Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Mediterranean Gecko

Yesterday I was talking with t.beth of Firefly Forest about the geckos that plant themselves at night on the glass panel by our front door. When they are confronted by the arrival of large humans, they disappear into the tiny cracks where our walls abut or where the door frame isn't quite flat. We usually see three or four at a time, although we have had more.This evening I tried to photograph them so I could identify them. After fooling around with the built-in flash on my camera and upping the ISO to 1000, I was able to get a couple of reasonable photos. The tell-tale bumps on this one's back confirm t.beth's suspicions that they are Mediterranean Geckos, which are non-native to Arizona.The photo below was taken from inside, through the glass. Although the bumpy glass interferes, it does somewhat show the translucency of the ventral side of the gecko. According to the web site, Reptiles of Arizona, the Mediterranean Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) is
A small (1 1/2" to 2 1/4" from nose to vent) light pink, peach, or reddish brown colored lizard with translucent skin. The back is covered with small bumpy or knob-like protrusions. Eyes are large relative to the head and there are no eyelids. There are prominent pads on the ends of the toes.

A nocturnal lizard that frequents homes and other buildings in urban areas. Often seen on outdoor walls and ceilings near lights waiting to ambush insects.

Mediterranean Geckos eat insects.

This non-native lizard has been introduced to the Phoenix and Tucson urban areas.
I don't know when these lizards were introduced to Tucson, but we've had these geckos on our front porch in the summers for years and years. Our children loved to watch them. Our cats would be mesmerized. They would sit for hours staring, their tails twitching. I have yet to see a gecko catch an insect. They must be doing a good job, however, since I rarely see insects of any kind in our porch area. Our younger son was visiting the other evening and reported that he'd seen one of the geckos catch and swallow a moth that was larger than the gecko.

4 comments:

robin andrea said...

I had no idea that there were non-native geckos in Arizona. How interesting. Do you also have natives Tucson? We had a lizard in the house the other day. The cat pointed it out to us. We rescued it before the cat could get to it.

Rain said...

Because we have a home there but are not in it year round, twice now we have come back to find a tiny lizard inside the house and not only dead but dried. They are totally perfectly little bodies and I have them above the sink on a small shelf. I had them at eyelevel but that didn't work as I would look right into their faces. I have always felt bad when it happens but I think they do slip through the screen and we don't see them to remove before we go.

Pam in Tucson said...

ra - There is a native gecko, Western Banded Gecko, Coleonyx variegatus. It has a sweet face, rather like the gecko in the annoying Geico commercials. I've never seen one in the wild.

rain - Can you tell if your little lizards are geckos? If so, are they native or Mediterranean? We used to have a lot of tiny lizards (not geckos) running around the house. I still spot them in the garage. I hope they're eating bugs we don't want.

Rain said...

Now i am not sure given the bodies are in Tucson but my husband thinks it was the native geckos. I never had any idea of what they were but just really cute and the tiniest one was barely an inch long. I will definitely look more closely when next back there.