Despite having been originally discovered in 1999 (2), and several times since then by different scientists, the Socotran rock gecko (Hemidactylus inintellectus) was not officially described as a species in its own right until 2009 (1) (2). This rock-dwelling reptile had previously been incorrectly identified as various other species within the Hemidactylus genus (2) (3). As a result of a decade of misidentification, the Socotran rock gecko was given the scientific name inintellectus, meaning ‘misunderstood’ (2) (3).
A rather robust member of the Hemidactylus genus (2) (3), the Socotran rock gecko has a somewhat flattened head, which is concave between the eyes and nostrils, and swollen in front of the eyes (2). Its snout tapers to a point, and is covered in roundish scales of irregular size (2), while the paired scales on the chin are almost triangular (2) (3). The Socotran rock gecko is easily distinguishable from other Hemidactylus species within its range by the large, strongly keeled tubercles that are present on its back (2). In contrast, the scales on the underside of this species are small, flat and smooth (2).
The Socotran rock gecko has rather long limbs, and its toes are only slightly webbed at the base (2). As in other Hemidactylus species, which are also known as ‘leaf-toed geckos’ (5), each toe is slightly bulbous towards the tip (2) and has plate-like structures known as lamellae on the underside, which help the gecko to grip onto rocks and other surfaces (2) (3). The Socotran rock gecko has claws on all of its toes (6), and its conical tail has a series of strongly keeled and raised tubercles running along the upper part and sides (2).
A pinkish or sometimes greyish species (2), the Socotran rock gecko is patterned with dark, narrow bands which run across its back and tail (2) (3). In some individuals, these bands are interrupted, and are instead replaced by irregular spots. The Socotran rock gecko’s tail is marked with about seven very distinct dark bands that alternate with a paler ground colour, which ranges from pinkish towards the base of the tail to whitish towards the tip. This species has cream-coloured eyes with a netlike pattern of brown veins, and black, vertical pupils (2).
Hemidactylus species, such as the Socotran rock gecko, are known to make almost inaudible squeaks (7) as well as clicking sounds, which are produced as the tongue strikes against the palate (8).
- Also known as
- Socotran leaf-toed gecko.
- Hemidactylus granti.
- Male snout-vent length: up to 59.5 mm (2) (3)
- Female snout-vent length: up to 60.5 mm (2) (3)
- c. 4.8 g (4)
Socotran rock gecko biology
Like most other geckos, the Socotran rock gecko is a nocturnal reptile (1) (4), mainly being active after dusk (2).
Little other information is available on the specific biology of the Socotran rock gecko, although other species within the Hemidactylus genus are known to be insectivorous. Hemidactylus species generally hibernate during the winter (8).
Most geckos within the Gekkonidae family lay two eggs, although some smaller species just lay one (9). Like in other Hemidactylus species, the eggs of the Socotran rock gecko are likely to be spherical, with a hard, white shell (8) (9).
Socotran rock gecko range
Socotran rock gecko habitat
As its name suggests, the Socotran rock gecko tends to be found in rocky habitats (1) (2), particularly those formed of limestone or occasionally granite (1). This species has been observed in a variety of areas around the island of Socotra, including on cliffs and boulders or hiding within crevices (1) (2) (4). The Socotran rock gecko’s preferred habitats generally occur within well-vegetated areas (2), and this newly described reptile has been recorded climbing palm tree trunks (1) (2).
The Socotran rock gecko has been observed from sea level up to elevations of about 762 metres (1) (4), and although it is found in many rocky regions on the island, it is not thought to occur on Socotra’s higher peaks (2).
Socotran rock gecko status
The Socotran rock gecko is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Socotran rock gecko threats
The Socotran rock gecko is common and widely distributed within its range, and there are no known threats to this species at present (1).
Socotran rock gecko conservation
There are no known conservation measures currently in place for the Socotran rock gecko.
Find out more
Learn more about the Socotran rock gecko:
Sindaco, R., Ziliani, U., Razzetti, E., Carugati, C., Grieco, C., Pupin, F., Awadh Al-Aseily, B., Pella, F. and Fasola, M. (2009) A misunderstood new gecko of the genus Hemidactylus from Socotra Island, Yemen (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae). Acta Herpetologica, 4(1): 83-98. Available at:
Reptile Database - Hemidactylus inintellectus:
Find out more about reptile conservation:
Learn more about newly discovered species:
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:
- A species or taxonomic group that is only found in one particular country or geographic area.
- 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.
- Hibernation is a winter survival strategy in which the animal passes the winter in a resting state. This period of inactivity is characterised by specific biological and biochemical changes including lowered blood pressure and respiration rate. In reptiles, this is also known as brumation.
- A projecting ridge along a flat or curved surface, particularly down the middle.
- Active at night.
- A small, rounded, wart-like bump on the skin or on a bone.
IUCN Red List (January, 2013)
Sindaco, R., Ziliani, U., Razzetti, E., Carugati, C., Grieco, C., Pupin, F., Awadh Al-Aseily, B., Pella, F. and Fasola, M. (2009) A misunderstood new gecko of the genus Hemidactylus from Socotra Island, Yemen (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae). Acta Herpetologica, 4(1): 83-98.
Reptile Database - Hemidactylus inintellectus (January, 2013)
Gómez-Díaz, E., Sindaco, R., Pupin, F., Fasola, M. and Carranza, S. (2012) Origin and in situ diversification in Hemidactylus geckos of the Socotra Archipelago. Molecular Ecology, 21: 4074-4092.
Smith, H.M. (1995) Handbook of Lizards: Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Cornell University Press, New York.
Johansen, T. (2012) A Field Guide to the Geckos of Northern Territory. AuthorHouse, UK.
Pianka, E.R. and Vitt, L.J. (2006) Lizards: Windows to the Evolution of Diversity. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.
Khanna, D.R. (2004) Biology of Reptiles. Discovery Publishing House, New Delhi.
Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.