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Bavayia | Eurydactylodes Agricolae | Phyllurus Platurus | Rhacodactylus Auriculatus | Rhacodactylus Ciliatus

     
  Phyllurus platerus

Phyllurus platurus
Scientific Name: Phyllurus platurus
Common Name: Southern Leaf Tail, Broad-Tailed Gecko

Description: The Leaf-tailed Gecko is a moderately large species of lizard (average body length of 80 mm) with a distinctive flattened body shape, well-developed limbs and digits, an angular head and large eyes, and distinctive leaf-shaped tail. The skin of the body and tail is rough and is covered by numerous small 'pointed' scales, but tails that have been lost and regrown lack these 'pointed' scales and are smooth.

Distribution: Phyllurus platurus are restricted to the Sydney Basin area of New South Wales, though there are other leaf-tailed gecko species further north as far as Cape York Peninsula. Broad-tails inhabit the sandstone outcrops and escarpment, hiding in deep cracks and crevices during the day. It has adapted well to human encroachment using brick houses as an alternative to its natural rocky home.

Housing: Phyllurus platerus are fairly easy to house in captivity. Single adults can be kept in a 10 gallon aquarium or similar sized cage. Juvenile animals can be kept in medium sized kritter keepers. A pair can be kept in a cage approx. 20x20x20 (inches), though some people keep pairs in cages measuring 12x12x18 with success as well. For the substrate, I keep my adults on peat moss, but coco fiber would be fine as well. I prefer to house babies and juvies on paper towel, this proves to be easier to keep clean and reduces the risk of impaction. Cage decorations should always include some rock, since these lizards are built for life on the rocks, where they are commonly found in nature. They prefer rocks with crevices as they like to wedge themselves in there during the day. A simple solution to this is to provide a cinder block, the ones with the crevices already cut out. Or if you are looking for something more appealing you can put in some granite or sandstone rock. Just make sure if you are putting in multiple rocks, to secure them, as the last thing you want is for something to shift and collapse which could result in injury or death to your leaf tail. Other cage decorations could include cork bark slabs (preferably stacked in layers so the leaf tail can hide between each layer). Mine also like cork tubes and I often see them sleeping in them.

Natural habitat of the Phyllurus platurus
Temperatures: Unlike most other Australian Leaftails available, such as Saltuarius wyberba, Phyllurus platurus like to be kept fairly cool. You don't want these geckos to get above 78, though I have accidentally had their cage hit 80 and they seem to be able to tolerate these temps for a few hours, though you goal should be to keep them between 72-78 during the day, with a nightime drop into the low 70's to mid. to high 60's. In the wild these geckos are still seen active at around 50 degrees F at night. For breeding you will need to provide a cold cool down for 2-3 months, more info about this can be found in the breeding section of this care sheet.

Humidity/Water: The geckos need to be kept humid, I mist mine 2 times a day, to keep the ambient humidity around 60%. I don't provide a water dish, I just make sure to mist the rocks and sides, which allow the geckos to drink from there, they seem to like moving water more than just a bowl of it.

Feeding: Phyllurus platurus are completely insectivorous, I feed mine pretty much solely crickets. I have tried feeding other insects such as roaches but they are typically to fast for the geckos to catch, or they usually burrow down into the peat moss. Some other breeders have said their animals go crazy for waxworms, I have tried these on a few occasions (waxworms are like ice cream and very high in fat, so even if your leaf tail eats them they should be fed sparingly) with no success, most of the time they turn bad, which I think is related to the high humidity in he cage. I feed every other day, both for adults and juvies. Typically each gecko will only eat 3-4 crickets. I dust my crickets each feeding in Miner-all calcium powder, then once a week or so I will dust in Rep-Cal Herptivite multivitamin powder. Make sure to mist the cage before you put in the crickets you mist the cage, otherwise the dust will just wash off the crickets.

Female phyllurus platerus nesting


Phyllurus platurus eggs
Breeding: Breeding these geckos is easy as long as a few things are done. First make sure to have a male and a female, males have a visible hemi penal bulge at the vent region, while females don't. The key factor to breeding these geckos is to provide a cold cool down. I start cooling mine around November, first thing you want to do is clear you geckos stomach, so for a week you will not want to feed your geckos, do not drop the temperatures during this time. After this time period you geckos stomach will be clear so now when you start cooling your geckos there will not be food in their stomachs that will rot and could be fatal. You will want to drop the temperatures in the cage gradually, so for about a week drop the temperatures 2-3 degrees. For the next 2-3 months keep temperatures between 50-60 degrees, try to keep it cooler than 60, but I have had temps sneak up once an a while to the mid 60's and mine still bred. Basically the cooler the better, in the wild it can go down to almost freezing so I will sometimes drop the cage down to sometimes the high 40's for a night. During the cool down period you also want to mist down the cage every night, to keep the humidity up. The geckos will not eat during the cool down. Keep an eye on them to make sure they are not losing weight, the tails in these geckos store fat, so the tails can be used as an indicator to how your gecko is doing. Any gecko showing signs of sickness, needs to be taken out of cooling and brought back up to speed. Once you have cooled them you can start raising the temperature back up to normal temperatures and start offering food. Once they are feeding normally and overall looking well then you can try to put the geckos together. My animals were both 18 grams when I put them together, just to give you an idea. I have never witnessed mating, so don't worry to much if you don't see anything. After 1-2 months you should start to see eggs and then at around 2-3 months you should expect to find eggs. Finding eggs is very easy, just give the female around 3 inches of peat moss (or coco bark) and she will dig what looks like a birds nest, and lay the eggs in the middle. These geckos lay anywhere from 2-4 clutches a year, so not all that prolific, the average time between clutches is about a month from my experience. I incubate my eggs just like I do the Rhacodactylus eggs, a 1.1 mixture of (perlite or vermiculite to water) by weight. I have heard temperature plays a roll in sex determination, so I am currently trying this for myself. I am incubating at 70-72 degrees in hopes of some females so a higher temperature I assume would yield more males. Incubation is fairly long, depending on temperature, the average time is about 3 months.

Defense: If threatened, leaftails will raise themselves up, open their mouths and wave their tail rhythmically over their body. If touched they will lunge toward the threat and emit a loud, rasping squeak, which can be quite a surprise. If this fails then these geckos will drop their tails, which they do regrow.

Conclusion: These geckos are one of my all time favorites, they are truly unique and just so cool looking. There tails are also so bizarre! If you can provide the cool an humid environment these geckos need then they are some of the most rewarding geckos to keep out there.


Natural habitat of the Phyllurus platurus
Phyllurus platurus hiding in a rocky crevice
 
 
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