Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus


(GRAY, 1845)


Distribution:


Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus has 10 subspecies from Cuba and the Bahamas. Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus nigropunctatus inhabits the Eastern Great Bahama bank. In the north area of the Exuma Cays resides Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus gibbus which inhabits Long Island, Little San Salvador Island and Green Cay. The subspecies Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus decoratus lives on Rum Cay. Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus flavicauda is the only subspecies from the Western Great Bahama Bank and the Cay Sal Bank. Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus porrasi can be found on the Ragged Islands.
In Cuba Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus alayoi is located in the southeast of Guantanamo. On the southeast coast Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus ocujal and Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus strategus are found. The subspecies Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus lissodesmus is the only subspecies in the inland of Cuba in the Sierra de Cubitas. The holotype of the subspecies Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti comes from Banes (Holgun province).

Description:


Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus belongs with eight other species in the Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus-group. With an overall length of 65-80 millimeters Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus is one of the larger species in the genus Sphaerodactylus. Their tail accounts for half of their length. Males and Females of Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus show a clear sexual dimorphism between one another. Included in the beige base color females have black cross bands. A characteristic in this species is three black dorsal bands between the front and hind legs.
The males on the other hand are gray with black spots on their backs. Depending on the subspecies the black points may range from head to tail, only on the back or missing altogether. Their body is gray and the head and tail are yellow-orange.
The young of Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus show the same coloration as females, however they display with more contrast. At about 5 months males will start to develop color changes. If kept with more than a few males proper coloration may take longer.

Habitat:


Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus is described as inhabiting soil, under rocks, debris and dead plant material. This species is often found under loose bark on trees to a height of 2 meters. The micro-habitats are slightly moist but never wet. Observation of whether or not Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus visits sun-exposed sites in order to heat up was unable to be determined. Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus is not very aggressive so it is possible to find several couples and their offspring inhabiting one tree with each pair living in a different piece of loose bark. Sphaerodactylus notatus could be located in the same type of habitat in Cuba.

Husbandry and Breeding:


Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus can be easily kept in a terrarium with an edge length of 20 centimeters. However a larger terrarium will offer a better opportunities to make enough hiding and nesting sites. This species should be kept in pairs, but can also be kept with different species, such as Sphaerodactylus notatus in a larger terrarium. A socialization with other members of Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus should not be attempted due to possible hybridization.
The enclosure should provide plenty of hiding places. The back and side walls should be decorated with natural cork, additional cork should be leaned against this to lend itself as a retreat and climbing surface. The substrate should consist of a sand-soil mixture. Laying bark on the floor and planting the terrarium with natural vegetation offers even further hiding places. A small water bowl and a bowl of crushed up cuttlefish bone are a must in completing the setup.
Illumination is provided by T5 fluorescent tubes rated for daylight color. These should produce the necessary temperatures of 26-28C (79-82F) during the day, at nightfall temperatures may drop to 24C (75F) in summer and in winter to 18C (64F).
They should be fed 2-3 times a week with appropriate sized food. Suitable feeders are small crickets, woodlice, firebrats, springtails, small wax moths and their larvae, fruit flies and aphids, to name a few. All food should be dusted with the appropriate supplements.
To achieve a relative humidity of 70% and keep the soil moist the terrarium should be misted once daily.
Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus females lay a single egg roughly every 3 weeks in a suitable location. They are found usually in between split wood or plants, but sometimes they are buried in the substrate. For better control it is recommended to move the eggs to an incubator. Following incubation temperatures of 26-28C (79-82F) the young animals hatch around 70-90 days with a total length of 26-32 millimeters. The young animals can be raised in converted 1.3 liter household containers separately, in small groups, or with other small species of geckos. The substrate should be a soil and sand mixture. A plant, a shallow lid filled with water and a small cork tube serve as sufficient decoration. Illumination may be provided by laying a small fluorescent tube over the container. Suitable food consists of micro crickets, firebrats, isopods, small wax moth larvae and springtails to name a few. All food should be dusted with the proper vitamins at every feeding!
Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus is a very attractive terrarium specimen which displays very beautiful coloration in both sexes. In the evening the animals can be observed by me easily while they search for food. Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus is suitable for for beginners due to its hardiness and the ease of caring for the young.

Sidenote:


Fortunately the source of several subspecies of Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus in captivity is known.
Through new morphological observations and habitat studies it was proven that animals often referred to as S. nigropunctatus "torrei" (little to undotted males) are actually S. nigropunctatus "granti". The subspecies formally known as S. nigropunctatus "granti" (dotted males) is probably a new subspecies and will temporarily be called S. nigropunctatus "intermedius". No change was made for the subspecies S. nigropunctatus "ocujal".
Responsible breeders ensure that individuals from different populations are only pure bred, so that all subspecies remain 100% pure. When purchasing any of the above listed subspecies, you should make absolutely certain that animals only from the same populations were kept and bred together!

Text: Corinna Höfling, Leipzig

Photos: Dennis Hluschi, Leipzig

Translation: Maureen Winter, Münster

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti (Male)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti (Male)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti (Female)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti (Female)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti (Hatchling)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti (Hatchling)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus granti(Semiadult Male)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus ocujal(Pair)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus (Biotope)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus ssp. (Male)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus ssp. (Female)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus ssp. (Hatchling)

Sphaerodactylus nigropunctatus ssp. (Biotope)