The ciliated banana-eating gecko has become more and more widespread as a pet in recent years, and in fact until recently it was not known at all as such. The banana-eater inhabits tropical New Caledonia, but people around the world have much more of them than in nature, because they are unpretentious and interesting pets.
Origin of the species and description
Terrestrial vertebrates – labyrinthodonts, arose at the end of the Devonian period. They were still closely connected with water, but more and more adapted to life on land. It was they who became the ancestors of reptiles – as a result of changes in the body, they became able to live at a distance from water.
As a result of the new way of life, their skeleton and muscles gradually changed, and their habitat expanded. The squamous order arose in the Permian period from diapsids, and the lizard suborder formed already in the Cretaceous period. The oldest fossils of geckos, which include banana-eaters, date back to the same time.
So, in Burma, they found lizards perfectly preserved in amber that lived on Earth 99 million years ago, and some of them belong to geckos – the direct ancestors of modern species from this infraorder. One of the individuals is generally almost indistinguishable from the modern gecko – all the main features were already formed at that time.
The ciliated banana-eating gecko was described in 1866 by the French zoologist A. Gucheno, the name of the species in Latin is Rhacodactylus ciliatus.
Interesting fact: Unlike some other lizards, when the tail is lost, the new banana-eater does not grow back. Such a loss is still not fatal, and in nature most of the individuals live without it, but the pet is more beautiful with a tail, and therefore it should be handled very carefully: then it will be able to keep its tail until old age.
Appearance and Features
The size of this lizard is quite small: an adult reaches 14-18 cm, and this is counting together with the tail, which is about a third of the body length. This means that the animal can fit in the palm of your hand. Its weight is also small: an adult gains up to 40-70 grams. Such small pets can live for a long time, up to 12-15 years with good care. In nature, their life expectancy is usually shorter due to threatening dangers, and is 8-10 years.
The lizard has several color variations, depending on various factors, primarily on the area surrounding the young individual: it is in youth that the color of its skin is established. Basic options: yellow, red, brown, gray and green; the most common variations are yellow and red.
Most often the color is almost uniform, but sometimes there are shapeless spots on the skin, for example, there are yellow-black individuals. Although these lizards should be masked with the help of color, it is quite bright, because the very nature of New Caledonia shines with bright colors.
Noteworthy are the outgrowths around the eyes, for which this lizard was given the name, since they look a bit like eyelashes. Further, two low crests stretch from the eyes to the tail itself. The eyes themselves are large in relation to the head, the pupils are vertical, which is why the look of the lizard is very characteristic “crazy”.
The head is triangular in shape, the tongue is long, sticking it out far ahead, the banana-eater can catch insects. The auricles are absent, there are only holes on the head. Banano-eaters are very agile and agile, they can easily climb both trees and glass. Such a pet looks spectacular and pleases the eye.
Now you know how to keep a banana-eater at home. Let's see where the lizard lives in the wild.
Where does the banana eater live?
This species is endemic to New Caledonia and the group of islands around, that is, in nature in other does not occur anywhere on Earth.
There are three separate populations of banana-eaters, each with its own range:
- the first lives along the banks of the Blue River in southern New Caledonia;
- the second one a little to the north, near Dzumac mountain;
- the third lives on the island of Pen, lying southeast of New Caledonia, as well as on small islands scattered around it.
These lizards live in trees, in the upper tier of the rainforest, that is, in high humidity and warm climates. The places where they live are so little touched by man that for a long time people did not know at all what animals live there, including about banana-eaters.
To provide this lizard with comfort in captivity, you need to try to recreate the conditions in which it lives in nature. To do this, the first thing you need is a vertical terrarium in which you can place vines and branches so that the banana-eater can climb on them, which he will do with enthusiasm.
You also need to put greenery inside the terrarium – the lizard will begin to hide in her, she loves to disguise herself in the grass or small bushes, and sit there in ambush. Plants can be both living and artificial. Tropical earth, coconut chips or other substrate is used as soil: banana-eaters are not so demanding on it, the main thing is that it is moisture-intensive.
