South American leaf-toed gecko

Their toe pads have microscopic hair-like structures called setae, allowing them to stick using van der Waals forces

Darío De la Fuente

A fascinating reptile known for its unique adaptations and remarkable ability to blend into its environment. Found in various regions of South America, these geckos are small, agile, and equipped with specialized features that make them well-suited for their habitats. 

South American leaf-toed geckos are small lizards, typically measuring between 5-13 cm (2-5 in) in length, including their tails. They have slender bodies covered in smooth, fine scales that often exhibit a range of colors, including browns, grays, and greens. This coloration allows them to blend seamlessly with leaves, tree bark, and rocks, providing excellent camouflage against predators.

One of the most distinctive features of these geckos is their leaf-shaped toes. Each toe is flattened and expanded, resembling the shape of a leaf. These specialized toes are equipped with adhesive pads that enable the gecko to climb smooth surfaces and cling to vertical structures, such as tree trunks and leaves.

South American leaf-toed geckos are primarily found in tropical and subtropical regions of South America, including countries like Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. They inhabit a variety of environments, from dense rainforests to arid scrublands. These geckos are highly adaptable and can be found in both natural and urban settings.

Leaf-toed geckos are nocturnal, meaning they are most active during the night. During the day, they hide in crevices, under leaves, or in tree bark to avoid predators and conserve energy. At night, they emerge to hunt for food and explore their surroundings. Their excellent climbing abilities allow them to navigate complex environments in search of prey and mates.

Distribution

Country
Population est.
Status
Year
Comments
Chile
2014
Antofagasta, Tarapacá
Peru
2014

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No