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Pachydactylus monicae BAUER, LAMB & BRANCH 2006

The original article is published in SAURIA, Berlin.

Pachydactylus monicae
Gravid female of Pachydactylus monicae, Namibia. © M. Barts

Distribution/Ecology

Namibia and South Africa: lower valley of Orange River, to Rosh Pinah (Nam.) incl. Richtersveld Natl. Park (SA), to 18° long.; near flowing water; rupicolous, terricolous; in rocky terrain offering retreats in cavities; large population found on camp ground at Ai-Ais in Fish River Canyon (27°54,58 S, 17°29,24 E, 212 m a.s.l.) where the geckos have adopted structures made from natural rock.
 

Pachydactylus monicae
Gravid female of Pachydactylus monicae, Namibia. © M. Barts

Ethology

Nocturnal, but specs. that have adjusted to terrarium can also be seen basking, feeding and drinking in the day; both sexes vocalize during the mating season or when disturbed; hatchlings can emit sounds from a few minutes after hatching; moult every 4-6 weeks; shed skin is consumed in one piece, but detached pieces are ignored.

 Pachydactylus monicae
Habitat of Pachydactylus monicae, Namibia. © M. Barts

Husbandry

Can be kept in pairs or groups of up 1 male + 3 females; females entirely tolerant of each other; terrarium and husbandry parameters as for P. weberi and serval (Barts 2007, 2008); adults fed twice/week with common feeder insects, juvs. up to 4 months every 2-3 d; all food fortified with vit./min. supplement, drinking and misting water boosted likewise occasionally.

 Pachydactylus monicae
Captive born hatchling of Pachydactylus monicae, Namibia. © M. Barts

Propagation

4-10 clutches of 1-2 eggs per female per annum; buried in sand; eggs white, oval, 9.1-12.7 × 6.0-9.1 mm ( 10.8 × 8.0 mm, n=83), 1.3 g (n=1); every clutch placed in its own small container (to prevent hatchlings from disturbing other eggs and simplified secure data recording), half-buried in sand in humidified incubator; incubated at 28-30 °C (day), 25-28 °C (night); hatch after 70-97 d ( 81 d, n=42) with 17.6-21.6 ( 19.7 mm, n=12) + 16.1-19.4 mm ( 17.8 mm, n=12) and 0.2 g (n=4); raised one by one in plastic containers 11×18×7 cm (l×w×h) with large ventilation opening in top, each outfitted with hiding place and a rough stone to assist moults; illuminated, 28-32 °C; raising in same-age groups in larger terr. possible only to a limited extent; no aggression notable, but suppression must take place as one spec. was found to have grown less than others after 6 weeks; caught up on growth when placed with smaller (younger) juveniles; stress may cause losses, though; joint raising with same-sized juvs. of other Pachydactylus spp. possible, but requires constant monitoring; individual raising much more recommendable; adults tolerate juvs. hatched in terr. for at least 4 weeks; when sexing becomes possible at ca. 8 months of age, young geckos are joined in same-sex groups in larger terraria; females may start producing infertile eggs at age 9 months, but should not be used for breeding before 18 months of age; reproduction is paused when temperatures are reduced in autumn; partners need not be separated temporarily; “winter” at reduced temperatures for 2 months; in an experiment, one female resumed oviposition after having been separated from her male and overwintered, produced 3 clutches with 5 fertile eggs, then ceased laying any more.


Diseases

Aside from minor injuries from mating bites or losses of tail tips, only 1 instance noted; apparent swelling of the thyroid gland in a male; left untreated; normalized after a while; specimen is still alive 3 years later and contributing to reproduction.
 

Original description

BAUER, A., T. LAMB & B. BRANCH (2006): A Revision of the Pachydactylus serval and P. weberi Groups (Reptilia: Gekkota: Gekkonidae) of Southern Africa, with the Description of Eight New Species. – Proc. California Acad. Sci., Fourth Series, 57 (23): 595–709. — Terra typica: South Africa, Northern Cape Province, RichtersveldNational Park, Sendelingsdrif (2816Bb).

ETYMOLOGY.— The specific epithet is a matronym honoring Monica Frelow Bauer, wife of the senior author, for her tolerance of long absences in the field and long hours in the laboratory and her support of systematic herpetology. The name is constructed in the feminine genitive.

DIAGNOSIS.— A large species, to 47.9 mm SVL (TM 36367). Pachydactylus monicae may be distinguished from all other members of the P. serval/weberi group by the combination of the following characters: nostril rim not strongly inflated laterally; rostral excluded from nostril; supranasals in variable contact; scales on snout and canthus smooth, flattened to weakly domed; interorbital and parietal regions with smaller granules interspersed with domed to weakly conical tubercles; scales on snout comparable in size to interorbital tubercles, much larger than granular scales of parietal table; dorsal scalation heterogeneous, with moderately large, rounded, strongly keeled tubercles in 16–18 regular rows; thighs bearing scattered moderately enlarged conical to keeled tubercles; toes relatively short, toe pads relatively wide; typically five undivided lamellae beneath digit IV of pes; tail annulate, bearing whorls of moderately large, oval, strongly keeled tubercles, some with striated surfaces, usually separated from each other by a single narrow scale; adult pattern of three broad pale bands (one on nape, one anterior of midbody, one on lumbar region), each bordered by narrow dark edges, on a grayish- to yellowish-brown background; dark edges often fade with age/size and dark speckles in interspaces between bands, and within pale bands can result in obscuring of bands (Figs. 82–84); tail with alternating yellowish-brown and much narrower mid-brown bands; hatchling with dark brown body with pale transverse bands in same positions as adult, dark brown becoming paler in juveniles, yielding a bold banded pattern of alternating brown to grayish-brown and whitish to pale yellowish bands, separated by narrow dark brown to blackish borders; larger juveniles usually with stray dark markings between bands, as in adults (Figs. 85–87).

