Captive Husbandry of the Southern Leaf Tailed Gecko
(Saltuarius Swainii)

Introduction

The Southern Leaf Tailed Gecko is an impressive large Gecko with a snout to vent length of 130mm. It occurs in rain and moist sclerophyll Forests from Bulahdelah in NSW to Mount Tambourine in QLD. Its cryptic appearance blends in perfectly with its surrounds and being often motionless, animals can be very hard to spot in their natural environments. When observing the animals in the wild it is not unusual for the animals to remain in the same spot for many hours , sometimes all night, only making a move to ambush passing prey. It is an undemanding captive provided some simple guidelines are followed.

Housing

A pair or trio can be housed in a glass tank or similar setup with a floor area of 60 by 30 cm and a height of about 35 cm. As with other climbing geckos a screen top should be installed. We use cork tiles attached to the interior walls for the geckos to climb on. They love to hang upside down on the tiles waiting to ambush their next meal. Branches and small hides should also be included. The most critical aspect in keeping Leaf Tails is maintaining temperatures below 28 degrees most of the time and mist their cages regularly( twice weekly) to mimic their natural habitats which are cool and slightly damp . I use peatmoss as a substrate because it can hold and absorb water once moistened to make the cage cooler and more humid. As with most other geckos do not house more than one male together as fierce fighting can result. No lighting or heating is used in our setups.

Feeding

A variety of food items can be fed including crickets, wood roaches, mealworms and moths. Some fully grown specimens might even accept newly born pink mice. Ours are maintained on a diet of mainly wood roaches offered three times a week during the warmer months and once a week or so during winter dusted with Rep Cal Calcium powder every 2nd or3rd feed

Breeding

Animals should be cooled during winter months to prepare them for breeding in spring. A small egg laying box filled with moist peat moss should be provided all year for egg deposition and for  a cool moist retreat for shedding and hot days. Three to four clutches can be expected a year from mature females and incubation period is about 65 days at 27 degrees. Neonates are quick to accept food and can be raised like adults but in a smaller cage setup. Eggs are incubated in coarse vermiculite at a ratio of one part of water to one part of vermiculite by weight.