Of all the animals who blend into what’s around them using shape and color, the leaf-tailed gecko might be one of the coolest. It lives on Madagascar, an island off the coast of Africa, where all kinds of strange animals live, because they’ve been trapped there for thousands of year without mixing with other animals. The leaf-tailed gecko looks the way it sounds like it should: its tail looks like a leaf, and its whole brown-colored body matches the sticks, dirt and tree trunks around it to “camouflage” it, so bigger animals don’t see it and eat it. Even so, the gecko comes out only at night to eat insects with its long, sticky tongue, which it also uses to wipe its eyeballs clean since it has no eyelids. Leaf-tailed geckos grow to be only 6 inches at most, making them the smallest of all geckos and also a popular pet. Hopefully they lick only their own eyeballs and not their owners’.
Wee ones: If a gecko has 4 sticky, tree-climbing feet and you have 2 not-so sticky feet, who has more feet?
Little kids: If you think you see 15 leaves on the ground, but all but 1 are gecko tails, how many geckos do you see? Bonus: The gecko has 5 cute, chubby toes on each foot. How many toes does it have in total?
Big kids: If you’re counting leaves on the Madagascar forest floor, and every 3rd leaf is a gecko tail starting with the very 1st, does the 29th leaf belong to a gecko? Bonus: If every 9th leaf starting with the 9th is a gecko tail, is the 198th leaf a gecko tail? (Hint if needed: Multiples of 9 have digits that add up to a multiple of 9 themselves…so you can test their total the same way!)
Wee ones: The gecko has more feet.
Little kids: 14 geckos. Bonus: 20 toes.
Big kids: No, because the 28th does (1 more than a multiple of 3). Bonus: Yes, because 1+9+8=18, and that’s a multiple of 9 itself (1+8=9).