The Living Desert
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Desert Banded Gecko

Coleonyx variegatus


Gekkonidae, the gecko family.

Conservation Status:



Mojave and Sonoran deserts of southwestern North America.


From rocky or sandy desert to semi arid woodlands.


When threatened, they may drop their tail to distract predators. The tail will grow back, typically without the banding pattern matching the rest of the lizard’s body.

These medium-sized, delicate-looking lizards have translucent pale pink and brown-banded skin. The bands, which are most evident in juveniles, change into blotches and spots with age. They have supple skin, uniformly granular back scales and slender toes with no pads. Their eyelids are movable, and their pupils are vertical, unlike any other lizards in the area. They are nocturnal, avoiding the heat of day by hiding under logs, debris and in moist rock crevices.

Their diet consists of insects, spiders, baby scorpions and other small arthropods that they hunt in rodent burrows. After a meal, they clean their face with their tongue. They also eat their old skin when they shed.

They are preyed upon by a variety of snakes as well as large scorpions and tarantulas.
Breeding occurs in April and May a few weeks after emerging from winter hibernation. Females lay 1 to 3 clutches of 2 eggs each from May through September and the hatchlings appear about 45 days later.

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