Published March 3, 2021. Updated January 9, 2024. Open access.

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Chocoan Dwarf-Gecko (Lepidoblepharis peraccae)

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Sphaerodactylidae | Lepidoblepharis peraccae

English common names: Chocoan Dwarf-Gecko, Chocoan Scaly-eyed Gecko, Peracca’s Dwarf-Gecko.

Spanish common names: Hojarito del Chocó, hojarito de Peracca.

Recognition: ♂♂ 5.8 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=2.7 cm. ♀♀ 5.7 cmMaximum distance from the snout to the tip of the tail. Snout–vent length=2.6 cm.. Dwarf geckos differ from other lizards based on their small size, lack of movable eyelids, presence of a scaly supraciliary flap, and their leaf-litter-dwelling habits.1,2 The Chocoan Dwarf-Gecko (Lepidoblepharis peraccae) differs from other members of its genus occurring in the rainforests of northwestern Ecuador by being smaller in body size and having homogeneous granular dorsal scales.3,4 This species resembles L. buchwaldi, a gecko that occurs in the seasonally dry forest ecosystem rather than in the Chocó rainforest. Males of L. peraccae differ from females by having a reddish throat (white in females) and a silver escutcheon, a characteristic concentration of holocrine secretory glands, on the belly.

Figure showing variation among individuals of Lepidoblepharis peraccae

Figure 1: Individuals of Lepidoblepharis peraccae: Kapari Lodge, Pichincha province, Ecuador (); Centro Científico Río Palenque, Los Ríos province, Ecuador (); Morromico, Chocó Department, Colombia (). sa=subadult, j=juvenile.

Natural history: Lepidoblepharis peraccae is a terrestrial and diurnal lizard that inhabits old-growth to moderately-disturbed evergreen lowland and foothill forests.5 Chocoan Dwarf-Geckos are cryptozoic, spending most of their lives in thick accumulations of leaf-litter, especially along streams.5 When not active, they hide under logs or piles of leaves.5 In the presence of a disturbance, individuals of L. peraccae will quickly flee under leaf-litter. If captured, they can readily shed the tail as well as portions of their skin.5

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Conservation: Least Concern Believed to be safe from extinction given current circumstances..6,7 Lepidoblepharis peraccae is listed in this category because the species is widely distributed throughout the Chocoan lowlands, especially in areas that have not been heavily affected by deforestation, like the Colombian Pacific coast. Thus, the species is considered to be facing no major immediate extinction threats.6 The main threat to the long-term survival of populations of L. peraccae is the continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat, mostly due to encroaching human activities such as agriculture and cattle grazing. In Ecuador, an estimated ~62% of the habitat of the species has been destroyed.8 Therefore, the species may qualify for a threatened category in the near future if this threat is not addressed.

Distribution: Lepidoblepharis peraccae is native to the Chocó biome, from western Colombia to northwestern Ecuador (Fig. 2).

Distribution of Lepidoblepharis peraccae in Ecuador

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

Etymology: The generic name Lepidoblepharis comes from the Greek words lepidos (=scale) and blepharis (=eyelash),9 and refers to the scaly supraciliary flaps.10 The specific epithet peraccae honors Mario Giacinto Peracca (1861–1923), an Italian herpetologist who described the genus Lepidoblepharis.10

See it in the wild: Although secretive, Chocoan Dwarf-Geckos can be seen with almost complete certainty by carefully raking leaf-litter in forested areas throughout the species’ area of distribution. The species is particularly abundant in Centro Científico Río Palenque, Río Silanche Bird Sanctuary, and Kapari Lodge.

Acknowledgments: 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.

Photographers: Jose VieirabAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,cAffiliation: ExSitu, Quito, Ecuador. and Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A (2021) Chocoan Dwarf-Gecko (Lepidoblepharis peraccae). In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: DOI: 10.47051/ZJNS9475

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. Boulenger GA (1908) Descriptions of new South-American reptiles. Annals and Magazine of Natural History 1: 111–115.
  4. Calderón-Espinosa ML, Medina-Rangel GF (2016) A new Lepidoblepharis lizard (Squamata: Sphaerodactylidae) from the Colombian Guyana shield. Zootaxa 4067: 215–232. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4067.2.6
  5. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  6. Bolívar W, Castañeda MR, Velasco J (2015) Lepidoblepharis peraccae. The IUCN Red List of threatened species. Available from: DOI: 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T44579427A44579430.en
  7. Morales-Betancourt MA, Lasso CA, Páez VP, Bock BC (2005) Libro rojo de reptiles de Colombia. Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos Alexander von Humboldt, Bogotá, 257 pp.
  8. MAE (2012) Línea base de deforestación del Ecuador continental. Ministerio del Ambiente del Ecuador, Quito, 30 pp.
  9. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington D.C., 882 pp.
  10. 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 peraccae in Ecuador (Fig. 2). Go to the section on symbols and abbreviations for a list of acronyms used.

ColombiaNariñoReserva Natural El PangánOnline multimedia
EcuadorCarchiTobar DonosoYanez-Muñoz et al. 2009
EcuadorCotopaxiEl Jardín de los SueñosMZUTI 4817; examined by AA
EcuadorCotopaxiLos LibertadoresQCAZ 16630; examined by AA
EcuadorCotopaxiSector El TigreQCAZ 14138; examined by AA
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological StationOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorEsmeraldasCaimitoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé Biological ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorEsmeraldasReserva Tesoro EscondidoCitlalli Morelos, pers. comm.
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío San FranciscoMECN 2878; examined by AA
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío San JoséQCAZ 10122; examined by AA
EcuadorEsmeraldasTundaloma LodgeReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorImbaburaManduriacu ReserveiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorLos RíosCentro Científico Río PalenqueThis work; Fig. 1
EcuadorManabíEl Carmen, 26.8 km W ofKU 152152; VertNet
EcuadorManabíEl Carmen, 38 km NW ofQCAZ 4070; examined by AA
EcuadorPichinchaBosque Protector La PerlaiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaHostería Selva VirgenMZUTI 4182; examined by AA
EcuadorPichinchaKapari Lodge (stream)This work; Fig. 1
EcuadorPichinchaMilpeEPN 13132; examined by AA
EcuadorPichinchaPuerto Quito, 6 km SE ofiNaturalist; photo examined
EcuadorPichinchaRío BlancoReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorPichinchaRío BogotáMECN 3649; examined by AA
EcuadorPichinchaRío Silanche Bird SanctuaryMZUTI 3201; examined by AA
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasAlianza para el ProgresoPhoto by Luis Coloma
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasCentinelaUSNM 285672; VertNet
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasFinca la EsperanzaEPN 8324; examined by AA
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasOtongachi ReserveReptiles of Ecuador book database
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasPuerto NaranjoÍtalo Tapia, pers. comm.
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasSanto Domingo de los ColoradosOnline multimedia
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasTinalandiaPhoto by Luis Amador
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasVía Aloag–Santo DomingoOnline multimedia