Giant Leaf Tailed Gecko

Isn’t it amazing how creatures evolve to fit their environment? The dazzling giant leaf-tailed gecko is a stunning specimen, living up to its name for a tee. Their tails mimic leaves to protect themselves from predators in the wild.

Their stunning looks might spark your curiosity—but don’t get too excited. If you are a beginner, this is not the reptile for you. Let’s get into their care requirements so you can tell if this gecko should be added to your home habitat.

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Giant Leaf Tailed Gecko Fast Facts

Species Name: Uroplatus phantasticus
Family: Gecko
Treatment Level: Difficult
Temperature: 75 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
Temperament: Calm down, obedient
Color Shape: Brown, tan, or orange mottling
Lifetime: 2 to 10 years
Size: 10 to 12 inches
Diet: Carnivore
Minimum Tank Size: 18″ x 18″ x 36″
Tank Setting: Foliage, soft soil, perch
Suitability: Experienced owner

Overview of Giant Leaf Tailed Gecko

The giant leaf-tailed gecko, officially known as Uroplatus phantasticus, looks like something out of a movie. This astonishing scientific anomaly originated in Madagascar—so it’s no wonder they have had to adapt to protect themselves in the extreme tropical climate.

These shy lizards spend most of their time in the leaves, camouflaging themselves to miss the prying eyes of predators and hide from potential prey. But over the years, they started to become quite a hot commodity in the pet trade industry.

The giant leaf-tailed gecko has taken on many nicknames along the way, including:

  • Devil’s Leaf Tail Gecko

  • Eyelash leaf tail gecko

  • Fantastic leaf tail gecko

Due to the very special housing and handling requirements of leaf tails, these ones are only suitable for experienced owners.

Giant leaf tail gecko

How Much Does a Giant Leaf Tailed Gecko Cost?

The giant leaf-tailed gecko is relatively rare in terms of gecko species—and the price reflects that. Not only are they hard to find, but they also have all sorts of interesting genetic traits that make certain ones more desirable than others.

If you buy from a breeder, you can expect to pay between $250 and $1,000. The total cost will depend on the markings and special features that appear.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

Leaf-tails are quite specialized when it comes to daily care. Because they spend so much time in silence to repel predators, they are stressed, startled, or panicked if handled.

If you’re looking for a lizard you can wear in your shirt for an hour during TV time—this isn’t the one. These people do not like to be held, especially if they are caught in the wild. They get stressed very quickly.

For the most part, you should embrace a ‘look but don’t touch’ mentality. These lizards can be restless, restless, and fast. The giant leaf-tailed gecko can also quickly move away from you. And if you haven’t figured it out yet—they’re masters of hide-and-seek.

Due to the unique care involved with having leaf tails, only experienced owners should sign up for the job. They can be very rewarding to have, but there is too much room for error in a beginner’s situation.

Giant leaf tail gecko on a tree

Appearance & Variety

The giant leaf-tailed gecko has a look all its own. This is perhaps one of the most interesting geckos in the species. They have a triangular head with a flat tail that resembles a leaf—including veins and coloration.

Leaf tails are dimorphic, meaning you can visually distinguish between males and females. The female has a leaf-like tail that looks like a healthy plant, while the male looks dry or wrinkled.

Males also have a hemipenal bulge that develops around 6 months of age.

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How to Take Care of a Giant Leaf Tailed Gecko

If you like what you’ve heard so far, next is the topic of grooming. The habitat and diet you provide for your leaf tail establishes the basic blocks necessary for a healthy life.

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Settings

Attachment

Your leaf-tailed geckos can live together, so the size of the cage will vary depending on how many you have.

Single leaf tails must have an 18” x 18” x 36” cage. You should increase the habitat size with each newcomer by 6 inches.

Substrate

Leaf tails need moist, soft soil as a substrate. Many use peat moss or sphagnum, as they can hold moisture without getting messy.

Giant leaf tail gecko on a tree

Temperature

In terms of temperature, leaf tails need warmth that mimics their natural environment. Tropical, these geckos require low basking temperatures of up to 84 degrees Fahrenheit.

The center of the cage should range from 68 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit but drop to 62 at night.

Humidity

Your gecko’s hydrometer should always read between 70% and 85% humidity. These creatures need moisture for the health and well-being of their skin.

Lightning

Lighting should reflect the natural sleep/wake cycle in nature. A good rule of thumb is to provide 12 hours of UV light per day.

Are Giant Leaf-Tailed Geckos Friendly to Other Pets?

Unlike some other species, leaf tails do well with other leaf tails. You can have them in pairs or trios without a problem. They are usually very docile, but they can be aggressive in male partners. So, watch the combinations and monitor how well they get along.

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What Feeds the Giant Leaf Tailed Gecko?

The giant leaf-tailed gecko requires a very special and strict diet. It is a predatory creature, eating a lot of invertebrates and insects.

Some of the most common foods for your gecko include:

  • Cricket

  • cockroach

  • dark beetle

  • grasshopper

  • Snail

  • Red runner cockroach

Note: You should not feed your leaf-tailed wild bugs. There is no way to be sure that these insects are safe to eat, as they can carry parasites and bacteria that can make your gecko sick.

Keeping Your Giant Leaf Tail Healthy

If you keep a feeding schedule on point and make sure they have a suitable environment, you should have a healthy gecko. However, there are some things in the health related department that you need to know.

First, before you bring your leaf tail home, you need to find an exotic veterinarian in your area who is experienced in dealing with geckos. It’s important to schedule a vet treatment at least once a year to make sure your leaf tail is in good shape.

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Common Problems for Giant Leaf Tailed Geckos

These geckos can be a bit fussy at times, so they are quite sensitive. It will help if you notice any behavioral or physical changes in your leaf tail.

Common health problems with giant leaf tail geckos include:

  • Dehydration

  • Metabolic bone disease

  • Mite

  • Parasite

  • Emphasize

Breeding

When breeding giant leaf-tailed geckos, it is important to know that they can be unreliable breeders. They are sensitive and often useless. For this reason, among other things, you should only attempt to breed this species if you are very experienced.

Because the leaf tails are so thin, observing pregnant females is relatively easy—because they spread outward. Make sure the female has a place to store the eggs. It should be moist but not moss soil.

Males should be separated from females as soon as they are seen carrying eggs. In groups, males can become aggressive if placed together during this time.

The eggs usually hatch between 35 and 85 days.

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Is the Giant Leaf-Tailed Gecko Right For You?

While giant leaf-tailed geckos are only for experienced owners, they can be very valuable pets to keep. Be sure to research any remaining questions you have about this species thoroughly.

Also, make sure you check to see if you have a licensed exotic vet nearby for regular visits and emergencies.


Featured Image Credit: Petri Lopia, Shutterstock

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