CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Mediterranean Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus

(Linnaeus, 1758)
Click on a picture for a larger view



Mediterranean House Gecko California Range Map
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This alien lizard continues to expand its range in California. 

Black dots on the map indicate a place where Mediterranean Geckos have been seen. They might not be established in all of these areas.

These are just the locations that I know about. There are probably more. If you know a location where this gecko has been found that is not shown on the map or if you see a lizard that looks like this one anywhere in California that is not shown on this map, please email me at grynaf@yahoo.com and send a picture if you can for verification.


Alien Herps in California


Hear a Mediterranean
Gecko Chirp:


speaker




observation link






This is an alien species that has been introduced into California. It is not a native species.

Mediterranean House Gecko
Sub adult, Ocotillo, Imperial County
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Azusa, Los Angeles County Sub adult, Ocotillo, Imperial County Adult, Ocotillo, Imperial County.
(The tail has no markings on it because it has been broken off and re-grown.)
Adult on ceiling, Ocotillo,
Imperial County
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, San Diego, San Diego County
© Dan Boyd
Adult, Palm Springs, Riverside County
© 2005 William Flaxington
Adult, Palm Springs, Riverside County
© 2003 Richard Seaman
Adult, Lincoln Heights Los Angeles, Los Angeles County  © Austin Stricklin
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Fresno County © Patrick Briggs Adult, Sacramento, Sacramento County, found active in mid winter.
© Leslie Bates
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Sub-adult, Modesto, Stanislaus County
© George M. Ramirez
Adult, San Marcos, San Diego County
© Nathan Smith
Adult, Needles, San Bernardino County
© Harold Wagstaff
Sub-adult, Bakersfield, Kern County
© Saul N
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Seeley, Imperial County
© Jeff Nordland
Adult, Seeley, Imperial County
© Jeff Nordland
Adult, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara County © Christina Mertes Adult, Oroville, Butte County, one of several found © Mike Padula
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Great Basin Collared Lizard
Adult, Pomona, Los Angeles County
© Robert Cothran
Adult, Lucerne Valley, San Bernardino County © Anonymous Adult missing tail and showing its dark phase camouflage abilities. Bakersfield, Kern County © Kwynn Anderson Mediterranean Geckos have soft skin with prominent knob-like tubercles.
       
Mediterranean Geckos have specialized toe pads that let them climb and hang on to almost any surface.
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Toe pads Toes of adult, © Leslie Bates Underside of adult, showing toe pads
Mediterranean House Gecko      
Juvenile climbing on a glass window.      
       
Juveniles
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Juvenile, Davis, Yolo County
© Rachel DuBose
Juvenile, Orange County © Larry Leon Tiny juvenile, North Highlands,
Sacramento County © Angel Patton
Juvenile, Whittier, Los Angeles County
© K. Chaplin
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Juvenile, Vacaville, Solano County © Jake Finnegan Juvenile, Barstow, San Bernardino County © Ben Rucker Juvenile, Serra Mesa neighborhood of San Diego, San Diego County Juvenile, Contra Costa County
© Greg Howard
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko  
Juvenile, Chatsworth, Los Angeles County © John McManus Juvenile, Citrus Heights,
Sacramento County © Ben Barker
A Mediterranean Gecko shows its
tongue when it licks its lips.
 
       
Mediterranean Geckos From Outside California
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko  
Adult, Dark Phase  
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko  
Adult, Light Phase  
The six pictures directly above all show the same large adult gecko found in Travis County, Texas.
The gecko was dark in color when I found it underneath a large limestone rock that was covered with ice after an ice storm.
I brought the gecko inside and took the pictures in its dark phase shown above in the top row.
It warmed up after a few minutes and lightened in color and I took the pictures in the bottom row.
 
