Published February 9, 2021. Open access.

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Greater Dwarf-Gecko (Lepidoblepharis grandis)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Sphaerodactylidae | Lepidoblepharis grandis

English common names: Greater Dwarf-Gecko, Greater Scaly-eyed Gecko, Grand Scaly-eyed Gecko.

Spanish common names: Hojarito grande, geco grande de pestañas.

Recognition: ♂♂ 10.2 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=4.6 cm. ♀♀ 12.6 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=5.6 cm.. Dwarf geckos differ from other lizards based on their small size, lack of moveable eyelids, presence of a scaly supraciliary flap, and their leaf-litter-dwelling habits.1,2 The Greater Dwarf-Gecko (Lepidoblepharis grandis) differs from other members of its genus occurring in the Ecuadorian Chocó rainforest by being larger in body size and having sub-equal (mostly homogenous) conical dorsal scales.3,4 Two similar species are L. conolepis and L. ruthveni. The former occurs above the elevation range of L. grandis and has the posterior margin of the mental scale M-shaped.3,5 Lepidoblepharis ruthveni occurs south of the known distribution of L. grandis and has conspicuously heterogenous dorsal scales: tiny granules interspersed with large conical scales.4 Males of L. grandis differ from females by having a concentration of holocrine secretory glands on the lower belly forming an obvious and unique silver escutcheon.3

Figure showing variation among individuals of Lepidoblepharis grandis

Figure 1: Greater Dwarf-Geckos (Lepidoblepharis grandis) from FCAT Reserve () and Canandé Reserve (), Esmeraldas province, Ecuador. sa=subadult, j=juvenile.

Natural history: Locally frequentRecorded weekly in densities below five individuals per locality.. Lepidoblepharis grandis is a cryptozoic (preferring moist, shaded microhabitats), terrestrial, and diurnal lizard that inhabits old-growth to moderately-disturbed rainforests and lower evergreen montane forests.4,6 Greater Dwarf-Geckos spend most of their lives in thick accumulations of damp leaf-litter in deep forest and along streams.4 When not active, they hide under rocks, logs, fallen branches, or piles of leaves.4,6 When threatened, individuals of L. grandis will quickly flee under cover. If captured, they can readily shed the tail as well as portions of their skin.6

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Conservation: Vulnerable Considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the mid-term future..7,8 Lepidoblepharis grandis is listed in this category on the basis of the species’ limited extent of occurrence (considered to be around 15,178 km2; Fig. 2) in an area having the highest rate of deforestation in Ecuador.7,9 An estimated 56% of the total suitable habitat of L. grandis has already been converted to pastures and agricultural fields, an environment in which the species does not survive.6 Fortunately, L. grandis occurs in five privately-protect areas (Bilsa Biological Reserve, Canandé Reserve, Itapoa Reserve, Mashpi Reserve, and Otongachi Reserve) and two major national parks (Cotacachi–Cayapas Ecological Reserve and Mache-Chindul Ecological Reserve).

Distribution: Lepidoblepharis grandis is endemic to an estimated ~15,178 km2 area on the Chocoan lowlands and adjacent foothills of the Andes in Ecuador. The species occurs at elevations between 204 and 1190 m (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Lepidoblepharis grandis in Ecuador

Figure 2: Distribution of Lepidoblepharis grandis in Ecuador. See Appendix 1 for a complete list of the presence localities included in the map.

Etymology: The generic name Lepidoblepharis, which comes from the Greek words lepidos (meaning “scale”) and blepharis (meaning “eyelash”),10 refers to the scaly supraciliary flaps that are characteristic to this group of geckos.11 The specific epithet grandis is a Latin word meaning “large.” Geckos of this species are comparatively larger than other members of the genus.4

See it in the wild: Greater Dwarf-Geckos are secretive lizards that are recorded rarely unless they are actively searched for by raking leaf-litter or by turning over rocks and rotten logs along forested streams. Individuals can be found with ~5–15% certainty at Bilsa Biological Station and Canandé Reserve.

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to Amanda Quezada, Grace Reyes, and Eric Osterman for finding some of the individuals of Lepidoblepharis grandis photographed in this account. This account was published with the support of Secretaría Nacional de Educación Superior Ciencia y Tecnología (programa INEDITA; project: Respuestas a la crisis de biodiversidad: la descripción de especies como herramienta de conservación; No 00110378), Programa de las Naciones Unidas (PNUD), and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ).

Author: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

Photographer: Jose VieiraaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,bAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A (2021) Greater Dwarf-Gecko (Lepidoblepharis grandis). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J, Guayasamin JM (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/AVUF1566

Literature cited:

  1. Peters JA, Donoso-Barros R (1970) Catalogue of the Neotropical Squamata: part II, lizards and amphisbaenians. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Washington, D.C., 293 pp.
  2. Batista A, Ponce M, Vesely M, Mebert K, Hertz A, Köhler G, Carrizo A, Lotzkat S (2015) Revision of the genus Lepidoblepharis (Reptilia: Squamata: Sphaerodactylidae) in Central America, with the description of three new species. Zootaxa 3994: 187–221. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.3994.2.2
  3. Avila-Pires TCS (2001) A new species of Lepidoblepharis (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae) from Ecuador, with a redescription of Lepidoblepharis grandis Miyata, 1985. Occasional Paper of the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History 11: 1–11.
  4. Miyata K (1985) A new Lepidoblepharis from the Pacific slope of the Ecuadorian Andes (Sauria: Gekkonidae). Herpetologica 41: 121–127.
  5. Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Guayasamin JM (2013) The amphibians and reptiles of Mindo. Universidad Tecnológica Indoamérica, Quito, 257 pp.
  6. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  7. Cisneros-Heredia DF, Yánez-Muñoz M (2017) Lepidoblepharis grandis. The IUCN red list of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T44579362A44579364.en
  8. Reyes-Puig C (2015) Un método integrativo para evaluar el estado de conservación de las especies y su aplicación a los reptiles del Ecuador. MSc thesis, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, 73 pp.
  9. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  10. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.
  11. Peracca MG (1897) Viaggio del Dr. Enrico Festa nell'Ecuador e regioni vicine. Bolletino dei Musei di Zoologia ed Anatomia Comparata della Università di Torino 12: 1–20. DOI: 10.5962/bhl.part.4563

Appendix 1: Locality data used to create the distribution map of Lepidoblepharis grandis in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

EcuadorEsmeraldasAlto TamboField notes of ítalo Tapia
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological StationOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorEsmeraldasBloque SirúaiNaturalist
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé ReserveThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasCerro ZapalloiNaturalist
EcuadorEsmeraldasItapoa ReserveThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote GualpíThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote QuijanoYanez-Muñoz 2005
EcuadorEsmeraldasLote SalvadoresThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasVida Rosero ReserveThis work
EcuadorImbaburaManduriacu ReservePhoto by Ryan Lynch
EcuadorManabíEl Carmen, 38 km NW ofKU 218368
EcuadorPichinchaMashpi ReserveThis work
EcuadorPichinchaMilpe Bird SanctuaryThis work
EcuadorPichinchaMindo, 18 km W ofAvila-Pires 2001
EcuadorPichinchaRío BolaniguasUSNM 287905
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasDos Ríos, 3.7 km E ofMiyata 1985
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasHacienda DyottMiyata 1985
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasHacienda VargasField notes of David Kizirian
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasOtongachi ReserveTorres-Carvajal & Salazar-Valenzuela 2012
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los ColoradosAvila-Pires 2001