Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mediterranean Gecko

Mediterranean Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus 

We found a little Gecko in our front hall this evening. Actually, one of our cats found it and was playing "catch and release"...

The Gecko was OK except for missing the end of its tail. This is actually a survival aid common to many lizards.

If attacked by a predator, the lizard's tail can break off easily and wriggle for a few minutes. This distracts the predator long enough for the lizard to escape. The lizard eventually grows a new tail to replace the one lost in the encounter. Rarely, the tail does not break off completely and the lizard ends up with 2 tails growing from the stump.

This did not look like our desert's native Banded Gecko, which has smoother skin and more distinct markings. After checking images on the internet, it appears that this is a young Mediterranean House Gecko which is most common in Southern Europe and North Africa.

They were introduced into areas of the southeastern United States, and are now found westward to California and Mexico. They are nocturnal-crepuscular, coming out after dark to hunt and eat insects drawn to outdoor lights. By day they hide in dark, quiet crevices. These geckos can produce squeaky noises (territorial) and clicking sounds (mating).

We did not want to keep a wild animal as a pet, so we released the gecko out into our front courtyard where s/he can eat as many insects as s/he likes. This isn't a native species, and sightings for our area are pretty isolated. This appeared to be a young gecko, too small to have been an escaped pet store purchase. If it didn't hitch a ride from out of the area, it's possible there may be a breeding population nearby.

More about Geckos:

"If you're not inside, you're outside."
 ~ Gordon Gekko, Wall Street

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