Scientific Name: Coleonyx switaki / Common Names: Barefoot Gecko
The Barefoot Gecko is the largest banded gecko in North America, reaching 5.5 - 6.8 in. (14 - 17.2 cm) TL. Like other banded geckos, it has moveable eyelids, a short fleshy tail and lacks toepads. It resembles the Western Banded Gecko, but has small tubercles on the back of the neck and sides. In California, most are tan, beige or yellowish with round or oval light and dark spots in irregular rows across the back. Like some other desert lizards, individual Barefoot Geckos match their body color to the color of the dominant rock formations, grayish in granitic areas, brown in volcanic regions.
Habitat and Range
The Barefoot Gecko is found in extreme south central California, where it frequents arroyos and rocky hillsides, usually near large boulders or rocky outcrops. This species is known only from a handful of localities in eastern San Diego County and western Imperial County. Its range extends south to Santa Rosal?a in Baja California.
Barefoot Geckos are nocturnal, retreating under rocks or in deep crevices by day. They do not climb as well as geckos with toepads and confine most of their activity to ground level. These geckos are sometimes seen walking on roads at night with their tail elevated. They will sometimes squeak when disturbed. They feed on insects, spiders and other arthropods. Males develop a bright yellow breeding coloration, something unique among banded geckos. In spring, females may lay several clutches of two eggs under rocks or other surface objects.
Among geckos from the western United States, only banded geckos have eyelids and lack toepads. Unlike the San Diego Banded Gecko and Desert Banded Gecko, Barefoot Gecko has enlarged tubercles scattered among the granular scales of its back. Unlike the native Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko or introduced Stump-toed Gecko, Mediterranean Gecko, or Common Wall Gecko, banded geckos have moveable eyelids and thin toes without toepads.
Conservation & Other Threats
The Barefoot Gecko has been listed as a threatened species by the state of California, mostly due to its tiny range within the United States. Illegal collection by reptile hobbyists and commercial collectors is a major threat.
This species profile relies heavily on: Grismer 1990, 2002; Stebbins 2003