CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Ringed Wall Gecko - Tarentola annularis

(Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1827)


(= White-spotted Wall Gecko)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Long-tailed Brush Lizard Range Map
Red dots indicate locations where established in California

If you see a lizard that looks like this living in the wild
anywhere in California (outside of downtown Redlands) please contact me and send a picture if you can.


List of Alien Herps in California



observation link






This species has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

San Francisco Alligator Lizard
Adult, San Bernardino County © William Flaxington
San Francisco Alligator Lizard San Francisco Alligator Lizard San Francisco Alligator Lizard
Adult, San Bernardino County
© William Flaxington
Adult, Orange County Adult, San Bernardino County
© William Flaxington
     
Habitat
Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Redlands, San Bernardino County
 
Description
 
Size
Adults grow up to 7-8 inches total length (17.8 - 20.3 cm) with a maximum head-body size of 5.5 inches (14 cm).
(Powell, Conant, & Collins, 2016)

Appearance
A robust-bodied lizard with rows of large rough tubercular scales covering the back, raised scales covering the limbs and tail, and elongated toes.
Color and Pattern
Color is gray or tan.
Usually with 4 distinctive white spots with dark borders on the shoulders. (These spots are often not present on juveniles.)
(These are the white spots which give this species its name. It has no other "ringed" markings.)
Male/Female Differences
Males are larger than females, with a broader head.
Young
The spots are sometimes not present or not easily visible on juveniles.
Similar Non-native Geckos Found in California
Moorish Geckos are smaller with more wrinkled skin with more prominent tubercles and they do not have white spots on the shoulders.
Mediterranean Geckos are smaller with fewer large tubercles and lack the white spots on the shoulders.
Peninsular Leaf-toed Geckos are smaller, with fewer tubercles and no white spots and in California are only found on rocks in the Colorado Desert in the extreme south-central part of the state. They are not found in urban or suburban areas.

Behavior and Life History
Nocturnal.
Pugnacious, biting readily when grabbed.
Sound
Makes an audible squeaking sound when threatened or disputing territory with others of the species.
Diet and Feeding
Prey includes invertebrates and small lizards.
Reproduction
In northern Africa, females produce several sets of 2 eggs each season.

Habitat
In California, found on urban buildings and in urban alleys.

Geographical Range
Native to parts of northern Africa.

Established in Florida, California and Arizona.

Apparently widespread in the Phoenix metropolitan area, possibly as the result of the intentional release of pets purchased by homeowners then released to control scorpions.
(Garcia, Sullivan, Bowker, Babb, Jones, Herpetological Review 51(4), 2020.)


Distribution in California

A population of T. annularis has been documented in Redlands, San Bernardino County.

In 2006 it was reported on the internet that there was a population of these geckos in Redlands. Comments in the H.E.R.P. database records indicate they have been present at least as early as 2002.

An unconfirmed rumor claims that the site of introduction was a pet store that was in the area but which no longer exists, that the store purchased a large group of the geckos in 1995, that an employee accidentally left their cage doors open and a number of geckos escaped into the store, and that despite store employees efforts to collect them all, they began breeding and about a year later had become established outside the store, which was confirmed when neighbors began bringing juveniles to the store to find out what they were.

William Flaxington confirmed that the geckos were still there in 2007. Some of his photos can be seen above.
Jonathan Hakkim confirmed that they were still present in 2010 and 2012.
You should be able to see Jonathan's photos and those taken by other photographers and their habitat on the H.E.R.P. dababase here.  If this link no longer works, go to the H.E.R.P. database and search for Tarentola annularis.

In 2013 I gave Kent Beaman of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles the locality information William Flaxington gave me for the geckos. Beaman had already searched for the geckos in Redlands but in the wrong area. With the correct location information he was able to collect some specimens for the museum and publish the first documentation that the species was established in California in September, 2014. (Kent R. Beaman and David M. Goodward. Verified by Clark Mahrdt. Herpetological Review 45(3), 2014). (Their note did not mention William Flaxington's contribution to the effort.)


An established population of non-native geckos preseumed to be T. annularis was discovered in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County in September, 2019. These geckos were confirmed to be T. annularis and documented in March, 2021.
(Samuel R. Fisher, Chelsea E. Martin, Robert N. Fisher. Herpetological Review 52(1), 2021.


The species Tarentola annularis - Ringed Wall Gecko, is listed on the 2008 SSAR Alien Species list as native to northern Africa and established in Florida in Lee and Miami-Dade counties - possibly established from a pet store release in Tallahassee.

Full Species Range Map
(Based on a map at iNaturalist.org)

Taxonomic Notes

Two subspecies are recognized:

Tarentola annularis annularis Geoffroy De St-Hilaire 1827
Tarentola annularis relicta Joger 1984


Alternate and Previous Names

White-spotted Wall Gecko


Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Not known, but probably poses no threat due to the lack of other native vertebrate species in its urban habitat.

Taxonomy
Family Gekkonidae Geckos Gray, 1825
Genus Tarentola Wall Geckos Gray, 1825
Species

annularis Ringed Wall Gecko (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1827)
Original Description
Geoffroy De St-Hilaire 1827

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Tarentola = Taranto (a city in Italy)
annularis = one year old (from a Latin Dictionary)

Related or Similar California Herps

Mediterranean Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus 
Indo-Pacific Gecko - Hemidactylus garnotii (Fox Gecko, Garnot's House Gecko)
Tropical House Gecko - Hemidactylus mabouia (Woodslave)
Common House Gecko - Hemidactylus frenatus
Flat-tailed House Gecko - Hemidactylus platyurus
Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica  
Keeled Rock Gecko - Cyrtopodion scabrum (Bow-footed Gecko, Keeled Gecko, Rough-tailed Gecko)
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko - Phyllodactylus nocticolus

More Information and References
Robert Powell, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Bartlett, R. D. and Patricia Bartlett. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles ad Amphibians. Gulf Publishing, 1999.

Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the November 2020 California "Special Animals List" and the November 2020 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and available here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals. You can check the link to see if there are more recent lists.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.



Organization Status Listing  Notes
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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