Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Phyllodactylidae

Scientific Name: Tarentola chazaliae
Species Authority: (Mocquard, 1895)
Common Name(s):
English Helmethead Gecko
French Gecko casqué
Geckonia chazaliae Mocquard, 1895
Taxonomic Notes: We follow Carranza et al. (2002) in treating this species as a member of the genus Tarentola, instead of Geckonia where it has traditionally been placed, on the basis of molecular evidence.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A3cd; B1ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2004-07-18
Needs updating
Assessor(s): Wilms, T., Wagner, P., Geniez, P., Mateo, J.A., Joger, U., Pleguezuelos, J., Slimani, T. & El Mouden, E.H.
Reviewer(s): Bowles, P.
Listed as Vulnerable applying Criterion B1ab(iii,v), as this species' global extent of occurrence is considered to be less than 20,000 km2 (although a more precise figure is not possible), it is known from fewer than 10 locations defined by threats from development and exploitation, and there is a continuing decline in the extent and quality of this lizard's habitat due to coastal development and decline in mature individuals to to collection for the pet trade. Additionally, rampant coastal development is increasingly threatening the northern half of this species' narrow coastal distribution range; almost total transformation of this coastal strip is expected in the coming decade and certainly within the next 19.5 years (three generations), with a corresponding population decline expected to exceed 30% over this time period which is made even worse by the collection for the pet trade, and it therefore also qualifies as Vulnerable applying Criterion A3cd.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This species occurs along the coast of western North Africa. It ranges from the environs of Agadir in Morocco, south through coastal Western Sahara, to Cap Blanc in Mauritania. A record from further south, Dakar in Senegal, represents an erroneous locality, and there are no confirmed records of this species from Senegal  (Ineich et al. 1998, Padial 2006). It is a coastal lowland species that occurs up to 20 km from the coast, and from 0-100 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Mauritania; Morocco; Western Sahara
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO):Unknown
Number of Locations:2-9
Upper elevation limit (metres):100
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is thought to be declining, particularly in the Moroccan part of its range where it is threatened by ongoing coastal development. Almost total transformation of this coastal strip is expected in the coming decade and certainly within the next 19.5 years (three generations). Since the population density is historically evenly distributed along the coast, this is expected to lead to a population decline close to or possibly exceeding 30%. Volumes in the pet trade have declined; it is not known whether this reflects a reduction in demand or whether animals are becoming harder to find.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals:Yes
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This species is found in succulent vegetation on sandy and stony soil in coastal areas, dunes where shelters are available, and rocky plateaus with refuges. It invariably occurs within several kilometres of the ocean, where humidity is high (Trape et al. 2012). In the north of its range, it is particularly associated with low-lying beaches. This nocturnal gecko feeds on small arthropods (Trape et al. 2012). The female lays between four and five clutches of one to two eggs per year. The eggs are buried in sand.
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):6.5

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is regularly found in the pet trade, in relatively high numbers.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): This species is threatened in Morocco (almost a third of its range) by urbanization and fragmentation of its coastal habitats; development is ongoing in this area and imminent expansion of development activities threatens areas not currently under pressure. As a result, almost total transformation of this coastal strip is expected in the coming decade. Storm surges are expected to become more violent as sea levels rise, potentially exposing low-lying beaches to regular flooding that may render them unsuitable for the lizard's persistence. It is also hit by vehicles along the roads. This species is commonly traded in relatively large numbers, and access to sites where the gecko occurs is facilitated by a road running the length of the coastal and near-coastal strip of Morocco and Western Sahara.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It exists in protected areas in Morocco, in the Banc d'Arguin National Park in Mauritania, and probably in other reserves elsewhere in its range. However, most of its range remains outside protected areas, and is likely to be threatened by development; controls on development are urgently required. Research to determine population size and trade volumes are essential to determine the impacts of harvesting on this species.

Classifications [top]

3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability: Suitable  
0. Root -> 6. Rocky areas (eg. inland cliffs, mountain peaks)
suitability: Marginal  
8. Desert -> 8.1. Desert - Hot
suitability: Suitable  
13. Marine Coastal/Supratidal -> 13.3. Marine Coastal/Supratidal - Coastal Sand Dunes
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Very Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Minority (<50%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Low Impact: 5 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Whole (>90%) ♦ severity: Unknown ⇒ Impact score: Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.4. Storms & flooding
♦ timing: Future ♦ scope: Unknown ♦ severity: Unknown ⇒ Impact score: Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

♦  Pets/display animals, horticulture
 International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Bons, J. and Geniez, P. 1996. Amphibiens et Reptiles du Maroc (Sahara Occidental compris), Atlas biogéographique. Asociación Herpetológica Española, Barcelona.

Carranza, S., Arnold, E.N., Mateo, J.A. and Geniez, P. 2002. Relationships and evolution of the North African geckos, Geckonia and Tarentola (Reptilia: Gekkonidae), based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 23: 244-256.

Geniez, P., Mateo, J.-A. and Bons, J. 2000. A checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Western Sahara (Amphibia, Reptilia). Herpetozoa 13(3/4): 149-163.

Ineich, I., Dia, A.T., Alphaly, B. and Colas, F. 1998. Geographic Distribution. Geckonia chazaliae. Herpetological Review 29(1): 51.

IUCN. 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2013.1). Available at: (Accessed: 12 June 2013).

Padial, J.M. 2006. Commented distributional list of the reptiles of Mauritania (West Africa). Graellsia 62(2): 159-178.

Schleich, H.H., Kästle, W. and Kabisch, K. 1996. Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz, Koenigstein.

Schulte, R. 1974. Geckonia chazaliae, der Helmgecko. DATZ 27(9): 319-322.

Trape, J.-F., Trape, S. and Chirio, L. 2012. Lézards, crocodiles et tortues d'Afrique occidentale et du Sahara. IRD Editions, Marseille.

Citation: Wilms, T., Wagner, P., Geniez, P., Mateo, J.A., Joger, U., Pleguezuelos, J., Slimani, T. & El Mouden, E.H. 2013. Tarentola chazaliae. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T199698A2609259. . Downloaded on 13 October 2015.
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