Added 27 February 2000. Last updated 12 April 2008.

A look at the

Subfamily GEKKONINAE - "True" Geckos


Genus STENODACTYLUS - Finger-Toed Geckos

A smallish genus. These rather small terrestrial geckos are found across northern Africa and into SW Asia.

Spawls et al give the following as characteristics of the genus: small, none larger than 15cm; heads large and rounded, with prominent eyes; fingerlike and undilated toes; body scalation mostly homogenous and overlapping; slow-moving, nocturnal and terrestrial.

S. affinis S. arabicus S. doriae
S. grandiceps S. khobarensis S. leptocosymbotus
S. petrii, Petri's Thin-Fingered Gecko S. pulcher S. slevini
S. sthenodactylus, Elegant Gecko S. yemensis  

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
S. affinis   SW Iran, Tanjistan, SE & C Iraq    
S. arabicus   Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Oman and Bahrain    
S. doriae ? Middle East from Sinai Desert into the UAE and Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Iran and Iraq 3½"? May also be referred to as Ceramodactylus doriae in older literature. Although the ranges of S. petrii and S. doriae overlap, the two species are never found together. See EMBL Reptile Database entry.
S. grandiceps ? Middle East from SE Turkey to Northern Saudi Arabia 6" Formerly a subspecies of S. sthenodactylus, this gecko was raised to full species level in 1993 (see EMBL Reptile Database entry).
S. khobarensis   Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, C Oman and Bahrain    
S. leptocosymbotus   SE Yemen, Oman and E United Arab Emirates    
S. petrii Petri's Thin-Fingered Gecko
Desert Marble Sand Gecko
Israeli Dune Gecko
Algeria eastwards as far as Israel 3½" S. petrii is very much an inhabitant of sandy areas, around rocks or dunes. It is nocturnal, spending the day buried in sand (Rogner). Individuals tend to walk with legs holding them quite high above the ground, but when at rest often lay on their side like a cat or dog. A sandy terrarium is essential for keeping these geckos but care should be taken to keep the substrate material free of dust. Care is otherwise as for S. sthenodactylus (see below). Click here for a picture of S. petrii.
S. pulcher   Saudi Arabia, Yemen    
S. slevini   NW Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, S Iraq, Kuwait, W United Arab Emirates    
S. sthenodactylus Elegant Gecko North Africa as far west as Morocco and eastwards into Syria and Saudi Arabia: southwards into Africa as far as Mauritania, North Kenya and Mali. Max TL 10cm /4" : avg 7-9cm/ 2¾-3½" An inhabitant of dry, stony and sandy areas, S. sthenodactylus is a salmon pink colour Unusually perhaps for lizards, females tend to be larger, although males are easily distinguishable by their hemipenile bulges. For captive maintenance Rogner recommends a terrarium about 2' by 2' with a layer of sand up to 3" deep and some pieces of sandstone arranged to give cover. He also emphasises the benefit of a winter cooling period. Scalation details: single row of 2-3 white toothlike tubercles on either side of tail base: body scalation mainly homogenous and non-overlapping. Other: claws thin, not dilated. Coloration: usually salmon pink with slightly darker bands running across the back that grow more pronounced around the tail. Kenyan specimens are mostly brown or red-brown, with light speckling that in some specimens forms light narrow or dark crossbars. Iris usually has fine dark lines. Ventrally white or cream.
S. yemensis   Saudi Arabia, Yemen    


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. Useful entries on S. ? and S. ?.

A Field Guide to the Reptiles of East Africa, Stephen Spawls, Kim Howell, Robert Drewes, James Ashe, Academic Press 2002.

Lizards of the World, Mattison

Keeping and Breeding Lizards, Mattison

Geckos: Keeping and Breeding Them in Captivity, Walls and Walls, TFH 1999.

Geckos: A Complete Pet Owner's Manual, Bartlett and Bartlett, Barrons 1995.

Echsen [Lizards] 1, Rogner, Ulmer, 1992


Click here for a care sheet and picture of Stenodactylus petrii.

Click here for Yehudah Werner's article on desert geckos in Israel that includes some of the above species and an excellent photo of S. sthenodactylus.

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