What Is a Banded Gecko?

Kaiser Castro

The Coleonyx variegatus, or Banded Gecko, is a terrestrial lizard that is usually found in the Southwestern portion of North America, with populations inhabiting Southern Arizona, Utah, and parts of Nevada. They can be found in different habitats, but they are usually concentrated in desert regions. Most banded geckos grow to be about 4 to 6 inches (10.16 to 15.24 cm) long from snout to the tip of the tail. They are small and vivacious eaters, allowing them to be a viable first pet for amateur lizard enthusiasts.

Banded geckos in captivity are often fed crickets.
Banded geckos in captivity are often fed crickets.

A banded gecko is creamy in color, with bands running across its body. Juvenile geckos tend to have solid bands on their dorsal that break into something reminiscent of spots as they age, while adult lizards in the Southeastern portion of Arizona tend to maintain the banding. Most geckos store fat in their tails, so a plump tail is a good indicator that it is well-fed and slender tails possibly indicating starvation.

The Banded Gecko is found in Arizona, Utah, and parts of Nevada.
The Banded Gecko is found in Arizona, Utah, and parts of Nevada.

Though small and delicate-looking, the banded gecko is able to thrive in the most taxing of environments. A banded gecko survives the desert heat by being mainly nocturnal, as the desert is coolest at night. This allows the gecko to forage in fields or under trash piles for beetles, grasshoppers, and worms without overheating.

If kept in captivity, a banded gecko can be fed a diet of crickets and larvae. Supplements will have to administered as well, with most multivitamins coming in a powder form. This will allow the caretaker to sprinkle it on the crickets or larvae before feeding time with relative ease.

Caretakers should be careful in handling a banded gecko, as a stressed gecko can have its tail detached if handled roughly. The detachment of the tail is a defense maneuver used by many gecko species. When a predator grabs onto the tail, it will be easy detached without hurting the gecko. The nerves in the detached tail will fire off electrical signals, causing the tail to wiggle for an extended period of time, occupying the predator, and allowing the gecko to scurry away. If this happens in captivity, do not fret – the gecko will grow another tail.

Banded geckos avoid the extreme heat of the desert by being nocturnal.
Banded geckos avoid the extreme heat of the desert by being nocturnal.

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