Uroplatus phantasticus 01

Uroplatus Phantasticus

Madagascar has more than 210 species of lizards which include geckos (both day geckos and Uroplatus) and chameleons, about eight species of tortoises and turtles, more than 80 species of snakes, and even some crocodiles.1

Lizards: The Island contains a large lizard population which entails the geckos named above in addition to chameleons, skinks, and iguanids. A Uroplatus gecko is a leaf tailed gecko that stays stationary during the day and when prodded can display a brightly colored mouth and erect tail, it is one of Madagascar’s most exclusive species. The one in the picture is the Uroplatus Phantasticus (Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko).1 Skinks are only a different type of lizard that looks like a “true” lizard and normally does not get past about 8 inches, and iguanids are lizards that typically have a long tail and bright throat latch in males.2

Tortoises and Turtles: There are four turtle species and four tortoise species on Madagascar. All of the tortoises on Madagascar are very rare and endemic, the most widely known and largest one being the Plowshare Tortoise.1 Another known tortoise, the radiated tortoise of Madagascar, is expected to be extinct within 20 years due to people keeping them as illegal pets and being in the meat trade. Researchers believe that the severe decline of these animals is due to years of drought, lack of enforcement against poachers, and loss of forest habitat.3 Turtles are also being poached in Madagascar, it’s estimated that as of November 2010, 16,000 turtles are being caught by people regardless of there being a ban. Many of the people catching the turtles are villagers and eating turtle meat is an important part of their culture. 4

Snakes: Of the 80+ species of snakes on Madagascar many are not particularly dangerous to the human population. The only land based ones that are venomous are rear fanged, meaning that while they have a mean bite, in order to inject the venom and ultimately cause paralysis they would need to chew on an appendage. There are also two very venomous yet non-aggressive sea snakes: the hook nosed sea snake, and the yellow bellied sea snake. The Island’s snake population also consists of some boa constrictors, or large snakes that strangle their prey to death. It’s surprising that these snakes are even there considering the closest boas are found in the South Pacific and the Amazon Basin.1