Mediterranean house gecko
|Mediterranean house gecko|
The Mediterranean house gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus) (not to be confused with the Asian species Hemidactylus frenatus known as common house gecko) is a small gecko common to the Mediterranean which has spread to many parts of the world. It is commonly referred to as the Turkish gecko as represented in its Latin name and also as the "Moon Lizard" because they come out in the evening. They are insectivorous, rarely exceeding 15 centimetres (5.9 in) in length, have large, lidless eyes with elliptical pupils, and purple - or tan-colored skin with black spots, often with stripes on the tail. Their bellies or undersides are somewhat translucent. In countries where the species has been introduced, they are not considered invasive due to their habits and small size; they rarely threaten populations of native animals.
In many parts of the world the range of H. turcicus is increasing, and unlike many other reptiles, they appear to be highly resistant to pesticides. The increase may be explained as a consequence of having few predators in places where they have been introduced, and also of their tendency to take shelter in the cracks and unseen areas of human homes, for example inside walls. Reliance on human habitation has thus contributed to their proliferation, similar to rodents. In some Eastern Mediterranean countries such Turkey and Cyprus it is a taboo to harm them due to their benignant nature and they are often kept as house pets.
Snout rounded, about as long as the distance between the eye and the ear-opening, 1.25 to 1.3 the diameter of the orbit; forehead slightly concave; ear-opening oval, oblique, nearly half the diameter of the eye. Body and limbs moderate. Digits variable in length, the inner always well developed; 6 to 8 lamellae under the inner digits, 8 to 10 under the fourth finger, and 9 to 11 under the fourth toe. Head with large granules anteriorly, posteriorly with minute granules intermixed with round tubercles. Rostrum four-sided, not twice as broad as deep, with medial cleft above; nostril pierced between the rostrum, the first labial, and three nasals; 7 to 10 upper and 6 to 8 lower labials; mental large, triangular, at least twice as long as the adjacent labials, its point between two large chin-shields, which may be in contact behind it; a smaller chin shield on each side of the larger pair. Upper surface of body covered with minute granules intermixed with large tubercles, generally larger than the spaces between them, suboval, trihedral, and arranged in 14 or 16 pretty, regular longitudinal series. Abdominal scales small, smooth, roundish-hexagonal, imbricate. Males with a short angular series of 4 to 10 (exceptionally 2) preanal pores. Tail cylindrical, slightly depressed, tapering, covered above with minute scales and transverse series of large keeled tubercles, beneath with a series of large transversely dilated plates. Light brown or grayish above, spotted with darker; many of the tubercles white, lower surfaces white. They may be completely translucent except for the spotting. Some are darker. They often seek darkness when fleeing. They may be seen singularly or in a group ranging from 2 to 5 together.
Native to the Mediterranean region, the "med gecko" is one of the most successful species of geckos in the world. It has spread over much of the world and established stable populations far from its origins, due to this it holds no threatened or endangered status. It can be found in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy (including Lampedusa island, Elba), Israel, Albania, Greece, (incl. Kalymnos, Paros, Antiparos, Despotiko, Lesbos, Chios, Limnos, Samos, Samothraki, Milos, Tinos, Crete), Malta, Macedonia,coastal Croatia (except western Istria), Czech Republic (only warm parts of Moravia and Czech Silesia), Bosnia and Herzegovina,Adriatic islands, coastal Montenegro, coastal part of Albania, Cyprus, Turkey, northern Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Jordan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, northern Yemen (Socotra Archipelago), Somalia, Eritrea, Kenya, southern Iran, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Pakistan, India, Balearic Islands (Island Addaya Grande), Canary Islands (introduced to Gran Canaria and Tenerife), Panama, Puerto Rico, Belize, Mexico (Baja California, Chihuahua, Durango, Nuevo Leon, Yucatan; introduced), Cuba (introduced). It has also been introduced to the southern USA (Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Arkansas, Mississippi, South Carolina, Georgia, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Missouri). 
Voracious predators on moths and small roaches, they are attracted to outside lights in search of them. They emit a distinctive, high-pitched call somewhat like a squeak or the chirp of a bird, possibly expressing a territorial message.
A study in Portugal found H. turcicus to be totally nocturnal, with the highest activity peak around 2am. They have learned that although a calling male decorated cricket (Gryllodes supplicans) may be safely-positioned out of reach in a burrow, female crickets attracted to the call can be intercepted and eaten.
- Boulenger, G. A. (1890) Fauna of British India. Reptilia and Batrachia.
- Mateus, O. & Jacinto, J.J. (2002): Contribution to the study of Hemidactylus turcicus (Reptilia, Gekkonidae): rhythms of activity and microhabitat in Évora, Portugal. P. 136, in S.P.H. [Sociedade Portuguesa de Herpetologia] & A.H.E. [Associación Herpetológica Española] (coord.) Livro de resumos do VII Congresso Luso-espanhol de Herpetologia / XI Congreso Español de Herpetologia. S.P.H. & A.H.E.. Évora, Portugal.
- Matthews, Robert W.; Matthews, Janice R. (2009). Insect Behavior. Springer Science & Business Media. pp. 314–319. ISBN 978-90-481-2389-6.
- Franklin, Carl J. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
- Burke, Russell L. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus. Herpetological Review 27 (1): 32
- Davis, W.K. 1974 The Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus in Texas J. of Herpet. 8(1): 77-80.
- Dowling, Richard G. 1996 The Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, in Prattville, Alabama Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 21 (11): 203
- Dundee, H. A. 1984 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko) Herp Review 15 (1): 20
- Frick, Michael G. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (1): 50
- Husak, Jerry F. 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (4): 211
- Jensen, Steve L.;George, Steven G. 1993 Hemidactylus turcicus (Mediterranean gecko). USA: Louisiana Herpetological Review 24 (4): 154
- Knight, C. Michael 1993 A northern range extension of Hemidactylus turcicus in the United States Dactylus 2 (2): 49-50
- Means, Ryan C. 1999 Geographic distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 30 (1): 52
- Proudfoot, Glenn;McCoid, Michael James 1996 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 27 (2): 87
- Ray, John;Cochran, Betsy 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (3): 157
- Williams, Avery A. 1997 Geographic Distribution. Hemidactylus turcicus Herpetological Review 28 (2): 96
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hemidactylus turcicus.|
- Hemidactylus turcicus at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database
- Institut für Biowissenschaften: H. turcicus image
- Species Profile: Mediterranean Gecko by the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory
- Nonnatives: Mediterranean Gecko by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
- Taxonomic Serial Number 174059 in the Interagency Taxonomic Information System