Family: Gekkonidae - Geckos
Order: Squamata - Lizards and Snakes
Phylum: Chordata - Vertebrates
Red List status: Not listed
Endemic to Madagascar, where it is occurs in an arc from the southeast coast along the base of the island, and along the west coast north to Kirindy, tracing the distribution of its dry spiny forest habitat.
Other common names: Big-headed gecko, ocelot gecko, Madagascar ground gecko, painted ground gecko, pictus gecko
A rather large member of its genus, strikingly banded in brown and cream-white along the dorsal surface. An arc-shaped marking of the same shade of brown, often bordered in white, usually extends across the back of the head connecting the eyes. The limbs and original tail are patterned in the same colours. Dorsal patterning takes the form of a dark-bordered band around the neck, and four light transverse bands between this and the pelvic region, some of which may be broken or incomplete. A dark-bordered vertebral stripe of the same light colour is occasionally present. Paroedura geckos are distinguished by their large heads and big eyes with vertical pupils. In P. picta the iris is a dark metallic green. The skin is smooth, without prominent tubercles along the back, and does not form longitudinal rows. The large lamellae are paired at each toe tip. The toe tips themselves are not enlarged.
Similar species: The vertical pupils and distinctive patterning of this species makes the panther gecko difficult to confuse with other Malagasy lizards, aside from other Paroedura. The small toe tips, an adaptation to this species' terrestrial lifestyle, are unique within this genus. Within its range, only P. maingoka exhibits strongly banded patterning as an adult; this species is restricted to the southwest coast and the bands are vertically rather than diagonally transverse; those of P. picta extend diagonally down the flanks. Juvenile and subadult Madagascar spiny-tailed geckos (P. bastardi) have two, rather than four, pale bands along the dorsum.
Terrestrial in dry forest and spiny scrub, commonly among leaf litter or on a sandy substrate. The species occurs infrequently in areas of riparian forest within its range.
Altitude: 70 - 240 m, and potentially at higher elevations.
The panther gecko is nocturnally active, though may also exhibit crepuscular activity patterns. It is the most terrestrial species of Paroedura.
Lifespan: Panther geckos are known to live up to ten years in captivity.
D'Cruze, N., Olsonn, A., Henson, D., Kumar, S. and Emmett, D. (2009) The amphibians and reptiles of the lower Onilahy river valley, a temporary protected area in southwest Madagascar. Herpetological Conservation and Biology 4: 62-79
Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (2007) A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Cologne, Vences & Glaw Verlag: 496pp
Lizard Wizard: Pictus Gecko Care