The Call of the Barking gecko

Barking Gecko on the sand

The Barking Gecko: A Symbol of the Beauty and Diversity of Australia’s Deserts

The Barking gecko, also known by its scientific name Underwoodisaurus milii, is a small reptile native to Australia. With its distinctive bark-like call, this species is a well-known and beloved member of the Australian ecosystem.

The specific name, milii, honours French naturalist and sailor Pierre Bernard Milius.

Pierre Bernard Milius was a French naturalist and sailor who lived in the early 19th century. A man of many talents and passions, Milius dedicated his life to exploring the natural world and documenting the wonders he found.

As a young man, Milius set sail on a series of adventures that took him all around the world. From the frozen tundra of the Arctic to the steamy jungles of South America, Milius traveled far and wide, observing and collecting specimens of the many plants and animals he encountered.

But it was not just the natural world that captured Milius’s interest. He was also a skilled artist and illustrator, and he used his talents to bring the beauty and diversity of the natural world to life on paper. His detailed and accurate drawings of the plants and animals he observed were a valuable resource for other scientists and naturalists, and helped to deepen our understanding of the natural world.

Despite the many dangers and challenges he faced during his travels, Milius remained undaunted. He was driven by a deep love of nature and a fierce desire to learn as much as he could about the world around him. And through his tireless efforts and dedication, Milius made significant contributions to our understanding of the natural world, leaving a lasting legacy that continues to inspire people to this day.

This gecko, a type of lizard in the Carphodactylidae family gets its common name from its distinctive plump tail and sharp, barking defensive call.

Physical characteristics of the Barking gecko include its small size, This gecko is reddish-brown with white and yellow spots on the sides and a paler underbelly. It typically grows to a total length of 120-140 mm (including the tail) (4.7–5.5 in). The original tail is black with several pale bands, but the regenerated tail lacks pattern.

It will arch its back and “bark” when threatened. It does the same thing during breeding season. This species, as well as some other geckos, have an unusual habit of licking their eyes after eating, probably to keep the eyeshield clean.


The Barking gecko is found in desert environments across Australia, including the Great Victoria Desert and the Gibson Desert. It is a nocturnal species, spending the hot days hiding in burrows and emerging at night to hunt for insects and other small prey. It lives in rocky outcrops and under sand in burrows it is is slightly cold-tolerant compared to many other Australian gecko species.

Despite its tough exterior, the Barking gecko is actually quite vulnerable to habitat loss and other threats. As the human population in Australia continues to grow and develop, the natural habitats of this species are being encroached upon.

Conservation Status

The Barking gecko is not considered to be endangered. Many organizations and government agencies are working to create and maintain protected areas for this and other desert species. With the appropriate license in some states of Australia they may be kept as pets.

The Barking gecko is an important and fascinating species that plays a vital role in the Australian ecosystem. It is up to all of us to do our part in protecting these animals and their habitats, so that future generations can continue to enjoy the beauty and diversity of Australia’s desert regions. So let’s all do our part in preserving the Barking gecko and the other incredible species that call Australia home.