Tarentola mauritanica is a species of gecko (Gekkonidae) native to the Western Mediterranean region of Europe and North Africa and widely introduced to North America and Asia. It is commonly observed on walls in urban environments, mainly in warm coastal areas, though it can spread inland - especially in Spain. A robust species, up to 150 millimetres long, its tubercules are enlarged and give the species a spiny armoured appearance.
The species was first described by Carl Linnaeus in 1758. Its widespread introduction has attracted many common names, including variants on common or Moorish wall gecko and Salamanquesa, crocodile gecko, European common gecko, and Maurita naca gecko.
Adults can measure up to 15 cm, tail included. Robust body and flat head. Back, legs and tail with prominent conic tubercles. Its regenerated tail is smoother and doesn't have tubercles. Obtuse mouth, big eyes with no eyelids and vertical pupil. Fingers with big lateral growths and adherent division less laminae in the bottom face. Only the third and fourth fingers end in union. Brownish grey or brown coloration with darker or lighter spots. These colours change in intensity according to the light. When they are active by day their colour is darker than during the night. It can be found on many construction sites, ruins, rock fields, tree trunks, etc.
Mainly nocturnal or crepuscular. Also active during the day, on sunny days at the end of the winter especially. They like to receive sunlight near their refuge. They hunt insects and in the warmer months of the year it can be found hunting nocturnal insects near light sources, street lamps, etc. They lay 2 almost-spherical eggs twice a year around April and June. After 4 months, little salamanquesas of less than 5 cm in length are born. Moorish geckos are slow to mature, taking 4 to 5 years in captivity.
The introduction of the species may impact on native fauna, by preying on frogs and smaller lizards. The adoption of this species as a pet has led to populations becoming established in Florida and elsewhere.
- List of reptiles of Europe
- List of reptiles of Morocco
- List of reptiles of North America
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