Lygodactylus laterimaculatus


(PASTEUR, 1964)


Distribution:


Southern Kenya: Taita Hills and Voi, Northern Tanzania: Kilimanjaro Region, Moshi and Arusha

Description:


As one of the smaller members of the genus Lygodactylus, Lygodactylus laterimaculatus reaches a maximum total length between 5-7cm, with their tail accounting for more than half their size. Females usually have a slightly shorter tail than males. Like all members of the genus Lygodactylus they have sticky blades, both on the undersides of the toes and tail tip. Lygodactylus laterimaculatus have a shorter and more compact head, compared to other species in the Lygodactylus picturatus group. Both Males and females have a mostly gray base color, which may change depending on the mood and lighting to a yellow-brown tone. The entire underside and tail of the gecko is crossed with a black and white marbling. The (up to) four lateral, eponymous black spots may be present in both sexes, but can also be completely missing. The belly and throat are creamy white, a few individual scales have the same basic coloration as the back of the gecko.Hemipenis pockets are clearly visible on males, as well as 6-7 pre-anal pores. A significant distinguishing feature of the species is the scales on the tail base: The geckos have two longitudinal scale rows of hexagonal scales in the tail center, which are usually colored brown on males. This suggests, amongst other things, that Lygodactylus laterimaculatus actually clearly belongs to the Lygodactylus scheffleri group and distinguishes it significantly from similar cryptically colored species such as Lygodactylus capensis.

Habitat:


Lygodactylus laterimaculatus is purely arboreal. You can find them living on trees, shrubs and bushes, up to an altitude of 900m above sea level. The habitat of these geckos is characterized by a distinct rainy and dry savannah like season, with average daytime temperatures of 29C (84.2F) and a nightly temperature drop of 15C (15F). They usually live in groups consisting of one male and several females per bush or tree. Young animals are tolerated in the group, however the male drives away all male offspring, once they reach sexual maturity.

Husbandry and Breeding:


For a pair a terrarium with the dimesions 30x40x50 centimeters is sufficient, you could also keep for example a group of 1.2 in a terrarium of this size. The substrate should be a mixture of soil and sand. The terrarium should be decorated with many thin branches, as well as some vegetation in the form of Zamia furfuracea. The addition of cork tubes and dried stems of Japanese knotweed (Reynoutria japonica), serve as hiding and egg laying locations.
Illumination may be provided via T5 or T8 tubes, one of which should have at least 5% UVB output, the latter should rest directly over the ventilation area to allow for the UVB to pentrate through the terrarium to the geckos. A halogen puck light should be used to allow the geckos an area to bask.
Daily temperatures range between 24-30C (75.2-86F). The basking area may safely reach 34C (93.2F). The humidity should be kept between 50-60%, with a slight increase via regular spraying 2x daily. The water droplets, which collect from misting, will also gladly be licked off the leaves by the geckos.
Feeding is done two to three times a week, alternating between pea aphids, firebrats, bean beetles and fruit flies. The food is always dusted with the appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements. About once a week the geckos are offered fruit pulp.
Despite simulated dry and wet seasons, the animals mate all year round. After a successful pairing, you can clearly see how the eggs develop in the female and increasingly misshapen appears. The eggs are barely visible through the females skin. After a 3-4 week gestation period, the female usually lays a double clutch. Gladly this is usually done in the offered tubes. After about 55-68 days the hatchlings emerge, as tiny 1.8 centimeter dwarfs. Coloration corresponds to that of the adults, minus the lateral dark spots, which appear later on when their sexes can be distunguished from one another, usually between 6-7 months. The hatchlings are raised in groups of up to four animals, per rearing container and are mutually well tolerated by one another. The containers are set up like the adult terrariums. A calcium source should always be available to both the young and adult females. The rearing containers should be illuminated with a low wattage UVB lamp, since the containers can easily overheat. Hatchlings are supplied daily with small feeder insects, such as, firebrats, fruit flies, pea aphids, springtails and woodlice. Like the adults, all food should be dusted daily with the appropriate vitamin and mineral supplements. The rearing containers are sprayed once daily.
Lygodactylus laterimaculatus is a very active and curious species. They are also easily maintained by well-informed beginners. Adults are rarely commercially available and often very obsolete. Offspring are getting easier to find through a small amount of established breeders.

Text and Photos: Dietmar Mistler, Dillingen

Translation: Maureen Winter, Münster

Lygodactylus laterimaculatus (Male)

Lygodactylus laterimaculatus (Male ventral)

Lygodactylus laterimaculatus (Female ventral)

Lygodactylus laterimaculatus (Mating)

Lygodactylus laterimaculatus (Juvenile ventral)