Gulf sand gecko (Stenodactylus khobarensis)

Also known as: Gulf short-fingered gecko, Khobar gecko
Synonyms: Pseudoceramodactylus khobarensis
GenusStenodactylus (1)
SizeTotal length: 10 - 12 cm (2)

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

The Gulf sand gecko is a small, rather delicate-looking gecko with long, thin legs, rounded toes and a relatively narrow tail (2) (3). Like other geckos, the head is large, with large eyes and vertical pupils (3) (4), and in this species is triangular in shape, with a pointed snout (2). The body is generally sand coloured, mottled with brown and paler on the underside, while the tail has light and dark bars (5). The male Gulf sand gecko is slightly smaller than the female (2). Interestingly, the structure of this gecko’s toes appears to be adapted to prevent the feet from becoming clogged with the particular type of sand on which it lives, with an arrangement of small, granular scales on the surface that prevents sand from adhering (6).

The Gulf sand gecko occurs in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates (2) (7).

This species inhabits coastal salt flats known as ‘sabhkas’, where the sand is relatively firm (3) (5) (6) (8). It is reported to be particularly abundant in hummocky areas on which small, salt-tolerant shrubs grow (6), as well as on sandy stretches at the foot of rocks (2).

The Gulf sand gecko is a ground-dwelling species that is active at night (2) (5), and, like other geckos, is likely to hunt insects and other small invertebrates (4). Like the related Arabian sand gecko (Stenodactylus arabicus), the female may lay a single egg (3). However, little else is known about the biology of this small lizard.

There is little information available on the threats faced by the Gulf sand gecko. In areas such as the United Arab Emirates, it may potentially be impacted by a range of threats to its habitat, including urbanisation, industrial development, overgrazing, overextraction of groundwater and pollution. Increasing tourism may also pose a threat, particularly in the coastal areas this species inhabits (9). The Gulf sand gecko is reported to be relatively rare in the pet trade (2), but the status of the wild population is currently unknown.

There are currently no specific conservation measures known to be in place for this small gecko. In the United Arab Emirates, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) is working to protect and conserve biodiversity in the region, and to promote sustainable development (10). However, much more research will be needed into the biology of the Gulf sand gecko before specific conservation action can be taken.

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. (August, 2009)
  3. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  4. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Arnold, E.N. (1984) Evolutionary aspects of tail shedding in lizards and their relatives. Journal of Natural History, 18: 127 - 169.
  6. Russell, A.P. (1979) Parallelism and integrated design in the foot structure of Gekkonine and Diplodactyline geckos. Copeia, 1: 1 - 21.
  7. UNEP-WCMC Species Database (August, 2009)
  8. Barth, H.J. and Böer, B. (2006) Sabkha Ecosystems. Volume I: The Arabian Peninsula and Adjacent Countries. Springer, Berlin.
  9. WWF: Major environmental threats in the UAE (August, 2009)
  10. The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (August, 2009)