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Some Banded Geckos of the American West by Richard Bartlett on 2022-05-16 16:42:00


Banded Geckos look a lot more delicate than they actually are. This is a San Diego Banded Gecko.


Counting species and subspecies there are 7 forms of banded geckos, genus Coleonyx, in the American West. Two of these, the Barefoot, C. switaki, and the Reticulated C. reticulatus, are larger than the remaining 5 and have very limited ranges. One, the Texas, C. brevis, is the easternmost and is smaller than any of the others. It is the remaining 4, all subspecies of the wide ranging Western Banded Gecko, C. variegatus, that we shall mention here. All have elliptical pupils and are nocturnal. The body is slender and between 2 and 3 inches long. The original tail (the tail is easily autotomized and often in some stage of regeneration) is about the same length as the snout-to-vent. Original tails are prominently banded.

The 4 subspecies of the Western Banded Gecko that occur in the USA are the San Diego, C. v. abbotti, the Tucson, C. v. bogerti, the Utah, C.v. utahensis, and the Desert, C. v. variegatus. Appearance differences are slight and it is best if you are interested in a particular form that you check a field guide for ranges.

Generally speaking though, the San Diego subspecies occurs on the Pacific slopes of southern CA. The Tucson form may be encountered in seAZ and swNM, the Utah race is restricted to swUT and immediately adjacent NV and AZ, and the Desert, by far the most wide-ranging of the 4, is found over much of AZ, NV and eastern CA.

Although these little geckos may be found beneath surface debris such as wood, cardboard, and rock by day, Iíve always found it a lot more fun to road hunt them at night. They are active, their light color contrasts well with dark pavement, and they cross roads in a series of darting rushes, often with their tail curled up over their back, this initially giving them the appearance of a large scorpion. Keep this similarity in mind as you jam your car into park, slam open the door, and rush out to slap a cupped hand of the little creature on the road. Itís not pleasant to be painfully surprised!
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