What species of Geckos can you find around your home?

Steve from Queensland Museum’s Discovery Centre has been documenting the wildlife he finds around his home and garden during isolation. Here he shares the types of geckos he can find around his home and gives some tips for how you can spot them around your own home.

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This is an introduced Asian House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus). Like all geckos in Australia it has large lidless eyes, but the wavy edges of the pupil are not features we see on native varieties.

We are all spending plenty of time at home at the moment, so it seems like a perfect opportunity to find out just what else is living in our houses and gardens. Let’s start with geckos because they are easy to watch and they are always doing interesting things.

I have two different kinds of geckos around my house, introduced Asian House Geckos (Hemidactylus frenatus) and native Robust Velvet Geckos (Nebulifera robusta). Some houses also have native Dubious Dtellas (Gehyra dubia).

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Can you see the small spines on the edges of the tail? These are also distinctive features of the Asian House Gecko.
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A native Robust Velvet Gecko (Nebulifera robusta) is making a meal of an insect attracted to a window sill.
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This Robust Velvet Gecko is struggling to swallow a large beetle.

There were no Asian House Geckos around the house 20-years-ago. At first they were occasional visitors, then they increased exponentially to become abundant. For those unfamiliar with them, Asian House Geckos are the little lizards that grace the walls and ceilings of virtually every building in south-east Queensland. They can change from grey with dark streaks by day to a ghostly pale pinkish colour at night, and they have bands of small spines around their tails. They also advertise themselves with a loud and distinctive, chuck..chuck…chuck call, day and night.

Asian House Geckos have travelled as stowaways all around the world and are now the most widespread lizard. It has even been suggested that some ocean-going container ships could have permanent mobile populations of Asian House Geckos, forever travelling the world, picking up genetic diversity with incoming cargo and shedding colonists with outbound goods. They arrived in Queensland in the early 1980s among cargo.

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Originally from forests of South East Asia, the human environment with its walls, doors and book shelves has created an ideal habitat for Asian House Geckos which now occur around the world. This one has selected a little light reading.
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Defying gravity, house geckos move with ease over vertical surfaces including glass. It’s not suction that keeps them there, but a molecular attraction called Van der Waal’s Force. Adhesion is enhanced by an increased surface area, thanks to microscopic branched structures called setae, under the lizards’ toes.

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Asian House Gecko eggs are round, hard-shelled and relatively impermeable to moisture loss. Most other lizard eggs are soft and prone to desiccation. The sturdy eggs have been an important factor in their global dispersal.

Robust Velvet Geckos are larger, with a distinctive pattern of squarish ladder-like pale blotches on the back and a thick, fleshy tail. They are also much quieter so you rarely hear their squeaks unless there is an interaction such as mating or males fighting. In my house velvet geckos lurk behind furniture and hanging pictures, and patrol the outside walls at night. In the bushland setting they are mainly arboreal, showing a great preference for tree hollows as shelter sites. Recently they have become increasingly out-numbered around the house by the Asian House Geckos, which tend to dominate the best bug-catching spots under the lights.

Geckos are great entertainment around the house. Watch them stalking moths, slowly placing one foot before the other, wait with baited breath for the final lunch, then share the triumph or disappointment as the lizard seizes or misses its mark.

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Male velvet geckos are very intolerant of each other and sometimes engage in quite violent territorial combat. During these bouts skin can be torn and tails broken off.
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This velvet gecko has lurked behind this light fitting during most summer evenings for many years. One related species is known to live for more than 20 years.
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A pair of Robust Velvet Geckos mating on the dining room ceiling.

What sorts of geckos are on your house? Have you ever seen them feeding, fighting or mating? Are they becoming more numerous?

To find out more visit our website here or if you have a specific question about geckos or any other wildlife around your home submit it via ‘Ask an Expert.’

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