First described as recently as 2006, Uroplatus giganteus is the largest gecko in Madagascar and the second largest gecko species in the world (2). Uroplatus giganteus belongs to the genus Uroplatus, a group known as leaf-tailed or flat-tailed geckos due to their broad, flat tails (6).
Uroplatus giganteus has a large, triangular head which is distinctly flattened, and its eyes are also large, with vertical pupils. This species’ limbs are slender, with a small amount of scaled webbing between the toes, and as in some other Uroplatus species there is a fringe of skin on the limbs, lower jaw and the sides of the neck, flanks and tail. In combination with some ability to change colour, this fringe helps the gecko to blend in with the background of its daytime resting places, and thus improves camouflage (2).
The colouration of Uroplatus giganteus is quite variable, ranging from brown to beige, grey or black, and is often reminiscent of the bark of trees. Most individuals have three large beige patches on the neck and body, which vary in size and shape. The underside of the body is whitish, sometimes with light brown marbling on the throat (2).
When Uroplatus giganteus is stressed, its colouration becomes much more contrasting, with the brown and greyish markings on the upperparts changing to yellow, and a black pattern developing over most of the head, back, tail and limbs (2).
Uroplatus giganteus was previously considered to be the same species as the common flat-tail gecko (Uroplatus fimbriatus), but can be distinguished by its distinctive white iris, its slightly larger size, and the presence of dark, chevron-shaped markings on the snout. Two black spots behind the rear chevron often create a pattern that resembles a ‘sad face’ symbol (2).
- Snout-vent length: up to 20 cm (2) (3) (4)
- Total length: up to 32.2 cm (2)