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Pachydactylus haackei BRANCH, BAUER & GOOD 1996


The original article is published in the SAURIA, Berlin.

Distribution and biotope

During several journeys, localities of Pachydactylus haackei were visited in the months October and November. North from the town Grünau in the Karasburg District (Namibia) the geckos inhabit a small isolated rocktop of approx. 80 x 25 x 15 m (l x d x h). The next, almost equally sized, rocktop is about 500m away. Alteration formed a lot of sharp-edged crevices, which are partly covered by trees and shrubberies. The rocktops lie in an area of gras savannah with boulders of different sizes, which again build habitats for other reptiles.

The annual temperature curve shows temperatures from -4°C to 42°C. The average humidity fluctuates between 22 and 49 per cent (Climate of the town Keetmanshoop, 150km from the described biotope).

Pachydactylus haackei shares this biotope with the geckos Pachydactylus montanus, Chondrodactylus turneri, C. bibronii and Nardusia festiva. Furthermore Agama atra atra, Cordylus polyzonus and Mabuya sculata can be found. Psammobates tentorius verroxii and Pedioplanis namaquensis grow in the gras savannah, while Mabuya sparsa grows on the acacias.

Pachydactylus haackei Biotop
Habitat of Pachydactylus haackei. S-Namibia. © M. Barts

Captivity and breeding

The animals were kept in different tanks, whereas it’s important that the tanks are higher than wide. I prefer tanks of the size 60 x 30 x 70 cm (l x d x h), which are equiped with several hiding places. Main interior consists of vertical sand-lime plates and hollow cork branches and is completed by a drinking dish and some artificial plants. Fine loose sand is used as substrate.

Pachydactylus haackei Weibchen
Adult female of Pachydactylus haackei. S-Namibia. © M. Barts

Pachydactylus haackei farm Spitskoppe, 40 km east of Keetmanshoop, Namibia © A. Meyer 

Lighting is provided through fluorescent tubes (2 x 36W) and, depending on the season, a 30W spot. Temperatures are between 30°C and 32°C during daytime. Lighting is turned on for 10-12h in the summer and 8-10h in the winter. The spot is, except in winter, turned on for 4h. At night, temperatures drop down to 15-22°C in summer and 5-12°C in winter. To ensure a low night temperature, the window of the room is opened during frost free nights.

Pachydactylus haackei eats everything which moves and has an appropriate size. Its greed and ability of swallowing pray with hardly any chewing is noticeable. Taking this into account, rather small insects should be offered. Diet consist of the usual invertebrates like crickets, roaches, flies and spiders, which are dusted with vitamins and minerals. Even baby mice can be offered from time to time.

Pachydactylus haackei Männchen
Adult male of Pachydactylus haackei. S-Namibia. © M. Barts

Pachydactylus haackei, Fish River Canyon, 10 km west of Hobas, Namibia © A. Meyer

Water is provided by misting the enclosure once a week and will be licked from the glas and the plants. Active drinking from a water bowl couldn’t be observed.

Male Pachydactylus haackei are able to produce calls. It’s a vibrant call that lasts for approx 30 seconds and can be repeated in short intervals.

The females stick their two eggs to the cork or the plates. A pink color of the eggs after two to three days indicates whether they are fertilised or not. The clutches are similar to those of bigger Phelsuma species and measure 15 x 16mm. Temperatures during incubation where very unsteady. Temperatures were between 25-32°C during daytime and 15-22°C at night. The eggs hatched after 80-93 days. The hatchlings measure 30-34mm SVL and have a tail lenght of 27-32mm.

Juveniles were raised separately in tanks of 20 x 25 x 30 cm (l x d x h).

Pachydactylus haackei Schlupf
Clutches and hatch of Pachydactylus haackei. © M. Barts


FITZSIMONS (1943) already showed a picture of a mass-oviposition ground of Pachydactylus namaquensis. The photo was taken at Farm Barby in Bathany District, Namibia. These eggs were glued to loose rocks. The mentioned location is in the today known distribution area of P. haackei. Due to the lack of knowledge in ovipositing of the genus Pachydactlus, the validity of the respective caption was doubted. This documentation can now be regarded as correct.

Pachydactylus haackei Schlüpfling
Few hours old Pachydactylus haackei. © M. Barts 

Original description

BRANCH, B., A. BAUER & W. GOOD (1996): A rewiev of the Namaqua gecko, Pachydactylus namaquensis from southern Africa, with the description of two new species. — S. Afr. Jour. Zool., 31(2): 53-69 — Terra typica: Farm Kuchanas, Great Karasberg, südliches Namibia (27°02‘S, 18°43‘E)

Holotypus: PEM R9282, adultes M, Paratypen: PEM R9283 – 9284, PEM R10941, selbe Daten wie Holotypus; PEM R7606

Derivatio nominis: Benannt zu Ehren von Wulf D. Haacke, Kurator der herpetologischen Sektion im Transvaalmuseum, Pretoria – Südafrika.

Trivialnamen: Deutsch/German: Haacke’s Dickfingergecko; English: Haacke’s thicktoed gecko, France: Pachydactyle de Haacke

„ ... Head depressed, slightly longer than broad and distinct from neck; snout obtusely rounded, swollen in the canthal region, and1.22 times the ear to eye distance, and 2.04 times the eye diameter; ear opening an oblique oval (height less than twice width), that lacks enlarged lobules of tympanic shields; eye relatively large, ringed by small ciliary granules thatare only slightly larger on the upper edge, and with a vertical pupil that constricts to two pinhole openings in preserved specimens; rostral broader than wide, with a scalloped dorsal edge and lateral projections into the nostrils; nasal region distinctly raised, with nostril directed upwards and bordered by three nasals and extension of the rostral; first supralabial excluded fromnostril by contact between rostral and postnasal; suture of supranasal and rostral rounded to form a scallop into the dorsal margin of the rostral; supranasals separated by a single granule; mantal rectangular, narrower than rostral, more than 1.5 times longer than broad, and bordered by granules; 15 granules borderthe mental and adjacent infralabials; supralabials 12; infralabials 11. Scales on snout and between eyes small and granular (a slight skin tear occurs in the midline), larger on loreal and canthal region; crown of head conered with small granules with no scattered tubercles; chin and throat covered with small, flattened granules. Back covered with granules that are larger than those on crown, intermixed with enlarged tubercles that are rarely more than twice surrounding granules, that may be faintly keeled, and longitudinally ovalor rounded, and are denser and more rounded on the sides of the body and absent along backbone; tubercles on thight rounded and subconocal. Belly covered with flattened, smooth, imbricate scales, that are enlarged on underside of thighs.

Body stout; limbs short; digits moderate, with distal expansions well developed and subdigital lamellae arranged as follows: fingers I, III, IV and V, 11 lamellae each, finger IV with 12 lamellae; toe II, 11 lamellae, toe III, IV and V with 13 lamellae. The last (most distal)lamella of each digit is paired; all fingers and toes lack claws. The median row of subdigital scales width of adjacent granules and occasionally divided. Tail (76.1 mm, last 13 mm regenerated) slightly shorter than snout-vent length; very broad basally and tapering rapidly; segmented, distinctly so on sides, each segment above with 5-7 rows of scales including towards the distal borderof the segment a transverse row of 6-8 enlarged, pointed tubercles, of which the lateral ones are the largest but are not extended into spines; below the scales are large and imbricate, reducing to one row at midlength, and becoming irregular distally. An oblique row of three to four enlarged, flattened tubercles occurs on the tail base on either side of the vent. Meristics for the type series are shown in Table 3. ...“