Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Tiny Hatchling

Oh, my gosh! Last week was the best week! I had an egg. Well, not me, exactly. One of my Mossy Leaf Tail Geckos (Uroplatus sikorae) at the zoo where I work laid an egg in December, right around my birthday (thanks, little buddy!). This species is from a cooler part of Madagascar, in the rain forest, and putting the egg into our standard incubators at 84 degrees would cook it. 74 degrees is the highest temperature, but finding a spot that stays 74 degrees is tricky. I found a ledge in a building that stayed 76 this winter. The building is made of stone, so the ledge stayed somewhere in the neighborhood of 70-74. Unfortunately, with inexact temps, hatch dates are hard to predict. 90 days is typical. 90 days came and went. I was beginning to give up. And then I got an email from my boss on my day off (of COURSE it was my day off). I almost skipped out on Good Friday activities with my family to go and visit my new hatchling. I didn’t. I did take my camera the next day, though. You’re welcome.

Can you see him? Or her?

Can you see him? Or her?

Could you see it? There’s a reason they’re called mossy leaf tails.

How about now? SO TINY!

How about now? SO TINY!

They have a little fringe around their faces so they blend in perfectly. How tiny is it? This tiny:

17mm total length. Impressive.

17mm total length. Impressive.

But how does 17mm translate into real life? How small is this critter?

That's my thumb it's sitting on!

That’s my thumb it’s sitting on!

This hatching is the first of this species for me. It’s not endangered yet, but is threatened by slash-and-burn agriculture. It isn’t unheard of for a species with stable numbers to be suddenly found to be endangered a couple of years later.

One last shot for posterity.

My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that's because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

My forefinger. Check out that expression! the eyes look white, but that’s because the pupils are contracted. At night, they dilate, and those eyes are solid black!

This will be the only time I handle this baby for a long time. Their skin is very thin, and they are easily stressed, but they need to be weighed and measured for our record keeping. How much does he weigh? 1 gram. It would take three of him to equal the weight of a penny.

What exciting things happened for you this week?


26 thoughts on “Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Tiny Hatchling

  1. AWESOME! I’m totally going to share this with my wife; she loves lizards of all kinds. And you know what? Believe it or not, I woke up this morning thinking “I wonder how that blogger that works with turtles or such is doing.” Good to see and hear from you.

  2. I saw his head, but then he just disappeared. If he closes his eyes, he is probably invisible to critters that might want to eat him. Tho at this stage, he would be a meager meal. What a fun job you have.

  3. WOW. Thank you for once again, making me fall in love with a tiny amphibian. (Or reptile? I’m really bad at this.)

    Hope you’re feeling better! I decided to celebrate this week by getting desperately ill and not leaving my bed all day. At least it’s better than last week, which I celebrated by quitting my job. Guh. I’m just gonna think about this cutsy-patootsie lizard baby now… 🙂

  4. Are you kidding? This kiddo is so tiny and perfect and interesting and weird that Henson would have wept tears of joy to see it. And then it’s doppelganger would have made an appearance in one of his movies.

  5. Pingback: Three Things Thursday: What Made Me Smile | Becoming Cliche

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