Lygodactylus kimhowelli


(PASTEUR, 1995)


Distribution:


Endemic in Tanzania: from Tanga to the Kenyan border

Description:


Lygodactylus kimhowelli has a total length of 9 centimeters, making it the largest species in the genus Lygodactylus. Here both sexes are equal in size. Like all members in the genus, Lygodactylus kimhowelli has adhesive fins on the undersides of the toes, as well as the underside of the tail tip. Having round pupils it tells us that Lygodactylus kimhowelli is active during the day. Both sexes are colored the same. The head is yellow with two black lines that begin patchy at first and remain solid continuing on downward over the dorsal all the way to the tail. Two other lines can be seen on both sides over the snout and eyes carrying over to the hind legs. The yellow markings on the head are detached from the front legs coloring of blue-gray. The ventral portion of Lygodactylus kimhowelli is dyed bright yellow. Males are often told apart from females by their having a solid black throat, but it is not too rare for them to have a deep black chevron pattern here instead. Males also have 10-11 pre-anal pores, between the hind legs. At the same time a thickened tail is commonly observed.
The coloration of juveniles is nearly identical to the adult coloration of Lygodactylus kimhowelli. The only real difference between the young and adults is the abdomen, which is red in color for the first months of life.

Habitat:


Little is known about the life of Lygodactylus kimhowelli in the wild, except for the fact that it is both an arboreal and a sun loving gecko. They live in coastal forests, but also occur in nearby settlements. It is assumed that they live in their natural habitat, similar to Lygodactylus mombasicus, on the trunks of thicker trees.

Husbandry and Breeding:


Due to their large size the terrarium for Lygodactylus kimhowelli should have a minimum height of 40 centimeters. Areas without plants should offer at least 30-40 centimeters of roaming space. The nature of this gecko is quite territorial, due to this keeping more than one male per terrarium is not possible. It is however possible to sometimes keep more than one female per enclosure, but this largely depends on the temperament of each female in the enclosure.
The side walls should be decorated with cork, additional pieces of bark should be arranged around the terrarium to provide privacy and climbing surfaces. The ground can consist of sand or a sand-soil mixture. When planting, often the most suitable plant is Sansevieria (Sanseveria sp.). The leaves are loved by the young and create additional egg laying sites for the females. Additionally, it is possible to use smaller climbing plants such as Ceropegia linearis. A bowl of crushed up cuttlefish bone should also not be missing from the terrarium decor. Random stalks of dried Japanese knotweed (Fallopia japonica) in place of bamboo, can be placed around the terrarium for further egg laying sites.
Lygodactylus kimhowelli is a sun worshiper, so the lighting should not be neglected. The lighting should consist of a UVB bulb and a daylight bulb, an additional halogen spotlight will also be appreciated. The lamps should be on for a period of 12 hours daily and serve as the starting source point for heating. The daily temperature should be around 24-28C (75-82F). The halogen lamps can safely bring the basking area temperatures to 40C (104F). In winter the illumination time is reduced to 10 hours per day. At this time the halogen lamp can be switched on and off for a few hours briefly. The resulting, cooler temperatures in winter will allow a much needed break for females to recover from any egg laying stress over the breeding season. A relative humidity of 60-70% is kept during the day by spraying once daily. Misting once daily will also provide the animals with a daily source of drinking water.
Lygodactylus kimhowelli can be fed twice a week with a variety of arthropods in an appropriate size. Feeders for example can consist of crickets, wax moths, firebrats, isopods, grain mold beetle larvae and cockroaches. A fruit puree of peach, passion fruit, banana, etc, offered once weekly is also readily accepted. The food should always be dusted with the appropriate vitamin supplements. For example Korvimin ZVT + Reptile and crushed up cuttlefish bone.
The mating activity of Lygodactylus kimhowelli begins in early spring and ends in winter. Usually 2-3 weeks after mating the female will lay a double clutch of eggs. Most of the eggs are usually laid in the Japanese knotweed, or in the stalks of Sansevieria. The eggs will not be glued, so it is best to transfer them to an incubator for better control. The eggs do best at around 70% humidity. They can be placed on dry vermiculite or foam. Incubated at a constant temperature of 28C (82F) the young hatch out between 60-70 days. Incubated at around 25C (77F) the young hatch out between 85-103 days (HOFMANN, verbally). In the first two months they are highly fragile due to their small size. The young can be raised separately or together in converted 1.3 liter household containers for the first weeks and later on moved to 2.6 liter containers or small terrariums. Illumination is provided by surface mounted fluorescent tubes, which also provides the necessary heating. The terrarium for the young should consist of coconut humus as the substrate, a piece of cork as a hideout and a small plant to help improve the micro climate. Like with other Lygodactylus the clutch mates can be raised in containers previously used to raise others as this helps them build a healthy intestinal flora. The ground area of the rearing tank should be seeded with springtails and woodlice to offer a constant level of food. Every two days they can be fed with young firebrats, smaller wax moth larvae, micro crickets and fruit flies. You may also offer them fruit puree. All food should be dusted with the appropriate vitamin supplements. The young become sexually mature at 12 months of age.
Lygodactylus kimhowelli is a very interesting, handsome and rugged gecko. Unfortunately they are often offered at a far low cost in the trade and therefore little attention is shown in them. The animals are, like most members of the genus Lygodactylus always very active in the terrarium and show-off constantly, so long as their enclosure remains closed. Adult Lygodactylus kimhowelli are easy to keep, only the young may pose issues. For this reason I recommend them only to the experienced or well-informed novice with a good collection of micro feeders available.

Text and Photos: Dennis Hluschi, Leipzig

Translation: Maureen Winter, Münster

Lygodactylus kimhowelli

Lygodactylus kimhowelli

Lygodactylus kimhowelli (Male)

Lygodactylus kimhowelli (Juvenile)

Lygodactylus kimhowelli (Juvenile ventral)

Lygodactylus kimhowelli (Semiadult)

Lygodactylus kimhowelli (Terrarium)