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Ptenopus kochi HAACKE, 1964

IUCN Red List - Ptenopus kochi - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaGekkonidae, Gekkota, Sauria, Squamata (lizards: geckos)
Common NamesE: Koch's Chirping Gecko 
SynonymPtenopus kochi HAACKE 1964: 1
Ptenopus kochi — HAACKE 1976
Ptenopus kochi — KLUGE 1993
Ptenopus kochi — RÖSLER 2000: 107
Ptenopus kochi — MASHININI & MAHLANGU 2013
Ptenopus kochi — SCHLEICHER 2020 
DistributionNamibia (Gobabeb, Kuiseb River, SC Namib Desert)

Type locality: Gobabeb, central Namib Desert (23°37’S, 15°03’E, 408 m), SWA (now Namibia)  
TypesHolotype: DNMNH (= TM) 28809, adult male 
DiagnosisDIAGNOSIS: A stoutly built ground gecko, similar in general appearance to the common Barking Gecko (Ptenopus garrulus), but usually bigger than specimens of the latter from the same localities. Body scales much smaller than the scales of other species of the genus, and consequently a greater number of scales round the middle of the body, viz. 187-222. Toes and fingers fringed laterally with elongate pointed scales. Yellow colour in males not restricted to the throat only, but extending over labials on to sides of snout, neck and body.

DESCRIPTION: Holotype: Adult male, TM 28809, total length 119.8 (61.8 + 58) mm, tail length 93.8% of snout-vent length. Body covered with minute flattened scales, numbering 220 round middle of body, 82 gulars below eyes, 57 scales between supraciliary ridges. Upper labials 8, lower 9. Nostril pierced between 2 nasal scales, which are distinctly swollen. Nostril capable of being closed from the inside by a projection from upper nasal; nasal separated above rostral by a single, enlarged granule. Ear opening a short oblique slit. Rostral and mental undivided; cheeks swollen; no enlarged gular scales. Toes and fingers flattened and fringed laterally with greatly elongated, pointed scales. Tail tapering, covered with small, subimbricate scales. Three enlarged tubercular scales on either side of base of tail; postanal sacks present; preanal and femoral pores absent. Peritoneal lining pigmented (Haacke 1964: 2).

Colour in life: Basic dorsal colour reddish brown, with dark brown infusions, which are darker laterally. Underside of body. limbs and tail white. Throat sulphur-yellow. Yellow colour not restricted to throat but spreads over labials on to sides of snout, and also in the form of irregular spots along sides of neck and body. Hands paler in colour than body. dark infusions on toes and distal half of tail form indistinct crossbars. SupraciIliary ridges a pale reddish brown. Iris brown, with lighter areas on dorsal and ventral edges of pupil, and marked with fine wavy lines (Haacke 1964: 2).

Allotype: Adult, total length 104.6 (62.8+41.8) mm, body/tail ratio smallest in series. Base of tail not swollen. two enlarged tubercles on either side. 207 scales round middle of body, 84 gulars. 57 interorbital scales, 10 upper labials, 10 and 11 lower labials, nostrils surrounded by 2 nasal scales each. Colour (in alcohol);Underside, throat and lateral spots white, otherwise similar to holotype.
Paratypes:In general scale character of paratypes similar to holotype, but colour varies to a certain extent from very light to darker specimens (Haacke 1964: 2).
Statistically the most significant difference between P. kochi and the other two species is the much higher scale count round the middle of the body. No practical overlap was observed nor is a theoretical overlap of ± 3 S.D. possible. Furthermore P. kochi has a higher mean HB/tail ratio, which is not, however, very significant as overlaps were observed.
The toes of all three species are fringed laterally with elongated, pointed scales which, however, are weaker developed in P. carpi than in the other two species. The fingers too are fringed laterally with elongated, pointed scales in P. kochi but with triangular more or less pointed scales only in P. garruIus and P. carpi.
Peritoneal lining in P. kochi and P. garrulus pigmented, unpigmented in P. carpi.
In P. kochi an internal projection of the upper nasal scale can close the nostril, in P. garrulus this is not always so well developed, while in P . carpi the nostrils are open.

Sexual dimorpism: Males of all species have yellow throats. In P. kochi the yellow colour spreads to other parts of the body, while in the other species only a very restricted area is covered on the throat itself. It was generally assumed that the females of all the Ptenopus spp. had white throats, but, in October 1963, all three females of P. carpi had yellow throats, although the actual areas covered were smaller than in the males. The females might be more subject to seasonal changes; as Brain did not observe this fact when collecting the type-series in May 1959. Attention should also be given to this possibility in the other species. 
EtymologyNamed after Dr. Charles Koch (1894-1970), an Austrian-born entomologist. He became the first Director of the Namib Desert Research Station (1962). 
  • Barts, Mirko 2018. Ein kleiner Reiseführer zu den Reptilien und Amphibien Namibias. Draco 16 (64): 6-23 [2015] - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Haacke, W.D. 1964. Description of two new species of lizards and notes on Fitzsimonsia brevipes (FITZSIMONS) from the central Namib desert. Scientific Papers of the Namib Desert Research Station 25: 1-15
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; W.R. Branch 2013. Fifty years of herpetological research in the Namib Desert and Namibia with an updated and annotated species checklist. Journal of Arid Environments 93: 94–115 - get paper here
  • Mashinini, P. L. and Mahlangu, L. M. 2013. An annotated catalogue of the types of gekkonid lizards (Reptilia: Squamata: Gekkonidae) in the Herpetology collection of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History, South Africa. Annals of the Ditsong National Museum of Natural History 3: 165-181
  • Murray, Ian W. and Hilary M. Lease. 2015. Ptenopus kochi (Koch's barking gecko) diurnal activity. Herpetological Review 46 (3): 436 - get paper here
  • Rösler, H. 2000. Kommentierte Liste der rezent, subrezent und fossil bekannten Geckotaxa (Reptilia: Gekkonomorpha). Gekkota 2: 28-153
  • Rösler, Herbert 2017. Gecko-Chorologie (Squamata: Gekkota). Gekkota (4): 1-160
  • Schleicher, Alfred 2015. Reptilien Namibias. Namibia Scientific  Society, 276 pp.
  • Schleicher, Alfred 2020. Reptiles of Namibia. Kuiseb Publishers, Windhoek, Namibia, 271 pp.
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