With a maximum snout-vent length of just three centimetres, Steudner’s gecko (Tropiocolotes nubicus) is one of the smallest of all lizard species. It has a very slender head with an indistinguishable neck, as well as short, narrow limbs and a long, thin tail (2). The scales of the body are smooth, and are large on the top and underside of the body but smaller on the sides (3).
The body of Steudner’s gecko is mostly a sandy pink colour, with light specks and uneven brown splotches. A dark brown line runs from the nostril to the shoulder, and the eyes are golden brown. Steudner’s gecko has a yellowish tail, which is typically banded (2). There is little variation in appearance between individuals, although a tail which has regenerated after being lost will be completely yellow rather than having bands (2).
Steudner’s gecko can be sexed by the presence of pre-anal pores in males, which are absent or undetectable in females (2). This species can easily be confused with the Algerian sand gecko (Tropiocolotes steudneri), which often occurs in the same areas as Steudner’s gecko (4).
- Also known as
- Nubian pygmy gecko.
- Snout-vent length: up to 30.5 mm (2)
- Hatchling snout-vent length: 1.6 mm (2)
Steudner's gecko biology
Steudner’s gecko is a nocturnal species which tends to forage under cover and is often found among rocks and under foliage at night. In the daytime it may shelter under rocks or rubbish. This gecko often moves with its body close to the ground to remain inconspicuous, and in captivity individuals have been found to hunt using a ‘sit-and-wait’ strategy or slow, active searching (2). Like most other geckos, Steudner’s gecko is likely to feed on insects and other small invertebrates (5).
The female Steudner’s gecko lays a single egg per clutch, which she buries in a shallow hole dug in a discreet location. Females of this species may lay up to five clutches in a single season. In captivity, Steudner’s gecko can live up to 21 months old (2).
Steudner’s gecko has a very loud and distinct call which can be heard from up to 50 metres away and is often given at dusk when the geckos leave their daytime shelter. The call consists of ten high-pitched and descending syllables, and lasts for around five seconds (2).
Steudner's gecko range
Steudner’s gecko is believed to range along the Nile Valley between Egypt and Sudan (1) (4). All known specimens have been found on the border of the Nile Valley in southern Egypt, apart from a single individual found in Assalaya, Sudan (1) (2).
This species has been recorded from elevations of 150 to 200 metres above sea level (1).
Steudner's gecko habitat
This tiny gecko has been collected from shallow sandy wadis, as well as shrubland and low rocky hills, often near human habitation. Steudner’s gecko is typically found in habitats close to water and with a well-balanced supply of moisture, such as the area between the Nile Valley and neighbouring deserts (1) (2).
Steudner's gecko status
Steudner’s gecko is classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Steudner's gecko threats
Steudner’s gecko is abundant in Egypt and is often found in high densities around Lake Nasser, with as many as five individuals having been found under a single rock (2).
This species may, however, be threatened locally by land reclamation and cultivation (1) (6).
Steudner's gecko conservation
In Egypt, Steudner’s gecko has been recorded within Wadi el Alaqi, which is a protected area (1) (2). This species has only recently been described, and the details of its full range, ecological requirements and threats are still uncertain. Further research is therefore needed to properly assess the conservation needs of this diminutive reptile (1) (6).
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- Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
- Active at night.
- Snout-vent length
- A standard measurement of body length of reptiles. The measurement is from the tip of the nose (snout) to the anus (vent), and excludes the tail.
- Mountain canyons found in North Africa and the Middle East that only carry water when it rains.
IUCN Red List (March, 2011)
Baha El Din, S. (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
Baha El Din, S. (2001) A synopsis of African and south Arabian geckos of the genus Tropiocolotes (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), with a description of a new species from Egypt. Zoology in the Middle East, 22: 45-56.
The Reptile Database (June, 2012)
Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Baha El Din, S. (1999) A new species of Tropiocolotes (Reptilia: Gekkonidae) from Egypt. Zoology in the Middle East, 19: 17-26.