Golden-tailed gecko

Golden-tailed gecko. Photo: Harry Hines, Queensland Government

Golden-tailed gecko. Photo: Harry Hines, Queensland Government

Common name: golden-tailed gecko

Scientific name: Strophurus taenicauda

Family: Diplodactylidae

Conservation status: This species is listed as Near Threatened in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and it is ranked as a medium priority under the department's Back on Track species prioritisation framework. 

Description: There are three subspecies of the golden-tailed gecko, with two new subspecies recently described in 2012 (Brown et.al.). Tail patterning and eye colour are the main external distinguishing features but there are also differences in the size of the spots on the dorsum, as described by Brown et.al. (2012) below:

  • Strophurus taenicauda taenicauda has a red eye, large dorsal spots (4–12 scales in size) and a single tail stripe with either undulating margins or transverse extensions.
  • Strophurus t. albiocularis ssp. nov. exhibits a pale eye, small dorsal spots (1–8 scales in size) and a single tail stripe with straight edges.
  • Strophurus t. triaureus ssp. nov. has an amber eye, small dorsal spots (1–3 scales in size) and three tail stripes: one straight-edged dorsal stripe and two undulating lateral stripes.

Its body is 70 mm long and the tail is slightly shorter (about 70 percent of the body length).

Habitat and distribution

The golden-tailed gecko lives in open woodland and open forest where it shelters under loose bark and hollow limbs.

Almost all known records of this species have occurred within the Brigalow Belt bioregion. Strophurus t. taenicauda is distributed in the south-eastern part of the Queensland Brigalow Belt bioregion, although a single record also exists from northern NSW. Strophurus t. albiocularis occupies the northern half of the range whilst Strophurus t. triaureus has a limited range in the central eastern part of the Brigalow Belt.

Life history and behaviour

The golden-tailed gecko is arboreal (lives in trees) where it shelters under loose bark or in hollows, emerging at night to feed on insects. This gecko can produce a thick fluid from its tail if it is disturbed. This is probably a means of deterring predators.

Females lay two eggs.

Threatening processes

The golden-tailed gecko is threatened by the clearing and destruction of its habitat. Vast areas of the Brigalow Belt have been historically cleared for agriculture, this has removed or fragmented much of the golden-tailed gecko’s habitat. Inappropriate fire and grazing regimes can also destroy habitat. Feral cats and foxes are suspected to prey upon this species.

Recovery actions

  • Conduct field surveys to clarify the extent of the species geographic range, its habitat preferences, and the extent of its occurrence in protected areas.
  • Identify key habitat and priority areas for conservation and develop management guidelines to protect and appropriately manage these areas.
  • Negotiate management agreements with landholders that are in line with recommended management guidelines to protect key habitat and priority areas.
  • Implement monitoring programs in key habitat and priority conservation areas.
  • Investigate the species biology, ecology and population dynamics to determine if it is experiencing decline and to identify causal factors.

Related information

Brown, D, Wilmer, JW & MacDonald, S. 2012. 'A revision of Strophurus taenicauda (Squamata; Diplodactylidae) with the description of two new subspecies from central Queensland and a southerly range extension', Zootaxa, no. 3243, pp. 1-28.

Cogger HG. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia (seventh edition). CSIRO Publishing, Victoria.

Wilson S and Swan G. 2017. A complete guide to reptiles of Australia (fifth edition). New Holland Publishers, Sydney.