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The real treasures of Madagascar

Astrochelys yniphora

An arched, golden shell, relatively long legs and alert, black, shining eyes: That is how the most precious tortoise on Earth looks like. It comes from Madagascar and is named ploughshare tortoise (Astrochelys yniphora) due to the large bony appendage on its breast shell. It serves males to turn over contrahents or females during mating season. And this is quite …

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The smallest reptile on Earth

Brookesia micra

It can sit on a matchstick without a problem, and you could almost think that the slightest breeze will blow the fragile pipsqueak off the match: Brookesia micra, the smallest reptile on Earth. Despite its few millimeters body length, the little, brown leaf chameleon has everything other chameleons need for life, too: Eyes moving to every possible direction, a characteristic …

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The Malagasy leaf-nosed snake

A nose, which looks somehow like a fringed leaf and can bend, and a strung-out body: These are the foremost characteristics of the Malagasy leaf-nosed snake (Langaha madagascariensis), one of many bizarre animals of Madagascar. To this day, the purpose of this weird nose appendage stays uncertain. In males, the nose resembles Pinocchio more than a leaf. The species’ name …

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A gecko jewel: Standing’s day gecko

Phelsuma standingi

In southwestern Madagascar, between spiny forests and ramshackle huts, there lives a gecko with extraordinary colouration: Standing’s day gecko (Phelsuma standingi). Visitors traveling in the dry and hot area between Morombe, Toliara (French Tuléar) and Isalo national park will meet this beautiful reptile sooner or later. It originally lives in dry and spiny forests, but today you can find it …

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Clad in armour but hardly protected: The radiated tortoise

For millions of years, they have not been changed, but still fascinate people all around the world: Tortoises. An extraordinary beautiful species lives in southern Madagascar: The radiated tortoise (Astrochelys radiata). Its story begins long, long time ago, even before the first human settlers came to Madagascar. But it was not until 1802, that the English George Shaw described the …

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Life in drought and heat – The Malagasy collared lizard

Chalarodon madagascariensis

Only few animals can survive in Madagascar’s dry, hot south for long. One of them is the Madagascar sand lizard (Chalarodon madagascariensis). Madagascar has no large iguanas like you probably know iguanas from America. Instead the local iguanas are rather small, agile and swift – they are so special, that they got their own family, which exists nowhere else on …

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Life in colour: panther chameleons

Panther chameleons are among the most famous inhabitants of Madagascar. They populate the areas near the coasts in northwestern Madagascar, the whole north and the eastcoast until about 120 km south of Toamasina (Tamatave). Panther chameleons do not seem to prefer special habitats only, although you can find them most easily in open vegetations. Specimen can be found in plantations, …

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The Malagasy tree boa

Due to many old legends and myths, this snake has a doubtful reputation, but indeed is a fascination creature of the forest: The Malagasy tree boa (Sanzinia madagascariensis). It mainly lives in the rainforests of Madagascar’s eastcoast, but also conquered other habitats like the hot and dry Southwest and South of the country. It even made it to some islands …

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The satanic leaf-tailed gecko

Uroplatus phantasticus

A small, but very beautiful gecko lives well camouflaged in the rainforests of the central east and southeastern highlands of Madagascar: The satanic leaf-tailed gecko (Uroplatus phantasticus). This small guy got his name from biologist George Boulenger in 1888. The Belgian described the species for the first time and chose the name due to the gecko’s bizarre look. The satanic …

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Reptiles in general

Madagascar is the reptile paradise per se and especially known for its chameleons. More than half of all up to date described chameleon species only occur in Madagascar. They seem to be fabulous creatures with their strange tongue, the independently from eacht other movable eyes and feet and hands transformed into grapsing forceps. Unfortunately, those beautiful animals aren’t very popular …

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