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What is a Western Banded Gecko (Coleonyx variegatus)

The Western Banded Gecko, a small and nocturnal reptile, is a captivating inhabitant of the arid regions of the American Southwest. With its distinctive banded pattern and soft, velvety skin, this gecko is a master of camouflage and subtlety in the desert night.

Western Banded Gecko Overview

This species of gecko is known for its adaptability to harsh desert conditions and plays a vital role in the ecosystem as both predator and prey. It’s a fascinating example of the diverse life thriving in desert environments.

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  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Order: Squamata
  • Family: Eublepharidae
  • Genus: Coleonyx
  • Species: C. variegatus

What is a Desert Banded Gecko
A Desert Banded Gecko, Coleonyx variegatus variegatus and wildflowers in the hot sun of the desert

Five subspecies of C. variegatus are recognized as being valid, including the nominotypical subspecies.

  1. Coleonyx variegatus abbotti Klauber, 1945 – San Diego banded gecko
  2. Coleonyx variegatus bogerti Klauber, 1945 – Tucson banded gecko
  3. Coleonyx variegatus sonoriensis Klauber, 1945 – Sonoran banded gecko
  4. Coleonyx variegatus utahensis Klauber, 1945 – Utah banded gecko
  5. Coleonyx variegatus variegatus (Baird, 1858) – desert banded gecko

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Coleonyx.

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Size and Body Description

Western Banded Geckos are relatively small, usually measuring 4 to 6 inches in length. They are characterized by their soft, smooth skin and distinct bands or stripes that run across their body and tail, ranging in color from pale yellow to pink with darker bands.


4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in length.


Their diet consists of small insects, spiders, and other invertebrates. They are opportunistic feeders, using their stealth and quick movements to catch prey.


These geckos breed in the spring, and females lay clutches of two eggs, which they bury in moist soil or sand. The eggs hatch after approximately two months. As reptiles, they do not engage in pollination.


They are native to the southwestern United States, including California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona, as well as into northwestern Mexico.

Where Found

Western Banded Geckos are typically found in desert and semi-arid environments, often hiding under rocks, in crevices, or burrowing in the sand during the day.

How Long Do Banded Geckos Live

In the wild, they can live for several years, though specific lifespan data may vary.


While not currently endangered, their populations can be affected by habitat loss and climate change. Conservation efforts focus on preserving desert habitats and understanding the impact of environmental changes on these geckos.

The Western Banded Gecko, with its unique appearance and nocturnal habits, is a small but significant part of the desert’s biodiversity. Protecting these geckos contributes to the health and balance of desert ecosystems.