Florida Reef Gecko
Scientific Name: Sphaerodactylus notatus notatus / Common Names: Florida Reef Gecko
Search closely through leaf litter and debris to find these secretive, matchstick-sized lizards. The Florida Reef Gecko is a tiny round-bodied gecko with relatively large, overlapping, and strongly keeled scales on the back. Perhaps the smallest lizard in the United States, it is only 2 - 2.25 in. (5.1 - 5.7 cm) TL. Its body and tail are covered with dark spots on a brown background. Females have three broad longitudinal dark stripes on the head, and may or may not have a pair of white, dark edged "eye spots" on the shoulder. The body is covered with large overlapping keeled scales.
Habitat and Range
The only native gecko found east of the Mississippi River, Florida Reef Geckos are known from the Dry Tortugas, Florida Keys and extreme southeastern mainland Florida. Other subspecies are known from Cuba and the Bahamas. They are found in pinelands, hammocks and vacant lots.
These tiny lizards are crepuscular, or active at dusk, when they can sometimes be seen scurrying between holes, debris or other cover on the ground. They feed on tiny insects and spiders. Females lay one egg at a time, several over a season. Hatchlings are comparatively huge, over an inch long at hatching. Several females are known to nest in single favorable locations, and on at least a few occasions, single sites have been found containing eggs of: Florida Reef Geckos, Cuban Ashy Geckos and Amerafrican House Geckos together.
Only the Cuban Ashy Gecko and Common Ocellated Gecko share the Florida Reef Gecko’s tiny size and round pupils. The Cuban Ashy Gecko’s dorsal scales are small and granular. The Common Ocellated Gecko has numerous tiny white eye-like spots on the neck. Both Cuban Ashy and Common Ocellated Geckos have dark bodies with lighter spots and markings on the body.
Conservation & Other Threats
The Florida Reef Gecko, the only native gecko in Florida, could potentially be impacted by human development or competition with introduced geckos, but at this time it still seems abundant within its range.
This species profile relies heavily on: Bartlett & Bartlett 1999; Conant et al. 1998