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Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus). Great Malaga Path

Diputación de Málaga
Salamanquesa rosada (Hemidactylus turcicus)

Mediterranean House Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus). Great Malaga Path

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Phenology
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Animal Life > Reptiles

IDENTIFICATION  

Small and slender reptile (up to 12 cm of total length head-tail), with a depressed body and a narrow short head, well differentiated from the rest of the body. The back of the animal is covered with small granules, giving it a rough appearance. It has a pink colour with pale or sandy ochre tones and an almost translucent appearance. It has a spotted design on its tail, giving it a ringed appearance, as it alternates light and dark bands. The fingers are widened at their base and have a series of lamellae on the lower part divided by the centre (hence its Latin name: half -hemi- of the finger -dactylus-). It has nails on every toe. 

WHERE DOES IT LIVE (HABITAT) 

This species prefers warm places, such as rocks, tree trunks, stones, abandoned houses and ruins. It is less urban than the common gecko. It is common in small rural infrastructures, such as irrigation log booths, wells and manholes.

HOW DOES IT LIVE?

The Mediterranean house gecko has twilight and nocturnal habits. It is sporadically active only during the day, particularly when it comes out to sunbathe on the warmest days of winter. It easily uses vertical surfaces, where it climbs with a great agility. The adhesion mechanism is similar to the common geckos' one:  the lamellae on the inner side of its fingers have hairs exerting a chemical and electrostatic attraction upon the fixation surface (the Van der Waals forces). It is active during most of the year, although it is more difficult to observe from November to February because it enters a half dormant period, interrupting it only on some sunny days. It feeds basically on small nocturnal insects and arachnids, stalking them many times, taking advantage of the fact that they are attracted by artificial light.

HOW DOES IT REPRODUCE?

The mating period lasts from March to July during which time, the males show aggressiveness, defending their territory and emitting vocal sounds, something rare among reptiles. The females can lay 1 to 2 eggs about two or three times a year, under stones, in trunks cracks or burying them in the ground. Young Mediterranean house geckos are born one or three months after the eggs have been laid.

WHERE CAN WE SEE IT IN MALAGA AND ON THE STAGES OF THE GREAT PATH?

It is a common species in the Malaga coastal strip, where it mostly occupies valleys open to the sea. It is also present in low altitude and mild climate areas of the province's interior. In the Great Path, we can find it on stages 1 to 9, 13 to 16, 20 to 23, and 26 to 35.

LEVEL OF PROTECTION - THREAT (INVENTORY)

This gecko is part of the Andalusian Wildlife Species under Special Protection List. It does not seem to have true conservation problems, as its natural habitat that turns into a territory occupied by human favours it.

CURIOUS FACTS  

The geckos belong to the gecko family: some tropical reptiles different from the rest of the Mediterranean saurians. They both have four legs; which is a defining character of the saurians, not shared by the ophidians. However geckos lack mobile eyelids, whereas it is something the ophidians do share. On the other hand, the gecko’s tongue is neither thin nor forked, but flattened and with a rounded edge, like mammals ones. These differences are logical: geckos clean their eyeball with their own tongue, so they do not need eyelids, and a forked tongue (like snakes and vipers have) would not be useful for this function. In addition, the forked tongue of the ophidians serves another purpose: it is a sensory organ receiving chemical signals to let the animal know the environment over which it is moving. That is why they take it out constantly.

SIMILAR SPECIES (IT CAN BE MISTAKEN WITH...) 

It can be confused with the Mediterranean common gecko. It is distinguished from it as it is smaller, more slender and has a finer head. Moreover, it has nails on every finger and the laminae of the lower part of its fingers are divided into two parts (whereas they stay complete in the common gecko).

Routes where it can be observed

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