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What Is a Banded Gecko?

By Kaiser Castro
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Coleonyx variegatus, or Banded Gecko, is a terrestrial lizard that is usually found in the Southwestern portion of North America, with populations inhabiting Southern Arizona, Utah, and parts of Nevada. They can be found in different habitats, but they are usually concentrated in desert regions. Most banded geckos grow to be about 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm) long from snout to the tip of the tail. They are small and vivacious eaters, allowing them to be a viable first pet for amateur lizard enthusiasts.

A banded gecko is creamy in color, with bands running across its body. Juvenile geckos tend to have solid bands on their dorsal that break into something reminiscent of spots as they age, while adult lizards in the Southeastern portion of Arizona tend to maintain the banding. Most geckos store fat in their tails, so a plump tail is a good indicator that it is well-fed and slender tails possibly indicating starvation.

Though small and delicate-looking, the banded gecko is able to thrive in the most taxing of environments. A banded gecko survives the desert heat by being mainly nocturnal, as the desert is coolest at night. This allows the gecko to forage in fields or under trash piles for beetles, grasshoppers, and worms without overheating.

If kept in captivity, a banded gecko can be fed a diet of crickets and larvae. Supplements will have to administered as well, with most multivitamins coming in a powder form. This will allow the caretaker to sprinkle it on the crickets or larvae before feeding time with relative ease.

Caretakers should be careful in handling a banded gecko, as a stressed gecko can have its tail detached if handled roughly. The detachment of the tail is a defense maneuver used by many gecko species. When a predator grabs onto the tail, it will be easy detached without hurting the gecko. The nerves in the detached tail will fire off electrical signals, causing the tail to wiggle for an extended period of time, occupying the predator, and allowing the gecko to scurry away. If this happens in captivity, do not fret – the gecko will grow another tail.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a banded gecko?

A banded gecko is a small, nocturnal lizard belonging to the genus Coleonyx. These geckos are known for their distinctive bands or stripes across their bodies and their ability to shed their tails as a defense mechanism. They inhabit arid and semi-arid regions in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, thriving in desert and scrubland environments.

How does the banded gecko adapt to its environment?

Banded geckos have evolved several adaptations to thrive in harsh desert climates. Their skin coloration provides camouflage against predators, while their nocturnal habits allow them to avoid the extreme daytime heat. They can also store fat in their tails, which serves as an energy reserve during scarce food periods, and they have the ability to lose and regenerate their tails to escape predators.

What do banded geckos eat?

Banded geckos are insectivorous, primarily feeding on a variety of insects and arthropods. Their diet includes crickets, moths, spiders, and other small invertebrates. They are opportunistic feeders and will consume prey that is readily available in their environment, hunting primarily by ambush during the night when their prey is most active.

How do banded geckos reproduce?

Banded geckos are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. Mating typically occurs in the spring, and females lay clutches of one to two eggs in the summer. These eggs are often hidden under rocks or in burrows to protect them from predators and extreme temperatures. The eggs hatch after approximately 45-60 days, depending on environmental conditions.

Are banded geckos at risk of extinction?

Most species of banded geckos are not currently at significant risk of extinction and are classified as 'Least Concern' by the IUCN Red List. However, habitat destruction and fragmentation due to human activities pose potential threats to their populations. Conservation efforts focus on habitat preservation and monitoring population trends to ensure their long-term survival.

Can banded geckos be kept as pets?

Yes, banded geckos can be kept as pets, and they are often valued for their docile nature and ease of care. They require a terrarium with appropriate heating, lighting, and humidity levels to mimic their natural desert habitat. A diet of live insects and a regular day-night cycle are essential for their well-being in captivity. Prospective pet owners should research and commit to providing proper care for the lifespan of the gecko, which can be up to 10 years or more.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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