Henkel’s Leaf-Tailed Gecko

Uroplatus henkeli

Order: Squamata

Family: Eublepharidae

Husbandry Information

Housing Requirements

  • While husbandry practices for Uroplatus are similar, caging requirements does differ depending on the species being kept. Uroplatus are largely endemic to the rain forests of eastern Madagascar, and many species can be kept and bred under similar conditions
  • Freshly cut oak and maple tree branches, or bamboo, situated vertically throughout the enclosure.
  • Substrate, 2 or 3 inches of moist peat moss or sphagnum moss will work well in most circumstances. Either can hold a lot of water without turning soggy and will help maintain humidity, and both are commonly available at garden centers.
  • Temperature, Humidity, & Lighting
    • ambient daytime temperatures between 72 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit, nighttime temps between 60 and 65 degrees
    • Humidity 60 and 100 percent
    • Lighting can be provided with a 2.0-5.0 UVB bulb 12-14 hrs/day

Diet Requirements

Veterinary Concerns

Notes on Enrichment & Training

  • Check out the Reptelligence Facebook page and Reptelligence website for enrichment and training inspiration.
  • Provide multiple hides
  • Live plants for environmental enrichment:  Ficus, Pothos and Dracaena fragrans


Colony or Breeding Management

Notes species is housed or managed socially or for breeding purposes.

Individual Identification

Dimorphism or practiced ways to individually mark species (such as those in colonies, like giant millipedes).

Programmatic Information


Temperature Guidelines



Tips on Presentation

Touching Techniques

Tips on Handling

Potential Messaging

  • In general, animals seen at the zoo do not make good pets. Most have specialized dietary, veterinary, housing, and social needs that are difficult or impossible for even dedicated pet owners to meet. Always ensure that your future pet has not been taken from the wild. Capture of wild animals for the pet trade has significantly damaged the survival prospects of species such as sloths, tamanduas, and many parrots. Captured animals are typically mistreated by profit-motivated traffickers and dealers, resulting in many animal deaths; well-meaning animal lovers may feel like they are rescuing animals by purchasing them but are really perpetuating the cruelty. In addition, many exotic pets are released by their owners when they become too dangerous or demanding, often with devastating effects on local ecosystems. Animals that should never be kept as pets include all bats, primates, and exotic carnivores. Birds, fish, and reptiles have specialized needs, are frequently wild-caught, and damage the local environment if released; guests should be advised to educate themselves and proceed with caution. Domestic dogs and cats are almost always the best option! Many deserving animals are available for adoption at animal shelters. http://www.philadelphiazoo.org/Save-Wildlife/Images/PetWalletBro2012.aspxhttp://pin.primate.wisc.edu/aboutp/pets/index.html
  • Many regions of Africa including the Congoand the island of Madagascar are extensively mined for coltan and other minerals that go into cell phones, tablets, and computers. Natural habitat, frequently in areas that are legally protected, is lost for wildlife, trees and topsoil scraped away. In addition, toxins from discarded electronics leach out of local landfills and contaminate waterways here at home. Please ask guests to think twice before replacing their electronic devices and to recycle their old ones when they do. http://www.houstonzoo.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Why-should-I-recycle-my-cell-phone.pdf
  • One of the best ways for people to help the rainforest is to reduce their use of tropical woods. Many rainforest trees are felled each year for lumber, furniture, and other products that end up in countries all over the world. Much of tropical wood imported into the United States comes from South America, particularly the Amazon Rainforest. Flooring, musical instruments, picture frames and other products made of rosewood should be particularly avoided to slow deforestation on Madagascar and to avoid the extinction of endangered or vulnerable rosewood tree species from forests all around the equator. Ask guests to consider used or vintage furniture or new furniture made of wood that has been reclaimed from old structures. There are many alternatives to conventional lumber including flooring and other products made from fast-growing bamboo, and decking made of recycled plastic formed to look like wooden boards. http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/habitats/rainforest-threats/ 
  • http://www.globaltrees.org/tp_d_nigra.htmhttp://www.rainforestrelief.org/What_to_Avoid_and_Alternatives/Rainforest_Wood/What_to_Avoid_What_to_Choose/By_Tree_Species/Tropical_Woods/R/Rosewood.html

Acquisition Information

If you are interested in adding this species to your collection or you need additional geckos or you need to surplus animals, please email Sean Foley, Reptile Keeper
Riverbanks Zoo & Garden sfoley@riverbanks.org

Comments from the Rating System

  • Lee Richardson Zoo: based on our experience with one individual, we loved this species and would jump on the opportunity to get another. Calmer than other geckos I have worked with and great messaging.
  • Riverbanks Zoo & Garden: This is one of the hardier and more easily reproduced species of leaf-tailed geckos.

Natural History Information

Range and Habitat

Undisturbed rainforest throughout Madagascar.

Physical Description

5″-7″ long with a flattened body. Large bulging eyes have vertical slit pupils with an uneven border. The limbs and flank of the body are bordered with fringed scales which create a broken silhouette. The tail is constricted at the base, then flattens out and is semi-prehensile. Color changes depending on time of day and mood, varying from a light gray or brown mottled color to a dark brown with black spots.

Life Cycle



During the day, they flatten their bodies against the trunks of trees and press their flange of scales close to the tree. In this way, the geckos cast almost no shadow and are extremely difficult to see. If threatened, they present a threat posture: the mouth is held open wide enough to give them the nickname of a “pez dispenser.” While opening their mouth, the gecko displays its wide, fleshy tongue and makes a squawking noise. As a last resort, the tail will break off along a fracture plane.

Threats and Conservation Status

Declining populations due to deforestation and capture for the pet trade.

Did you know…


baby gecko enclosure
Baby gecko enclosure setups “tricks of the trade” – Chicago Zoological Society



Contributors and Citations

Cover Photo: ARKive

  • Lee Richardson Zoo
  • Houston Zoo, Natural Encounters

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