Last updated 25 March 2007: rearranged table, added Quick Index and removed Blaesodactylus species.

A look at the

Subfamily GEKKONINAE - "True" Geckos


Genus HOMOPHOLIS - Velvet Geckos

A small genus with just. Apart from H. wahlbergi, data is fairly sparse on the species. The three Malagasy species formerly considered Homopholis are now usually placed in their own genus, Blaesodactylus.

Note: in the following guide, SHDA refers to A Field Guide to Reptiles of East Africa. Branch refers to A Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. See Bibliography for more details.

H. fasciatus, Banded Velvet Gecko H. mulleri, Muller's Velvet Gecko H. wahlbergi, Wahlberg's Velvet Gecko

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
H. fasciata Banded Velvet Gecko C & N Tanzania and N & E Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia Max 16cm, avg. 9-13cm [The following notes are for H. f. fasciatus]. This gecko is sometimes also seen in the pet trade, and according to SHDA is said to make a good pet. Details of its natural history are fairly sparse, including reproduction, so this is one area where hobbyists might be able to make a contribution. Its habitat is dry and moist savanna, with big trees, from sea level to about 1,300m [SHDA]. Baobabs, large fig trees and acacias are apparently the preferred territory, where it hides in holes and cracks. Diet is assumed to be insectivorous. On the Kenyan coast it is nocturnal, but SHDA suggest it might show diurnal activity. This is a medium-sized gecko, distinguishable among other characteristics by its blunt head and rounded snout and the chevron-like pattern on the back. Scalation details: small, smooth, roughly homogenous and granular. Pre-anal pores: two in males. Other: toes broadly dilated with large retractable claws: tail cylindrical and relatively short, not tapering: eyes are very pale yellowish with vertical pupils. Coloration: overall grey, olive or brown or purplish-brown, with 3-6 dark-edged chevron-shaped bands across the back. The tail is banded in a similar manner with hoops and the head has a broad dark band forming a crescent across the nape. Lips, chin and ventral surfaces are pale yellowish-white, often with fine dark marks on the lips and chin. Reproduction: two eggs laid: no other details available.
H. f. fasciata C & N Tanzania and N & E Kenya
H. f. erlangeri Somalia and Ethiopia
H. mulleri Muller's Velvet Gecko Southern Africa 8?" Branch describes this species but notes that there is not much data available. He suggests that it most probably resembles H. wahlbergii in habits and behaviour. It occupies a small range in S Africa where it lives on open mopane veld and is found under bark or in holes in trees. Scalation details: 18-20 scales between each eye and anterior ear border. Pre-anal pores: male enlarged, sometimes separated by single wedge-shaped scale. Dorsal scales: 65-72 small non-overlapping in centre of body.
H. wahlbergi Wahlberg's Velvet Gecko/
African Velvet Gecko
S Africa (Zululand, N Province), E Botswana, Zimbabwe and S Mozambique 7-8" Very attractive and robust nocturnal gecko with black longitudinal stripes and light grey dorsal blotches on a darker grey background. Toe pads and claws are both present. It prefers to make its territory among the rocks around river systems, although it can be found in drier areas. For a pair of these geckos Coborn recommends an 18" x 12" x 12" terrarium with pea gravel and coarse sand substrate, piles of rocks for shelters and a couple of succulent potted plants. Temperatures should reach a daytime level of 77-82 deg F with warmer basking areas, dropping to room temperature at night. Provide a shallow water dish and a variety of medium to large invertebrates for food. Mattison calls this species "widespread", but nevertheless captive breeding would be desirable. Frank & Kate Slavens have some longevity records and possibly breeding information. Click here for a photograph of H. wahlbergi. Branch recommends this gecko as a fine pet. Scalation details: 26-30 scales between each eye and anterior ear border. Pre-anal pores: male enlarged, sometimes separated by 2-3 scales. Dorsal scales: 80-107 small overlapping in centre of body.


Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa, Bill Branch, Struik, S Africa 1998. Excellent field guide to the reptiles of the subcontinent, giving colour plates and scalation details for each species (and ecology where possible).

A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa, Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Robert Drewes and James Ashe, Academic Press, 2002. Excellent field guide to the reptiles of the region.

Breeding and Keeping Geckos, Coborn, TFH 1995

Keeping & Breeding Lizards, Mattison, Blandford 1996.

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