CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Peninsula Banded Gecko - Coleonyx switaki switaki

(Murphy, 1974)
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Peninsular Banded Gecko California Range Map
Red: Range in California


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Map with California County Names






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Peninsular Banded Gecko
Adult female, San Diego County
Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko
Adult female, San Diego County
Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko
Adult male, San Diego County Adult, San Diego County,
© Dick Bartlett
Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko
Adult, San Diego County, © Chris Gruenwald Adult, San Diego County. © Bruce Edley
Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko
Adult, San Diego County,
© Dick Bartlett
Adult, Imperial County, with solid bands and dorsal stripe. © Stuart Young
Peninsular Banded Gecko      
Adult, San Diego County, showing the tongue      
       
Juveniles
Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko
Hatchling, San Diego County
© Jason Jones
Hatchling, Imperial County © Jeff Nordland
Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko Peninsular Banded Gecko
Juvenile, San Diego County
© Kevin Law
Juvenile, San Diego County
© Kevin Law
Juvenile, San Diego County, © Anish Yelekar
Peninsular Banded Gecko      
Sub-adult, San Diego County
© William Flaxington
     
       
Comparison with Desert Banded Gecko
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.
   
     
Habitat
Peninsular Banded Gecko Habitat Peninsular Banded Gecko Habitat Peninsular Banded Gecko Habitat Peninsular Banded Gecko Habitat
Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, San Diego County Habitat, Imperial County Habitat, San Diego County
Peninsular Banded Gecko Habitat Peninsular Banded Gecko Habitat    
An isolated population of C. switaki occurs in the
Coyote Mountains of Imperial County, seen above.
   
   
Description
 
Size
2 - 3.5 Inches long (5.1 - 8.6 cm) from snout to vent.
The largest native Gecko species in California.

Appearance
A small lizard with a triangular head, distinctly wider than the neck.
Movable eyelids, vertical pupils.
Skin is soft with fine granular scales and tubercles on the upper sides, back, neck, and the upper base of the tail.
Toes are slender.
Tail is constricted at the base.
Males can be identified by prominent spurs on both sides of the base of the tail.
Color and Pattern
Color pattern is variable, depending on habitat - from light gray, beige, yellowish, reddish brown to dark brown.
Numerous round brown spots, and sometimes pale crossbands made up of round pale spots.
During breeding season, males develop yellow coloring on body.
Tail has light and dark rings.
Young
Hatchlings are born with bright yellow or orange coloring and a distinctly black and white banded tail.
The bright coloring and banding on the tail begin to fade as they reach one year of age.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
The natural history of this gecko is not well-known. Secretive, noctural, hides by day in deep crevices.
Active in fairly cool ambient temperatures during periods of increased humidity, typically spring through fall. Hibernates through the winter.
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.
Defense
The tail can break off and distract a predator by writhing around for several minutes.
The tail will grow back, typically without the banding pattern matching the rest of the lizard's body.
More information about tail loss and regeneration.
Diet and Feeding
Not well known. Small invertebrates probably make up the bulk of the diet.
Captive adults have also eaten neonate geckos.º
Reproduction
(All summarized from Grismer, 2002)
Most likely, the breeding season lasts from Spring to Summer, mid-May through late July.
Males develop a bright yellow coloring during the reproductive season.
Females lay a clutch of one or two eggs, and may lay up to three clutches from a single mating within 20 days of the first oviposition.
Eggs hatch after around two months, in late summer to early fall.

Habitat
Found in arid rocky areas on flatlands, canyons, thornscrub, especially where there are large boulders and rock outcrops, and where vegetation is sparse.

According to Grismer, 2002, describing the habitat in Baja California, the species "is most common on the talus slopes of volcanic hillsides and terraces where the mean rock size is slightly less than 1 m  [3.3 feet] and the vegetation is not too dense."... "...occasionally found under cap rocks and in deep cracks. It is less common in areas with large granitic outcroppings."

Geographical Range
Not discovered in California until the early 1980s.
In California, inhabits the arid desert slopes of the eastern side of the Peninsular Ranges from near Borrego Springs south to the Baja California border.

An isoloated population occurs in the Coyote Mountains of Imperial County.

Another isolated population was discovered about 15 miles (24 km) to the north of the Coyote Mountains in the Fish Creek Mountains in May, 2019.
[Herp Review (51(1) 2020]

The majority of the range of this species is on the Baja California peninsula along the eastern edge of the Peninsular Mountain range as far south as near Santa Rosalia. Also found on Isla San Marcos.

Full Species Range Map  
Elevational Range
From near sea level to over 2,000 ft. (700 m).

Notes on Taxonomy
Described in 1973.

C. s. gypsicolus was treated as a distinct species, C. gypsicolus, by Grismer (2002).


Alternate and Previous Names (Synonyms)

Coleonyx switaki - Barefoot Gecko (Switak's Banded Gecko) (Stebbins 2003)
Coleonyx switaki - Barefoot Gecko (Stebbins 1985)
Anarbolys switaki 1974

Barefoot Gecko
Magic Gecko

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Listed as Threatened under the California Endangered Species Act due to its limited range.
Protected from collection and possession without a permit.
Taxonomy
Family Gekkonidae (Eublepharidae) Eyelid Geckos Boulenger, 1883
Genus Coleonyx Banded Geckos Gray, 1845
Species switaki Switak's Banded Gecko (Murphy, 1974)
Subspecies

switaki Peninsula Banded Gecko (Murphy, 1974)
Original Description
(Murphy, 1974) - Proc. California Acad. Sci., Ser. 4, Vol. 40, No. 4, p. 87

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
switaki
- honors Switak, Karl H.

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

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

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

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.

Flaxington, William C. Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Field Observations, Distribution, and Natural History. Fieldnotes Press, Anaheim, California, 2021.

Samuel M. McGinnis and Robert C. Stebbins. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles & Amphibians. 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2018.

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.

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.

Samuel M. McGinnis and Robert C. Stebbins. Peterson Field Guide to Western Reptiles & Amphibians. 4th Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2018.

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

Thelander, Carl G., editor in chief. Life on the Edge - A Guide to California's Endangered Natural Resources - Wildlife. Berkeley: Bio Systems Books, 1994.


Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the July 2022 State of California "Special Animals List" and the July 2022 "State and Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California" list, both of which are produced by multiple agencies and can be downloaded here: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Data/CNDDB/Plants-and-Animals.
You can check this link to see if there are more current lists.

A detailed explanation of the meaning of the status listing symbols can be found on the
Special Animals List. For quick reference, I have copied some of them on my Special Status Information page.

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.

Alternate common names: Switak's banded gecko, barefoot banded gecko.
Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking G4 Apparently Secure
NatureServe State Ranking S1 Critically imperiled
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) ST Listed as Threatened 10/2/1980
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management S Sensitive
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN LC Least Concern


 

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