Added November 13 2000: last updated February 5 2001 (added thumbnail images)

A look at the

Subfamily GEKKONINAE - "True" Geckos


Genus PALMATOGECKO - Web-Footed Geckos

A genus of just two species, albeit interesting ones. Both species hail from the Namib Desert in South-West Africa and have the useful adaptation of webbing between their toes to enable them to more easily cross the sandy terrain in their habitat. The Namib Desert itself, with its fine sand (at least in the range of P. rangei), dense fogs caused by cold coastal currents and near-equanimity of day- and night temperatures (ie unlike most deserts, the temperature hardly drops at night), is not the easiest habitat to replicate in a terrarium, and for this reason it is suggested that these beautiful but rather specialised geckos should only be kept by gecko specialists and/or those with plenty of experience in recreating unusual habitats.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes

P. rangei

Palmatogecko rangei (Web-Footed Sand Gecko)

Web-Footed Sand Gecko Namib Desert (South Africa, Namibia, S. Angola) 4" A rather delicate but beautiful gecko with large eyes and, most distinctively, webbing between the toes of both front and back limbs. This adaptation is obviously useful for helping it to cross the fine sand of the Namib dunes. In addition to the webbing, the toes pads have adhesive lamellae in the same manner as other members of the Gekkoninae, eg Tokay Geckos, Gekko gecko. (See also Animal Diversity Web's entry on this species. The limbs themselves seem to be most frequently described as "spindly", perhaps as a weight-bearing adaptation in addition to the webbed feet. These lizards obtain moisture by the 'capture' of dew that condenses on their scales. They are nocturnally active throughout the year, sheltering from the heat during the day in deep burrows that they usually dig themselves. Like many geckos, P. rangei can vocalise, in this case clicking and squeaking either when displaying or protesting (ie if handled). Both Mattison and Bartlett and Bartlett deal with the care of the Web-Footed Gecko: suffice it to say that the habitat requirements are fairly exact, similar in some ways to those for the popular Teratoscincus geckos. The authors reckon however that if these are met then these geckos are fairly hardy in captivity and have been bred. In appearance the Web-Footed Gecko is easily distinguished by its overall pink dorsal colour with a variety of stripes, its huge eyes with their brown-red irises and vertical pupils, and its slender form. Click here or here for a picture. See also Chris Mattison's photography page.
P. vanzyli ? Namib Desert (S. Namibia, Kaokoveld), S. Angola ?" Little is available on P. vanzyli (formerly known as Kaokogecko vanzyli). It apparently lives in those parts of the Namib Desert where gravel and rock are more prevalent than sand, which may be why the webbing on the feet is only found on the rear limbs. I have not seen these offered for sale anywhere (hardly mentioned at all, in fact), but I would imagine care to be similar as for P. rangei, with possibly more rocks and stones to simulate their native environment.


The information above was culled from a number of sources, including Mattison:

Lizards of the World, Chris Mattison

Keeping and Breeding Lizards, Chris Mattison

Geckos: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual, R D & P Bartlett, Barrons 1995

Coming soon.... the other gecko genera.

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