Added 13 November 2003. Last updated 18 November 2003: completed species listings and Bibliography and added a Quick Index.

A look at the

Subfamily DIPLODACTYLINAE - Diplodactyline Geckos


Genus OEDURA - Velvet Geckos

A medium-sized genus of nocturnal species which have become popular in the reptile hobby recently, despite the difficulties of obtaining them due to their Australian origin. Mattison notes that once they were thought to be more closely related to the eublepharine than the diplodactyline geckos, but they are mostly arboreal (or rock-dwellers) and have toepads. In the wild they are secretive: tree-dwellers usually conceal themselves beneath peeling bark, the rock-dwellers in crevices, etc. Their greatly flattened body form assists in this. All are adapted to their dry conditions and can go for months without food or water.

Among the characteristics for the genus listed by Cogger are: rostral and mental shields rounded: labials larger than adjacent scales: postmentals enlarged: digits all clawed and expanded distally to form a pad: claws small, retractile and laying beneath enlarged apical lamellae: preanal pores present. A good number of the species listed here have only been described within the twenty years of the twentieth century.

O. castelnaui, the Northern Velvet Gecko, has in particular been bred often in captivity, so legitimate animals are available. The Bartletts note that it is a nervous but fairly fertile species. See Bibliography for care instructions.

O. castelnaui, Northern Velvet Gecko O. coggeri, Northern Spotted Velvet Gecko O. filicipoda, Fringe-Toed Velvet Gecko
O. gemmata, Jewelled Velvet Gecko O. gracilis, Gracile Velvet Gecko O. leseurii, Leseur's Velvet Gecko
O. marmorata, Marbled Gecko O. monilis, Ocellated/Blotched Velvet Gecko O. obscura, Slim Velvet Gecko
O. ocellata, Ocellated Velvet Gecko? O. reticulata, Reticulated Velvet Gecko O. rhombifer, Zig-Zag Velvet Gecko
O. robusta, Robust Velvet Gecko O. tryonis, Southern Spotted Velvet Gecko  

