Western banded gecko (Coleonyx variegatus)

Coleonyx variegatus, the western banded gecko, is a species of gecko found in the southwestern United States (southern California, southwest New Mexico, southern Arizona, Utah, Nevada) and northern Mexico (Sonora, northwest Baja California). Five subspecies are recognized.


Western banded geckos are terrestrial lizards, ranging in length from 4–6 inches (10–15 cm). Hatchlings measure 1 inch (2.5 cm). The body is sandy coloured with dark bands broken into patches. The tiny scales give its skin a silky texture. Unlike typical geckos, it has prominent eyes with movable lids.


Western banded geckos are found in a wide range of habitats, including creosote bush and sagebrush desert, pinyon-juniper woodland, and catclaw-cedar-grama grass associations in the eastern part of its range and chaparral areas in the west. Their elevational range extends from below sea level to about 1,520 m (4,990 ft) asl.


The western banded gecko is secretive and nocturnal, foraging at night for small insects and spiders, and is one of the few reptiles that control scorpion populations by eating baby scorpions. If captured, they squeak and may discard their tail. As a defense mechanism, they can also curl their tails over their bodies to mimic a scorpion. Females lay up to three clutches of one to two soft-shelled eggs in the spring and summer. Emerging on warm nights around 80 degrees F, they can be seen around porch lights looking for an easy meal, retreating if the temperature rises too high or drops too low. Eggs hatch after six weeks.


Predators include leaf-nosed snakes, western patch-nosed snakes, night snakes, sidewinders, western diamondback rattlesnakes, other rattlesnake species, coachwhips, and zebra-tailed lizards

Additional possible predators are tarantulas, large centipedes, solpugids, coyotes and kit foxes.


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About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.