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Concept: Leopard gecko


Tails are an intricate component of the locomotor system for many vertebrates. Leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) possess a large tail that is laterally undulated during steady locomotion. However, the tail is readily shed via autotomy, resulting in the loss of tail function, loss in body mass, and a cranial shift in the center of mass. To elucidate the function of tail undulations, we investigated changes in limb kinematics after manipulating the tail artificially by restricting tail undulations and naturally by removing the tail via autotomy. Restricting tail undulations resulted in kinematic adjustments similar to those that occur following tail autotomy, characterized by more flexed hind limb joints. These data suggest that effects of autotomy on locomotion may be linked to the loss of tail movements rather than the loss of mass or a shift in center of mass. We also provide empirical support for the link between lateral tail undulations and step length through the rotation of the pelvic girdle and retraction of the femur. Restriction and autotomy of the tail limits pelvic rotation, which reduces femur retraction and decreases step length. Our findings demonstrate a functional role for tail undulations in geckos, which likely applies to other terrestrial vertebrates.

Concepts: Mass, Gecko, Vertebra, Human anatomy, Classical mechanics, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko


An epizootic of ulcerative to nodular ventral dermatitis was observed in a large breeding colony of 8-month to 5-year-old leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) of both sexes. Two representative mature male geckos were euthanized for diagnostic necropsy. The Chrysosporium anamorph of Nannizziopsis vriesii (CANV) was isolated from the skin lesions, and identification was confirmed by sequencing of the internal transcribed spacer region of the rRNA gene. Histopathology revealed multifocal to coalescing dermal and subcutaneous heterophilic granulomas that contained septate fungal hyphae. There was also multifocal epidermal hyperplasia with hyperkeratosis, and similar hyphae were present within the stratum corneum, occasionally with terminal chains of arthroconidia consistent with the CANV. In one case, there was focal extension of granulomatous inflammation into the underlying masseter muscle. This is the first report of dermatitis and cellulitis due to the CANV in leopard geckos.

Concepts: Pathology, Ribosomal RNA, Anatomical pathology, Skin, Granuloma, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko


Geckos are among the most species-rich reptile groups and the sister clade to all other lizards and snakes. Geckos possess a suite of distinctive characteristics, including adhesive digits, nocturnal activity, hard, calcareous eggshells, and a lack of eyelids. However, one gecko clade, the Eublepharidae, appears to be the exception to most of these ‘rules’ and lacks adhesive toe pads, has eyelids, and lays eggs with soft, leathery eggshells. These differences make eublepharids an important component of any investigation into the underlying genomic innovations contributing to the distinctive phenotypes in ‘typical’ geckos.

Concepts: Reptile, Gecko, Squamata, Lizard, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko, Pet lizards


As for many lizards, the leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) can self-detach its tail to avoid predation and then regenerate a replacement. The replacement tail includes a regenerated spinal cord with a simple morphology: an ependymal layer surrounded by nerve tracts. We hypothesized that cells within the ependymal layer of the original spinal cord include populations of neural stem/progenitor cells (NSPCs) that contribute to the regenerated spinal cord. Prior to tail loss, we performed a bromodeoxyuridine pulse-chase experiment and found that a subset of ependymal layer cells (ELCs) were label-retaining after a 140-day chase period. Next, we conducted a detailed spatiotemporal characterization of these cells before, during, and after tail regeneration. Our findings show that SOX2, a hallmark protein of NSPCs, is constitutively expressed by virtually all ELCs before, during, and after regeneration. We also found that during regeneration, ELCs express an expanded panel of NSPC and lineage-restricted progenitor cell markers, including MSI-1, SOX9 and TUJ1. Using electron microscopy, we determined that multiciliated, uniciliated, and biciliated cells are present, although the latter was only observed in regenerated spinal cords. Our results demonstrate that cells within the ependymal layer of the original, regenerating and fully regenerate spinal cord represent a heterogeneous population. These include radial glia comparable to Type E and Type B cells, and a neuronal-like population of cerebrospinal fluid-contacting cells. We propose that spinal cord regeneration in geckos represents a truncation of the restorative trajectory observed in some urodeles and teleosts, resulting in the formation of a structurally distinct replacement. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Protein, Regeneration, Copyright, Lizard, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko


The tail of many species of lizard is used as a site of fat storage, and caudal autotomy is a widespread phenomenon among lizards. This means that caudal fat stores are at risk of being lost if the tail is autotomized. For fat-tailed species, such as the leopard gecko, this may be particularly costly. Previous work has shown that tail regeneration in juveniles of this species is rapid and that it receives priority for energy allocation, even when dietary resources are markedly reduced. We found that the regenerated tails of juvenile leopard geckos are more massive than their original counterparts, regardless of dietary intake, and that they exhibit greater amounts of skeleton, inner fat, muscle and subcutaneous fat than original tails (as assessed through cross-sectional area measurements of positionally equivalent stations along the tail). Autotomy and regeneration result in changes in tail shape, mass and the pattern of tissue distribution within the tail. The regenerated tail exhibits enhanced fat storage capacity, even in the face of a diet that results in significant slowing of body growth. Body growth is thus sacrificed at the expense of rapid tail growth. Fat stores laid down rapidly in the regenerating tail may later be used to fuel body growth or reproductive investment. The regenerated tail thus seems to have adaptive roles of its own, and provides a potential vehicle for studying trade-offs that relate to life history strategy.

