Subject: What is it?
Location: NSW, Australia
February 13, 2016 9:53 pm
Found this odd looking thing near the house today and we have never seen anything like it. Any ideas?
Signature: Freaked out
Dear Freaked Out,
This does not look like an insect or arthropod. It look Reptilian to us and we do not believe this is a complete creature. How large was it? The best guess we have right now is that a Lizard that was eaten by a predator that left behind the hard, spiny skin after biting off the head and legs. The first Spiny Lizard we found in Australia is the Thorny Mountain Devil, or Moloch, but according to the University of Texas site, the Thorny Mountain Devil is not known from New South Wales, but only the western parts of Australia. The Inland Bearded Dragon pictured on the Reptiles of Australia site and on FlickR looks like a possible match. It is described on Long Island Herpetological Society site.
Thanks so much for your reply. I can’t believe hadn’t even considered that it might not be a complete creature.
You’ve put me on the right track to what I now believe to be the tail section from a broad leaf tailed gecko.
Thanks for writing back with the actual species. The Southern Leaf Tailed Gecko, Phyllurus platurus, pictured on Featured Creature looks spot on. The site states: “This cryptic creature is the Broad-tailed Gecko or Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko (Phyllurus platurus). It truly is a master of disguise – and deception. First of all, it will lay perfectly flat on the bark of a tree to camouflage itself when not hunting. With it’s big, leafy-looking tail, the gecko blends in perfectly. Its tail is used for extra fat storage and also as a useful defense mechanism. You see, when and if the lizard feels threatened, it has the ability to detach its tail to confuse predators. It will regenerate later on, though the color and details will be entirely different from the original body.”
Facebook Comment from Tracy
Yes. Definitely a leaftail gecko tail. We get heaps of them in our house and they are lovely. They drop their tail when threatened or attacked and will regrow another one although it will be smaller. Hope this one only lost his tail…