Common fan-footed gecko (Ptyodactylus hasselquistii)

GenusPtyodactylus (1)
SizeLength: up to 18 cm (2)

This species has yet to be classified by the IUCN.

With distinctive flared toe tips, fan-footed geckos of the genus Pytodactylus are instantly recognisable (3). There is varied opinion about whether the common fan-footed gecko comprises a single species divided into multiple subspecies, or whether these subspecies should in fact be classed as distinct species (3) (4). Although there appear to be some differences in colouration and body shape between the different forms, they all possess the same basic features (4). The legs are long, and end in widely splayed toes, tipped on either side by a wide, fan-like fringe (5). The body colouration is pallid, helping to provide camouflage amongst the subtle tones of its rocky habitat (6). Markings can vary between the sexes and between the subspecies, with orange cross bands as well as reddish, black and pale spots all potentially exhibited (3) (6). A relatively vocal species, male common fan-footed geckos can be heard calling with a series of chirrups at night over a distance of up to 50 metres (5) (7).

A widespread species, the common fan-footed gecko’s range extends throughout North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East. Populations occur from Morocco east to Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Oman, north as far as Iran, and south as far as eastern Ethiopia and northern Somalia (8).

The common fan-footed gecko is a common inhabitant of the arid, rocky environments that are characteristic of its range. It occurs on boulders, rock faces and in caves located amongst river valleys, hills and mountains up to elevations of 2,000 metres. This species is also sometimes found in buildings (4) (5)

Like many gecko species, the common fan-footed gecko is an exceptional climber, able to run across vertical rock faces and even overhangs and cave roofs (5). The secret of this remarkable ability lies in its specialised toe scales, known as scansors, which bear thousands of microscopic, hooked hair-like projections that enable the toes to grip even the most slippery surfaces (2) (5).

The common fan-footed gecko is a nocturnal species, emerging after dusk from daytime refuges such as caves and crevices to feed on insects and arachnids (2) (4). During the day, it usually returns to these habitats, although during cooler seasons, and in colder parts of it range, it may be encountered basking in the sun to raise its body temperature (3). In contrast, however, some individuals in larger caves may never emerge into the open (2).

The common fan-footed gecko is generally sociable and often encountered in small groups, except when attempting to attract a mate, at which time the male becomes very territorial (4) (5). After mating, a clutch of two eggs is usually laid, which are stuck to the rocks in communal cave laying sites (5).

There are no known significant threats to this species, it is apparently common in at least some parts of its range (2) (5) and is widespread (8).

The common fan-footed gecko’s large range (8) encompasses several National Parks and Nature Reserves in which populations are likely to be present (9).

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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 (January, 2009)
  2. Vine, P. and Al-Abed, I. (1997) Natural Emirates: Wildlife and Environment of the United Arab Emirates. Trident Press Ltd, London.
  3. Werner, Y.L. (1987) Gekkonid lizards from Five Quarters meet in Israel. The Bulletin of the Philadelphia Herpetological Society, 31: 20 - 23.
  4. Batraciens et Reptiles du Monde (July, 2009)
  5. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, United Arab Emirates.
  6. Bartlett, R.D. (1995) Geckos. Barron's Educational Series, Hauppauge, New York.
  7. Frankenberg, E. (1974) Vocalization of males of three geographical forms of Ptyodactylus from Israel. Journal of Herpetology, 8: 59 - 70.
  8. J. Craig Venter Institute (July, 2009)
  9. World Database on Protected Areas (July, 2009)