Common house gecko
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|Common house gecko|
The common house gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus) (not to be confused with the Mediterranean species Hemidactylus turcicus known as Mediterranean house gecko), is a reptile native of Southeast Asia. It is also known as the Pacific house gecko, the Asian house gecko, house lizard, or Moon Lizard.
Most geckos are nocturnal, hiding during the day and foraging for insects at night. They can be seen climbing walls of houses and other buildings in search of insects attracted to porch lights, hence their name "house gecko". Spread around the world by ships, these geckos are now common in the Deep South of the United States, large parts of tropical and sub-tropical Australia, and many other countries in South and Central America, Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East. In winter time, in a lot of these climates, they are known for going into a state of brumation in order to withstand the cold. They grow to a length of between 75–150 mm (3–6 in), and live for about 5 years. These small geckos are non-venomous and harmless to humans. Medium to large geckos may bite if distressed; however, their bite is gentle and will not pierce skin. A tropical gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus thrives in warm, humid areas where it can crawl around on rotting wood in search of the insects it eats. The animal is very adaptable and may prey on insects and spiders, displacing other reptiles.
Like many geckos, this species can lose its tail when alarmed. Its call or chirp rather resembles the sound "gecko, gecko". However, this is an interpretation, and the sound may also be described as "tchak tchak tchak" (often sounded three times in sequence). In Asia/Southeast Asia, notably Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia, geckos have local names onomatopoetically derived from the sounds they make: Hemidactylus frenatus is called "chee chak" or "chi chak" (pr- chee chuck), said quickly. Also commonly spelled as "cicak" in Malay dictionaries. In the Philippines they are called "butiki" in Tagalog, "tiki" in Visayan, "alutiit" in Ilocano, and in Thailand "jing-jok" (Thai: จิ้งจก). In Myanmar, they are called "အိမ်မြှောင် - ain-mjong" ( "အိမ် - ain" means "house" and "မြှောင် - mjong" means "stick to"). In some parts of India and in Pakistan they are called "chhipkali" (Urdu:چہپکلی, Hindi: छिपकली), from chhipkana, to stick. In Nepal they are called "bhitti" (Nepali: भित्ती) or "mausuli" (Nepali: माउसुली). In other parts of India they are called "jhiti piti" (Oriya: ଝିଟିପିଟି), "thikthikiaa" (Maithili: ठिकठिकिया), "paal" (Marathi: पाल), "gawli" or "palli" (Malayalam: ഗവ്ളി (gawli), പല്ലി (palli), Tamil: பல்லி (palli)), Telugu: బల్లి (balli), Kannada: ಹಲ್ಲಿ (halli). In West Bengal and Bangladesh they are called "tiktiki" (Bengali: টিকটিকি) as the sound is perceived as "tik tik tik". In Sri Lanka they are called "huna" in singular form (Sinhalese: හුනා). In Central America they are sometimes called "Limpia Casas" (Spanish: Housecleaners) because they reduce the amount of insects and other arthropods in homes.
Worldwide in tropical and subtropical regions:
- Australia (CKI, Northern Territory, coastal Queensland, coastal Northern New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Norfolk Island)
- Burma (Myanmar)
- China (Hunan, Hainan, S Yunnan), Macau
- Cook Islands
- Fiji (introduced)
- Hong Kong
- India and Andaman Islands
- Indonesia (Sumatra, Borneo, Java, Bali, Lombok, Sulawesi, Ambon)
- Japan (Ryūkyū, Bonin Islands)
- Mariana Islands (Guam) and New Caledonia (introduced)
- Marshall Islands
- Micronesia (Caroline Islands: Pohnpei), Melanesia, Solomon Islands
- New Caledonia
- Nicobar Islands
- Papua New Guinea
- Philippines (Palawan, Panay, Calamian Islands, Luzon etc.)
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
- Western Samoa
- Africa (all introduced):
- Cayman Islands
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Mexico (Yucatán, Baja California)
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United States (North Carolina, Arizona, Hawaii, Florida, Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama, Tennessee, California)
- Venezuela (Western, Central)
House geckos in captivity
House geckos can be kept as pets in a vivarium with a clean substrate, and typically require a heat source and a place to hide in order to regulate their body temperature, and a system of humidifiers and plants to provide them with moisture.
The species will cling to vertical or even inverted surfaces when at rest. In a terrarium they will mostly be at rest on the sides or on the top cover rather than placing themselves on plants, decorations or on the substrate, thus being rather inconspicuous.
House geckos are also used as a food source for some snakes.
While the impact of the Asian house gecko has not yet been closely studied, there is evidence that this "generalist predator" can compete with native gecko species for resources and perhaps replace them, especially in urban areas. Asian house geckos have transferred disease-carrying mites to native species.
An elaborate system of predicting good and bad omens based on the sounds made by geckos, their movement and the rare instances when geckos fall from roofs has evolved over centuries in India. In some parts of India, the sound made by geckos is considered a bad omen; while in Bangladesh and Nepal, it is considered to be an endorsement of the truthfulness of a statement made just before, because the sound "tik tik tik" coincides with "thik thik thik" (Bengali:ঠিক ঠিক ঠিক), (Maithili:ठिक ठिक ठिक), (Nepali:ठिक ठिक ठिक), which in Bengali, Maithili and Nepali means "right right right", i.e., a three-fold confirmation. The cry of a gecko from an east wall as one is about to embark on a journey is considered auspicious, but a cry from any other wall is supposed to be inauspicious. A gecko falling on someone's right shoulder is considered good omen, but a bad omen if it drops on the left shoulder. In Punjab, it is believed that contact with the urine of a gecko will cause leprosy. In some places in India, it is believed that watching a lizard on the eve of Dhanteras is a good omen or a sign of prosperity.
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