Yellow-headed Gecko

(Gonatodes albogularis)


Yellow-headed Gecko IUCN NOT EVALUATED (NE)


Facts about this animal

Adults have a total length of only 6.5 - 9 cm. Unlike other geckos G. albigularis is active by day. Males are quite conspicuous with their yellowish heads and dark blue to black bodies, in particular when basking. At cooling nighttime temperatures they fade to gray or blue-green (males). Females are mottled grayish lizards often with a light collar line. In both sexes, the tip of the tail is white. They have round pupils and lack toepads. Usually they are quite active on the ground, darting in and out of holes and crevices, eating tiny insects and spiders.

Adult males are known to defend a specific area and exhibit tail-waving as a territorial signal, nevertheless holes and cavities that provide optimal refuge may be communally used by several individuals.

Reproduction occurs year-round, but during the December–May dry season activity is usually reduced. The females only lay a single, large oval egg, 8 x 6.5 mm in size, at a time, each female laying several eggs annually. Females will lay eggs communally in a favorable spot. Aas many as 10 have been found in a single crevice. The eggs take about 2-4 months to hatch.

Did you know?
that Gonatodes albogularis was first found in Florida in 1934, but was likely transferred from Key West, where the species was originally introduced and first documented in 1939. It was probably also transported from Key West to other sites in southern Florida. However the last known preserved specimen was collected in 1989 and the last field observation occurred in 1995, both on Key West. Additional field surveys from December 1995 through December 2004 throughout the Florida Keys and southern peninsula yielded zero observations of this species, suggesting that it has undergone population declines or local extirpation. This is the first exotic herpetofaunal species in Florida that has been documented exhibiting a range-wide decline since its establishment (KENNETH L. KRYSKO,Florida Museum of Natural History, Division of Herpetology, University of Florida; Florida Scientist 68(4):272-280).


Name (Scientific) Gonatodes albogularis
Name (English) Yellow-headed Gecko
Name (German) Gelbkopfgecko
Name (Spanish) Gecko cabeza amarilla
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Twan Leenders



Range El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Guatemala; USA (Florida, introduced)
Habitat Rain forests, where it prefers dry microhabitats, but is sometimes also found in moist areas and often in edificarian situations (near houses and in gardens). It is found on trees, often clinging upside down on the shady underside of low horizontal branches, in holes and crevices, and under debris tree trunks and wooden objects.
Wild population Unknown
Zoo population 6 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Yellow-headed Gecko


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 41 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Twan Leenders

Why do zoos keep this animal

There are hardly any yellow-headed geckoes in zoos or aquariums outside the species' range. In the United States, exhibiting Gonatodes albogularis is of educational interest because it occurs as an introduced alien species, which proved not to be invasive. Yellow-headed geckoes are nice little creatures, which may be easily spotted in a terrarium because they are active during opening hours, and therefore would make a good ambassador species for the conservation of Mesoamerican forests.