Dwarf Leaf-toed Gecko

Reptiles of Ecuador | Sauria | Phyllodactylidae | Phyllodactylus pumilus

Spanish common name: Geco enano.

Recognition: ♂♂ 12.8 cm ♀♀ 10.7 cm. Phyllodactylus pumilus is one of two geckos having a tubercular dorsum and occurring along the coast of west-central Ecuador. The other is P. reissii, a larger gecko lacking tubercles on the tail.

Natural history: Extremely common. Phyllodactylus pumilus is a nocturnal and terrestrial gecko inhabiting dry shrublands and deciduous to semideciduous forests where it forages at ground level, or on trees and cliffs.1,2 The Dwarf Leaf-toed Gecko also colonizes walls in human settlements and boats stranded on the beach.1 By daytime, P. pumilus seeks refuge in crevices or under rocks, logs and loose bark on trees and stumps.1,2 As a defense mechanism, members of this gecko species are capable of shedding their tails.

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Conservation: Near Threatened. We consider Phyllodactylus pumilus to be in this category following IUCN criteria3 because, although it is presumed to be restricted to an area of nearly 5,000 km2, it occurs in protected areas (Machalilla National Park) and thrives in human-modified environments.

Distribution: Endemic to the Tumbesian lowlands of west-central Ecuador.

Distribution of Phyllodactylus pumilus in Ecuador

Etymology: The generic name Phyllodactylus, which comes from the Greek words phyllon (meaning “leaf”) and daktylos (meaning “finger”),4 refers to the leaf-shaped fingers characteristic of this group of geckos. The specific epithet pumilus is a Latin word meaning “dwarfish”4 and is probably a reference to the small size of this gecko, in comparison with the sympatric P. reissii.

See it in the wild: Phyllodacytlus pumilus can be seen with ~60% certainty wherever it occurs. An easy place to see this gecko is Punta Prieta, Manabí province. The best time to look for this species is just after sunset.

Authors: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Khamai Foundation, Quito, Ecuador. and Gabriela Aguiar.

Photographers: Alejandro ArteagaaAffiliation: Tropical Herping (TH), Quito, Ecuador.

How to cite? Arteaga A, Aguiar G (2020) Phyllodactylus pumilus. In: Arteaga A, Bustamante L, Vieira J, Guayasamin JM (Eds) Reptiles of Ecuador: Life in the middle of the world. Available from: www.reptilesofecuador.com

Literature cited:

  1. Field notes, Reptiles of Ecuador book project.
  2. Dixon JR, Huey RB (1970) Systematics of the lizards of the gekkonid genus Phyllodactylus of mainland South America. Los Angeles County Museum Contributions in Science 192: 1–78.
  3. IUCN (2001) IUCN Red List categories and criteria: Version 3.1. IUCN Species Survival Commission, Gland and Cambridge, 30 pp.
  4. Brown RW (1956) Composition of scientific words. Smithsonian Books, Washington, 882 pp.