Added June 16 2001. Last updated 15 September 2013: updated E. inguinuis and Bibliography.

A look at the

Subfamily GEKKONINAE - "True" Geckos


Genus EBENAVIA - Leaf-Toed Geckos

A small genus (two species). Although both are associated with Madagascar, Ebenavia inunguis has a slightly wider distribution. Neither species is seen much in captivity.

Scientific Name

Common Name





E. inunguis

Malagasy Leaf-Toed Gecko

Madagascar (Ile aux Prunes Mayotte, Nossi Be; St. Marie, Nossi Mangabe, Comoros); Pemba Island, Tanzania; Mascarenes (Mauritius)(introduced)

TL 8cm

A small, variably coloured arboreal gecko found in the eastern rainforests, where it reportedly hides between leaves of Pandanus screw palms and Ravenala palms and under tree bark, although at least one visitor reports finding one instead in the ground litter. It is found on tree trunks 1-3m above ground as well as in areas of cleared forest, and may also be found on rocks or in rocky crevices [SHDA]. Lerner & Krause note that unlike some geckos, this one has not learnt to penetrate human habitations. They also note that as the Ebenavia are nocturnal, there is no conflict with the diurnal Phelsuma geckos in the same territory. In appearance these lizards are somewhat reminiscent of the pointed forms of certain small skinks, although there are granular scales on the back. According to Henkel & Schmidt, the small geckos are fairly tolerant of one another and thus can be kept in small groups in a terrarium. They recommend a rainforest-type vivarium with a sand/moss or earth substrate. These would seem to be fairly easy geckos to maintain in captivity, but owing to their limited availability and the threat of deforestation in most of their home territory, breeding would appear to be a priority. Scalation details: rostral narrow; 10 supralabials, 9 infralabials; mental triangular; no regular chin-shields; head covered with small granules; series of conical tubercles from orbital to the back; dorsal surfaces covered with small granules intermixed with tubercles roughly twice size of granules, trihedral and somewhat pointed, forming 8-10 irregular dorsal rows along the back; abdominal scales small, granular; row of raised scales on tail. Other: head narrow; snout pointed; body and limbs moderate; pupil vertical; claws absent; fingers and toes end in pair of rounded adhesive lamellae. Coloration: overall shade varying between brown and olive green or even beige, but mostly brownish; dark lateral stripe always present; pale, white cream line runs from tip of snout across eye to junction of body and forelimb; tail varies in colouring and pattern as much as the rest of the body; some photos show a black and white banding, giving a "racoon tail" effect, while others have orange bands; however, usual tail pattern is alternating dark and light bands; some pale blotches and bands on digits. There are often one or two elongated dark patches on the dorsal tail base thinly outlined in a lighter shade of brown. Click here for a photograph. Reproduction: mating and breeding takes place between April and September, during which time the females lay up to four clutches of one egg each: gestation takes about 5 weeks, hatching 65 days )Henkel & Schmidt). NB Boulenger also describes Ebenavia boettgeri, which is now considered synonymous with E. inunguis: however he spoke of “the unique specimen”, suggesting that the sample size was very small indeed.

E. maintimainty




This species is endemic to Madagascar. It was only described in 1998 by Nussbaum & Raxworthy: see the Reptile Database entry for details. No other data so far available.



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