I stumbled upon this species about 1 ½ years ago while browsing random Facebook reptile groups. Seeing just one photo, I was struck by how morphologically interesting they were. Their short, rounded heads, relatively long and thin tail, and banded gray/silver pattern was immediately ingrained in my mind. I knew from then on I had to have some. Luckily, within a month or two, I ended up with 2.2 long term captive specimens and have managed to breed them two seasons in a row.
Homopholis fasciata are located in East Africa, from Tanzania up to Ethiopia. Arboreal in nature, H. fasciata may be located in trees, often wedged deep within tight crevices. They are not a large gecko, reaching lengths of 2-4” SVL. Currently, my largest female is ~3 ½“ SVL, with 2- 2 ½“ SVL being closer in size to my other 2.1. The genus Homopholis is restricted to Africa, with a sister taxa, Blaesodactylus, which is endemic to Madagascar. H. fasciata can easily be differentiated from the other known species of Homopholis by their slender build, banded pattern, and small size.
|Large Adult Female|
The species as a whole is incredibly hardy, perhaps even more than everyone’s favorite Correlophus ciliatus. Aside from providing a puck light that gives them a basking temperature of 95 F, I mist nightly and give the adults food 2-3 times a week. Ambient temperatures have been as high as 84 (summer) and even as low as 55 F (winter). Hatchlings are kept at 80-82 F in fruit fly deli cups, and fed 3-4 times a week. These animals devour just about any insect placed in front of them. My animals have been mostly nocturnal so far, but the sound of dubia scattering in a deli cup has managed to bring them out before lights have gone out. If there is one way to their heart, it is through their stomach.
In the times I have handled them, they easily twist their bodies in ways unimaginable, and can leap fairly well, aiding in their arboreal existence. In captivity, these animals have a strong preference for tight, dark spaces. Cork rounds are largely ignored, but bamboo tubes with ½” openings are almost always utilized. I have often witnessed these animals climb into bamboo tubes headfirst, only to watch them come out the same way after apparently contorting their bodies completely around. Two distinct features are apparent in this species. First, they do bite and will not hesitate to do so. Even in my F1s that I hatched, they will mouth gape and then try to bite, even if unrestrained. Once, while checking for eggs, I accidentally bumped a gecko, causing it to latch on and hold on for 7 minutes. Even so, the bite rarely hurts, and is mostly just a hindrance if you have things to do. There is one account in the field, where one H.fasciata was witnessed rushing out of a gap within a tree to chase off a small passerine bird that was sitting at the end of a branch (C. Ramsey, pers. comm.) Aside from being predisposed to biting, incubation time within the species is rather remarkable, lasting 4+ months. My first egg that hatched incubated for 166 days at 78-81 F.
Hardy with simple care, it is difficult to not provide adequate care for these correctly. I believe that their label as “cheap imports” is the only thing preventing them from growing in popularity. Although my time with them can be marked in years rather than decades, I have yet to lose my fascination with these animals and do not see myself doing so.
|2015 F1H. fasciata hatchling|
(all photos by the author)