Bynoe's gecko (Heteronotia binoei)

Also known as: prickly gecko
GenusHeteronotia (1)
SizeSnout-vent length: up to 5.4 cm (2) (3) (4)
Top facts

Bynoe’s gecko has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

Bynoe’s gecko (Heteronotia binoei) is a small Australian gecko with a highly variable appearance. Its body colour ranges from brown to reddish-brown, grey, yellowish-brown or black, and it is usually irregularly patterned with both light and dark bands, spots and flecks (2) (3) (4). Bynoe’s gecko also typically has a stripe that extends from the mouth, through the eye to the neck (3).

This small lizard has a slender body and a long, slender tail (3). Its slim toes end in strong claws, but unlike many gecko species it does not have expanded toe pads (2) (3). The scales of Bynoe’s gecko are covered in small, spine-like keels, giving this species its alternative name of ‘prickly gecko’ (3), while its back is also covered in enlarged tubercles which are arranged in a scattered, irregular pattern (2) (3) (5). This uneven pattern helps to distinguish Bynoe’s gecko from other Heteronotia species, in which the tubercles are arranged in regular rows (5).

Like other geckos, Bynoe’s gecko has a relatively large head, and large eyes which lack eyelids and are covered by a transparent scale. As it cannot blink, the gecko keeps its eyes clean by wiping them with its tongue. Many geckos have well-developed vocal cords and are able to produce a range of calls (6).

There is reported to be a high degree of variation within Heteronotia species, and it is possible that Bynoe’s gecko may encompass more than one species (5).

Bynoe’s gecko is endemic to Australia, where it is widespread across most of the continent (1) (2) (4) (5), apart from the more humid parts of the southwest and southeast (1) (4). This small gecko also occurs on many offshore islands along Australia’s west coast, including Barrow Island (4).

Bynoe’s gecko occurs in a wide variety of dry, open habitats across Australia (2) (7), being most common in woodland, grassland and disturbed habitats (3).

A terrestrial species, Bynoe’s gecko takes shelter under almost any type of ground cover (2) (8), including leaf litter, logs, stumps, stones, termite mounds or loose bark at the base of trees, as well as in animal burrows (3) (4) (5) (7). It will even shelter under man-made debris (3).

Active at night (2) (4), Bynoe’s gecko leaves its daytime shelter after dark to hunt for a range of insects and other invertebrates (3) (4) (5), which it hunts among leaf litter or in bare open spaces (8). Although primarily terrestrial, this species may occasionally climb about in trees or among rocks (5). Bynoe’s gecko is able to flee rapidly when disturbed (2), but like other Australian geckos this species is likely to be vulnerable to a range of predators, including other lizards (7).

In some parts of Australia, male Bynoe’s geckos have been reported to be in peak breeding condition between July and September, while females have been found with eggs from September to January (9). Bynoe’s gecko lays two eggs in each clutch (2) (3) (4) (7) (9), and the eggs are laid under rocks or inside logs or animal burrows (3). This species produces only one clutch of eggs a year (4). As in other geckos, the eggs of Bynoe’s gecko have a shell which is soft when laid but hardens and becomes brittle in the air (8). The young geckos reach sexual maturity in about one to three years (4).

Bynoe’s gecko is an unusual species in that some of its populations are parthenogenetic, meaning that the females produce offspring asexually, from unfertilised eggs (1) (3) (4) (5) (10) (11). These populations contain only females, and are able to reproduce without any males (5). Interestingly, both the sexual and asexual populations of Bynoe’s gecko have a wide distribution across Australia, with the asexual ones mainly occurring in the central and western deserts and often overlapping with the sexual populations (10) (11).

A widespread and abundant species, Bynoe’s gecko is one of the most common lizards in Australia (8). There are not known to be any major threats to this species at present.

There are no specific conservation measures currently known to be in place for Bynoe’s gecko. However, in some parts of its range, such as on Barrow Island, all reptile species are protected (4).

Find out more about Bynoe’s gecko:

More information on conservation in Australia:

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. The Reptile Database (November, 2012)
  2. Wilson, S. (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
  3. Swan, M. and Watharow, S. (2005) Snakes, Lizards and Frogs of the Victorian Mallee. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  4. Moro, D. and MacAulay, I. (2010) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Barrow Island. Chevron Australia, Perth. Available at:
  5. Johansen, T. (2012) A Field Guide to the Geckos of Northern Territory. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana.
  6. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  7. Pianka, E.R. and Pianka, H.D. (1976) Comparative ecology of twelve species of nocturnal lizards (Gekkonidae) in the Western Australian desert. Copeia, 1976(1): 125-142.
  8. Wilson, S.K. (2012) Australian Lizards: A Natural History. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.
  9. Clerke, R.B. and Alford, R.A. (1993) Reproductive biology of four species of tropical Australian lizards and comments on the factors regulating lizard reproductive cycles. Journal of Herpetology, 27(4): 400-406.
  10. Moritz, C., Donnellan, S., Adams, M. and Baverstock, P.R. (1989) The origin and evolution of parthenogenesis in Heteronotia binoei (Gekkonidae): extensive genotypic diversity among parthenogens. Evolution, 43(5): 994-1003.
  11. Avise, J.C. (2008) The Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution of Sexual Abstinence in Vertebrate Animals. Oxford University Press, Inc., New York.