With my recent acquisition of Eublepharis Satpuraensis, aka the Satpura Leopard Gecko, I found it fitting to write something about my acquisition of this species, their history, and their legitimacy as I anticipate interest in these topics.
Like much of the news circulating in the hobby, it travels via a social media spiral that floods Facebook Groups and gets highlighted on stories on Instagram. When the discovery of this species hit the hobby, interestingly enough, I hadn't been introduced to the vast world of Leopard Geckos as of yet. I can not recall precisely when I heard about the species' existence, but looking through my old messages, it seems to be sometime in the Fall of 2020. Due to my intensely curious nature, I took to the web and flooded peers' inboxes in pursuit of more information on the species. Through my research I stumbled on articles that described the species as a whole, their range, and basic morphology (all of which can be found at the bottom of this write-up).
It's hard to say what exactly intrigued me about this species. In general, I am a huge fan of the genus Eublepharis, but 99% of my collection includes morphs. Some may argue they aren't as visually distinct compared to other species such as Eublepharis hardwickii and Eublepharis fuscus. However, their elusiveness in the hobby, especially here in the states, and the lack of universal information in the hobby caught my eye.
THE SEARCH & ACQUISITION
The genus Eublepharis is one of interest for many in the reptile hobby due to the popularity of Leopard Geckos (Eublapharis macularius), which brings interest into the genus as a whole. What is always funny to me is the fact that there’s more knowledge about the genus in captivity than in the wild due to captive breeding. This lack of knowledge is due mainly to the issue of scientists from this part of the world obtaining access to the middle east. I applied my detective skills to search for them in captivity. I successfully found them in a few collections in Europe; however, I had no luck finding anyone who has them in the US, which still seems to be true other than the trio I now have (Edit: I know that Brett David at B&M Gecko know has them). At this point, I had no intention of inquiring about any, but my search came from a genuine place of pursuing knowledge on this species. This did not last long, and as I continued to talk to breeders in Europe about their success with the species, I became hooked and decided to pursue bringing them to my collection in the states. After talking to a few different breeders, I decided on purchasing a trio. A deal was made, and the shipment was scheduled to bring the trio to my collection early summer.
The first appearance of E. satpuraensis that I could find within herpetocultural literature originates from a December 2014 paper A new species of lizard of the genus Eublepharis (Squamata: Eublepharidae) from India (Mirza et al.). The paper describes E. satpuraensis as a new species of the genus from the Satpura Hills in central India which closely resembles phenotypic characteristics of Eublepharis fuscus. As stated by the paper, the basic story shows that, “During a herpetological investigation of the Satpura Hills, central India, specimens of a E. satpuraensis were collected, which could not be attributed to the three known species from India (Figure 1). Previous workers identified the population as E. hardwickii (Khujaria 1986, Chandra and Gupta 2005a,b); however, doubts on the identity of this population were raised by Mirza and Upadhye (2010). Detailed comparison based on fresh collections and available museum material concluded that the disjunct population of Eublepharis from the Satpura Hills belongs to a new species.” I highly recommend reading this paper to gain a firm grasp of the species, why this group of herpetologists describes it as a new species within the genus, and the complex morphological traits of this species.
E. satpuraensis occurs in the Satpura Hill Range, a range of hills in central India. The range rises in eastern Gujarat, running east through the border of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, and ends in Chhattisgarh. The species have been found in places including Panchmari and the surrounding areas of the Satpura Tiger Reserve, Bhopal, the Melghat Tiger Reserve, the Pench Tiger Reserve, the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, and Jabalpur in central India. This is a decent size range that this species inhabits in central India, where like typical Eublipharidae, they can be found in rocky outcrops and relatively high altitudes. In general, it would be safe to describe the habitat where they dwell as rocky deciduous forest.
When it comes to future plans, I am very excited about establishing this species further, especially in the states. My goal with these is to preserve this species in the hobby as they are in the wild. To me this entails keeping the same look as they do in the wild (although this varies of course) and not crossing them with other species (keeping them truly pure). I don’t see this species being the next big thing in Leos since the albino, but I do hope that the true herpeticulturist see the same awesomeness that caught my attention to this species.