It is necessary to maintain a high temperature and humidity in the terrarium, corresponding to the rain forest. Heating is most often carried out by an incandescent lamp, at the heating point the night temperature is 26 ° C, the daytime temperature is 30 ° C or slightly higher. Accordingly, in the rest of the terrarium, the temperature should be 3-4 degrees lower.
It is best to place a snag under the heat source, on which the lizard can bask, and larger, so that she herself can choose the distance from the lamp. Humidity should be kept at 65%, higher at night; the terrarium needs to be sprayed twice a day, and a drinker should be placed inside, although banana-eaters often prefer to lick drops of water from the walls.
What does a banana-eater eat?
In nature, this lizard is omnivorous, its diet includes both plant and animal food, usually the ratio is close to equal, with a slight preponderance of vegetable. It is desirable to maintain the same ratio when keeping this animal in the house, while it is worth remembering that its jaw does not allow eating large pieces, and its teeth are poorly adapted for biting.
You can give banana-eaters from living creatures:
- two-spotted and banana crickets;
These insects must enter the terrarium alive, then the hunting instinct will awaken in the lizard, and the best time for hunting comes at sunset. But you should pick up medium-sized prey, it should not be more than the distance between the eyes of the banana-eater so that it can swallow the prey.
Feeding with insects is usually carried out once a week, twice an adult lizard needs to be fed with plant foods. The easiest way is to give her artificial food: it has all the necessary vitamins, so you don't have to worry about the balance. But instead, you can feed her with fruit.
These can be:
It is important to give not just one fruit, but several different ones, and not whole, but in the form of puree. You can not feed the banana-eater with citrus fruits. Multivitamins and calcium should be added to the puree. Young lizards need a slightly different approach: they are fed more often, usually every two days, and at first even every day. After they start eating insects, during the time of rapid growth, you need to give them mainly – a growing banana eater needs protein food.
Interesting fact: You can keep several banana eaters in a terrarium at once, but there must be only one male in it, otherwise there will be fights for the territory.
Character and Lifestyle Features
In nature, banana-eaters become active at dusk and hunt all night long, and rest during the day. They have a similar way of life in captivity, although it may undergo slight changes: many owners of these lizards note that over time they begin an active life early in the evening, and by the end of the night they are already asleep.
But still, in order to observe such a pet, it is advisable to have night lighting in the terrarium, best of all dimmed and imitating moonlight, so as not to disturb it. It is also worth choosing the lighting so that it does not increase the temperature in the terrarium, otherwise it will be more difficult to control it, but every degree is important.
Banana-eater may at first seem very lazy and slow, for many hours he can simply remain almost motionless on a snag. But such an impression is deceptive and, if you open the terrarium, you can quickly verify this: the lizard will probably immediately try to sneak out of it. She runs away so quickly and deftly that, without preparing in advance, it will not work to catch her. And even with preparation, the escape can still be successful: the skill of catching it is developed only by training. The banana-eater knows how to hide, so it will not be easy to find him later in the apartment.
He demonstrates dexterity when hunting. First, it usually looks at the prey – it can spend up to half an hour after it is launched into the terrarium. After choosing a good moment, it makes such a rapid throw that its beginning is difficult to notice, and quickly swallows the prey. Then the hunt is repeated, and this can continue from the evening of feeding until the morning.
They differ in character, but most people begin to behave calmly with people after they get used to the new place and stop trying to escape. You can feed them with fruit puree directly from your hands, in the evenings and at night you can let them out of the terrarium and play, it is not recommended to do this at other times, and they themselves are lethargic.
Caring for this lizard is easy, she has a character accommodating (there are exceptions, but they are quite rare), and it can suit those who:
- like to keep reptiles in the house;
- ready for the fact that the pet is not will feel no affection for him;
- does not want to pay much attention to the pet;
- prefers to watch the animal, rather than stroking it or holding it;
- is ready to provide him with a good terrarium – he cannot be kept in cramped and inappropriate conditions.
