A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California

Ringed Wall Gecko - Tarentola annularis

(Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1827)

(= White-spotted Wall Gecko)

Click on a picture for a larger view
Long-tailed Brush Lizard Range Map
Red dots: locations where this non-native lizard
has been established in California

If you see a lizard that looks like this living in the wild
anywhere in California (outside of downtown Redlands) please contact me and send a picture if you can.

Click on the map for a topographical view

Map with California County Names

List of Non-Native Reptiles and Amphibians
Established in California

observation link

This species has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

San Francisco Alligator Lizard
Adult, Redlands, San Bernardino County © William Flaxington
San Francisco Alligator Lizard San Francisco Alligator Lizard
Adult, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County Adult, Redlands, San Bernardino County
© William Flaxington
San Francisco Alligator Lizard San Francisco Alligator Lizard San Francisco Alligator Lizard
Adult, Redlands, San Bernardino County
© William Flaxington
Adult, San Juan Capistrano, Orange County
Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat Cope's Leopard Lizard Habitat
Habitat, Redlands, San Bernardino County
Adults grow up to 7-8 inches total length (17.8 - 20.3 cm) with a maximum head-body size of 5.5 inches (14 cm).
(Powell, Conant, & Collins, 2016)

A robust-bodied lizard with rows of large rough tubercular scales covering the back, raised scales covering the limbs and tail, and elongated toes.
Color and Pattern
Color is gray or tan.
Usually with 4 distinctive white spots with dark borders on the shoulders. (These spots are often not present on juveniles.)
(These are the white spots which give this species its name. It has no other "ringed" markings.)
Male/Female Differences
Males are larger than females, with a broader head.
The spots are sometimes not present or not easily visible on juveniles.
Similar Non-native Geckos Found in California
Moorish Geckos are smaller with more wrinkled skin with more prominent tubercles and they do not have white spots on the shoulders.
Mediterranean Geckos are smaller with fewer large tubercles and lack the white spots on the shoulders.
Peninsular Leaf-toed Geckos are smaller, with fewer tubercles and no white spots and in California are only found on rocks in the Colorado Desert in the extreme south-central part of the state. They are not found in urban or suburban areas.

Behavior and Life History
Pugnacious, biting readily when grabbed.
Makes an audible squeaking sound when threatened or disputing territory with others of the species.
Diet and Feeding
Prey includes invertebrates and small lizards.
In northern Africa, females produce several sets of 2 eggs each season.

In California, found on urban buildings and in urban alleys.

Geographical Range
Native to parts of northern Africa.

Established in Florida, California and Arizona.

Apparently widespread in the Phoenix metropolitan area, possibly as the result of the intentional release of pets purchased by homeowners then released to control scorpions.
(Garcia, Sullivan, Bowker, Babb, Jones, Herpetological Review 51(4), 2020.)

Distribution in California

A population of T. annularis has been documented in Redlands, San Bernardino County.

In 2006 it was reported on the internet that there was a population of these geckos in Redlands. Comments in the H.E.R.P. database records indicate they have been present at least as early as 2002.

An unconfirmed rumor claims that the site of introduction was a pet store that was in the area but which no longer exists, that the store purchased a large group of the geckos in 1995, that an employee accidentally left their cage doors open and a number of geckos escaped into the store, and that despite store employees efforts to collect them all, they began breeding and about a year later had become established outside the store, which was confirmed when neighbors began bringing juveniles to the store to find out what they were.

William Flaxington confirmed that the geckos were still there in 2007. Some of his photos can be seen above.
Jonathan Hakkim confirmed that they were still present in 2010 and 2012.
You should be able to see Jonathan's photos and those taken by other photographers and their habitat on the H.E.R.P. dababase here.  If this link no longer works, go to the H.E.R.P. database and search for Tarentola annularis.

In 2013 I gave Kent Beaman of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles the locality information William Flaxington gave me for the geckos. Beaman had already searched for the geckos in Redlands but in the wrong area. With the correct location information he was able to collect some specimens for the museum and publish the first documentation that the species was established in California in September, 2014. (Kent R. Beaman and David M. Goodward. Verified by Clark Mahrdt. Herpetological Review 45(3), 2014). (Their note did not mention William Flaxington's contribution to the effort.)

An established population of non-native geckos preseumed to be T. annularis was discovered in San Juan Capistrano in Orange County in September, 2019. These geckos were confirmed to be T. annularis and documented in March, 2021.
(Samuel R. Fisher, Chelsea E. Martin, Robert N. Fisher. Herpetological Review 52(1), 2021.

The species Tarentola annularis - Ringed Wall Gecko, is listed on the 2008 SSAR Alien Species list as native to northern Africa and established in Florida in Lee and Miami-Dade counties - possibly established from a pet store release in Tallahassee.

Full Species Range Map
(Based on a map at

Taxonomic Notes

Two subspecies are recognized:

Tarentola annularis annularis Geoffroy De St-Hilaire 1827
Tarentola annularis relicta Joger 1984

Alternate and Previous Names

White-spotted Wall Gecko

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Not known, but probably poses no threat due to the lack of other native vertebrate species in its urban habitat.

Family Gekkonidae Geckos Gray, 1825
Genus Tarentola Wall Geckos Gray, 1825

annularis Ringed Wall Gecko (Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1827)
Original Description
Geoffroy De St-Hilaire 1827

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Tarentola = Taranto (a city in Italy)
annularis = one year old (from a Latin Dictionary)

Related or Similar California Herps

Mediterranean Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus 
Indo-Pacific Gecko - Hemidactylus garnotii (Fox Gecko, Garnot's House Gecko)
Tropical House Gecko - Hemidactylus mabouia (Woodslave)
Common House Gecko - Hemidactylus frenatus
Flat-tailed House Gecko - Hemidactylus platyurus
Moorish Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica  
Keeled Rock Gecko - Cyrtopodion scabrum (Bow-footed Gecko, Keeled Gecko, Rough-tailed Gecko)
Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko - Phyllodactylus nocticolus

More Information and References
Robert Powell, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Bartlett, R. D. and Patricia Bartlett. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles ad Amphibians. Gulf Publishing, 1999.

Conservation Status

The following conservation status listings for this animal are taken from the January 2024 State of California Special Animals List and the January 2024 Federally Listed Endangered and Threatened Animals of California list (unless indicated otherwise below.) Both lists are produced by multiple agencies every year, and sometimes more than once per year, so the conservation status listing information found below might not be from the most recent lists. To make sure you are seeing the most recent listings, go to this California Department of Fish and Wildlife web page where you can search for and download both lists:

A detailed explanation of the meaning of the status listing symbols can be found at the beginning of the two lists. For quick reference, I have included them on my Special Status Information page.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status you can also go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Organization Status Listing  Notes
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None

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