Published March 3, 2021. 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 moveable 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 homogenous granular dorsal scales.3,4 The most similar species is L. buchwaldi, which occurs in the seasonally dry forest ecosystem south of 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 from Kapari Lodge, Pichincha province, Ecuador (); Centro Científico Río Palenque, Los Ríos province, Ecuador (); and Morromico, Chocó Department, Colombia (). sa=subadult, j=juvenile.

Natural history: Locally commonRecorded weekly in densities above five individuals per locality.. Lepidoblepharis peracccae is a cryptozoic (preferring moist, shaded microhabitats), terrestrial, and diurnal lizard that inhabits old-growth to moderately-disturbed evergreen lowland and foothill forests.5 Chocoan Dwarf-Geckos spend 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 endemic to the Chocó biome, from western Colombia to northwestern Ecuador. The species occurs at elevations between 41 and 1162 m (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, which comes from the Greek words lepidos (meaning “scale”) and blepharis (meaning “eyelash”),9 refers to the scaly supraciliary flaps that are characteristic to this group of geckos.10 The specific epithet peraccae honors Mario Giacinto Peracca (1861–1923), an Italian herpetologist who described the genus Lepidoblepharis.3

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 VieiraaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.,bAffiliation: 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, Guayasamin JM (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
EcuadorCarchiCampamento 2DHMECN 6772
EcuadorCarchiDestacamento MilitarDHMECN 8072
EcuadorCarchiTobar DonosoYanez-Muñoz et al. 2009
EcuadorCotopaxiEl Jardín de los SueñosMZUTI 4817
EcuadorEsmeraldasBilsa Biological StationOrtega-Andrade et al. 2010
EcuadorEsmeraldasBosque Protector La PerlaiNaturalist
EcuadorEsmeraldasCaimitoThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasCanandé ReserveThis work
EcuadorEsmeraldasReserva Tesoro EscondidoCitlalli Morelos, pers. comm.
EcuadorEsmeraldasRío San FranciscoMECN 2878
EcuadorEsmeraldasTundaloma LodgeThis work
EcuadorImbaburaManduriacu ReserveiNaturalist
EcuadorLos RíosCentro Científico Río PalenqueCAMPO 540
EcuadorManabíEl Carmen, 26.8 km W ofKU 152152
EcuadorPichinchaHostería Selva VirgenMZUTI 4182
EcuadorPichinchaMilpeEPN 13132
EcuadorPichinchaPuerto Quito, 6 km SE ofiNaturalist
EcuadorPichinchaRío BlancoThis work
EcuadorPichinchaRío Silanche Bird SanctuaryMZUTI 3201
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasAlianza para el ProgresoField notes of Luis Coloma
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasCentinelaUSNM 285672
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasFinca la EsperanzaEPN 8324
EcuadorSanto Domingo de los TsáchilasOtongachi ReserveThis work
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