Pale-snouted ground gecko (Diplodactylus stenodactylus)

Facial profile of the pale-snouted ground gecko

Top facts

  • The pale-snouted ground gecko’s scientific name comes from Diplodactylus meaning ‘double toe’, and stenodactylus meaning ‘narrow toe’.
  • A terrestrial, ground-dwelling gecko, the pale-snouted ground gecko forages at night for insects.
  • The pale-snouted ground gecko’s visible characteristics are considerably variable within its range.
  • The pale-snouted ground gecko often shelters in spiders’ holes. 
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Pale-snouted ground gecko fact file

Pale-snouted ground gecko description

GenusDiplodactylus (1)

A small and slender species, the pale-snouted ground gecko (Diplodactylus stenodactylus) shows high morphological and colour variation within its range throughout Australia (3). This species is pink to reddish-brown in colour, and has a pale stripe running from each eye, merging together at the nape of its neck and running down the centre of its back (4) (5). The pale-snouted ground gecko also has distinctive spots on its flanks and fine, rough scales on its body (4).

The pale-snouted ground gecko belongs to a group known as the Diplodactylus stenodactylus species complex, the species of which have often caused taxonomic confusion due to their morphological similarities. As the pale-snouted ground gecko is highly variable within its range, there is also some uncertainty regarding the taxonomy of this particular species, with some scientists placing it in the Lucasium genus (3).

Also known as
crowned gecko, sandplain gecko, sand-plain gecko.
Diplodactylus polyophthalmus, Diplodactylus woodwardi, Lucasium stenodactylum, Turnerdactylus stenodactylus.
Male snout-vent length: up to 57 mm (2)
Female snout-vent length: up to 59 mm (2)
Hatchling snout-vent length: 22 - 27 mm (2)

Pale-snouted ground gecko biology

Surprisingly little is known about the biology of many desert-dwelling Australian geckos (2). The pale-snouted ground gecko is a nocturnal species (5), often sheltering in spider holes during the day and emerging at dusk to hunt for insects (7).  

The pale-snouted ground gecko has been seen breeding in January, and eggs have been recorded in November, December and January. Young appear to hatch between December and February. Occasionally, the pale-snouted ground gecko will lay multiple clutches within a breeding season, but this will not affect its ability to breed the following year (2). The pale-snouted ground gecko generally lays two eggs per clutch (6).

Like many reptiles, the pale-snouted ground gecko is particularly susceptible to vibrations caused by movement, moving rapidly away if approached (7).


Pale-snouted ground gecko range

The pale-snouted ground gecko is found on mainland Australia in New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia (1) (6) (7). This species has also been recorded on Barrow Island, off the country’s west coast (8)


Pale-snouted ground gecko habitat

The pale-snouted gecko is reported to occur in arid habitats (3) where there is red sand and gravelly soil (4) (5) (7), on sand plains (4), and in savannah woodland and shrubland (4) (5).


Pale-snouted ground gecko status

The pale-snouted ground gecko is not yet classified on the IUCN Red List. 


Pale-snouted ground gecko threats

The pale-snouted ground gecko is threatened by habitat degradation caused by introduced species that graze on the spinifex grass, shrubs and ground cover that this species relies on. Loss of this habitat also increases predation risk for individuals moving between vegetation. The pale-snouted ground gecko is particularly at risk from predation by foxes and cats (5).

As pale-snouted ground gecko populations are fragmented throughout Australia, the risk of extinction from genetic effects and natural disasters is greater than for other, more widespread species (5).


Pale-snouted ground gecko conservation

Despite not yet being classified on the IUCN Red List, in New South Wales the pale-snouted ground gecko is listed as vulnerable. Suggested priority actions for this species’ recovery within this region include controlling feral predator populations, strategic management of the fire regime in order to ensure that all habitats are not burned at the same time, and maintaining the leaf litter, fallen logs, ground debris and spinifex grass which this gecko needs to survive (5)


Find out more

Find out more about the conservation of Australian reptiles:

Find out more about wildlife conservation in Australia:

Learn more about reptile species on Barrow Island:



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A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
Referring to the visible or measurable characteristics of an organism.
The back of the neck.
Active at night.
Relating to taxonomy, the science of classifying organisms, grouping together animals which share common features and are thought to have a common ancestor.


  1. Species 2000 and ITIS Catalogue of Life(April, 2013)
  2. Read, J. (1999) Longevity, reproductive effort and movements of three sympatric Australian arid-zone geckos. Australian Journal of Zoology, 47: 307-316.
  3. Pepper, M., Doughty, P. and Keogh, J. S. (2006) Molecular phylogeny and phylogeography of the Australian Diplodactylus stenodactylus (Gekkota; Reptilia) species-group based on mitochondrial and nuclear genes reveals an ancient split between Pilbara and non-Pilbara D. Stenodactylus. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 41: 539 - 555.
  4. Wilson, S. (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. New Holland Publishers, Sydney.
  5. New South WalesGovernment: Threatened species profile - Crowned gecko (April, 2013)
  6. The Australian Online Reptile Database: Sand-plain gecko (April, 2013)
  7. Johansen, T. (2012) A Field Guide to the Geckos of Northern Territory. AuthorHouse, Bloomington, Indiana.
  8. Moro, D. and MacAulay, I. (2010) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Barrow Island. Chevron Australia, Perth. Available at:

Image credit

Facial profile of the pale-snouted ground gecko  
Facial profile of the pale-snouted ground gecko

© Greg Harold / Auscape International

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