Last updated 8 May 2003: updated details and Bibliography.

A look at the

Subfamily GEKKONINAE - "True" Geckos


Genus QUEDENFELDTIA - Atlas Day Geckos

Until recently this was a monotypic (ie one-species) genus. These are attractive geckos but I have never seen any offered for sale nor any articles relating to their captive care other than in Rogner. Despite their common name, these lizards are not part of the "Day Gecko" family (Phelsuma species) and do not really resemble them in any way.

KKE characterise the genus as follows: limbs rather slender: digits weakly dilated at base, laterally compressed at distal end: head rather depressed, snout rounded: pupils rounded. The species is easily distinguished from other geckos in the area by its combination of round pupils and climbing ability.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
Q. moerens        
Q. trachyblepharus Atlas Day Gecko/ Thorny-Eyelid Gecko SW Morocco 6cm Rather attractive saxicolous geckos with a base colour of varying shades of grey, brown or black. They live in small colonies among the crevices of the Atlas Mountains at heights of 16-3000m, where they are active by day. The tail is quite fragile. They are quite tolerant of low temperatures: KKE noted that the geckos were active at temperatures as low as 3.1 deg C, and captives would come out on sunny days even at 2.2 deg C. Quedenfeldtia form territories consisting of 4-8 including one dominant male: individual recognition is very important, and the geckos have a combination of various optical signals to communicate with one another (see KKE for full details). They also appear to be very alert, sitting on vantage points, and KKE record that the human observer receives the impression of being watched closely by the reptiles. If threatened they flee to another perch or into a rock fissure. The main predator is apparently Viper monticola which inhabits the same areas. Rogner recommends a terrarium whose height is more important than its length, and which is well furnished with numerous (and well-fixed) rockpiles: there should be plenty of gaps or crevices in these for hiding places, and some of these should be filled with moss or substrate to be used as egg-laying sites. Substrate should be a mixture of earth and sand. Rogner also notes the importance of a sharp temperature drop at night: daytime temperatures should reach 30-35 deg C under a heat lamp, dropping to 15-18 deg C at night. A 6-8 week winter cooling period at 5-8 deg C is also necessary: KKE report that captives hibernated during the period mid-Oct to beginning of Feb but still drank and defecated on several occasions. After this period the geckos will be ready to mate. Rogner suggests 2-4 females to one male in smaller terrarium but that larger terraria offer the possibility of maintaining a small colony. Given these conditions, the eggs should apparently hatch in the terrarium itself. Food for Atlas Day Geckos consists of the usual small insects (in the wild, small mantids, lepidoptera, caterpillars and flies). The geckos will obtain their water requirements from a daily morning spraying, representing the dew found in their natural habitat at the beginning of each day: thus a water bowl is probably not necessary. Scalation: uniform and finely granular: rostral pentagonal, nearly twice as broad as high, with median cleft above: nostril between rostral, 1st labial and 4 nasals. 7 upper and 6 lower labials: mental large and subtriangular, no regular submaxillaries. upper eyelids have several projecting triangular scales on the border: ventral scales large, hexagonal and subimbricate: posterior venter and upper thighs have callous escutcheons. Other: tail slender and depressed, dorsally covered with uniform small scales, ventrally with a median series of enlarged transversal plates. Coloration: very variable, but overall grey which may tend towards black, brown or green. There is a dorsal pattern of light and dark dots in various combinations of black, white, green, red, or light- or greenish-blue. In addition dominant males often have reddish or yellow heads, most prominently during the breeding season. Males have dark ventral escutcheons. In some populations only th males have axillar ocelli, in others both have a row of lateral ocelli but those of the male are more numerous and conspicuous. Reproduction: mating takes place in March to June in the Anti-Atlas region, and April to July in the higher (and cooler) Haut Atlas. If I have understood KKE correctly, then 2 (possibly 3) clutches of 1-2 eggs (possibly just 1) are laid each season. Collective egglaying sites are not unusual. One hatchling found had a red V-shape on the snout and an orange tail, both of which disappeared later: see KKE for details.


Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa, W Kästle, H H Schleich and K Kabisch, Koeltz Scientific Books, Germany 1996. Outstanding review of N African herpetofauna giving detailed account of each species. I gratefully acknowledge their details for the N African species.

Echsen [Lizards] 1, Rogner, Ullmer, 1992

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