Friday, August 15, 2008

Geckos and Treefrogs


We get a variety of foreign visitors here at the Francis Beidler Forest Audubon Center. The majority of these visitors come from Europe. Yesterday's visitor was no exception, but the staff's reception was notably different.


Mr. Paul Walsh of the Dorchester County Career School brought two of the critters he found in one of the school's rooms. The lizard was clearly "not from around here." The gecko-like features led us to search Google images for "gecko." Shoot us an email if we're moving too quickly for anyone. The first set of images showed an individual that looked strikingly like the juvenile sitting in the bottom of the soda bottle on our desk. A search of the common name under the image confirmed that we had a young Mediterranean Gecko (Hemidactylus turcicus). It's tough to blend (think My Cousin Vinny) with a name like that.


The Mediterranean Gecko is originally from...(wait for it) the Mediterranean regions of southern Europe and northern Africa and has been introduced to many areas in the Southeastern United States. This is the first specimen that we have seen in our area. In fact, the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory webpage does not show any distribution within South Carolina. These geckos are associated with human development, which shows in the clusters on the range maps. They seldom stray far from buildings with outdoor lights, which attract insects and thereby bring the meal to the gecko.


As the gecko is not native to our region and its effects on local ecosystems is unknown, we had no plans to release the individual on our desk. However, spending our days working to protect habitats and the flora and fauna within them, we are squeamish about crushing the lizard. Therefore, we called Dennis Blejski, a friend of Beidler Forest and local herp hobbyist, to come and collect the gecko. The gecko will soon be residing at Bee City in an "Invasive Species" exhibit.













Mr. Walsh's other guest was a Barking Treefrog (Hyla gratoisa), which is native to the Coastal Plain from southern Virginina through Florida to Louisiana. The Barking Treefrog is a large, stout frog comfortable high in a tree or burrowing into the ground. The nickel-sized wedding ring (shhh, it's almost never been off in 19 years) was used as a reference, since we had no change in our pockets. Hmmm...coinsidence or consequence. The break in the hot, dry weather brought on by Wednesday's rains likely induced this male frog (based on the greenish-yellow throat) to search for a mate. As the Barking Treefrog is native, we let it go outside of the nature center.






















Images by Mark Musselman

18 comments:

Kindal said...

we have these around our home... in fact I had to catch one that took refuge in our tube this morning, the first one i have found inside. it was a baby. We're in Charleston, SC is that a normal gecko around here?

Swampy said...

Sadly, no. The gecko is an introduced species.

elisa said...

I found one today in the Pier 1 in N. Charleston - we thought it must have come from one of our overseas shippment, but maybe it was somewhat of a "local" gecko - its a baby one, really tiny. I've brought it home and set it up in a tank with a heat lamp and some anole food ... do you think it will survive? And how big will it get?

Swampy said...

It likely won't grow more than 6". They eat moths and roaches and are highly adaptable, so it should survive. Remember though, it is a non-native species.

The Sadie Show said...

I found a population of Med Geckos on a wall in the ally behind St. Philip's Church on Church st. Charleston SC very cool find.

mtm said...

My wife found one of these in the....well, read her story about it: http://andrawatkins.com/2012/01/12/the-view-from-the-throne/

kmm said...

I killed a small one by accident today when I moved a big flower pot on my back deck it was residing under. I feel so bad. I wonder if there are possibly any more nearby? I'm in Anderson, SC.

Anonymous said...

I realize that this is an old post, but hoping you see it. I googled until I found out what I had caught climbing down my chimney here in Walterboro SC. That search led me here and to the "House Gecko". I see that it is not native, so does that mean I should not release it? My daughter has it in her bug collection toy now, and I have no heart to kill it OR keep it? What should I do?

Swampy said...

These geckos are not currently considered a threat to native species or habitat, so you can let it go.

Anonymous said...

I recently found one of these too(the gecko). He only comes by at night on my front porch. He eats the bugs around my front porch light.

Anonymous said...

I own shop in Moncks Corner and we have them all over the yard

Anonymous said...

Coming in to work early this morning, I found a baby by one of our warehouse doors in Orangeburg. About 2 years ago I found an adult, but thought the cold winter weather would kill it. Apparently not...

OCD said...

Have three in shop in goose creek and several of the green anole lizards. There is no bugs left in shop

OCD said...

Goose creek infestation of these geckos in my shop

Jaxon said...

I just saw a med gecko on my porch (James Island). Had never seen one so looked it up. I tried to catch him after seeing he is invasive but they are fast. I figure he can eat all the bugs he wants, we have plenty.

Ashley S said...

My house in park circle in old north charleston must be base camp because I literally have seen close to 20 of them at once congregating near my bug zapper

Cate said...

The strangest thing just occurred as I was about to brush my teeth for bed- a baby Mediterranean House gecko was in my bathroom sink!!!!! Now I didn't KNOW that's what it was until we googled a few things but that's what is! Since we has cars we released this cute little gecko across the street! We are located here in Columbia SC

Anonymous said...

Found one this afternoon in our (newly renovated historic house) new office at the College of Charleston.