Concepts: Regeneration, Gecko, Lizard, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko, Pet lizards


OBJECTIVE To describe diagnosis, treatment, and outcome of and risk factors for ophthalmic disease in leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius) evaluated at a veterinary teaching hospital. DESIGN Retrospective case series. ANIMALS 112 of 144 (78%) leopard geckos that were evaluated at a veterinary teaching hospital in January 1985 through October 2013 and for which sufficient medical record information was available. PROCEDURES Information from medical records was used to identify leopard geckos with ophthalmic disease, characterize cases, and determine risk factors for the presence of ophthalmic disease. RESULTS Of the 112 leopard geckos, 52 (46%) had ophthalmic disease (mainly corneal or conjunctival disease). Female geckos were less likely to have ophthalmic disease, and there was a positive association between increasing age and ophthalmic disease. Use of a paper towel substrate, absence of any heat source, and lack of vitamin A supplementation were positively associated with a diagnosis of ophthalmic disease. Head dysecdysis was the only concurrent disorder significantly associated with ophthalmic disease. At necropsy, 5 affected leopard geckos had squamous metaplasia of the conjunctivae. CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results indicated that ophthalmic disease is a common finding in leopard geckos. The cause of ocular surface disease in leopard geckos may be multifactorial, and hypovitaminosis A may be an important risk factor. Although animals receiving supplemental vitamin A were less likely to have ophthalmic disease, further understanding is required regarding the metabolism of and nutritional requirements for vitamin A in leopard geckos.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Nutrition, Vitamin, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko


Studies on thermoregulation in nocturnal lizards have shown that their thermal regimes are similar to those of diurnal lizards, even though they hide during the daytime and are active mostly at night, when heat sources are very scarce. As a result, nocturnal lizards display an active thermoregulatory behavior consisting of seeking warm shelters to hide during the daytime, using accumulated heat for the nocturnal activity. Based on this information, we hypothesize that when leopard geckos (Eublepharis macularius, Blyth 1954) are presented with the choice of safety in cool shelters or vulnerability in heated open areas, suitable temperature will prevail in importance, i.e. they will trade the advantages provided by the shelter for an exposed, but physiologically necessary heat source. Data on the time juvenile E. macularius spent in shelters, and in open areas along a thermal gradient and under a 12/12 hr photoperiod, from eight individuals confirmed our hypothesis. We found that, not only did they select heat sources over shelters, but, along with the light/dark cycle, temperature may also represent a cue for activity. Additionally we found that substrate moisture plays an important role in shelter preference.

Concepts: Temperature, Thermodynamics, Heat, Heat transfer, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko, Pet lizards


In vertebrates, male sexual behavior (MSB) is largely controlled by gonadal androgens, however, the mechanism of this control is believed to vary among species. During immediate activation MSB is tightly correlated with circulating levels of androgens, while the organization of MSB by a hormonal event at a specific developmental period, early in ontogeny or during puberty, has been postulated in other lineages. Here, we put forward an alternative concept of “temporal organization”. Under temporal organization longer exposure to circulating androgens is needed for the onset of MSB, which can continue for a long time after the levels of these hormones drop. We tested this concept through long-term monitoring of MSB in females and castrated males of the leopard gecko (Eublepharis macularius) in response to experimental changes in testosterone levels. Several weeks of elevated testosterone levels were needed for the full expression of MSB in both treatment groups and MSB diminished only slowly and gradually after the supplementation of exogenous testosterone ended. Moreover, despite receiving the same application of the hormone both the progressive onset and the cessation of MSB were significantly slower in experimental females than in castrated males. We suggest that the concept of temporal organization of MSB can parsimoniously explain several earlier discrepancies and debatable conclusions on the apparent variability in the hormonal control of MSB in vertebrates, which were based on behavioral testing at a few subjectively selected time points. We conclude that long-term and continuous behavioral testing after hormonal manipulations is needed to understand the regulation of MSB in vertebrates.

Concepts: Male, Hormone, Testosterone, Logic, Gamete, Puberty, Eublepharis, Leopard gecko


Dermal injury of the Eublepharis macularius (leopard gecko) often results in a loss of the spotted patterns. The scar is usually well recovered, but the spots and the tubercles may be lost depending on the size and part of the lesion. This report presents a surgical attempting, in which the pigments in the edge of the remaining skin flap are partially preserved to maximally restore the natural pigmentation patterns during the course of dermal regeneration.

Concepts: Surgery, Skin, Injury, Plastic surgery, Eublepharis, Gekkonidae, Leopard gecko, Pet lizards


Animals undergo significant weight change due to a variety of causes. Autotomy, the voluntary shedding of an appendage in response to a predator stimulus, provides an effective model for measuring the effects of rapid weight change on locomotor behavior and the responses to more gradual weight gain, particularly in lizards capable of both autotomizing and regenerating their tail. Although the general effects of autotomy on locomotor performance are commonly explored, we investigated changes in locomotor mechanics associated with tail loss and long-term regeneration for the first time by measuring morphology, 3D kinematics, and ground reaction forces (GRFs) in the leopard gecko, Eublepharis macularius. Tail autotomy resulted in a 13% anterior shift in the center of mass (CoM), which only partially recovered after full regeneration of the tail. Although no changes in body or forelimb kinematics were evident, decreases in hindlimb joint angles signify a more sprawled posture following autotomy. Changes in hindlimb GRFs resulted in an increase in weight-specific propulsive force, without a corresponding change in locomotor speed. Hindlimb kinematics and GRFs following autotomy recovered to pre-autotomy values as the tail regenerated. These results suggest an active locomotor response to tail loss that demonstrates the causal relationships between morphological, kinematic, and force variation.

Concepts: Causality, Regeneration, Force, Classical mechanics, Ground reaction force, Animal locomotion, Eublepharis, Leopard gecko