Scientific name Common name Place of origin Size (max) Notes
O. castelnaui Northern Velvet Gecko Australia (Cape York Peninsula, north of 18 deg S, Queensland) 90mm SVL One of the more available velvet geckos: captive-bred specimens are sometimes available outside Australia. They are found mainly in woodland, but although arboreal they may also hide under bark on fallen trees or among natural or man-made debris on the ground. Scalation: single postanal tubercle each side: dorsal scales flat, round, juxtaposed and homogoneous. Coloration: dorsally dark purple-brown, with five white or yellowish transverse bands between snout and vent. The bands and spaces between them are equidistant. Juveniles are very clearly banded, but old adults may show a number of yellow scales within the bands, breaking the overall appearance up somewhat. The first dark band forms a collar or "bridle" on the neck that runs from eye to eye: otherwise the snout and crown of head are pale. The limbs are speckled and mottled. Ventral surfaces are whitish.
O. coggeri Northern Spotted Velvet Gecko Australia (Queensland) 70mm SVL Usually found in woodland under exfoliating granite in rocky outcrops or hills, but sometimes under bark on fallen trees. It forages at night on open rock faces. Scalation: usually 18 or less interorbitals: dorsal rows usually < 95. Otherwise similar to O. castelneau. Coloration: dorsally orange brown. There is a series of pale ocelli or short transverse bars bordered with dark purple-brown: these may join up to form crossbands. The ocelli may also contain dark brown scales. A dark brown stripe runs along the side of the face and joins at the top to form a nuchal band or "bridle".
O. filicipoda Fringe-Toed Velvet Gecko Australia (Mitchell plateau, Kimberley, WA) 100mm SVL An inhabitant of caves in "heavily dissected sandstone" [Cogger]. Scalation: 4 postanal tubercles on each side in males. Dorsal scales small, flat, juxtaposed and homogenous, almost as large as the ventrals. The digits on each foot have conspicuous lateral fringes caused by laterally-expanded subdigital lamellae. Coloration: dorsally dark brown, speckled with small fawn or yellow spots, including on the face. There are five narrow, paler brown crossbands. Original tails are blue-black with several broad blackish crossbands spotted with bright yellow, but regenerated tails are blackish mottled with yellow. Ventral surfaces are whitish with darker or grey-brown dots, flecks or mottling, most noticeably on the throat.
O. gemmata Jewelled Velvet Gecko/Dotted Velvet Gecko Australia (W. escarpment of Arnhem Land, NT) 100mm SVL Nocturnal rock-dwelling gecko. Scalation: usually 2-3 postanal tubercles on each side. Dorsal scales small, flat, juxtaposed and same size as ventrals. Tail sometimes slender but usually fat and depressed. Coloration: dorsally dark brown to black, with numerous small and irregularly scattered cream, yellow and pale brown spots. Original tails are black with narrow whitish crossbands and scattered white spots. Ventral surfaces are whitish or grey.
O. gracilis Gracile Velvet Gecko W Australia 85mm SVL Found in the same range as O. coggeri, but among rocky outcrops. Scalation: 3 postanal tubercles each side. Dorsal scales flat, round, juxtaposed and homogoneous, almost as large as ventrals. Tail long and slender, round, almost as long as SVL. Enlarged apical lamellae of 4th toes followed by 2 pairs of large divided lamellae. Coloration: dorsally dark yellow-brown with usually 8 paler yellow-brown crossbands. These bands are about twice as wide as the spaces between them. There is a blackish streak along the face that continues through the eye and above the ear to form a continuous bridle. The edge of the eyelid is yellow, the lips and ventral surfaces whitish.
O. leseurii Leseur's Velvet Gecko Australia (coast and ranges of NSW and SE Qld) 80mm SVL Found in caves and crevices or under exfoliating slabs on large rocks slopes and ridges. Although it does forage on rock faces, it prefers ground litter. Scalation: 2 or more postanal tubercles. Dorsal scales finely granular, very small and homogenous, much smaller than ventrals. Tail is moderately long and quite flattened. Coloration: dorsally pale grey to brown: broad, dark-edged vertebral band, sometimes broken up into rhomboid patches, especially on the tail. The edges of the band are deeply notched, giving a zig-zag impression. Sides and limbs are dark grey to brown and mottled with paler or darker brown. Snout and top of head are pale with obscure darker mottling. Ventrally whitish.
O. marmorata Marbled Velvet Gecko Australia (New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, S & W) 7½" Not to be confused with the African Fat-Tailed Gecko, Hemitheconyx caudinctus. O. marmorata is a social lizard, specimens forming small groups in small isolated hilly or mountainous regions of the desert. It can also be found in wooded areas. Apart from the normal insect diet it also preys upon smaller lizards. has a good photograph. Coloration: usually dorsally purple-brown with 5-6 pale white or yellow transverse bands between snout and vent: the bands are often dark-centred, usually less than half the width of the darker interspaces.
O. monilis Ocellated/Blotched Gecko Australia (C & N New South Wales to C & E Queensland) 8cm SVL Arboreal dweller in dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands of eucalyptus or Callitris across the ranges and slopes of its range: usually found beneath bark or in crevices of standing or fallen trees. Rogner notes that in addition to the usual food animals, captives will also take earthworms and may even take strips of pork. Scalation: dorsal scales flat and round, about equal in size to ventrals: 1 postanal tubercle on each side. Coloration: dorsally pale yellow-brown with network of purplis- or blue-brown scales: 5-6 pairs of white, cream or bluish-white ocelli form a vertebral pattern from the neck to the tail base: the ocelli in a pair may coalesce with each other to form a larger, "8"-shaped marking or transverse bar [Cogger]: in C Queensland populations the blackish edges of the ocelli often join to form longitudinal markings, especially anteriorly. A dark streak below the canthus rostralis runs to behind the eye. Ventrally whitish. Reproduction: juveniles are much darker (purplish-black) with the ocelli a contrasting yellow. Captive females may lay up to 5 clutches per year [Rogner].
