Last updated 17 September 2009: added Introduction and updated Bibliography.

A look at the

Subfamily EUBLEPHARIDAE - Eyelid Geckos


Genus COLEONYX - the Eyelid Geckos

Coleonyx geckos are somewhat similar in appearance to African Fat-Tailed Geckos, Hemitheconyx caudicinctus, and Leopard Geckos, Eublepharis macularius, although they are somewhat smaller. Their range stretches from the southern US to Central America. Keeping is not generally deemed difficult, although Hunziker 1999 noted the rumour that C. reticulatus is considered "very delicate". In any case, species-relevant literature should always be consulted before keeping an animal - see Bibliography. A number of Coleonyx species are legally protected, so captive breeding is quite desirable.

Coleonyx brevis, Texas Banded Gecko Coleonyx elegans, Yucatan Banded Gecko Coleonyx fasciatus, Black Banded Gecko
Coleonyx mitratus, Central American Banded Gecko Coleonyx reticulatus, Reticulated Gecko Coleonyx switaki, Barefoot Gecko
Coleonyx variegatus, Western Banded Gecko    


Scientific Name  Common Name  Distribution Size  Notes 
Coleonyx brevis

Texas Banded Gecko

S. Texas (and New Mexico?), adj. area of Mexico 4" Males are usually larger than females. In ecology and behaviour this lizard is similar to, and should be kept in conditions similar to, C. variegatus. Rogner recommends varying temperatures of 25-35 deg C from March to October, dropping to 20-25 deg C at night, with a "fasting period" in December and temperatures of 8-12 deg C for the winter, followed by a gradual raising of the temperature and spraying several times a week (presumably in the Jan-Feb period). Bartlett and Bartlett recommend similar temperatures for the summer (23-31 deg C), but do not mention a winter cooling period. It may be that photoperiod is equally as important as temperature. Both Rogner and the Bartletts recommend using sand or a similar substrate to a depth of about 4cm: the Bartletts also suggest a layer of dry leaves, while Rogner recommends keeping one corner of the tank always moist. Females lay two eggs per clutch. C. brevis and C. variegatus are very similar in appearance, but males can be told apart if examined: the "chevron" of preanal pores in C. variegatus is undivided, whereas in C. brevis it is broken up by other scales. B I
C. elegans


Yucatan Banded Gecko
Mexico (Yucatán), Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador 6" (75- 108 mm SVL) Sometimes available. Captive care as for C. mitratus, but deVosjoli warns that there is a high mortality rate at all stages for these geckos as they apparently do not tolerate dietary vitamin D3 well. The species is capable of producing a high-pitched nasal squeak. In the Yucatán it may be found in a variety of habitats, including caves, rotting logs and stumps and Mayan ruins. As well as being nocturnal it may sometimes venture out in the day. Coloration: the juvenile pattern is a series of white transverse bands bordered by dark brown or black, with reddish interspaces and cream ventral surfaces. Some individuals may be striped instead of banded. The adult pattern is similar but the bands become more irregular and blotches appear on the sides. Regenerated tails are speckled rather than banded. Reproduction: males have 7-13 preanal pores (theseb being indistinct in the female), as well as cloacal spurs and a postanal swelling. On the Yucatán peninsula this is usually associated with the rainy season. Females may lay more than one clutch per year. B I
C. e. elegans Elegant Banded Gecko S Mexico, Belize, N Guatemala, El Salvador
C. e. nemoralis Colima Banded Gecko SW Mexico (Colima, Guerrero, Michoacán)
C. fasciatus Black Banded Gecko Mexico ?" ?.
C. mitratus
Central American Banded Gecko C. America (Guatemala to Costa Rica) 6" Occasionally imported and bred. Quite hardy once established, but does not like handling. Optimum temperature range is 74-82 deg. with a moistened area (sand or green moss) and misting once in the evening (see deVosjoli). C. mitratus can be distinguished externally (usually) from the very similar C. elegans by the markings on its tail, which are broken: those of C. elegans form entire tail rings. The nuchal bridle (the band running from eye to eye around the back of the neck) of C. elegans is also narrower than that of C. mitratus.(Bartlett and Bartlett). B I
C. reticulatus Reticulated Gecko   7" Rare: only discovered in 1956. In colour and skin texture similar to the Leopard Gecko. Sometimes also known as the Big Bend Gecko, because of its range in the US. These geckos do not fare well in captivity and it seems more research is needed to ascertain their requirements. B I
C. switaki
Barefoot Gecko Extreme SW California and Mexican Baja California 6½" Rare: only discovered in the seventies. It is protected in the US and rarely imported from Mexico. Captives nevertheless are quite hardy and fare reasonably well. Named after Karl H Switak, best known for his herpetological photography. Murphy's original paper described the species as a new genus (Anarbylus) based on differences between this gecko and other eublepharines, but this does not appear to have gained acceptance. The common name (and the originally proposed genus name) come from the lack of transverse lamellae on the ventral surface of the digits. Scalation details: Coloration: Other: B I
C. s. gypsicolus  
C. s. switaki Isla San Marcos, Gulf of California, Mexico  
C. variegatus

