by Eco Kids Planet June 17, 2021

This little blue-green lizard certainly lives up to its name. But its gorgeous good looks are one reason why this rare reptile is disappearing from its African home. Let's find out why...

 

A BIT ABOUT...

Geckos are a small type of lizard. There are about 1,500 different species in the world. They’re well-known for their amazing climbing skills. Some geckos have special grippy pads on their toes. They can climb up smooth and vertical surfaces, including glass! 

Electric colour

It’s actually only the male geckos that are this stunning turquoise colour. Females are a duller shade of brownish-green. Both sexes measure a minuscule 8.5cm long (and almost half of that is their tail) – that’s less than the length of a lollipop stick!

Fun fact gecko

This gecko’s attractive colour also makes it a very popular pet. Thousands of them have been taken from the wild and sold for the pet trade – even though this is illegal. They are often called electric blue day geckos. Sadly, the number of turquoise dwarf geckos in the wild has fallen so much that this scarce species is now critically endangered. This means it’s at real risk of going extinct.

 

Where do they live?

Turquoise dwarf geckos are only found in Tanzania, a large country in East Africa. They live in just a few patches of tropical forest at the bottom of the Uluguru Mountains. This area covers less than 8km – that’s about 200 times smaller than London!

These tiny reptiles live at the tops of screwpine trees. One tree might be home to a single family of geckos, including a male, one or more females and a few young.

Vanishing forest

The turquoise dwarf gecko’s forest habitat is disappearing because: 

 

  • Trees are being cut down to provide timber and firewood for people and to clear the land for farming. 
  • Forest fires are becoming more common due to climate change.

 

How are they being helped?

Tim Skelton is the Curator of Reptiles at Bristol Zoo, where they keep and breed these rare geckos. He says: “We need to protect what is left of the geckos’ forest habitat, plant more screwpine trees for them to live in and stop poaching.”

If that can be done, this little lizard’s future will look a lot brighter.

 

Eco Kids Unite!

Thinking of getting an exotic animal as a pet? The RSPCA recommends that you find out as much as you can about what the animal needs and whether you will be able to look after it properly. Some animals grow very large, live for a long time or require expensive equipment. You also need a special licence to keep some species as pets.

If you do buy an exotic pet, it’s very important to make sure that it hasn’t been taken from the wild – the person selling it should be able to show you proof of this. You can find more information at www.rspca.org.uk/adviceandwelfare/pets/other

Gecko

 

Did you know?

  • Most geckos are nocturnal, but this species is diurnal. It spends much of the day searching in the screwpines for insects to eat and drinking water that has collected on leaves.
  • Female geckos lay miniature white eggs that look like little mints! They ‘glue’ them on to screwpine leaves in hard-to-find places. The baby geckos that hatch out are only about 1cm long!
  • The turquoise dwarf gecko isn’t the smallest gecko in the world. That title goes to the Jaragua dwarf gecko – an unbelievably tiddly 16mm in length!

 

Vocabulary

Diurnal: Active during the day.

Exotic: Rare or more usually found in the wild.

Poaching: Illegally catching or killing wild animals.

 

Enjoyed reading this feature? Find out more about mini animals in issue 80 - Tiny Wildlife.


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