O. obscura Slim Velvet Gecko W Australia (Kimberley region and adj. islands) 6cm SVL Found under flat boulders of sandstone (King, cited in Cogger). Scalation: 3 postanal tubercles each side: dorsal scales flat and round, almost as large as ventrals. Coloration: dorsally fawn, with a dark brown canthal streak and about 12 irregular narrow dark brown crossbands between the nape of the neck and the base of the tail. White spots are scattered over the head and non-banded areas. Ventrally whitish. The original tail is similar in colour and patterning to the dorsum, but regenerated tails are fawn with 3 longitudinal dark brown streaks. Reproduction: no details available.
O. ocellata Ocellated Velvet Gecko? Australia? 15cm/6" This species appears to be an older synonym of O. monilis and O. tryoni: it is no longer recognised in the EMBL reptile database or in Cogger. The name does seem to occur in older literature including that of the 20th century. Rogner (1992) offers the following data: An inhabitant of dry areas, including steppe and semi-desert. Coloration: dark grey-brown overall with pale dots, strips and ocelli on the back and tail: this patterning is beige or pale red in adults but bright yellow in young animals. Reproduction: males can be distinguished by two preanal tubercles and a slight thickening of the tail base. Juveniles take 1½ years to reach sexual maturity.
O. reticulata Reticulated Velvet Gecko W Australia 7cm SVL Found in mainly woodland areas in the southwest of the state, where it is apparently restricted to smooth-barked eucalyptus. Scalation: dorsally granular with very small dorsal scales: 1 postanal tubercle each side. Coloration: dorsally rich brown with darker flecks and spots and a broad paler vertebral stripe. Ventrally whitish. Reproduction: no details available.
O. rhombifer Zig-Zag Velvet Gecko N Australia 8cm SVL Found in northern Australia but not in the drier interior, although an apparently introduced population is now situated in Alice Springs. It inhabits tropical woodlands. Although arboreal and usually found beneath loose bark, it also is found in ground litter, human dumps and buildings. Scalation: dorsally very granular: 2 or more postanal tubercles on each side. Coloration: dorsally rich brown with the sides and limbs speckled with darker or paler shades of brown (the picture in Cogger appears actually rather greyish): broad pale brown or cream vertebral band transversed by very short crossbands of the same colour (giving a somewhat "zigzag" effect) runs from about halfway along the tail to the nape of the neck, where it divides and runs along both sides of the crown of the head. A dark brown or blackish stripe runs along the side of the snout to behind the eye. Ventrally whitish. Reproduction: no details available.
O. robusta Robust Velvet Gecko E Australia ( NE New South Wales to Atherton Tableland,Queensland) 7" [8cm SVL] An inhabitant of dry sclerophyll forests and woodland. It is usually found within the hollow limbs of, or under the bark of, a gum tree, which it apparently treats as a sort of home range: Cogger notes that its nocturnal foraging is restricted to this tree. However, it may sometimes be found in buildings. Click here for a photograph. Scalation: as for O. rhombifer, but 2-5 postanal tubercles on each side. Coloration: pale or blue-grey dorsally with darker sides. The dorsal pattern consists of a "ladder" outline (sometimes broken) in black or dark brown. Ventrally whitish. Limbs are finely speckled and mottled with dark brown and pale grey. Reproduction: no details available.
O. tryonis Southern Spotted Velvet Gecko E. Australia (SE Queensland and NE New South Wales 7"? [8cm SVL] Rock dweller found in a small part of eastern Australia in granite ranges in dry sclerophyll forest: it shelters in crevices or beneath exfoliating slabs. Click here for a photograph. Scalation: 1 postanal tubercle each side: dorsal scales flat and round, about same size as ventrals. Coloration: dorsally reddish- to chocolate-brown with numerous cream or yellow ocelli edged in black or dark brown. Sometimes the ocelli join to form transverse bars, especially on the neck, or in older individuals to form pale reticulations. Ventrally whitish. Reproduction: 2 parchment-shelled eggs produced: juveniles are brighter-coloured than adults.


Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Harold Cogger, 6th edition - absolutely indispensable for overview of Australian lizards. We acknowledge the indebtedness of this page to this book for taxonomic and scalation details.

Echsen [Lizards] 1, Rogner, Ullmer, 1992. The gecko section has a section on Oedura covering O. monilis, O. ocellata (see note in table) and O. rhombifer.

Lizard Care from A to Z, R D Bartlett and Patricia Bartlett, Barron's Educational Series, New York 1997. Section on Oedura, focusing on O. castelnaui.

Keeping and Breeding Lizards, Mattison. Brief but useful section on setting up terraria for Oedura and Diplodactylus.

"The Northern Velvet Gecko", John LePage, Reptile Hobbyist 2:5. Useful article covering mainly O. castelnaui but also looking at O. marmoratus and O. monilis.

Reptiles of the Townsville Region has some good pictures of various of the above geckos.

See also Index of Gecko-related articles for more sources on geckos.

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