Life in two dimensions: natural history of the southern leaf-tailed gecko, Phyllurus platurus

Paul Doughty*, Richard Shine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Southern leaf-tailed geckos are large (to 100 mm snout-vent length: SVL) nocturnal saxicolous lizards endemic to the Sydney Basin in southeastern Australia. We dissected 176 preserved museum specimens to document morphology, food habits, and reproductive biology. Hatchlings are large (33-41 mm SVL) relative to maternal body size. Females mature at larger sizes than do males (77 versus 70 mm SVL) and attain larger mean and maximum adult sizes. Abdomens of adult female P. platurus (especially gravid females) are thicker than those of males and may limit access of gravid females to narrow crevices. Females also have longer abdomens relative to SVL than do conspecific males, perhaps as an adaptation to accommodate the clutch. Adult males have enlarged testes throughout the year, but female reproductive cycles are highly seasonal with vitellogenesis and ovulation in spring and oviposition in summer. Some females may produce more than one clutch (of two eggs) per year. Geckos of all size classes consume a variety of invertebrate prey, especially large nocturnally active insects (e.g., spiders, chilopods, cockroaches, and beetles), and feeding continues in all seasons.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • Foraging
  • Gecko
  • Phyllurus platurus
  • Reproduction
  • sexual size dimorphism


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