Episode 183 – Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko: The Devil’s Disguises

“…and today we’re talking about a gecko that just does what it wilsts. But more on that later.”

The 80s spawned a lot of things: Reaganomics, Terminator, Steve Perry. But it also gave rise to the Satanic Panic. And one of the most prominent kinds of Satanists that the decade produced was an evil race of tiny geckos with leaves for tails. These dastardly reptiles can hide in plain sight, and though they don’t worship the beast, they do eat beelzelbugs on the regular. But that’s just how the satanic leaf-tailed gecko operates here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko

  • The Satanic-Leaf Gecko has a flat tail, large head, and spiky eyebrows. 
  • They also have a spinal ridge that runs from the back of their necks and then splits to follow each side of their flat tails. 
  • They come in earth-tones, particularly reddish brown and pale yellow.
    • Some are two-toned while others are monochromatic with a single light brown color.
  • Their large heads are beset with big red-orange eyes.

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We don’t have a new Measure Up intro!

  1. Rhinoceros
  2. Gargoyle Gecko
  3. Cheetah
  4. Rock dove


  • 90mm (3.5 inches)
  • How many Satanic-Leaf Geckos go into one astronomical unit?
  • Hint: An astronomical unit is often used to measure distance within the solar system. It’s equal to the distance between the center of the earth to the center of the sun.
  • 1,600,000,000,000 geckos. An AU is 149.6 million kilometers.


  • 10 to 30 grams
  • How many Satanic-Leaf Geckos go into the largest mammal on madagascar?
  • Hint: The island’s largest mammal is the fossa, a carnivorous cat-like creature. It’s in the family Eupleridae, which includes civets and mongooses. 
  • 287 geckos.

Fast Facts about the Satanic Leaf-Tailed Gecko

They live in Madagascar and prefer highland rainforest biomes, based on the fact that they only live in the eastern highland rainforest of Madagascar.

They’re okay with lower temperatures than your average lizard and do well in their high elevation habitat.

Like other geckos and devils, the Satanic-Leaf Gecko is nocturnal and hunts for insects at night. 

They mate seasonally and lay eggs in piles of dead leaves. 

Despite their name, they’re relatively mild mannered. They sleep through the day. In captivity, they’re kept in two male, one female groups, also known as the YA-novel configuration. This is done to improve genetic diversity, but the rival males rarely ever fight. 

Even though their tales are super cool and it’s an absolute bummer to lose them, they can shed their tails to escape predators. 

Like other geckos, they have sicky scales and curve claws that make them excellent climbers. 

For once, we have a legitimate reason to be upset with the pet trade besides dominating animal SEO. The exotic pet trade is a big fan of these guys and they’re sometimes captured illegally. Though they are still classified as “least concern” there is a decreasing trend in their numbers. 

Major Fact: The Devil’s Disguises

As we mentioned earlier, Aleister looks a lot like a leaf. Its tail even has chunks missing to make it look like parts have rotted or been eaten by bugs.

But just like the spiny leaf insect, it has both passive and active camo – meaning it can turn completely invisible instantly. But the reality is that it looks like a leaf, but it also goes the extra mile to play the part.

It can choose between two major roles to play – it can be the leaf on the wind or the bark with no bite. As a leaf, it can attach its feet to a branch and hang off it like a dead leaf – even going so far as to sway in the breeze. Diurnal predators usually rely heavily on sight, so being still when everything else is moving draws as much attention as the opposite.As bark, Aleister will give the branch a big bear hug and flatten his body, rounding it so that it conforms to the sensual curves of the branch.

The gecko’s coloration allows it to blend into the surrounding bark, but that doesn’t always work for sharp-eyed predators. By flattening out its body, it also extends frills and flaps along its edges that obscure its outline in what is called “pattern disruption” so a predator can’t really tell where the bark ends and the gecko begins.

And, like many lizards and geckos, they can shed their tails and grow a new one.

Ending: So keep a low profile, play your Led Zeppelin vinyl backward, and become a master of disguise like the satanic leaf-tailed gecko here in LDT.