Lined Leaf-tailed Gecko & Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko

Part of the Lizards and Snakes: Alive! exhibition.

Huge unblinking eyes, strange chirps and barks, whole species without males. If there weren't so many geckos, who'd believe they existed?

Lined Leaf-tailer Gecko



Its shape and color make this gecko look like a strip of peeling bark. These geckos spend most of their time in trees, and camouflage is one of their best defenses.


The feet of this tree-dwelling gecko have small claws as well as toe pads. The combination makes it a fast and agile climber.


Some geckos have vocal cords--and they're the only squamates that do. Their calls range from chirps and clicks to noisy barks. A voice is a good thing to have when you're active at night and can't see the other members of your species.


Males and females of this species look generally alike, so there's no way to tell them apart at a distance. But some squamates, including some geckos, are all-female, unisexual species. In those species, eggs develop--without fertilization--into clones of the female that produced them.

Fast Facts

NAME: Lined Leaf-tailed Gecko; Uroplatus lineatus
SIZE: 25 centimeters (10 inches)
RANGE: Northwestern Madagascar
DIET: Insects

Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko



Nearly two thirds of gecko species, including this one, have adhesive pads on their fingers and toes.


Small, flat scales create a soft, silken appearance. When shedding skin, many geckos tear it from toes and tail with their mouths. Loose skin is a defense against predators.


Like most lizard species, geckos can shed their tails when attacked. If the predator focuses on the tail, the gecko escapes. A re-grown tail--supported by cartilage, not bone--is often shorter and patterned differently from the original.

Fast Facts

NAME: Henkel's Leaf-tailed Gecko; Uroplatus henkeli
SIZE: 25 centimeters (10 inches)
RANGE: Eastern Madagascar
DIET: Insects

Meet the Family

The gecko family--Gekkonidae--is huge. It includes about 1,000 species, or well over 10 percent of all squamate species on Earth. And like any big family, it displays a lot of variety--in size, in shape, in lifestyle. Some family members are active at night, and some during the day; some have eyelids, and some don't; some don't even have legs.

Texas Banded Gecko

Coleonyx brevis

This little gecko lives in arid scrub areas of west Texas and north-central Mexico. Unlike most other geckos, it has eyelids--and another peculiarity. Because the Banded Gecko's ears are positioned below its skull, you can shine a light on one side of its head . . . and see it through the other!

Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko)
© William M. Partington. Jr./Photo Researchers

Tokay Gecko

Gekko gecko

This species got its common name from its call--a loud "TOE-kay." Geckos vocalize to attract mates, defend territory and startle predators.