Found only in Australia, the southern phasmid gecko (Strophurus jeanae) is a small lizard with a very slender body (2) (3) and distinctively long limbs (3). Its tail is almost as long as its head and body (2) and, as in other members of its genus, its digits are short and are flattened into pads (3) (4).
The southern phasmid gecko has a greyish- or yellowish-white body, occasionally with a narrow orange-brown stripe along the top of the back. It also has dark orange-brown, yellowish and grey stripes running along the sides of the body and tail (2) (3), and a broad brown stripe along the belly and the underside of the tail (2). The eyes of the southern phasmid gecko are purplish-grey with white flecks (2) and have vertical pupils (5). This species’ tongue is short and broad, and has a slightly notched tip (5).
Although previously confused with the closely related phasmid striped gecko (Strophurus taeniatus), the southern phasmid gecko occupies a slightly different habitat and has yellowish rather than creamy-white stripes (3). Its dark stripes are also wider than those of the phasmid striped gecko, and it shows some slight differences in its rostral scale (2) (3).
- Also known as
- desert striped gecko, Jean’s spinytail gecko, Jean’s spiny-tailed gecko, yellow-striped gecko.
- Diplodactylus jeanae, Diplodactylus taeniata, Diplodactylus taeniatus, Oedurella jeanae, Oedurella taeniata.
- Snout-vent length: 2.3 - 4.9 cm (2)
Southern phasmid gecko biology
The southern phasmid gecko lives on the ground, but is a capable climber and forages among clumps of spinifex grass. This species feeds on invertebrates and is often seen foraging in the early morning and late afternoon, although it is thought to be most active at night (3).
All Strophurus geckos show a unique behaviour when captured, squirting a thick, sticky, repellent fluid from their tails. This substance is produced by glands in the tail and is thought to deter potential predators (3) (4) (5) (8). It quickly dries into cobweb-like filaments in air, and in the southern phasmid gecko it is coloured bright orange (8).
Little else is known about the southern phasmid gecko’s biology, but it is thought to shelter in burrows under spinifex clumps (3). Like other geckos in the Diplodactylidae family, it probably lays leathery-shelled eggs (5).
Southern phasmid gecko range
The southern phasmid gecko is endemic to Australia, where it is found in arid and semi-arid areas across northern Western Australia and into the western Northern Territory (1) (2) (6). This small gecko has also been recorded on Barrow Island, off the coast of Western Australia (7).
Southern phasmid gecko habitat
The southern phasmid gecko is reported to occur in arid, grassy habitats which are dominated by spinifex grasses and have scattered small trees and shrubs (1) (2).
Southern phasmid gecko status
The southern phasmid gecko is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Southern phasmid gecko threats
The southern phasmid gecko has a large range and is not currently considered to be at risk of extinction. Its habitat may have been degraded to some extent by grazing, land clearance and mining activities, but this is quite localised and is not thought to be a major threat to this small reptile at present (1).
There are currently no specific conservation measures in place for the southern phasmid gecko. However, it is likely to occur in some protected areas across its range. Further research into this gecko’s population trends has been recommended, together with more research into the potential threats it might face, to ensure that localised threats do not become a more significant problem in future (1).
Find out more
Find out more about the southern phasmid gecko and about other reptiles on Barrow Island:
More information on conservation in Australia
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- 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.
- An organ that makes and secretes substances used by the body.
- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
- Rostral scale
- In reptiles, the scale at the tip of the snout, just above the mouth.
IUCN Red List (March, 2013)
Storr, G.M. (1988) A new species of Diplodactylus (Lacertilia: Gekkonidae) from northern Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum, 14(2): 183-187.
Johansen, T. (2012) A Field Guide to the Geckos of Northern Territory. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana.
Wilson, S. (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
The Reptile Database (March, 2013)
Moro, D. and MacAulay, I. (2010) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Barrow Island. Chevron Australia, Perth. Available at:
Wilson, S.K. (2012) Australian Lizards: A Natural History. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Australia.