East sand gecko (Stenodactylus leptocosymbotus)

East sand gecko
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East sand gecko fact file

East sand gecko description

GenusStenodactylus (1)

The east sand gecko is a slender, rather delicate looking gecko with long, thin legs, rounded toes, a thin tail and a relatively large head (2) (3). Like many other gecko species, the large eyes have pupils that contract to a vertical slit (3) (4). The body of the east sand gecko is beige and somewhat mottled, with a white underside. The male and female are similar in appearance, but the male east sand gecko can be recognised by the two clear pockets at the base of the tail, which contain the hemipenes (2). Juveniles have a black tail with a white tip, which is less distinct in the adult (5).

Also known as
eastern sand gecko, southern short-fingered gecko.
Stenodactylus leptocosymbotes.
Total length: 10 cm (2)

East sand gecko biology

The east sand gecko is a nocturnal and ground-dwelling species (5) (7) which, like other geckos, is likely to feed on insects and other small invertebrates (4). Little information is available on the biology of this small lizard, but, like the related Arabian sand gecko (Stenodactylus arabicus), the female may lay a single egg (3). The young east sand gecko is reported to produce waves of movement along the extended tail when confronted by a potential predator, possibly to distract the predator’s attention towards the tail, which is expendable, and away from the more vulnerable head and body (5).


East sand gecko range

The east sand gecko is found in Oman, southeast Yemen and the eastern United Arab Emirates (1) (2) (6).


East sand gecko habitat

The east sand gecko is found in areas of firm sand, especially on coastal dunes, in which it digs long tunnels (2) (5). It is also reported to occur on gravel plains (3).


East sand gecko status

This species has yet to be classified by the IUCN.


East sand gecko threats

Very little information is available on the threats faced by the east sand gecko, and its status in the wild, as well as its occurrence in the pet trade, are currently unknown. However, in areas such as the United Arab Emirates, it may potentially by threatened by a range of activities that impact its habitat, such as urbanisation, development, overgrazing, overextraction of groundwater, pollution, and increasing levels of tourism (8).


East sand gecko conservation

There are no specific conservation measures known to be in place for the east sand gecko, and the species has yet to be assessed by the IUCN (9). However, in the United Arab Emirates, efforts are underway by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) to protect and manage biodiversity in the region, and to promote sustainable development (10). Further research is likely to be needed into the biology, populations and threats faced by the east sand gecko before this delicate small reptile can be better protected.

Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is a principal sponsor of ARKive. EAD is working to protect and conserve the environment as well as promoting sustainable development in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

Find out more

To find out more about this and other sand geckos see:

For more information on conservation in the United Arab Emirates see:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact: arkive@wildscreen.org.uk


A hemipenis (plural hemipenes) is one of a pair of reproductive organs, present in snakes and lizards. Usually held inverted, within the body, it is everted for reproduction.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones), echinoderms, and others.
Active at night.


  1. J. Craig Venter Institute: Reptiles Database (August, 2009)
  2. Ciliatus.it (August, 2009)
  3. Hellyer, P. and Aspinall, S. (2005) The Emirates: A Natural History. Trident Press Limited, London.
  4. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  5. Arnold, E.N. (1984) Evolutionary aspects of tail shedding in lizards and their relatives. Journal of Natural History, 18: 127 - 169.
  6. UNEP-WCMC Species Database (July, 2009)
  7. Vine, P. (1996) Natural Emirates: Wildlife and Environment of the United Arab Emirates. Trident Press, London.
  8. WWF: Major environmental threats in the UAE (August, 2009)
  9. IUCN Red List (August, 2009)
  10. The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (August, 2009)

Image credit

East sand gecko  
East sand gecko

© Drew Gardner

Dr Drew Gardner


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