Getting 'DatabaseOperations' object has no attribute 'geo_db_type' error when doing a syncdb

I'm attempting to run heroku run python syncdb on my GeoDjango app on Heroku, but I get the following error:

AttributeError: 'DatabaseOperations' object has no attribute 'geo_db_type'

All of my research has yielded the same solution: make sure to use django.contrib.gis.db.backends.postgis as the database engine. Funny thing is that I'm already doing this (and I also have django.contrib.gis in INSTALLED_APPS):

  'default': {
    'ENGINE': 'django.contrib.gis.db.backends.postgis',
    'NAME': '...',
    'HOST': '...',
    'PORT': ...,
    'USER': '...',
    'PASSWORD': '...'


Is there something else I am missing? Any help is greatly appreciated, below is the full error trace for reference:

Running `python syncdb` attached to terminal... up, run.1
Creating tables ...
Creating table auth_permission
Creating table auth_group_permissions
Creating table auth_group
Creating table auth_user_user_permissions
Creating table auth_user_groups
Creating table auth_user
Creating table django_content_type
Creating table django_session
Creating table django_site
Creating table django_admin_log
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 10, in <module>
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/core/management/", line 443, in execute_from_command_line
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/core/management/", line 382, in execute
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/core/management/", line 196, in run_from_argv
    self.execute(*args, **options.__dict__)
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/core/management/", line 232, in execute
    output = self.handle(*args, **options)
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/core/management/", line 371, in handle
    return self.handle_noargs(**options)
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/core/management/commands/", line 91, in handle_noargs
    sql, references = connection.creation.sql_create_model(model,, seen_models)
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/db/backends/", line 44, in sql_create_model
    col_type = f.db_type(connection=self.connection)
  File "/app/lib/python2.7/site-packages/django/contrib/gis/db/models/", line 200, in db_type
    return connection.ops.geo_db_type(self)
AttributeError: 'DatabaseOperations' object has no attribute 'geo_db_type'

Update: I followed the GeoDjango tutorial and Heroku/Django tutorial, and built a simple app that works on my dev machine. I pushed it to Heroku using a custom GeoDjango buildpack, and tried syncdb, but get the same error. Is this an issue with Django/GeoDjango, Heroku, or the buildpack? My dev environment is using PostgreSQL 9.1 and PostGIS 2.0, but Heroku uses 9.0.9 and 1.5, could that be the issue?


The OP was using the GeoDjango buildpack, but in case anyone gets here using Geo buildpack and dj_database_url like I was, in don't forget the last line:

import dj_database_url
DATABASES['default'] = dj_database_url.config()
DATABASES['default']['ENGINE'] = 'django.contrib.gis.db.backends.postgis'

The buildpack was the primary culprit here. Instead of using the GeoDjango buildpack listed on Heroku's buildpack page, I used one of it's forks that was updated more recently.

Also, when I do a git push heroku master, Heroku creates a dev database for the app, and when I do a syncdb, my DATABASES setting is ignored and Heroku tries to use the dev database instead... obviously an issue, because dev databases don't/can't have PostGIS installed. So I destroyed the dev database after it was created with the git push (with the correct buildpack), then ran syncdb and it works.

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