Added and updated 12 June 2002.

A look at the

Subfamily DIPLODACTYLINAE - Diplodactyline Geckos: The Diplodactylids


Genus Diplodactylus - Diplodactylid Geckos

This is the largest genus of the Diplodactylinae, containing 29 or so species. Most are on the small side, between 3 and 4", with the larger ones reaching no more than 6". Their one common feature is that they have slightly dilated tips to their digits, as otherwise they are a varied genus of lizards, containing both arboreal and terrestrial species. Many of them are colourful, and in many of these species the tail is adapted either for defence (secreting a noxious mucus, rather like amphibians, as in D. ciliaris, D. elderi, D. strophurus and others, or blocking a hole as in D. conspicillatus) or fat storage.

You will notice that in the table below some of these geckos have no common name. This is not laziness on my part so much as the fact that some have only recently been described (in the last 10-20 years) and therefore no commonly accepted name has arisen. In any case, it is the unfortunate truth that few of these interesting geckos are likely to be seen outside of their native country.

Scientific name Common name Place of origin Size (max) Notes
D. alboguttatus ? W Australia (W coast, south of Shark Bay) 4" Terrestrial gecko found primarily in heathlands. Pale fawn or brown dorsally, with dark brown stripe running from snout to eye and continuing to temporal region [Cogger]. Ventral surfaces whitish. Scalation details: rostral partly divided above. Supralabials 7-10, larger than adjacent loreals. Nostril contacts rostral. Postanal tubercles 2-3. Preanal pores present in males.
D. assimilis ? W Australia (interior) 4½" Grey gecko with somewhat darker zigzag pattern on back: enlarged orange or brown tubercles tend to follow the outline of this pattern. Original tail sometimes has dark vertebral stripe [Cogger]. Ventral surfaces whitish. Scalation details: rostral usually completely divided. Supralabials 10-16, larger than adjacent loreals. Nostril contacts rostral. Postanal tubercles 1-4 Preanal pores present in males.
D. byrnei Byrne's Gecko/Pink-Blotched Gecko C & S Australia 3¾-4" Terrestrial gecko.
D. ciliaris Spiny-Tailed Gecko Most of Australia except south and east 5½" Tail carries a double row of spines and contains defensive glands which fire a noxious adhesive substance if the gecko is threatened. In captivity it requires slightly dryer and warmer conditions than the two Diplodactylus geckos mentioned above.
D. c. ciliaris N half of Northern Territories to extreme N of WA
D. c. aberrans NW WA coast through interior to S Northern Territories, N South Australia, W NSW and SW Queensland
D. conspicillatus Fat-Tailed Gecko/Fat-Tailed Diplodactylus Australia except Victoria and Tasmania 3¼-3½" Not to be confused with the better-known African Fat-Tailed Gecko, Hemitheconyx caudinctus. Unusually for a gecko, the tail of D. conspicillatus is thick and bony. The gecko uses this to plug the entrance to its burrow (usually an abandoned spider burrow) where it hides head downwards during the day. Colouring is brown with white undersurfaces and bronze-coloured eyes: the skin is tubercular.
D. elderi Jewelled Gecko NW, C & S Australia 2¾" The tail is a fat storage organ, as in most geckos, but carries a defensive gland system similar to D. ciliaris. It is also prehensile and used as a "fifth leg" in climbing (see here).
D. fulleri ? W Australia (see notes) 3¼" This species was only named in 1978 by Storr, and so far is known from only its type locality at Lake Disappointment in Western Australia.
D. galeatus ? C Australia (Northern Territories and South Australia) 3" Found among the mountains and hills of the Australian interior.
D. granariensis
Western Stone Gecko/Wheat Belt Gecko Australia (southern Pilbara region of WA to Eyre Peninsula, South Australia) 3-4"? A rather stocky little gecko. Of the two subspecies, D. g. granariensis is found south of about 28 deg S, while D. g. rex is found north of this range [Cogger].
D. g. granariensis
D. g. rex
D. immaculatus ? Australia (NW Queensland, adj. NT) 5-6" No data available.
D. intermedius Eastern Spiny-Tailed Gecko Australia (SE WA, S SA and S NT, NW Victoria and W NSW) 4¼" No data available.
D. jeanae ? NT and WA ? Lives in arid regions of its range.
D. kenneallyi ? WA (see text) 3¼" Known only from its type locality of a stony hill near Lake Buchanan, WA.
D. klugei   Australia (W WA) 3-3¼"  
D. maini

