Whilst birding the bottom valley of the Raydah Escarpment I saw a Rock Semaphore Gecko Pristurus rupestris also known as Blandford’s Semaphore Gecko. This is a tiny gecko which, like other members of the genus Pristurus, is notable for being active during the day rather that at night. Whereas most other geckos are nocturnal and use calls to communicate, Pristurus species signal to each other with body postures and tail movements, earning them the name ‘semaphore geckos’. The rock semaphore gecko has a relatively flattened, soft-skinned body. Its eyes are quite small compared to most other geckos, and the rounded pupils do not contract to slits in bright light.
The limbs of the rock semaphore gecko are quite long and slender, and the slender tail is longer than the head and body combined. Male rock semaphore geckos have a crest of pointed scales along the top of the tail. The body of the rock semaphore gecko is generally greyish-brown or olive above, with darker and lighter spots, and sometimes with small red spots on the sides. A dark streak passes through the eye, and there may be a light reddish band along the back. The rock semaphore gecko closely resembles the bar-tailed semaphore gecko Pristurus celerrimus, which is endemic to the United Arab Emirates and Oman, but is smaller, with a shorter and less conspicuously banded tail.
The rock semaphore gecko occurs in southwest Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and possibly in Pakistan. This common gecko is typically found on rocks, under stones, or on walls and has been recorded from sea level up to elevations of around 3,000 metres. The rock semaphore gecko hunts during the day, typically lying in wait on a rocky perch to ambush passing prey, usually small invertebrates such as ants.
Jem Babbington is a keen birder and amateur photographer located in Dhahran, Eastern Saudi Arabia where he goes birding every day. Jem was born in England and is a serious local patch and local area birder who has been birding for almost forty years and has birded in more than fifty countries. Jem is learning to ring birds in Bahrain as a perfect way to learn more about the birds of the area. Saudi Arabia is a very much under-watched and under-recorded country.
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