One of the smallest lizard species to be found in Egypt, the Bishari pygmy gecko (Tropiocolotes bisharicus) has a sandy-grey back with irregular yellowish spots and six brownish bands. This species also has a dark line passing from its snout, through its eye to some way beyond its shoulder (1) (2).
The underside of the Bishari pygmy gecko is white, and this reptile’s cylindrical, yellow-orange tail is marked with nine or ten brown bars, which are darkest towards the base of the tail. The Bishari pygmy gecko’s eyes are golden-brown in their upper parts and darker brown lower down, and like those of many nocturnal geckos they have vertical pupils (1) (2).
In comparison with closely related species, the Bishari pygmy gecko can be told apart by its short, thick tail, long legs and large head (1) (2), as well as by the strongly keeled scales on its upperparts and the small, smooth, non-overlapping scales on its head (1). Unlike many geckos, the Bishari pygmy gecko does not have the adhesive toe-pads for which this diverse group of lizards is well known (2).
The Bishari pygmy gecko is named after the Bishari tribesmen, who inhabit much of the range of this species (1).
- Also known as
- Bishari dwarf gecko, Bishari sand gecko.
- Snout-vent length: up to 3.1 cm (1) (2)
- Tail length: up to 3.2 cm (1)
Bishari pygmy gecko biology
The slow-moving Bishari pygmy gecko, like other members of the genus Tropiocolotes, is a ground-dwelling gecko which is most active at night. Although captive animals will squeak when under stress, it is not known whether this gecko gives any calls in the wild (1) (2).
In captivity, the Bishari pygmy gecko hunts both by actively searching for prey and by a ‘sit-and-wait’ strategy, lying in wait to ambush passing prey. This small reptile often slowly waves its tail from side to side or curls it above its back while moving, and may also wave it rapidly if approached (1).
The Bishari pygmy gecko is an egg-laying species, with females producing only a single egg in each clutch (2).
Bishari pygmy gecko range
The Bishari pygmy gecko is only known to occur in Sudan and the southeast of Egypt, but may also occur further north and south along North Africa’s Red Sea coast (1) (2).
Bishari pygmy gecko habitat
The Bishari pygmy gecko favours dry to very dry habitats at elevations of 200 to 400 metres. It is most often encountered in rocky areas of coastal scrub, but has on occasion been found further inland (1) (2).
Bishari pygmy gecko status
The Bishari pygmy gecko has yet to be globally assessed, but is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Mediterranean Red List (3).
Bishari pygmy gecko threats
The current and historical population trends of this recently described species have not been extensively studied, but the Bishari pygmy gecko is not reported to be common within its range (2).
Bishari pygmy gecko conservation
Although the overall conservation status of the Bishari pygmy gecko has yet to be assessed, this species is not currently considered to be threatened in the Mediterranean region (3). No specific conservation measures are known to be in place for the Bishari pygmy gecko, but more information is still needed on this small reptile’s ecology, distribution and behaviour (1).
Molecular studies have also been recommended to allow scientists to better understand the taxonomic relationships between Tropiocolotes species (1).
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- A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- A projecting ridge along a flat or curved surface, particularly down the middle.
- Active at night.
- Relating to taxonomy, the science of classifying organisms, grouping together animals which share common features and are thought to have a common ancestor.
Baha El Din, S.M. (2001) A synopsis of African and south Arabian geckos of the genus Tropiocolotes (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), with a description of a new species from Egypt. Zoology in the Middle East, 22(1): 45-56.
Baha El Din, S. (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
Cox, N., Chanson, J. and Stuart, S. (2006) The Status and Distribution of Reptiles and Amphibians of the Mediterranean Basin. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK. Available at: