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Day gecko
There are more than 210 species of lizards in Madagascar. Some of the better known are chameleons, geckos, skinks, and iguanids. Strangely absent from the island are agamas and monitors which are found across Asia and Africa.

Day geckos
Unlike most geckos which are nocturnal, day geckos are day-active lizards. Day geckos feed mostly on insects.

Leaf-tailed or Uroplatus geckos
These geckos are remarkably well camouflaged. Inactive during the day, Uroplatus geckos only move when disturbed. They respond to prodding with an impressive display of a brightly colored gaping mouth and an erect tail. At night they hunt insects.

Madagascar is home to about half the world's 150 or so species of chameleons. Chameleons are small to mid-size reptiles that are famous for their ability to dramatically change color. Contrary to popular belief, a chameleon typically does not change colors to match its surroundings. Instead color is usually used to convey emotions, defend territories, and communicate with mates.

Chameleons change colors thanks to two layers of specialized cells that lie just beneath the lizard's transparent outer skin.

Chameleons are territorial and aggressive towards members of their own species. They are opportunistic hunters that wait for prey to pass within range of their long tongues. Most chameleons lay eggs.

In some parts of Madagascar chameleons are feared for their supposed magical powers and ability to see into the future.

Some of the smallest reptiles in the world are the Brookesia, stumpt-tailed or leaf chameleons. One species of Brookesia reaches a maximum length of just over an inch (30 mm). These diminutive creatures are found in the leaf litter of rainforests and dry deciduous forests in much of Madagascar. Brookesia feed on small insects and reply on their cryptic coloration to evade predators. When disturbed, these chameleons will play dead in an effort to resemble a fallen leaf. Brookesia are easiest to find at night when they sleep on the leaves of small shrubs.

Calumma parsonii cristifer

Furcifer gastrotaenia chameleon

Furcifer pardalis chameleon

Brookesia peyrierasi chameleon on twig

Brookesia peyrierasi chameleon in hand

Phelsuma guttata Gecko in leaf

Furcifer balteatus chameleon

Calumma brevicornis (male)

Furcifer willsii (Female)

Furcifer willsii (Male)

Uroplatus phantasticus

Uroplatus fimbriatus gecko on Nosy Mangabe

Calumma globifer chameleon

Uroplatus fimbriatus with flying insect

Uroplatus fimbriatus gecko

Uroplatus fimbriatus gecko on Nosy Mangabe

Brookesia superciliaris chameleon in leaf litter

Phelsuma guttata Day Gecko on bamboo

Phelsuma gecko in Taolagnaro

Phelsuma madagascariensis kochi

Uroplatus fimbriatus - head shot tree trunk

Uroplatus fimbriatus - side angle head shot

Uroplatus fimbriatus - tree trunk, full body

Uroplatus fimbriatus gecko on Nosy Mangabe

Uroplatus fimbriatus leaf-tailed gecko

Uroplatus fimbriatus gecko on Nosy Mangabe

Uroplatus phantasticus gecko

Uroplatus fimbriatus gecko

Collared iguanid (Oplurus cuvieri) lizard

Uroplatus fimbriatus gecko on Nosy Mangabe

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© Rhett A. Butler / 2008