*Special thanks to Graham Slade for providing captive care information on this species.
Named for the Malagasy word meaning “initiative”, one of the newest members of the ebenaui group, Uroplatus finiavana, was described in September of 2011. Prior to it’s official description, Uroplatus finiavana was commonly referred as Uroplatus cf. ebenaui (Mnt. d’Ambre) or the “Long-tail ebenaui”. It is distinguished from the others in the group by it’s overall larger size, tail shape and length and the lack of pigmentation of the buccal membrane.
Like all Uroplatus, U. finiavana is a nocturnal species. Among members of the ebenaui group, this species seems to lose its tail the most frequently, and in the wild, finding individuals lacking tails is as frequent if not more frequent than finding individuals with them. This is probably the most common species of Uroplatus in Montagne d’Ambre; sometimes numerous individuals can be found in a single night.
Range and Habitat
Uroplatus finiavana inhabits the primary forests of the Montagne d’Ambre massif in northern Madagascar. Inhabiting altitudes between 700-1350 m a.s.l., U. finiavana is most commonly encountered between 800-1000 m a.s.l.
Captive Care and Housing
These geckos need a relatively large vivarium, contrary to some other geckos that don’t do well when in a large vivarium, these geckos need a lot of space, and will make use of the whole area provided. They are also easily stressed in smaller vivariums. Something with dimensions like 1.5ft square and 2ft tall would be ideal for a pair. A planted vivarium works best, with twigs, leaf litter and live plants (ficus, bromeliads, spider plants, dracaena, bamboo etc.). The vivarium should be misted once every other day in the cooler months and every day during the warmer months. In the peak of summer, the vivarium should be misted twice a day (morning and evening).
They feed on a variety of insects, including Crickets and Roaches. Breeding females should have a pot of calcium available to them as they do self-dose.
Total adult length of 10- 12cm with females generally being slightly larger than males.
Adults are slightly smaller than adult U.guentheri.
Hatchlings measure ~2.5cm / 1 inch.
Sexing isn’t 100% accurate, but if a number of characteristics are shown in an individual, it is usually certain. Generally it is possible to sex from birth with a high level of confidence.
Males can have any of the following…
- Notches in their tails A white tear drop shape underneath their eye.
- More tubercular scales than females Large black spots on the nose and down the spine.
- Males will also show hemipenal bulges as they grow older.
Females generally have…
- Smooth-edged tails.
- Very few (if any) tubercular scales.
- No black spots on the nose or down the middle of the back.
- No tear drop under the eye, or a much less pronounced one.
- The majority of females we have hatched have also had a dorsal stripe down the nape of the neck and from the base of the tail to the middle of the back. From our experience, the stripe never seems to fully meet in the middle. We have never bred a male gecko with this characteristic, but we have seen males from other breeders demonstrating this dorsal striping.
Cooling (and separation) is required for a period of at least two months. This is important for breeding. In the cool period, mist the vivarium only once a day, with temperatures of 14-20, night temperatures being cooler (14-16). A calcium dish must be provided for any breeding female, and food must be supplemented as normal. We use a 5% UVB light, which is thought to encourage breeding behaviour and help produce healthy offspring. A clutch of hard-shelled eggs (usually 2 at a time, rarely more) will be laid around every 4 weeks, sometimes a little more or less often.
Incubation of the eggs should be in bottle caps with dry vermiculite in them (not burying them!) and placing the bottle caps onto a tub of wet vermiculite to keep the humidity high. The eggs can be incubated at the temperatures which the adults are kept at. A night time temperature drop is important for the eggs, as is the correct humidity fluctuation. Incubation times are generally ~100-150 days but we have been using cooler incubation temperatures, resulting in larger, stronger individuals hatching, but incubation taking up to 200 days. This year we are trying slightly warmer temperatures.