Added November 2003. Last updated December 5 2004: added more details and made some corrections.

A look at the

Subfamily DIPLODACTYLINAE - Diplodactyline Geckos: The Diplodactylids

Genus HETERONOTIA - ? Geckos

A genus of three closely related Australian species. Cogger gives the characteristics of the genus as follows:

Rostral and mental shields rounded; labials much larger than adjacent scales; postmentals enlarged; digits long, slender, slightly compressed distally, with two rows of lateral scales; no enlarged apical subdigital sublamellae but single series of slightly swollen transverse sublamellae; feet bird-like; all digits clawed, claws conspicuous and free, base of each between three scales; preanal pores present.

The body shape of all three species is quite similar.

H. binoei, Bynoe's/Prickly Gecko H. planiceps H. spelea, Desert Cave Gecko

Scientific name Common name Place of origin Size Notes
H. binoei Bynoe's/Prickly Gecko Australia (New South Wales, North Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, West Australia) 50mm SVL This is a fairly common terrestrial species throughout the continent, being absent only from the SW and SE corners. According to Cogger it is fairly tolerant in its choice of habitats, being found in both wet coastal forests and the central deserts. Prefers to shelter in rock crevices or among ground litter and debris. Parthenogenetic populations are found in C & W Australia. See EMBL database entry. Scalation details: less than 25 large dorsal tubercles in paravertebral row between axilla and groin. Coloration: variable, may be pale grey, dull or bright reddish-brown, or almost black. Body is usually banded by means of a series of flecks, spots and blotches. Usually at least some trace of one dark temporal streak and another on the canthus rostralis. Lips are whitish, lightly spotted with dark brown. Ventrally whitish, finely spotted with dark brown. Other: tail is fairly long.
H. planiceps   Australia (Kimberley region and poss. Pilbara region of WA) 50mm SVL Species classified in 1989: see EMBL database entry. Virtually identical to H. spelea, but the dark temporal stripe contacts the occipital band but not the nuchal band (in contrast with H. spelea). Otherwise see H. spelea.
H. spelea Desert Cave Gecko Australia (Western Australia and Northern Territories) 50mm SVL Inhabits caves, rock crevices in stony desert hills, and interestingly, mine shafts. At night it forages at the entrance to these areas. Scalation details: over 25 small dorsal tubercles in paravertebral row between axilla and groin. Coloration: clearly banded with 4-5 wide dark brown crossbands on a lighter or cream overall coloration: 1st band forms a collar running from eye to eye around the nape of the neck: dark bar may also be present on the back of the head. Original tails are also strongly banded but those regrown are plain brown.


Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Harold Cogger, 6th edition.

Lizards of the World, Mattison

Breeding and Keeping Geckos, Coborn, TFH 1995 - a particularly valuable book for lesser known geckos, especially the Diplodactylines.

Keeping and Breeding Lizards, Mattison


Reptiles of the Townsville Region has some good pictures of various of the above geckos.


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