Uroplatus lineatus

Uroplatus lineatus

Demerol and Bibron, 1836

About

Of all of the species in the genus Uroplatus, U. lineatus is by far one of the most unique of the group. They’re one of the largest Uroplatus, reaching a total length of 10-11″. They lack the dermal fringe most frequently seen in species belonging to the “fimbriatus” group, but many adorn themselves with spiny scales which give the appearance of “eye lashes” above their eyes. Their bodies are long and slender with smooth skin and a “snake-like” head. Patterns change from solid beige or yellowish during the day and wood grain striped at night. They very much resemble the bamboo plants they inhabit in their natural habitat. One of the more arboreal species, they generally stick to the walls and branches in their enclosure. Like all Uroplatus, they are nocturnal and sleep during the day. This is a very elegant species, moving about the enclosure with grace and style.

U. lineatus primarily inhabits the tropical and bamboo forests in eastern Madagascar. Their range is limited to the are between the regions of  Toamasina and Maroantsetra.  The air humidity in their east coast climate is high all year long.

Range

Eastern region between Toamasina and Maroantsetra and the island of Nosy Boraha.

Distribution map – Uroplatus lineatus

 

Captive Care

U. lineatus will thrive in most natural vivariums, but being a larger species of Uroplatus, adults require enough space to hunt and frolic about. Breeding pairs and trios do well in 2x2x4′ screen cages that are most commonly available for keeping chameleons. These cages are taller than they are wide and allows them to fully enjoy their arboreal lifestyle.

When setting up your enclosure, it is essential to have a good mix of long leafed foliage and vertical branches (preferably bamboo, but not necessary).  U. lineatus normally drink from the leaves of misted plants.  Dracaena fragrant ‘Massangeana’, commonly labeled as a “Corn Plant” are great for U. lineatus enclosures as they will use the long leaves for drinking and sleeping and females like the small cup the center of the plant provides for laying eggs. During the day they will sleep exposed on the leaves and sometimes on the trunk of the plant. This being a very arboreal species, vertically arranged branches, 2-3″ in diameter, are a must.

Temperature/Lighting

U. lineatus come from an area that hits around 85 degree F during the day with a slight drop in temperature at night.  There have been reports from some keepers of their U. lineatus preferring warmer daytime temperatures, having an average daytime temp around 78 is a good target.   If you acquire a wild caught specimen, more than likely it will prefer 75-78f during the day with a few degree drop at night, 72-75 degrees F. If you maintain a steady 77-78 during the day and 72-75 at night, no extra heat source is required, but you can provide a small spot lamp that provides a warm spot that can be used for basking.

All Uroplatus should be provided with 5.0 UVB lighting to maximize calcium absorption.  I’ve found that most of our U. lineatus will sleep towards the brightest UVB source in the room. Combining a 5.0 UVB bulb with a plant grow bulb over your enclosure will help both your geckos and their plants thrive. Use a light timer to maintain a normal day/night cycle set at 14/10 during the summer months and 12/12 during the winter.

Being nocturnal doesn’t mean they can see in complete darkness. All Uroplatus require some ambient light (think moonlight) to help them hunt and move about. We provide red LED’s for night time observation while giving them a little light to work with. We tested other colors of LED lighting but found most, other than red, to be almost too bright for them. It doesn’t take much, but a little light is required at night.

U. lineatus enclosure
Uroplatus Lineatus Enclosure

 

Humidity/Water

Humidity is something that has been slightly overstated regarding Uroplatus, but the different species do have different humidity requirements. Common advice suggests to maintain a level of 75-90% RH at all times, which sounds reasonable being that U. lineatus comes from an area that maintains about 85% humidity all year long. However, keeping your enclosure too wet all the time can lead to issues. Frequent misting for the purpose of maintaining high RH can lend an optimal environment for bacterial and mold growths in the enclosures, potentially leading to health risks down the road.

Like most arboreal species, U. lineatus hydrate themselves by drinking dew/rain drops from the leaves of plants. For daily maintenance we recommend giving the enclosure a good misting 30-45 minutes after lights out. Focus on misting the leaves and branches but not the animals themselves. This allows the enclosure to dry out during the day, preventing these issues from blossoming and becoming a greater problem. We also recommend leaving a shallow bowl of clean water in the enclosure at night.

In their natural habitat, U. lineatus experience a very long rainy season, so periodically during the Spring and Summer months you can increase the misting to simulate a rainy season for your geckos.  If you are trying to get your U. lineatus to breed this is very important.  If your U. lineatus enclosure is screen and can be moved easily, try taking it outside during Summer rainstorms so that your geckos can enjoy the extended watering period and the natural changes in barometric pressure.  If this is not an option, provide some extended misted sessions once or twice a week during the Spring and Summer.

Diet

All of our Uroplatus are fed a diet of well gut-loaded crickets and Dubia roaches. They don’t readily take super-worms and other similar feeders, seeming to prefer roaches over anything else. We recommend dusting all feeders with a high quality Calcium w/D3 supplement twice a week for general care. We supplement Calcium w/D3 nightly for our gravid females.

Breeding

U. lineatus can be housed in pairs or trios for breeding.  Females that are ready to breed will start laying dud eggs.  These eggs sill be soft and usually stuck to the side of the cage or to a branch.  This usual happens in Spring when the weather starts to warm and the rains increase.  To simulate seasonal cues, after a small basking spot, increase the daytime light, and increase their water through periodic longer misting sessions or leaving them out in the summer rains (is that is possible for you location).

Dud U. lineatus egg stuck to the side of the enclosure.

Unlike other Uroplatus species that lay their eggs on the ground in the leaf litter, female U. lineatus like to lay their eggs in elevated places like the center of corn plants (Dracaena fragrant ‘Massangeana’).  Shorter pieces of bamboo filled with sphagnum moss can also be used as egg laying areas.

In enclosures housing multiple females, frequent weight recordings can help in determining which female deposited that clutch of eggs you just found!

Hatchling Care

Hatchlings can be kept in ten gallon tanks until they reach 6″ or so and then are placed in screen cages similar to the adults. Every hatchling has live plants and appropriately sized branches in their enclosures, as well as a small bottle cap filled with clean water. Cork tiles can be found at most office supply stores and makes a decent cage liner.  All Uroplatus hatchlings should be provided with UVB.

Two day old U. lineatus found sleeping under a UVB light bulb.

 

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