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Detached Tail
Detached tail from a Sothern leaf-tailed gecko Image: Geoff Beech
© Geoff Beech

The object pictured is one of the more interesting enquiries we occasionally 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.

People often come across strange, leaf-shaped 'creatures' in their backyards. These usually turn out to be the detached tail from a Leaf-tailed Gecko, Phyllurus platurus.

When the Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko is threatened or attacked, it discards its tail so it can escape to safety. It will re-grow another tail and the missing tail will decompose.

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.

Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko Phyllurus platurus
The Southern Leaf-tailed Gecko is common in sandstones of the Sydney Basin, and sometimes inside houses and garages. Image: Stephen Mahony
© Stephen Mahony