Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko (Asaccus gallagheri) is a relatively small, delicately-built gecko with a slender tail, slender limbs, large eyes (2) and distinctive, heart-shaped toes. A particularly colourful species, it is unusual in that the male and female are distinct in appearance, the male having a bright golden-yellow tail while that of the female is striped with black and white bands (3). The rest of the body is generally pinkish-brown, almost translucent, with a series of darker bars running down the body and onto the tail. There is also a dark stripe along the side of the head. The tail is slightly longer than the head and body (2). As in other geckos, the skin is soft, with small scales, and the pupils of the eyes contract to vertical slits in bright light (3)(4).
Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko was originally described from a juvenile specimen (2), and it is possible that its maximum body size is larger than the available information suggests.
Like most gecko species, Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko is likely to be active at night and to feed on a range of insects and other small invertebrates(3)(4). Many geckos are able to communicate through a variety of calls, and are also well known for their climbing abilities. As in many other species, the toes of Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko possess specialised scales, called ‘scansors’, each of which is covered in thousands of microscopic hair-like structures which further sub-divide into saucer-shaped tips. The huge surface area these structures produce give the gecko a remarkable ability to cling to smooth, vertical surfaces (3)(4).
Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko lays a single, hard-shelled, spherical egg, which is glued to rock deep inside a crevice in a cave or cliff. This species often lays its eggs in traditional laying sites, which may be used by a number of individuals (3). In captivity, females lay an egg every four weeks, between spring and autumn, and the egg hatches after around 60 days (8).
Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko is endemic to the Hajar Mountains of the United Arab Emirates and Oman (3)(5)(6), where it has been recorded from Musandam, through the Hajar Mountains, to Al Hajar ash Sharqi in central Oman (3). Genetic analysis has suggested that a population of Gallagher’s leaf-toed geckos from Nizwa in Oman may represent a separate species (7).
Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko is likely to inhabit caves and crevices in mountain wadis(3). The species was originally collected from the waste pipe of a bath inside a military camp, suggesting it may prefer quite humid surroundings (2).
Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko is a relatively widespread species and is not currently believed to be facing any major threats (1). However, habitat loss due to rapid development and urbanisation, together with overgrazing, pollution and the over-extraction of ground water, are all threats to the wildlife of the region, and may potentially affect this species (9). Its habitats in the Hajar Mountains may be under threat from overgrazing by livestock, as well as from mining, housing development and road building (5), but the current impacts on this species are unknown.
There are currently no specific conservation measures known to be in place for Gallagher’s leaf-toed gecko. However, it occurs in some protected areas across its range. Further studies are needed into the distribution, abundance and biology of this poorly known reptile, as well as into the potential threats it faces (1).
The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) is working in the United Arab Emirates to protect and conserve the region’s biodiversity and to promote sustainable development (10). In parts of the Hajar Mountains, local people use a traditional method of resource conservation in which areas known as hamiyaat are protected from livestock grazing, although some of these have now been abandoned, so leading to increased grazing pressure and further habitat loss (5).
Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Papenfuss, T.J., Jackman, T.R., Bauer, A.M., Stuart, B.L., Robinson, M.D. and Parham, J.F. (2010) Phylogenetic relationships among species of southwest Asian leaf-toed geckos (Asaccus). Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, 61(13): 587-596.
Leptien, R., Kowalski, T. and Zilger, H.J. (1994) Asaccus gallagheri: husbandry and first captive breeding. Salamandra, 30(4): 241-245.
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