Backyard Buddies
Tree Dtella

Photo: Ken Stepnell/OEH

Tree Dtella

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The tiny Tree Dtella is highly variable in colour and pattern, although their predominant colour is grey, brown or blue-grey, with darker brown markings that form a net pattern.

The markings can often be so prominent that it will lend it the appearance of being blotchy or dark with light markings, rather than the other way around. It has dark markings on the sides of its head. Its underside is also much paler than the rest of its body.

The Tree Dtella is a type of gecko and its body is 55 mm long and its tail can be up to 70 mm long. Their tails are often broken and regrown, the replacement tail being much broader and shorter than the original.

Tree Dtellas are found across most of inland Australia. You're almost certain to find them sheltering under tree bark, rocks and fallen timber and nestling between crevices in bricks and woodwork.

They are most active when it's darker, preferring dusk and early evening to do their foraging.

They feed on spiders, beetles, cockroaches, termites and grasshoppers. When hunting for food, they don't venture too far, keeping to within 10 meters of their home base.

They are expert climbers, and forage mostly in trees or shrubs. They are also able to climb glass and other smooth surfaces and are remarkably quick. This is because of their clawed fingers and toes with large pads at the tips.

Females lay hard-shelled eggs, producing 2 or more clutches a year. They lay one egg at a time, twice over the breeding season, usually a month apart. These eggs are laid under rocks or crevices and sometimes the site is shared between many Dtellas, leading to dozens of eggs incubating all together.

The male Tree Dtella is territorial and often shares a site with several females.

Did you know?

The Tree Dtella is a survivor. Their family goes back to Gondwanan times, and they are extremely adaptable to changed conditions. They are also very unfussy eaters.


The Tree Dtella has adapted extremely well to humans in its natural habitat. So much so that you might find them lurking in your letterbox, inside your walls or in general debris in your backyard. Be quick and most of all gentle if you need to usher these buddies to a better home.

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Photo: OEH