If you have children, it is undesirable to start a banana-eater, or at least it is worth limiting contacts between them, since these lizards are small and very vulnerable: even if the child does not want to harm, just squeeze a little harder or carelessly grab it to cripple it.
Social structure and reproduction
Males reach puberty by a year and a half, females six months later. But it is better to wait some more time before you start breeding lizards. Males and females are distinguished by the genital pouch – only the first have it. In nature, the breeding season of these lizards begins annually with the arrival of spring and continues until summer. In captivity, you can adhere to the same terms, but not necessarily. For breeding, a female or several are planted to the male, and after mating happens, they should be planted again.
The fact is that males show aggression at this time, the female often has bite marks on her neck, and if they are not separated in time, the male can bite off her tail. The female should be placed in a terrarium with a thick layer of soil – she will bury her eggs in it after 30-40 days of pregnancy. Most often one or two eggs, the temperature inside the terrarium will have to be maintained at about 27 ° C, and develop within 50-80 days. At this time, they can be left in the terrarium, but it is better to place them in an incubator.
If the eggs do not harden, then there is a lack of calcium in the body of the female. In this case, you should add more of this element to her diet and try again no earlier than after 4 months, when the problem has already been definitely solved. Only hatched banana-eaters weigh only a few grams, at first they need to be given small larvae and insects, and by the fifth day you can add some plant food. The temperature in the terrarium should be high, but young lizards should not be overheated, otherwise they will grow weak – 28 ° C will be enough.
Natural enemies of banana eaters
The ciliated banana-eating gecko is a small lizard and almost defenseless against animals larger than itself, so the danger for it comes from almost all such predators. To a much lesser extent, she is threatened by those who are not able to climb trees, since the banana-eater spends most of the time on them, and can escape there.
Such enemies include, for example, snakes – most of them cannot hunt lizards in trees. Birds of prey, like the Australian brown hawk, are much more dangerous. The only chance for a banana-eater is to hide from them in dense thickets, there are no other options to escape from the formidable claws and beak.
Their habitat itself helps these lizards survive: dense rainforests are not very convenient for birds to seek out victims, miniature sizes and coloration make banana-eaters hardly noticeable, and speed and agility give chances to escape even if the predator did notice.
Interesting fact: Once every 3-4 weeks, the lizard molts. At this time, she becomes lethargic, and her skin fades. In order for the shedding to go well, it is imperative to increase the humidity to 70-80%, otherwise pieces of old skin may remain on the pet after it is completed, and over time this sometimes leads to problems with fingers.
Experienced owners of lizards can and are guaranteed to avoid trouble: for this they place a lizard ready for molting for half an hour in a warm liquid, and then remove the old skin from it with tweezers. After the process is complete, it will sometimes eat this skin.
Population and Species Status
Due to the fact that banana-eaters live in their natural environment in remote places and have a small range, they were even considered completely extinct for several decades, until in 1994 after a tropical storm it was discovered that these lizards continue to be a living species.
After that, they began to be actively studied, they were observed, and it turned out that there are three separate populations and, although they are all small (as a result of which the species was classified as vulnerable), but stable, so while maintaining the current situation, the species is not threatened with extinction.
Catching banana-eaters is prohibited due to their small number, but additional measures for their protection are not yet required. Much more than in nature, these lizards now live in captivity, because after the rediscovery they began to be actively bred as pets.
There are much fewer threats to banana-eaters in human homes, and they feel good in terrariums , effectively breed in them, so that over two decades of breeding, the number of these animals in captivity has become considerable. Now there is no need to capture wild lizards for breeding.
An interesting fact: 2-3 weeks after the acquisition of a pet, you should disturb as little as possible so that he gets used to it. At first, you should not pick it up at all, then you can start taking it for a while. The banana-eater can bite, but it doesn't hurt.
Ciliated banana-eaters are found in nature only in New Caledonia, but they have been successfully bred in captivity, so if you wish, you can get yourself such a pet. The banana eater is not very sociable, but not aggressive either, and lizard lovers will be interested in watching his life, you just need to provide him with suitable conditions.