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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Peninsula Leaf-toed Gecko - Phyllodactylus nocticolus

Dixon, 1964
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Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Range Map
Range in California: Red

Dot-locality Range Map





observation link





Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko
Adult, active at night, San Diego County Adult, active at night, San Diego County
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko
Adult, active at night, San Diego County Adult, active at night, San Diego County
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko
Adult female, missing her tail,
Imperial County
Adult, with re-generating tail,
Imperial County
Juvenile, Imperial County
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko
Adult, Imperial County © Stuart Young Adult, Imperial County © Stuart Young Adult, Imperial County © Stuart Young
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult, San Diego County
© Jason Jones
Juvenile, active at night,
San Diego County
Peninsular Leaf-toed Geckos have small granular dorsal scales that are interspersed with enlarged keeled tubercles.
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko
  Toes  
     
Peninsula Leaf-toed Geckos From Baja California
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko
Adult, Baja California Norte (found hiding under rock during daytime)
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko  
Dark adult from dark lava rock habitat, Baja California Norte © Stuart Young Dark adult from dark lava rock habitat, Baja California Norte © Stuart Young  
 
Habitat
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County
 Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat  Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, Imperial Coumty Habitat, Imperial County
Mearns' Rock Lizard Habitat Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat Mearns' Rock Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Imperial County Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, Imperial County
   Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Habitat  
  Habitat, at night, Imperial County
© Stuart Young
 
     
Short Videos
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko  
A leaf-toed gecko crawls around on a large rock outcrop at night. A huge gravid female leaf-toed gecko with no tail runs around on a big boulder at night.  
   
Description
 
Size
1 3/5 - 2 1/2 inches long from snout to vent (4.1 - 6.3 cm). (Stebbins 2003)

Appearance
A medium-sized gecko with large eyes without movable eyelids and vertical pupils.
Expanded toe pads that resemble leaves give this gecko its common name.
The toes have two large flat scales at their tips with a claw inbetween them.
Scales are small and granular with scattered enlarged keeled tuburcles.
The t ail is easily detached.
Males have enlarged preanal pores.
Color and Pattern
Color is a translucent gray, brown, or pink usually with dark brown blotches on the back.
The underside is pale and unmarked.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Nocturnal, emerging shortly after dark.
Most active from March to October.
Probably remains inactive during cold of winter.
An excellent climber, rarely found away from rocks.
Defense
Squeaks when alarmed or captured.
May leap into the air to avoid capture.
Diet and Feeding
Stalks its prey of small invertebrates, which include termites, spiders, moths, flies, and ants.
Sometimes leaves rocks to forage on the ground, on trees, and buildings.
Breeding
Breeds in April and May.
Females lay several clutches of 1 - 2 eggs from May to July.
Eggs are laid in crevices or under exfoliating bark. (Grismer 2002)
Eggs hatch from June to August.

Habitat
Lives among rocks in desert scrub and broken chaparral, hiding in cracks and crevices and under exfoliating slabs. Often found in canyons with massive boulders especially near springs and streams, but also found in rocky, non-riparian areas. Occasionally found under plant material.

Geographical Range
Occurs along the lower desert slopes of the peninsular ranges from north of Palm Springs in Riverside County south throughout much of Baja California, including many islands..

Full Species Range Map
Elevational Range
Sea level to 2,000 ft. (610 m). (Stebbins 2003)

Notes on Taxonomy
Only one species, P. nocticolus occurs in the US.
Phyllodactylus taxonomy has been controversial. Many species and subspecies have been recognized from Mexico, including island endemics. No subspecies are recognized in the taxonomy followed here, but there are other interpretaions, including one recognizing several subspecies from islands in the Sea of Cortez.

In 1993 P. nocticolus was described as a species distinct from P. xanti (Flores-Villela 1993 Carnegie Museum of Natural History Special Publication 17) This taxonomy has not been recognized by everyone, and this gecko is still sometimes listed as P. xanti. (2007)


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Phyllodactylus xanti nocticolus - Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko (Stebbins 1985, 2003)
Phyllodactylus xanti nocticolus - Leaf-toed Gecko (Stebbins 1966)
Phyllodactylus tuberculosus - Tuberculate Gecko (Stebbins 1954)
Phyllodactylus tuberculosus - Tubercular Gecko (Smith 1946)

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Protected from collection in California. Rock outcrops it inhabits are also protected from destruction.
Taxonomy
Family Gekkonidae Geckos Gamble, Bauer, Greenbaum, & Jackman 2008
Genus Phyllodactylus Leaf-toed Geckos Gray, 1828
Species

nocticolus Peninsula Leaf-toed Gecko Dixon, 1964
Original Description
Phyllodactylus nocticolus - Dixon, 1964 - New Mexico State Univ. Sci. Bull, Vol. 64, No. 1, p. 55

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

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Phyllodactylus - Greek - phyllon - leaf and daktylos - finger or digit - refers to the leaf like terminal subdigital lamellae
nocticolus
- Latin - resident of the night - refers to this lizard's nocturnal habits

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

Related or Similar California Lizards
Coleonyx variegatus variegatus - Desert Banded Gecko
Hemidactylus turcicus - Mediterranean House Gecko
Coleonyx switaki switaki - Peninsular Banded Gecko

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.

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.

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

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.


This lizard is on the California Department of Fish and Game list of reptiles that cannot be taken with a valid license, but it is not included on the Special Animals List, indicating that there are no significant conservation concerns for it in California. This seems to be a mistake, since the state is clearly protecting it for some reason. Natureserve lists this species as "Secure" but this included populations in Baja California.


Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN

 

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