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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


San Diego Banded Gecko - Coleonyx variegatus abbotti

Klauber, 1945
Click on a picture for a larger view



Western Banded Geckos California Range Map
Range in California: Blue

Red: Desert Banded Gecko



Listen to a gecko of this species.


observation link





San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko
Sub-adult, Riverside County Adult, Orange County, from a riparian canyon on the western slopes of the Santa Ana Mountains © Mike Pecora Adult, San Diego County.
© Stuart Young
San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko
Subadult, Riverside County Adult, San Diego County. © Nathan Smith
San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko
This juvenile was see at night in mid February crawling on pavement eating ants at the bottom of San Antonio Canyon in San Bernardino County, near the LA County line. © Christian Gingerich Night-active adult at the same location as the juvenile to the left.
© Christian Gingerich
Sub-adult, Riverside County
San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko  
Adult showing some intergrade traits, from near Perris Reservoir, Riverside County  
San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko  
Adult showing some intergrade traits, from near Perris Reservoir, Riverside County  
       
San Diego Banded Geckos From Baja California
San Diego Banded Gecko San Diego Banded Gecko Viscaino Zebra-tailed Lizard Viscaino Zebra-tailed Lizard
Adult, El Rosario, B. C. Norte Adult, El Rosario, B. C. Norte Adult, Bahia de Los Angeles, B.C. Norte 
© Stuart Young
Adult, Bahia de Los Angeles, B.C. Norte 
© Stuart Young
       
Comparisons of the two subspecies found in California

Also see Western Banded Geckos, Coleonyx variegatus, in California
Viscaino Zebra-tailed Lizard Viscaino Zebra-tailed Lizard Desert Banded Gecko  
San Diego Banded Gecko (C. v. abbotti) (on fingers)
Intergrade (in the middle)
Desert Banded Gecko (C. v. variegatus) (near wrist)

All three were found in Baja California Norte where the ranges of the two subspecies meet. © Stuart Young
Desert Banded Gecko on the left with a
San Diego Banded Gecko on the right for comparison. © Bruce Edley
 
Peninsular Banded Gecko Gecko Skin    
Peninsula Banded Geckos, (C. switaki) left,
have smooth skin with small granular scales interspersed with larger tubercles.
This will help distinguish them from
Desert Banded Geckos, right,
which have smooth skin with small granular scales but no larger tubercles.
   
       
Difference Between Males and Females
lizard lizard lizard  
Males have spurs at the base of the tail. Females do not. Compare
 
       
Habitat
San Diego Banded Gecko Habitat San Diego Banded Gecko Habitat San Diego Banded Gecko Habitat  
Habitat, Riverside County Habitat, Riverside County Habitat, Riverside County  
San Diego Banded Gecko Habitat San Diego Banded Gecko Habitat    
Habitat, Riverside County Habitat, San Diego County    
       
Short Video
San Diego Banded Gecko      
Watch a short video of this gecko crawling along a boulder.      
     
Description
 
Size
2 - 3 inches long from snout to vent (5.1 - 7.6 cm).

Appearance
A small, slender lizard with movable eyelids and vertical pupils.
The head is triangular in shape and wider than the neck, and is usually not spotted, but dark in color.
There is a narrow, light collar mark, extending from the eyes to the collar.
The skin is soft with fine granular scales (without tubercles).
Toes are long and slender.
Tail is constricted at the base.
Color and Pattern
Color pattern is variable, with a pale yellow, pink, or light gray background, and tan or brown bands on the body and tail. These bands typically are uniform in color and do not break up into blotches as they do on adult C. v. variegatus.
The width of the dark bands is equal to or narrower than the width of the light areas.
Male / Female Differences
Males have spurs on each side of the base of the tail.
Young
Juveniles tend to have more prominent unbroken bands.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Active at night, hiding in burrows or under surface objects during daylight. Hibernates through the winter (generally November to February).
Curls the tail up and waves it back and forth off the ground when stalking prey.
When grasped, this gecko may emit a short squeak. Listen.
Defense
When threatened, it may drop its tail to distract a predator. The tail will grow back, typically without the banding pattern matching the rest of the lizard's body.
Diet and Feeding
A variety of small invertebrates.
Breeding
Breeding occurs during April and May.
Females lay 1 or two eggs from May to September, which hatch in 45 days.

