The Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko is a beautiful creature that can sometimes be seen clinging to the side an exterior wall and has adapted fairly well to the encroachment of suburbia. It is native to the Sydney Basin and is fairly common in the Northern Beaches region. Not surprisingly it’s named after its rather curious leaf-shaped tail which could be mistaken by predators for its head. If under threat, it can drop this tail, which serves as a decoy by continuing to wriggle. The tail is also used to store fat and sustain the gecko through the winter months. If you try and pick one up, they will deliver a sharp squeal but they are completely harmless to humans and, in fact, do us a great service by eating spiders and cockroaches.
Geckos hunt by being completely still and stealth-like ...basically allowing their prey to come to them...they will then move with incredible speed to catch and devour their meal. They are nocturnal which means they only come out at night and like all geckos, they have specially adapted feet that allows them to adhere to most surfaces.
The leaf-tailed gecko is a master of camouflage, adapting it’s colour to the rocky surface it clutches to. It has amazing copper hued eyes with a fixed lens that enlarges in darkness. Most geckos can’t blink but their eyes are 350 times more sensitive to light than the human eye. Reproduction is by laying one or two eggs in a crevice which hatch in around nine weeks. Gecko’s are very vulnerable to being hunted by cats, as are some of our other nocturnal wildlife such as ringtail possums, so please keep your prowling purrer in at night!
Footnote: The Asian House Gecko is a foreign import that arrived in by Brisbane by sea in the 1980’s. Since then its numbers have exploded and it is estimated that its population already numbers tens of millions in this country. It has become a pest species that impacts harmfully on native gecko populations because it transfers disease carrying mites. So far it hasn’t reached Sydney but it is heading our way.
An infant Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko (adults reach around 15cm in length)