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What is the satanic leaf-tailed gecko? © Alamy

What is the satanic leaf-tailed gecko?

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Not only does this tropical lizard have extreme camo getup but it can also let out an almighty scream to frighten off any foes.

The satanic leaf-tailed gecko takes the idea of camouflage to new, and frankly absurd, levels. First, it possesses eyebrow horns that look like thorny twigs. Second, its skin is covered with artificial ridges that mimic leaf veins. Upon its back it has splodges of green that resemble lichens and mosses. And lastly, as if that’s not enough, it has a tail that looks like a decomposing leaf.


An animal’s camouflage is a measure of the environment in which it evolves. The Madagascan rainforests that this gecko calls home are chock-full of predators such as snakes and birds, which means that only the best camouflage variations persist. As a result, generation-by-generation, nature breeds a strain of gecko closer and closer to the leaves and sticks upon which it lives. If the devil is in the detail, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko is superbly named.

Though blending in is clearly important to this reptile, there are times when it must break its ninja-like cover to scare away predators. To do this, the satanic leaf-tailed gecko opens its mouth wide, sticks out a red tongue and lets out a high-pitched, unearthly scream. To predatory birds and snakes, devilish encounters like these may be hard to exorcise.

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Jules Howard is a zoology correspondent, naturalist and author of more than 10 books including The Wildlife Pond Handbook. He writes for a number of publications including The Guardian, Science Focus and BBC Wildlife Magazine.


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