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Pachydactylus tsodiloensis HAACKE 1966


The original article is published in SAURIA, Berlin, 2001, 23 (3): 15-19

Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
Adult male of Pachydactylus tsodiloensis. © M. Barts


Distribution: endemic to the Tsodilo Hills, NW Bots­wana; island hills surrounded by lush shrub/tree savannah. Behaviour: strictly nocturnal; feed on termites, insects, arthropods.


Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
Adult female of Pachydactylus tsodiloensis. © M. Barts

Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
Habitat in the Tsodilo-Hills in NW-Botswana. © M. Barts

Husbandry: group of l male, 2-3 females in 40 x 30 x 35 cm (l x w x h); 2 cm fine sand as Substrate; rear walls covered with sandstone rock flakes creating dark shelters; side walls covered to prevent eye contact with neigh-bouring terraria; some climbing branches and plastic plants; illumination by fluo tube (no UV), 10-12 h in summer, 8-10 h in winter; hot spot only during cooler season for 4-6 h; 25-32°C (summer), 15-30°C (winter); distinct reduction of night temp. in winter appears to trigger reproductive activities in the subsequent spring; voracious indifferent feeder; all feeder animals fortified with calcium/ vitamin powder plus offering of pure calcium; misting once/week.

Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
Clutch of Pachydactylus tsodiloensis. © M. Barts

Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
Captive born hatchling of Pachydactylus tsodiloensis. © M. Barts

Reproduction: gravidity difficult to detect; clutches of usually (95%) 2 eggs; very carefully buried in Substrate; eggs are hard-shelled, white, 10.6-13.7 x 8.5-9.S mm (av. 12,4x9,2 mm, n = 18); incubated artificially at 30-32°C (day), 25-28°C (night); incubation period 49-66 d (av. 57.3 d, n = 13); hatchlings mcasure 28.0-19.8 mm SVL (av. 23.3mm), tail 26.0-16.5 mm (av. 21.5mm, n = 9); raised in groups of 3-5 in separate terraria; feed on same feeder animals as adults, but of appropriate size; prey is seized and knocked against ground or wall until immobile; attempt to raise juv. with parents failed, juv. was consumed; females Start to produce infertile, drop-shaped eggs at 2 yrs.; Start mating at 3 yrs. and produce fertile clutches then. Breeding has reached second generation by now.

Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
Few weeks old baby of Pachydactylus tsodiloensis. © M. Barts

Pachydactylus tsodiloensis
Few weeks old baby of Pachydactylus tsodiloensis. © M. Barts



Originalbeschreibung / Original description 

HAACKE, W.D. 81966): A new Gecko from Bechuanaland. — Arnoldia, Rhodesia, 2(25): 1-7 — Terra typica: Tsodilo Hills, N.W. Ngamiland, Bechuanaland (about 18° 42'S. 21°45'E., altitude about 1,500 metres).

MATERIAL 23 specimens: 5 males, 9 females, 9 unsexed juveniles and subadults.

Holotype: TM 30943, female. Allotype: TM 30948, male. Paratypes: TM 30937—30942, 30944—30947, 30949—30959.

Type locality: Tsodilo Hills, N.W. Ngamiland, Bechuanaland (about 18° 42'S. 21°45'E., altitude about 1,500 metres).

All the specimens were collected by the author from the 17th to the 19th April 1965, and arc kept in the TransvaalMuseum, Pretoria.

DIAGNOSIS: A nocturnal, rupicolous, medium sized gekko related to the Pachydactylus weberi group, differing from related species by its slightly larger size, more stocky form enlarged posterior upper labials and distinctive colour pattern. The shape resemble that of a half-grown P. bibrontl A, Smith but with a more flattened body and a narrower, head.

Holotype: TM 30943, adult female, total length 108 (52.5 + 55.5) mm. Head attened, 6.4 mm. thick, 14.5 mm. long from the tip of the snout to the posterior edge of the right ear opening, 12 mm. wide, cheeks swollen and neck not very distinct, Rostral subpentagonal, about 1 1/2times as broad as deep. Snout equal to twice the horizontal diameter of the eye and longer than the distance from eye to ear. Horizontal diameter of the eye 3.4 mm., pupil vertical with lobed edges, able to close down to our pinholes. Ear opening oval and oblique, longest diameter equal to half the horizontal diameter of the eye. Nostril pierced between three nasal scales and point of the first upper labial; anterior nasals or nasorostrals largest and in good contact with one another behind the rostral. Upper labials 14 on either side, decreasing in size posteriorly to just behind the eye but then increasing again in size to end in a large oval scale above the angle of the jaw; the first 11 labials border the lip while the last three are separated therefrom by a row of minute scales (Text-fig. 1). Lower labials 9 and 8; mental about twice as long as broad, wedge-shaped, rounded postperiorly and nearly as long, but narrower than the adjoining first lower labials; no enlarged chin shields present. Upper labials bordered above by a row of enlarged scales which are separated from the large tubercles on snout by a row of smaller scales.

