It is a small nocturnal gecko up to 95 millimetres, snout vent length to 50 mm, with a long slender tail. The snout of Rhynchoedura ornata is narrow and beak-like, its characteristic pinched head readily distinguishes it from other gecko species. Occasionally the species is found beneath shrubs, but it most often shelters in the abandoned burrows of spiders and other lizards. The Beaked Gecko is reddish brown to red above, with tiny yellow, brown, and white spots. A light brown or grey colour is found on the head. A creamy or white stripe extends from below the eyes, the lower surface of the body is stark white. It's favored prey are termites.
The small digits of the species are slender and clawed. The small beak structure is formed by the projections of the rostral and mental shields. Preanal pores are present on R, ornata. This gecko regulates its temperature by moving to warmer or cooler positions. The female of the species is often larger and matures at an early age, less than 1 year, which allows greater development of its eggs for increased viability of its offspring. They produce two leathery eggs.
The beaked gecko is an endangered species, listed as a Schedule 4, requiring an "advanced" license to own and written notice of any transactions involving it, according to Victorian wildlife laws.
Distribution and habitat
Rhynchoedura ornata is widespread and common across Australia, primarily in its interior. It is found in arid to semi-arid regions of the country, in a wide variety of habitats and soil types. Its range covers New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, and West Australia. It does not occur on southern coastal regions or in the tropical north.
The species was first described by Albert Günther in 1867. The monotypic genus is placed in the Diplodactylinae subfamily of Gekkonidae, which are found throughout Australasia. This group shares characteristics with several species of Diplodactylus, the conspicillatus group, Glen Storr has suggested that these could be transferred to this genus. Many of the characters of this species are found in Diplodactylus stenodactylus, their appearance, habitat and distribution, and Diplodactylus pucher has a similar snout and vertebrae. Synonyms for this species include Diplodactylus paraornatus and Rhynchoedura ormsbyi published by Wells & Wellington.
Research into the phylogenetic relationships of Diplodactylus has identified two clades, and the resurrection of Lucasium has been proposed. Rhynchoedura was found to be distinct from D. byrnei, D. steindachneri and the stenodactylus group, but may be considered as a sister group to these.
- Cogger, Harold G. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia.
- Browne-Cooper, Robert; Brian Bush; Brad Maryan; David Robinson (2007). Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia. University of Western Australia Press. p. 123. ISBN 978-1-920694-74-6.
- Parker, Bob (2001). "Rhynchoedura ornata" (PDF). James Cook University. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
- "Rhynchoedura ornata Günther, 1867". Reptiles Database. J. Craig Venter Institute. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
- "Additions to the knowledge of Australian reptiles and fishes". Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. 3 (20): 45–57.
- Wells, R W; Wellington, C R (1984). "A synopsis of the class Reptilia in Australia". Australian Journal of Herpetology. 1 (3-4): 73–129.
- Wells, R. W.; Wellington, C. R. (1985). "A classification of the Amphibia and Reptilia of Australia". Australian Journal of Herpetology, Supplementary Series. 1: 1–61.
- Oliver, P. M.; M. N. Hutchinson; S. J. B. Cooper (2007). "Phylogenetic relationships in the lizard genus Diplodactylus Gray and resurrection of Lucasium Wermuth(Gekkota, Diplodactylidae).". Australian Journal of Zoology. 55: 197–210. doi:10.1071/zo07008.