Pachydactylus is a genus of insectivorous geckos, lizards in the family Gekkonidae. The genus is endemic to Africa, and member species are commonly known as thick-toed geckos. The genus also displays rich speciation, having 57 distinct species identified when compared to other closely related gecko genera like Rhoptropus, most of which have emerged since 35Ma.[4] It has been suggested that the reason for this rich speciation not from adaptive radiation nor nonadaptive radiation, but that the genus represents a clade somewhere between the two drivers of speciation.[5] P. bibronii geckos have been used by NASA as animal models for experimentation.[6]

Thick-toed geckos
Pachydactylus oshaughnessyi.jpg
P. oshaughnessyi at Lusaka, Zambia
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Gekkonidae
Subfamily: Uroplatinae
Genus: Pachydactylus
Wiegmann, 1834[1]

Colopus W. Peters, 1869[2]
Palmatogecko Andersson, 1908[3]


The genus Pachydactylus is characterized by dilated toe tips, usually with undivided scansors. Body scales are small, granular and non-overlapping, with scattered, large keeled tubercles.[citation needed]

Coloration of Pachydactylus species varies, but is generally drab in color.[5]

Presence of adhesive toe pads varies by species and habitat, with rock dwelling species of Pachydactylus retaining adhesive pads, but unambiguous independent loss of toe pads in sand dwelling and burrowing species like P. rangei.[4]

Body size in Pachydactylus varies across the 57 species, ranging from 35 to 115mm Snout-Vent Length (SVL)[7] with the ancestral condition of a larger body size with adhesive toe pads to suit a generalist habitat.[5]


All observed species of Pachydactylus are strictly nocturnal.[5]


Pachydactylus species live in a diverse range of habitats across Southern Africa. Habitat varies by species, with some species preferring generalist habitats, human dwellings, rock-dwellings, and sand dwellings. Habitat preference typically varies by body size and retention of toe pads, which varies across the genus.[5][4] The body size of Pachydactylus geckos has been shown to correlate with their habitat range.[8]


Lizards of the genus Pachydactylus feed mainly on arthropods, but have been observed eating small vertebrates.[9]

Geographic rangeEdit

The geographic range of the genus Pachydactylus is centered on Southern Africa, with some species reaching East Africa, the northernmost limit of their distribution.[citation needed] In South Africa's rugged Richtersveld region, Pachydactylus geckos comprised 13 of 18 all gecko species surveyed.[10]


There are 57 species that are recognized as being valid:[11]

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


  1. ^ "Pachydactylus ". ITIS (Integrated Taxonomic Information System).
  2. ^ Species Pachydactylus wahlbergii at The Reptile Database . ("Colopus wahlbergii PETERS 1869 is the type species of the genus Colopus.")
  3. ^ Species Pachydactylus rangei at The Reptile Database . ("Palmatogecko rangei [ANDERSSON 1908] is the type species of the genus Palmatogecko.")
  4. ^ a b c Gamble T, Greenbaum E, Jackman TR, Russell AP, Bauer AM (2012-06-27). "Repeated origin and loss of adhesive toepads in geckos". PLOS ONE. 7 (6): e39429. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039429. PMC 3384654. PMID 22761794.
  5. ^ a b c d e Heinicke MP, Jackman TR, Bauer AM (January 2017). "The measure of success: geographic isolation promotes diversification in Pachydactylus geckos". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 17 (1): 9. doi:10.1186/s12862-016-0846-2. PMC 5225572. PMID 28077086.
  6. ^ "NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS)". Retrieved 2021-04-16.
  7. ^ Branch W (1998). Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Sanibel, FL: Ralph Curtis Books. ISBN 0883590425.
  8. ^ Gaston KJ, Blackburn TM (1996). "Global Scale Macroecology: Interactions between Population Size, Geographic Range Size and Body Size in the Anseriformes". Journal of Animal Ecology. 65 (6): 701–714. doi:10.2307/5669. ISSN 0021-8790. JSTOR 5669.
  9. ^ Pianka ER, Huey RB (1978). "Comparative Ecology, Resource Utilization and Niche Segregation among Gekkonid Lizards in the Southern Kalahari". Copeia. 1978 (4): 691–701. doi:10.2307/1443698. ISSN 0045-8511.
  10. ^ Bauer AM. "The herpetofauna of the Richtersveld National Park and the adjacent northern Richtersveld, Northern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa". Herpetological Natural History. 8: 111–160 – via Researchgate.
  11. ^ "Pachydactylus ". The Reptile Database.
  12. ^ a b Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. Pachydactylus barnardi, p. 17; P. weberi, p. 280

Further readingEdit

  • Bauer AM, Lamb T, Branch WR (2006). "A revision of the Pachydactylus serval and P. weberi groups (Reptilia: Gekkota: Gekkonidae) of Southern Africa, and with the description of eight new species". Proceedings of the California Academy of Sciences. 57 (23): 595–709.
  • Boulenger GA (1885). Catalogue of the Lizards in the British Museum (Natural History. I. Geckonidæ ... (Second ed.). London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). pp. xii + 436 pp. + Plates I-XXXi. (Genus Pachydactylus, p. 200)
  • Branch B (2004). Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa (Third Revised edition, Second impression ed.). Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. p. 399. ISBN 0-88359-042-5. (Genus Pachydactylus, pp. 249–250)
  • Wiegmann AF (1834). "Herpetologia Mexicana, seu descriptio amphibiorum Novae Hispaniae, quae itineribus comitis Sack, Ferdinandi Deppe et Chr. Guil. Schiede". Museum Zoologicum Berolinense pervenerunt. Pars prima, saurorum species amplectens. Adiecto systematis saurorum prodromo, additisque multis in hunc amphibiorum ordinem observationibus (in Latin). Berlin: C.G. Lüderitz. pp. vi + 54 pp. + Plates I-X. (Pachydactylus, new genus, p. 19)

External linksEdit