Tiny 'stingray-shaped' animal

"I have found this tiny 'stingray-shaped' animal on my clothesline. What is it?"

Southern Leaf-tail Gecko tail

Southern Leaf-tail Gecko tail
Photographer: Carl Bento © Australian Museum

The object pictured is one of the more interesting enquiries we receive at Search & Discover through the public enquiry system. Looking at this ‘animal’ you might first think that it is some sort of unusual slug or other strange invertebrate.

This specimen is actually part of an animal. Sounds painful I know, but I assure you there were no axe blades or lawn mowers involved. This is the detached tail of a Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko, Phyllurus platurus.

Dropping its tail is a gecko’s defence, as this allows it to escape if threatened. The tail detaches from the gecko’s body, distracting the predator, allowing it to escape and yes, the tail will grow back. Other lizards such as skinks also use this survival mechanism of tail dropping when attacked by predators such as birds.

Chris Hosking , Interpretive Officer
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