Lygodactylus is a genus of diurnal geckos with approximately 60 species. They are commonly referred to as dwarf geckos. They are mainly found in Africa and Madagascar although two species are found in South America. Lygodactylus picturatus, the best known species, is found in Kenya and commonly known as the white-headed dwarf gecko.[3] Recently, illegal importation from Tanzania of brightly colored (and critically-endangered), Lygodactylus williamsi, known as electric blue geckos, has been gaining attention for Lygodactylus geckos in the reptile trade.

Dwarf Yellow-headed gecko edit.jpg
Lygodactylus luteopicturatus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Subfamily: Gekkoninae
Genus: Lygodactylus
Gray, 1864[1][2]
ca. 60 spp.

Since all trade in wild-caught Lygodactylus williamsi is illegal, shipments of these geckos are often intentionally mislabelled as Lygodactylus spp. or as Lygodactylus capensis.[4] As some customs officials have difficulty identifying members of this genus,[4] a Lygodactylus spp. identification guide has been published online by CITES.[5]


Species in alphabetical order by specific name:[2]

Lygodactylus picturatus in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The tail has been lost due to a self-defense mechanism known as autotomy.

L. blancae (feminine, genitive, singular) is named for (Ms) Françoise Blanc, a French geneticist; but L. blanci (masculine, genitive, singular) is named for (Mr.) Charles Pierre Blanc, a French herpetologist.[6]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was original described in a genus other than Lygodactylus.


  1. ^ "Lygodactylus ". ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
  2. ^ a b Lygodactylus at the Reptile Database
  3. ^ "Lygodactylus picturatus White-headed Dwarf Gecko". Retrieved 2007-04-05.
  4. ^ a b CITES Proposal for inclusion
  5. ^ TRAFFIC (2011). How to identify Lygodactylus williamsi: A photographic guide to the turquoise dwarf gecko. In: Wildlife Trade Handbook. TRAFFIC East/Southern Africa and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. 11–17.
  6. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Lygodactylus blancae and L. blanci, p. 26).

Further readingEdit

  • Boulenger GA (1885). Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History). Second Edition. Volume I. Geckonidæ ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xii + 436 pp. + Plates I-XXXII. (Genus Lygodactylus, pp. 158–159).
  • Branch, Bill (2004). Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Third Revised edition, Second impression. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 399 pp. ISBN 0-88359-042-5. (Genus Lygodactylus, p. 245).
  • Gray JE (1864). "Notes on some Lizards from South-Eastern Africa, with the Descriptions of several New Species". Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1864: 58-62. (Lygodactylus, new genus, p. 59).