DESCRIPTION (based on holotype).— Adult male. Snout-vent length (SVL) 44.1 mm. Body relatively depressed, relatively short (TrunkL/SVL ratio 0.42). Head elongate, large (HeadL/SVL ratio 0.31), narrow (HeadW/HeadL ratio 0.61), moderately depressed (HeadH/HeadL ratio 0.36), distinct from neck. Lores and interorbital region somewhat inflated. Snout short (Sn-Eye/HeadL ratio 0.33), much longer than eye diameter (OrbD/Sn-Eye ratio 0.71); scales on snout and forehead smooth, flattened to domed; large on snout and canthus, becoming granular on interorbital region with larger, weakly conical tubercles, approximately same size as snout scales, interspersed; scales on snout much larger than granular scales of parietal table. Enlarged conical tubercles regularly scattered across interorbital, parietal and temporal regions as far posterior as nape. Eye moderately small (OrbD/HeadL ratio 0.24); orbits without extra-brillar fringes; approximately 8 supracilliary scales at posterodorsal corner of orbit bearing small spines; pupil vertical, with crenelated margins. Ear opening oval, more-or-less horizontally oriented, moderate (EarL/HeadL ratio 0.08); eye to ear distance equal to diameter of eyes (EyeEar/OrbD ratio 1.00). Rostral approximately 50% as deep (0.8 mm) as wide (1.5), no rostral groove, contacted by two enlarged supranasals and first supralabials; nostrils oval, oriented laterally (L) or anteriorly (R), each surrounded by two postnasals, supranasal, and first supralabial; supranasals in contact anteriorly, separated by a single granule posteriorly; dorsal postnasals larger than ventral postnasals, separated by 3 granules; nostril rims very weakly inflated, bordered posteriorly by a slight depression; one row of scales separate orbit from supralabials; mental with nearly parallel sides, tapering only slightly posteriorly, approximately 2.6 times deeper (1.8 mm) than wide (0.7 mm); no enlarged postmentals or chin shields. Supralabials to angle of jaws 10/10 (8/8 to mid-orbit); infralabials 8/8; interorbital scale rows at midpoint of orbit 24 (7 across narrowest point of frontal bone).

Dorsal tubercles relatively small (4–6 times size of adjacent scales), largest on midflanks and smallest along dorsal midline, oval, with a pronounced median keel, forming 16 regular longitudinal rows on trunk; each tubercle surrounded by rosette of small granular scales; ventral scales flattened, oval, subimbricate to imbricate, becoming larger posteriorly, largest on posterior abdomen and in precloacal region, approximately 24 between lowest granular rows on flank at midbody; tubercular scales on dorsum at midbody larger than ventral scales at same level; chin granules approximately one third to one fourth size of ventral scales, increasing in size rather abruptly on throat. No preanal or femoral pores. Scales on palm, sole, and ventral surface of forelimb smooth, granular; scales on ventral aspect of thighs enlarged, continuous with enlarged scales of precloacal region; scales on dorsal aspect of forelimb smooth, juxtaposed to subimbricate proximally, with small conical tubercles intermixed distally; scales on dorsum of thigh and crus enlarged, conical.

Forelimbs moderately long, stout (ForeaL/SVL ratio 0.14); hindlimbs moderately long (CrusL/SVL ratio 0.17); digits relatively short, claws absent; subdigital scansors, except for distalmost, entire, present only on distal portion of toes, approximately 1.5 times wider than more basal (non-scansorial) subdigital scales; interdigital webbing absent. Relative length of digits (manus): III > IV > II > V > I; (pes): IV > III ~ V > II > I (most of digits I and II of right manus missing in holotype). Subdigital scansors (excluding small distal divided scansor) I (4), II (4), III (4), IV (4), V (4) – manus; I (4), II (5), III (5), IV (5), V (5) – pes.

Tail sub-cylindrical, somewhat depressed; partially regenerated tail longer than snout-vent length (TailL/SVL ratio 1.02); tail moderately thick basally, tapering, with distinct whorls of scales; each transverse row of enlarged, oval, strongly keeled tubercles separated by 3–4 rows of smaller scales; adjacent keeled dorsal caudal tubercles separated by a single smaller, often narrow and elongate scale; subcaudal scales subimbricating to imbricating, enlarged (3–5 times dorsal caudal scales), midventral scales not much enlarged relative to adjacent subcaudals; two enlarged, pointed, partly recurved postcloacal spurs on each side of tailbase, anterior considerably larger than posterior.

Coloration (in life): Dorsum beige or yellowish- or grayish-brown with three wide, pale transverse bands with narrow mid-brown borders. First band across nape and continuing anteriorly through ventral half of orbit. Second band on trunk anterior to midbody, third extending forward from anterior margin of hindlimb insertion. Scattered light to mid-brown flecks across the entire dorsum, both between and within pale transverse bands. Dorsum of head with small, scattered brown spots and dashes. A thick midbrown line from nostril through orbit to above ear, continuous with anterior dark border of nape band. Afaint brown streak from supranasals posteriorly along dorsal midline to level of anterior orbit. Dorsal circumorbital scales pale yellow, ventral circumorbital scales white. Anterior supralabials brown; posterior supralabials and all infralabials white with scattered brown pigment spots. Limbs same color as dorsum with scattered darker markings. Tail with alternating beige and mid-brown bands; the former 2–3 times width of latter. Caudal tubercles and those of flanks with whitish tips. Venter white to cream with very faint scattered pigment along edges of flanks, chin and limbs.