Arabian sand gecko (Stenodactylus arabicus)

Also known as: Arabian short-fingered gecko
Synonyms: Trigonodactylus arabicus
GenusStenodactylus (1)
SizeSnout-vent length: up to 4 cm (2)
Total length: 6 - 10 cm (3)

The Arabian sand gecko is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).

A small and attractively marked gecko, the Arabian sand gecko is unusual for its webbed feet, which increase the surface area for burrowing and walking on soft sand (2) (3). The skin is delicate and pinkish in colour, almost transparent, and the relatively long tail has distinctive white and brown bands (3), particularly in juveniles (4). Like other gecko species (2) (5), the Arabian sand gecko has a large head, with large eyes that have vertical pupils. The male is somewhat smaller and more slender than the female (3).

The Arabian sand gecko is found in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (3) (6).

The Arabian sand gecko inhabits the loose sand of dunes, coastal beaches and sandy plains (2) (3) (4) (7).

Little information is available on the biology of the Arabian sand gecko. Active at night, it is a ground-dwelling species (4) (7), and the female is reported to lay a single egg (2). Like other geckos, it is likely to feed on insects and other small invertebrates (5).

Very little is known about the threats to this small gecko. It is sometimes kept as a pet, but is apparently relatively rare in captivity, its delicate nature making it difficult to care for (3). In areas such as the United Arab Emirates, the species may potentially be impacted by a range of threats to its habitat, including urbanisation, industrial development, overgrazing, overextraction of groundwater, pollution, and increasing levels of tourism (8). However, the status of the Arabian sand gecko throughout its range is currently unknown.

There are currently no specific conservation measures known to be in place for the Arabian sand gecko. In the United Arab Emirates, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) is working to protect and manage biodiversity in the region, and to promote sustainable development (9). Further research is likely to be needed into its biology, populations and the threats it faces, before specific conservation action can be taken for this delicate small lizard.

To find out more about this and other sand geckos see:

For more information on conservation in the United Arab Emirates see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2013)
  2. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  3. (August, 2009)
  4. Arnold, E.N. (1984) Evolutionary aspects of tail shedding in lizards and their relatives. Journal of Natural History, 18: 127 - 169.
  5. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  6. UNEP-WCMC (August, 2009)
  7. Vine, P. (1996) Natural Emirates: Wildlife and Environment of the United Arab Emirates. Trident Press, London.
  8. WWF: Major environmental threats in the UAE (August, 2009)
  9. The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (August, 2009)