Snout tubercles rounded to subhexagonal, slightly larger than enlarged tubercles on the occiput, which are subconical and slightly smaller than the more elongate, keeled tubercles on the nape. The snout tubercles decrease abruptly in size at the anterior border of the eyes to the smaller scales of the back of the head with the first enlarged scattered tubercles appearing between the eyes. Scales on back small, flattened to tubercular, slightly rugose, irregularly arranged and shaped and intermixed with neighteenmore or less regular rows of enlarged tubercles; the latter are rounded and conical on the sides of the body, increasing in size dorsolaterally and becoming slightly keeled, while dorsally they become slightly smaller again, well keeled and oval. These tubercles are usually separated by only one or two scales, but the two mesial rows are separated by a vertebral line from two to six scales in width. Scales on chin, small, granular and juxtaposed, increasing in size posteriorly and becoming imbricate on the throat. Underside of body covered by large, flattened, imbricate scales, largest preannally and on underside of thighs. Body generally flattened; limbs short and stout with the adpressed hindlimb not quite reaching elbow of fore-limb. Upperarm covered above with flattened, imbricate scales, passing to smaller subgranular, irregular scales on the lower part of the limb, where they are intermixed with enlarged flattened tubercles. Hindlegs covered above with irregular, subgranular scales, intermixed with large subconical tubercles which are weakly keeled on the thigh but more clearly keeled on the lower part of the limb. Digits slightly flattened distally; first finger with five adhesive lamellae or scansors ventrally, while all other fingers have six each; first toe with six adhesive lamellae, while the remainder have seven each; inferomedian row of scales of fingers and toes transversely enlarged. Dorsally the digits terminate in a nail-like scute which overlies a slender, pointed scale, below which there is a thin, retractile claw. Tail swollen at the base, slightly flattened dorsoventrally, tapering to a fine point, clearly segmented, with a transverse row of eight enlarged, keeled tubercles per segment; the latter form longitudinal rows on the tail, decreasing in size and number posteriorly until indistinguishable from the ordinary scales on the terminal fifth. Scales between the enlarged tubercles flattened, imbricate and of irregular size, but forming five to six transverse rows on the basal segments. The ventral scales are larger, but do not form a median transversely enlarged row. Two slightly enlarged scales present on either side of the base of the tail next the vent, Colour: The basic dorsal colour is a light, greyish brown, patterned with off-white brown-edged crossbars. Head marked with a number of dark brown spots and vermi-culations; a dark brown line passes from behind the nostrils through the eye and over the temporal region to join its fellow from the other side on the occiput; an indistinct brown Y-shaped mark on the snout, starting from between the nostrils and with it slightly bent arms extending to a line between the anterior borders of the eyes. As off-white, U-shaped band, with a dark posterior margin, borders the dark head-line described above; there are five similar, dark-edged, off-white, transverse bands on the back, of which the first is between the shoulders, the second (slightly angular and third over middle of back, the fourth on the rump, and the fifth across the base of the tail. The latter is marked with an indistinct continuation of the back patten over its anterior half, while its posterior half, the dorsal side of the legs and the light brown areas between the prominent cross-bars on the back are marked with brown vermiculations and spots. Underside white throughout.

Allotype: TM 30948, adult male, HB length 50 mm., tip of tail regenerated. Upper labials 13 on either side, with 10 bordering the lip. Nostril surrounded by 3 nasals, plus the tip of the first upper labial; six scansors under all fingers as well as the first toes, but 7 under all the remaining toes; about 18 more or less regular longitudinal rows of enlarged tubercles on the back; a pair of enlarged scales on either side the base of the tail, next to the vent; base of tail, just behind vent not markedly swollen and determination of sex only possible by dissection. Colour and pattern similar to holotype, but second cross-bar over back indistinctly forked on the right side.

Paratypes: In general similar to the holo- and allotype. No marked sex dimorphism and sexing only possible by dissection. Colour pattern similar to holotype, but in some cases the cross-bars not as clearly defined, angular, laterally forked or wavy. Juvenile colour pattern similar to adult with head unmarked. In some specimens, leg. TM 30937, the more or less regular rows of enlarged tubercles on certain areas on the back are interrupted, thereby forming small patches covered by the normal small irregular scales of the back.