Desert Banded Gecko
Scientific Name: Coleonyx variegatus variegatus / Common Names: Desert Banded Gecko
These very delicate looking geckos manage to live in extremely dry parts of the desert by retreating underground during the heat of the day, emerging in the evening to forage for beetles and other insects. This subspecies of banded gecko has narrow, light centered dark bands on a cream to tan background. The top of the head is covered with red-brown spots. It can reach up to 6 in. (15 cm) TL, as much as half of which may be the fleshy tail. Hatchlings are 1.5 - 2 in. long, with distinct dark, almost black bands. Its geographic range touches that of three other very similar subspecies. For comparisons with other subspecies, refer to those accounts.
Habitat and Range
This is the most widely distributed of the Coleonyx variegatus subspecies, found in southeastern California, southern Nevada, and western Arizona. The species as a whole ranges across the west from California to southwest New Mexico and from southern Utah and Nevada in the north down into Sinaloa and the tip of Baja California in Mexico. The Desert Banded Gecko is found from desert sinks at below sea level to 5,000 feet and from desert habitats to pinyon-juniper or mixed chaparral.
Like other banded geckos, and unlike climbing geckos with clinging toepads, the Desert Banded Gecko lifts its body off the ground when moving. It also carries its tail in the air, sometimes waving it from side to side when threatened or stalking prey. Females lay several clutches of two eggs in spring. Desert Banded Geckos are preyed upon by a variety of snakes as well as large scorpions and tarantulas. Banded geckos are known to mark out discrete locations some distance away from their daytime retreats for defecation. The scent of chemicals in the feces may serve as a social “signpost” to other geckos, notifying them of the resident’s occupancy.
Among geckos from the western United States, only banded geckos have eyelids and lack toepads. The range of the Desert Banded Gecko overlaps that of Barefoot Gecko, which differs in having blackish tubercles on the neck and back. Its range impinges on three other subspecies, the Utah, Tucson, and San Diego Banded Geckos. The subspecies of banded geckos are very similar, and identifying them can be difficult. Pay close attention to location, and use the other accounts and the key to confirm identification.
Conservation & Other Threats
The Desert Banded Gecko is relatively common throughout its range, and has received no special status or protection. It is threatened by urbanization, habitat degradation by overgrazing and recreation, and perhaps illegal collection activities.
This species profile relies heavily on: Carpenter & Duvall 1995; Dixon 1970d; Stebbins 2003