Nature Reserves. In addition, collection of this species is supposed to be controlled and restricted under Malagasy law (5), and international trade is regulated by its listing on Appendix of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) (1). However, none of these measures currently prevent the illegal collection of this rare reptile. This issue needs addressing, as continued harvesting may result in populations of Henkel's flat-tailed gecko becoming extinct in the near future (5).
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Wikipedia

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko (Uroplatus henkeli), is a gecko that is found on the island Nosy Bé near Madagascar, as well as on the mainland Madagascar itself, in the region of Ankaranafantsika. These geckos live an arboreal lifestyle, often venturing down to the ground only to lay eggs in soft soil and leaflitter. There are two different morphs of these geckos; the Nosy Bé form, and the mainland Madagascar form, and they can be distinguished by their colouration patterns, though these are not always reliable. Reaching a total length of 280 mm, this is one of largest species in the genus. These geckos are insectivores, but will also eat snails if they are found.

Etymology[edit]

The generic name, Uroplatus, is a Latinization of two Greek words: "ourá" (οὐρά) meaning "tail" and "platys" (πλατύς) meaning "flat". Its specific name henkeli is a Latinization of herpetologist Friedrich-Wilhelm Henkel's last name.

Threats[edit]

Habitat destruction and deforestation in Madagascar is the primary threat to this animal's future as well as collection for the pet trade.[1] The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) lists all of the Uroplatus species on their "Top ten most wanted species list" of animals threatened by illegal wildlife trade, because of it "being captured and sold at alarming rates for the international pet trade". It is a CITES Appendix 2 protected animal.[1]

Two U. henkeli hanging head-down from a glass wall of a display in the Museum of Science, Boston

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Inclusion of Uroplatus spp. in Appendix II" (pdf). Technical comments in support of amendments to CITES appendices submitted by Madagascar. CITES. 2004. Retrieved 2 November 2008. 
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