Geographical Range
In California, Coleonyx variegatus abbotti is found in the interior southern coastal region, generally west of the Peninsular ranges and south of the Transverse ranges.
(Stebbins (2013) and LIzards of the American Southwest (2009) both showC. varigatus throughout the Los Angeles basin and up the coast just into Ventura County, but this is not shown on the CDFW range maps, and I have found no museum records for this area, so this distribution is uncertain. (I do not show this distribution on my range maps anymore, but I could be mistaken.)

The subspecies ranges beyond California south into Baja California to just north of the Viscaino Desert where it intergrades with the Mexican subspecies, C. v. peninsularis.

The species Coleonyx variegatus ranges through most of Southern California north into the extreme southern part of Nevada and the southwestern tip of Utah, across northwest, southwest, and southeast Arizona into the bootheel of New Mexico, and south down the western edge of the state of Sonora, Mexico and down the entire length of Baja California.

Full Species Range Map 
Habitat
Prefers rocky areas in coastal sage and chaparral.

Notes on Taxonomy
The species Coleonyx variegatus consists of four supspecies in the US, (two in California) with two more in Mexico.


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Coleonyx variegatus abbotti -
San Diego Banded Gecko (Stebbins 1966)
Coleonyx variegatus
- Variegated Gecko (Smith 1946)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
This subspecies has dissappeared from much of its former habitat as the region has been heavily developed.

Protected from take with a sport fishing license in 2013 by a special closure that restricts the take of San Diego banded geckos - Coleonyx variegatus abbotti from San Diego County south and west of Highway 79 to its junction with County Road S-2, and south and west of County Road S-2 to the eastern San Diego County border.
Taxonomy
Family Gekkonidae (Eublepharidae) Geckos Boulenger, 1883
Genus Coleonyx Banded Geckos Gray, 1845
Species variegatus Western Banded Gecko (Baird, 1859 “1858”)
Subspecies

abbotti San Diego Banded Gecko Klauber, 1945
Original Description
Coleonyx variegatus - (Baird, 1858) - Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, Vol. 10, p. 254
Coleonyx variegatus abbotti - Klauber, 1945 - Trans. San Diego Soc. Nat. Hist., Vol. 10, No. 11, p. 154

from Original Description Citations for the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America © Ellin Beltz

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Coleonyx - Greek: koleos - sheath and onyx - nail, talon or claw- refers to sheathed claws
variegatus
- Latin - of different colors - refers to contrasting elements of color pattern
abbotti - honors Abbott, Clinton G.

from Scientific and Common Names of the Reptiles and Amphibians of North America - Explained © Ellin Beltz

Related or Similar California Lizards
Desert Banded Gecko - C. v. variegatus

Peninsular Banded Gecko - C. switaki

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Lemm, Jeffrey. Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of the San Diego Region (California Natural History Guides). University of California Press, 2006.

Bartlett, R. D. & Patricia P. Bartlett. Guide and Reference to the Turtles and Lizards of Western North America (North of Mexico) and Hawaii. University Press of Florida, 2009.

Jones, Lawrence, Rob Lovich, editors. Lizards of the American Southwest: A Photographic Field Guide. Rio Nuevo Publishers, 2009.

Smith, Hobart M. Handbook of Lizards, Lizards of the United States and of Canada. Cornell University Press, 1946.

Grismer, L. Lee. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including Its Pacific Islands and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés. The University of California Press, 2002.

McPeak, Ron H. Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California. Sea Challengers, 2000.

Conservation Status

The following status listings come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


The 2015 Special Animals lists this subspecies, not the full species.
Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking G5 T3T4 The species is Secure—Common; widespread and abundant.

The subspecies is Vulnerable - Apparently Secure
NatureServe State Ranking S1S2 Critically Imperiled - Imperiled
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife SSC Species of Special Concern
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN Not listed


 

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