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May 13, 2005

Reptiles of Iraq: Geckos of the Asaccus Genus

When Professor Khalaf first published Reptiles of Iraq, there was one gecko in the Phyllodactylus genus found in that country. Now there are none. Not because they are extinct, but because the Iraqi geckos have been reclassified as members of the Asaccus genus, aka the "Southwest Asian leaf-toed geckos,"

Lizards of Iran explains why.

The work of Dixon and various coworkers has resulted in the reallocation of several species formerly assigned to the genus Phyllodactylus. The pholidosis* of species now assigned to the genus Asaccus is similar to that of species of Phyllodactylus from the Western Hemisphere, and consists of enlarged tubercles arranged in longitudinal rows on the dorsum and tail, scattered randomly on head and limbs, and one large pair of terminal leaf-like lamellae on fingers and toes. The most striking character separating the two genera is the absence of cloacal sacs and postanal bones in Asaccus.

Always remember to check for a cloacal sac. Wouldn't want to overlook it and embarrass oneself in the company of other herpetologists. Hence the famous song;

I'm taken aback by a Cloacal sac
That I overlooked before.
One tract for feces, and also sperm,
One tract for every need confirmed!
No need explaining, there's only one sustaining
Every gecko on the floor.
I'm taken aback by a Cloacal sac
That I overlooked before!

Since Prof Khalaf's day, not only has Phyllodactylus elisae become Asaccus elisae--though it still retains the common name of Werner's leaf-toed gecko--it has been joined by two other species, at least in Iran; the Grey-spotted leaf-toed gecko, Asaccus griseonotus, and the Kermanshah leaf-toed gecko, Asaccus kermanshahensis. The location of both species along the Iranian border with Iraq would argue that it's at least possible that they are found in that country, so I've scanned in the Key to ID from Lizards of Iran

Key to the Species of Asaccus in Iran

1a. 4 pairs of postmentals bordered by 21—24 granules - Asaccus kermanshahensis

1b. 2 pairs of postmentals bordered by 20 or fewer granules - 2

2a. Largest dorsal tubercles more than one-half height of ear opening; tubercles extending onto occiput and temporal area, much larger than surrounding granules; whorls of caudal tubercles separated by 3-4 transverse rows of small scales - Asaccus elisae

2b. Largest dorsal tubercles less than one-half height of ear opening; tubercles becoming much smaller on nape, usually not extending onto head, or if so, few in number, scarcely larger than surrounding granules; whorls of caudal tubercles separated by 6-7 transverse rows of small scales - Asaccus griseonotus

Notes: Prof's Khalaf's Reptiles of Iraq entry on the Iraqi Phyllodactylus/Asaccus geckos appears below.

Queries: In the comments section at Unidentified Gecko Emergency, a soldier stationed in Iraq writes in seeking information on the Baloch Rock Gecko.

I recently found a few of the Baloch Rock geckos here in Iraq that i gave a home. From looking at other gecko care information I would assume they eat crickets and such, but if you have any type of feeding/care information I would appreciate it

There's not a lot out there on the care and feeding of Bunopus tuberculatus. Lizards of Iran says the only identifiable material found in one specimen's stomach was beetles, so that's an obvious choice as to food. They seem to prefer debris-strewn shorelines, so most arthopods found in a similar environment ought to be ok to feed them as well. Depending on the time the individuals were collected, you might also want to give them a fair amount of sand. From late August to January, female Baloch Rock geckos end to be carrying eggs. Lizards of Iran says it appears that they are unable to climb vertical surfaces, so that might make choosing a container somewhat easier.

Previously: The Rough-Tailed Gecko

Next: Geckos of the Pristurus Genus

See Also: Birds of Iraq, Insects of Iraq, Fishes of Iraq

Genus Phyllodactylus
Pupil vertical. Digits slender at base. Ends of digits dilated; the dilated extremity covered above with scales strongly differentiated from those on the basal portion; with two large subtriangular plates inferiorly, separated by a longitudinal groove into which the claw is retracted (Figs. 5C and 6)

Fig. 5

Fig. 6

Upper parts of the body covered with juxtaposed, small scales, uniform or intermixed with larger tubercles. Abdominal scales small, imbricate. A well defined, elongate, lateroventral ridge or fold. Males usually without preanal or femoral pores, Tail cylindrical, tapering, covered with small scales arranged in verticils. All digits clawed.

Phyllodactylus elisae

In the head, the nostril bordered bv the first labial, rectangular rostral, and three other scales. 8-13 supralabials, 8-11 infralabials. Mental large or moderate, followed usually bv two pairs ot chin shields.

There are large dorsal tubercles; those on the back arranged in 10-12 rows; on the tail, they are arranged transversely and in six longitudinal rows; some are also found on the upper surface of the feet; on the head, they are smaller and more rounded, becoming smaller towards the rostral and in the latter region they become indistinguishable from the granules. Tail, with one row of enlarged subcaudals.

Light greyish-brown, usually thickly speckled with very dark brown. Tubercles, white or brown. Lower surface dirty white. Posterior half of the tail with three verv dark rings.


*arrangement of scales, as in fish and reptiles

Posted by Bigwig at May 13, 2005 12:13 PM | TrackBack
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