Western Banded Gecko SW USA 4-5" Quite common in the wild, with 6-8 subspecies known. In appearance somewhat like juvenile leopard geckos. Rogner recommends temperatures of 28-32 deg C with a basking spot of 35 deg C for most of the year, with a decrease in both photoperiod and temperature (to 18-22 deg C by day and 15 deg C at night) from September onwards through winter. Substrate is similar to that used for C. brevis, with one corner made of earth or similar and kept moist to be used as an egg-laying site. Click here for an excellent full-size photograph. A. R. Royo also has a nice summary and picture, while San Diego Natural History Museum has a good page on C. variegatus. B I
C. v. abbotti San Diego Banded Gecko USA (SW California), Baja Pre-anal pores: 7 or less. Coloration: transverse dark body bars in adults equal to or narrower than light interspaces, and unicolour in adults, or alternately may be replaced by uniform spotting; light nuchal loop is narrow and clear.
C. v. bogerti Tucson Banded Gecko USA (SE Arizona, SW New Mexico) Pre-anal pores: 8 or more. Coloration: transverse dark body bars in adults equal to or narrower than light interspaces, their edges darker; head conspicuously spotted or mottled.
C. v. peninsularis San Lucan Banded Gecko   This subspecies is not recognised in the EMBL database entry but is found on the L M Klauber page of the San Diego Natural History Museum.
C. v. slevini Santa Inez Island Banded Gecko Isla Santa Inez (Gulf of California, Mexico) See comment in EMBL database entry.
C. v. sonoriensis Sonoran Banded Gecko    
C. v. utahensis Utah Banded Gecko USA (S Nevada, NW Arizona, SW Utah) Pre-anal pores: 7 or less. Coloration: transverse dark body bars in adults considerably wider than light interspaces, their front and rear borders often irregular and merging with spots in the interspaces.
C. v. variegatus Desert Banded Gecko USA (S Nevada, W Arizona, SE California) Pre-anal pores: 7 or less. Coloration: transverse dark body bars in adults equal to or narrower than light interspaces, and with lighter centres, or alternatively may be replaced by spotting; light nuchal loop is irregular or missing; top of head is spotted.


Lizards of the World, Chris Mattison

Keeping and Breeding Lizards, Chris Mattison

The Leopard Gecko Manual, P. deVosjoli et al, Herpetocultural Library 1998. Covers Fat-Tails and the other eublepharid geckos. The older version is also good but only covers the Leopards and Fat-Tails.

Leopard Geckos: Identification, Care and Breeding, R. Hunziker, TFH 1994. Not as detailed as the above but still quite good and again covers most of the other eublepharids.

Geckos: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual, Bartlett and Bartlett, Barrons 1995.

Geckos: Keeping and Breeding Them in Captivity, Walls and Walls, TFH 1999.

Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Maya World, Julian C Lee, Cornell University Press, 2000. Contains details for C. elegans elegans in the Yucatán area.

Handbook of Lizards: Lizards of the United States and of Canada, Hobart M Smith, Cornell University Press, 1946 (1995 reprint).

"A new genus and species of eublepharine gecko (Sauria: Gekkonidae) from Baja California, Mexico", Robert W Murphy, Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences, Fourth Series, Vol XL, No 4, pp. 87-92, October 30 1974. Describes Coleonyx switaki (listed in the paper as Anarbylus switaki).

"Breeding and Keeping Banded Geckos", Parts 1 & 2, Reptile & Amphibian Hobbyist 5:1-2, Ray Hunziker, October-November 1999.

See also Herpetological Magazine Articles for further articles on Coleonyx.


Rusty Hinge Reptiles-Genus Coleonyx, Banded Geckos in the United States, article by Petra Spiess. page of C. switaki pictures.

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