Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus)

C variegatus habitat near Dome Rock Mtns, Arizona.

C variegatus range (iNaturalist)

Western Banded Gecko
Coleonyx variegatus


The Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus) is an iconic species of the American Southwest. It is found in suitable habitat in Southern California, Southern Nevada, Southwestern Utah, Western and Southern Arizona, and Southwestern New Mexico.


Banded Geckos are small by lizard standards, but medium in size when compared to geckos as a whole. They are Eublepharids, similar to the better known and much more commonly seen Leopard and Fat-Tail Geckos. Like their more common cousins, Banded Geckos have eyelids and lack adhesive toe pads.


The deserts of the American Southwest may look like a barren wasteland, but there is much more to the landscape. Banded Geckos are typically found under the cover of rocks, logs and other debris, or in the burrows of other animals, such as rodents or tortoises. While the midday sun is beating down on the ground, the geckos are generally found in cool, relatively moist microclimates. As the sun sets and temperatures drop, the geckos can be found looking for food or mates.


Banded Geckos mate in Spring, and females lay several clutches of two eggs through mid to late Summer. Eggs are laid under rocks or logs, where they hatch between 6-12 weeks later. Hatchling Banded Geckos have a strongly contrasting banded pattern, though this breaks up with age, except in the San Diego Banded Gecko (C. variegatus "abbotti").


In 1945, Laurence Klauber described several subspecies of C. variegatus, four of which are in the U.S. Those subspecies have since been nullified, with the possible exception of C. v. "abbotti". However, the variations were consistent and noteworthy enough to warrant differentiation. The variations noted by Klauber are outlined below:

C v variegatus
Desert Banded Gecko
(Coleonyx variegatus "variegatus")

Desert Banded Gecko (C. v. "variegatus")

  • Fewer preanal pores than "bogerti"
  • Longer mental scale than "bogerti"
  • Bands are narrower than "utahensis"
C v bogerti
Tucson Banded Gecko
(Coleonyx variegatus "bogerti")

Tucson Banded Gecko (C. v. "bogerti")

  • 8 or more preanal pores, 7 or fewer in other forms
  • Bands equal to or lesser in width than space between bands
  • Edge of bands is darker than the center
  • Mental scale (front of chin) is wider proportionally than "variegatus"
C v utahensis
Utah Banded Gecko
(Coleonyx variegatus "utahensis")

Utah Banded Gecko (C. v. "utahensis")

  • Irregular banding is more mottled and wider than other forms
  • More gular scales contacting the mental scale (front of chin) than "bogerti"
C v abbotti
San Diego Banded Gecko
(Coleonyx variegatus "abbotti")

San Diego Banded Gecko (C. v. "abbotti")

  • Juvenile banded pattern stays through adulthood
  • Adults do not develop spotting on the head
  • Adults have a light band around the back of the head from eye to eye