Giant Madagascar Day Gecko (Phelsuma madagascariensisgrandis)

Giant Madagascar Day Gecko
Judith Wolfe

     Giant Madagascar Day Gecko

Zoo collection includes: Several

Found in the wild: Located in Madagascar and the groups of islands to the north and south - which include the Comoros, Andamans, Amirantes, and Seychelles.

See Them at the Central Park Zoo: All over the tropical rain forest.

Description: They usually grow to be between 4 to 6 in. long. Roughly half of their length is tail. They have a flattened body with a relatively large head. Most have a "glowing" green color (ranging from olive green to turquoise). Most day geckos have patterns of red spots on their backs. They have large, vividly colored eyes, but they don't have eyelids. Instead, thay have a clear, fixed, transparent plate protecting their eyes. All have flattened toe pads that consist of rows of flap-like plates (lamellae) covered with thousands of microscopic hooklike projections (villosities) that can catch onto any surface. Each foot has five digits, the first one being a short thumb with no toe pad, and the fourth one being much longer than the others.

What do they eat:  Day geckos feed mostly on insects, other invertebrates, sweet plant foods such as bananas and other fruits, the nectar of flowers, and occasionally small vertebrates. At CPZ,  the Giant day gecko is fed crickets, wax worms or mealworms, and apricot baby food.

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Life span: 11–13 years in captivity.

Threats: The majority of the day geckos are not threatened, however, there are a few species that are threatened, and there is one species that is endangered.

Fun Facts: Nearly all geckos have a voice, ranging from a small squeak to the deafening whistles of the African whistling gecko.


Orient Knight Anole (Anolis smallwoodi)

Orient Knight Anole
Judith Wolfe

          Orient Knight Anole

Zoo collection includes: One

Found in the wild: Eastern Cuba.

See Them at the Central Park Zoo: He can be seen in one of the small close-up exhibits upstairs in the rain forest. The anole lives with a few waxy monkey frogs.

Description: About eight inches long and can camouflage his beautiful coloring when needed. When provoked he extends his throat to look larger and more threatening to an enemy.

What do they eat: Grubs, spiders, medium-sized and large insects, tree frogs, and moths. At the CPZ this lizard is fed crickets and newborn mice.

Life span: 7–10 years in captivity.

Threats: Habitat loss

Fun Facts: In territorial battles, male knight anoles perform defensive displays—they rise on all fours, extend and retract their pink throat fans, nod, and turn brighter green. If neither one backs down, the rivals may lock jaws or bite each other’s limbs.

Prehensile-tailed Skink (Corucia zebrata)

Prehensile-tailed Skink
Judith Wolfe

         Prehensile-tailed Skink

Zoo collection includes: Two

Found in the wild: The tropical rainforests of the Solomon Islands, off the coast of New Guinea and off the northeastern coast of Australia.

See Them at the Central Park Zoo: Can be seen in one of the small close-up exhibits upstairs in the tropical rain forest.

Description: This nocturnal leaf-eater is the largest of the known skinks and can measure up to 32 inches long.

What do they eat: Leaves

Life span: 15 to 25 years in captivity.


Threats: Habitat destruction

Fun Facts: Females, which average 24 inches in length, have a true placenta. They produce 1, rarely 2, huge (to 13 inches) offspring after an amazingly long gestation period of 6 - 8 months. The young stay close to their mothers for some time and the females become very aggressive towards people and other skinks after giving birth.

 in captivity.

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