Gonatodes albogularis fuscus


(HALLOWELL, 1855)


Distribution:


Gonatodes albogularis fuscus has a very large distribution area, which extends over large parts of Central America. Gonatodes albogularis fuscus also occurs in Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Martinique and Florida (introduced).

Description:


As with all other members of the genus Gonatodes, sexual dimorphism in this subspecies is strong. Unlike the nominant form G. Gonatodes albogularis albogularis, G. albogularis fuscus, is much darker in color. The Latin name of the this subspecies, "fuscus", mean dark. Like many other females of the genus Gonatodes, the females of this subspecies have simple base colors. Their body is brown to light grey with dark to light brown spots. In both sexes, the belly is light brown to light gray, mainly void of any pattern. The throat of the males in this subspecies, is very bright, which fits with the Latin name, albogularis, which roughly translates to "white throat". The head of males is yellow to orange. The corners of the mouth are light to deep blue. The head pattern is usually broken up from the bodies base color, by a bright band located at the neck. Their body and tail are dark. Their body color varies from black to dark gray, as well as purple to blue-gray. Some animals have a marbled pattern on their flank and back. Their tail often has a white tip.

Habitat:


Gonatodes albogularis fuscus is, synanthropic and often found in settlements along walls, fences, under stones and in gardens. Both edges of primary and secondary forests are habitats, where they mainly populate roadsides, or slopes, as well as trees with rough bark and roots. The micro-climate of the habitats can be very different, it is therefore, important to know the origin of your animals, as accurately as possible. The animals discussed here, are originally from a moist to semi-arid habitat in Cuba

Husbandry and Breeding:


Gonatodes albogularis fuscus is best housed in a terrarium measuring 30x30x60 centimeters, larger of course is possible, but the dimensions should not fall below this. Group housing is not possible, as both males and females have been known to dispute with other members of the same sex.
Since Gonatodes albogularis fuscus is one of the more shyer species of the genus Gonatodes, this should be taken in to account when setting up their terrarium. If the focal point of your terrarium is for example, a large plant, the animals are more likely to be seen because they feel safer. If you setup the terrarium too sparsely they will hide. It is therefore important to find a happy medium through a more densely setup terrarium. Due to their shyness factor, the rear and sidewalls of the terrarium must be covered, flat sheets of cork are perfect for this. A stump, some branches for climbing and cork tubes offer additional places for retreat. Natural vegetation, such as Ficus pumila, small bromeliads, ferns or orchids, help achieve a proper micro-habitat. Although Gonatodes albogularis fuscus is often described as ground inhibiting, we have yet to observe this both in captivity and in their natural habitat. In most cases, we have actually observed the animals climbing the back or top of the rearwalls.
To offer the female a place to lay her eggs, small tubes of Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica) or similar should be placed at different heights against the rear and side walls. The use of such tubes allows for better control of the eggs. It is important to note however, that whatever type of tubes you select, that the insides of the tubes should not be too smooth, as Gonatodes lack adhesive discs on their toes. Once a female has selected a location for laying her eggs, it is mostly used again and again.
Daily temperatures during the breeding season should be kept between 25-30C (77-86F). A heat lamp may be provided, so long as it does not raise the whole temperature of the enclosure. At night the temperature should drop by two to five degrees, but should never be allowed to drop below 18C (64.4F) for long periods.
Suitable feeder insects are small crickets, bean beetles, Drosophila, pea aphids, woodlice and firebrats. All food should be dusted every second feeding with the appropriate supplements. During the breeding season, following a successful pairing, the female will lay a single egg 2-3 weeks later. A well kept pair produces one egg approximately every 3 weeks. In order to offer the female a resting period the pair should be separated for a few weeks per year. It is always important to ensure an adequate supply of calcium for breeding females, therefore, a small bowl of crushed cuttlefish bone should be provided freely to them. You can also use for example, the remaining eggshells from freshly hatched juveniles, or boiled eggshells from chickens (to kill off Salmonella) for this purpose. It has been reported that some animals from drier habitats bury their eggs in the dirt, however our animals usually have placed them in small tubes, root segments, or loose pieces of cork in the rearwalls. It is very important, that due to this you should offer many locations throughout the terrarium at varying heights, this way the females can choose the optimum temperature range for laying. Since the eggs are never glued, they can easily be removed for incubation outside of the terrarium. When incubated between 25-28C (77-82.4F), the young animals emerge after a period of 60 to 120 days. The young can be reared in small household containers, which have been converted to allow for proper ventilation. Suitable feeder insects for the young, are small crickets, bean beetles, Drosophila, pea aphids, woodlice and firebrats. All food should be dusted at every feeding with the appropriate supplements. After a few months, the throats of young males will posses stripes. They should be separated from other males, or females when their sex becomes apparent.
Gonatodes albogularis fuscus is one of the toughest members of the genus Gonatodes and is, therefore, even suitable for beginners.

Text or Photos: Sacha Hanig, Dresden

Translation: Maureen Winter, Münster

Gonatodes albogularis fuscus (Male)

Gonatodes albogularis fuscus (Male)

Gonatodes albogularis fuscus (Female)

Gonatodes albogularis fuscus (Juvenile)

Gonatodes albogularis fuscus (Terrarium)

Gonatodes albogularis fuscus (Terrarium)