? Southern W Australia ? Terrestrial species found in woodland, mallee and heath.
D. mcmillani ? NW Kimberleys, WA 3-4"? No data available.
D. michaelseni ? WA 3¼-3½" No data available.
D. mitchelli ? WA (Hammersley & North West Cape regions) 4-5"? No data available.
D. occultus ? Northern Territories (Alligator River Region) 3-3¼" Described in 1982 by King, Wombey and Braithwaite. No data available.
D. ornatus ? W Australia 3½-4"? No data available.
D. polyopthalmus ? Far SW WA 3½-4" No data available.
D. pulcher
Beautiful Gecko C & S West Australia 3-3¼" No data available.
D. rankini ? Australia 3¾-4" No data available.
D. rex
Goldfields Stone Gecko Australia ? No data available.
D. robinsoni   Australia (border region of WA and NT) SVL 5½cm  
D. savagei ? Pilbara region, W Australia 2¾-3" No data available.
D. spinigerus Western Spiny-Tailed Gecko W & SW W Australia 4¾" Arboreal gecko found in heath and open woodland.
D. s. spinigerus Lower W coast and adj. hinterland of WA
D. s. inornatus SE coast and interior of WA
D. squarrosus ? WA (central coast and interior) 3½" Terrestrial gecko found mainly in heaths and woodlands.
D. steindachneri Box-Patterned Gecko (aka Steindachner's Gecko) NSW (interior), Queensland (inland and NE coastal regions), South Australia (far NE) 3½-3¾" An interestingly-coloured member of the genus. D. steindacheri is an overall earth brown in colour but with lighter, pinkish-brown "boxes" on its dorsal surfaces that look as if they have been drawn on. The box behind the head divides into two stripes of the same colour that reach each eye in a "V" pattern, rather like the white stripe on G. vittatus. The head is relatively large and the tail somewhat thin.
D. stenodactylus Crowned Gecko Australia (all NT, northern WA, northern SA, NW NSW, W Queensland, not Victoria or Tasmania) 3½" No data available.
D. strophurus ? W Australia (central coast and interior) ? Grey gecko with many small black flecks and bronze-coloured eyes. Primarily arboreal, found in arid shrubland.
D. taeniatus White-Striped Gecko WA (Kimberley region except coast), NT (north but mostly non-coastal), Queensland (far west except coast) 4¼-4½" Found among spinifex and other dry grassland. Its slow and jerky movement is reminiscent of that of certain grasshoppers and phasmids [Cogger].
D. taenicauda Golden-tailed Gecko Australia, mainly coastal regions of C. & NE Queensland ?" Brightly coloured arboreal gecko, the lighter body being covered with darker spots (rather like a cheetah's) and a bright orange stripe running from the tip of the tail to the end of the body. The eyes are also golden in colour. The tail can squirt mucus if its owner is threatened. In captivity its requirements are apparently similar to those of D. vittatus (see Coborn).
D. tessellatus Tessellated Gecko E. Australia (interior regions of NT, Queensland, NSW, Victoria and S Australia) 2¾-3" Close relative of D. vittatus. Nocturnal and terrestrial.
D. vittatus Striped Spiny-Tailed Gecko (aka Wood Gecko) S. Australia (not extreme SE seaboard or Tasmania) 4½" Small but stocky gecko, usually brown in colouration with longitudinal stripe (often a zigzag pattern) differently coloured (usually lighter brown, cream or grey) running from the neck to the tip of the tail. The tail itself is quite thick, being the shape of a long carrot. It is at home in a wide variety of habitats from wet coastal forest to dry scrublands, and occasionally is found in houses close to woodland. Within these areas it hides under ground litter or under tree bark. It is nocturnal and terrestrial but like many Australian geckos is also a good climber. See Coborn for details of captive care.
D. wellingtonae ? WA (Pilbara to southern interior) 5" Mainly arboreal gecko but some populations are found among spinifex in desert regions [Cogger].
D. williamsi Soft-Spined Gecko NSW (NE interior), Queensland (interior to NE coast) 3¾-4" No data available.
D. wilsoni ? WA (arid mid-western interior) 3½-4"? No data available.
D. wombeyi ? WA (Pilbara region) 3-4" No data available.



Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Harold Cogger, 6th edition, Reed New Holland, Australia, 2000. Indispensable guide for an overview and identification details of all Australian herptiles.

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.

Coming soon.... the other gecko genera.

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