   
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
  Sub-adult, Travis Co., Texas   Adult with re-generated tail,
Travis County, Texas
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Juvenile, Travis Co., Texas Adult, Travis County, Texas Juvenile, Travis Co., Texas
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Yuma, Yuma County, Arizona

Adult, on outdoor motel lamp in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona. Juvenile found in motel bathroom, Cochise County, Arizona
Sub-adult, Travis County, Texas
       
Habitat
Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat
Mediterranean Geckos have been found in the desert city of
Ocotillo, Imperial County, home of the Lazy Lizard Saloon.
Mediterranean Geckos have been found in several locations in the Coachella Valley in Riverside County, including Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Springs. Here you can see several geckos gathered under an outdoor light on the wall of a Palm Springs motel.
© 2005 William Flaxington
These geckos been spreading up the Central Valley along the Highway 99 corridor in cities including Bakersfield, Fresno, Kingsburg, and Chowchilla.

Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat    
Mediterranean Geckos have been found in several locations in the Imperial Valley, Imperial County, including Imperial, El Centro and Calexico.    
     
Short Videos
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko    
And adult and a juvenile Mediterranean Gecko run around at night on a white exterior wall in Imperial County An adult Mediterranean Gecko licks its lips on an exterior wall in Yuma, Arizona.    
     
Description
 
Size
1 3/4 - 2 3/8 inches long from snout to vent (4.4 - 6cm) 4 - 5 inches long including tail (10.2 - 12.7 cm)
Appearance
A small, slightly flattened gecko with conspicuous large bumpy tubercles on the skin.
Eyes
are large with no lids and vertical pupils.
The toes have broad pads with claws extending beyond them and no webbing.
The tail is round and ringed with dark and light bands. It will grow back if it is broken off.
Color and Pattern
A pale translucent pinkish white color in the light phase, and gray to dark brown in the dark phase,
with dark blotching and spotting sometimes forming indistinct bands.
Young
Juveniles have more prominent light and dark tail banding than adults.
Voice
Males make mouselike squeaking sounds during fights and probably to claim their territory. Males also make a series of clicking sounds to advertise their presence to females during the breeding season.

Comparison with the similar Indo-Pacific Gecko - Hemidactylus garnotii
The best way to differentiate these two species is the skin: the Indo-Pacific Gecko has smooth skin, while the Mediterranean Gecko has conspicuous large bumpy tubercles on the skin. The Indo-Pacific Gecko also has a yellow belly while that of the Mediterranean gecko is pale but not yellow.

Behavior and Life History
Nocturnal and Crepuscular.
Often seen sitting motionless under external lights waiting to feed on insects attracted to the light, and on walls and ceilings stalking insects.
When approached too closely, they will run into a nearby shelter.
The tail can be broken off as a survival strategy to distract a predator and will grow back.

Active all year long, but more active during hot periods.
These geckos appear to prefer hot climates in regions with short, mild winters, although they are apparently established in places with cold winters including Baltimore and Oklahoma. (Locey & Stone 2006) They are definitely capable of surviving short periods of freezing temperatures - I witnessed a population of these geckos survive a severe ice storm with freezing temperatures lasting for several days in January 2006 in Austin Texas, including one large adult found surviving under a large rock that was completely covered in ice.
Territoriality
Males are territorial and will defend good hunting areas.
Diet
A variety of small invertebrates.
Breeding
Mates from March to July.
These geckos are sexually mature in a year or less.
Females lay 1 - 2 calcereous eggs in communal clutches 1 - 3 times per year from  April to August.
When present, eggs can be seen under the translucent belly skin of females.

Habitat
Urbanized - often living in or near human dwellings. I have seen them sheltering under house shingles, cracks between bricks, under outside wall lamps, and under rocks, downed wood, and planters in the yard, and in and under boxes in the garage. They can also be found under palm fronds, and other surface objects such as rocks, wood, and tin, and in crevices in rocks and holes in trees. At one rural location in Travis county near the ruins of some old buildings we found many of them under stacks of old roofing tin.

Geographical Range
Native to the Mediterranean area, Africa, and the Middle East region.

Reported in the United States in 1955 in Brownsville Texas, (and 1910 in the Florida Keys) this gecko has spread rapidly, and is established in the United States in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia, and in a large part of eastern Mexico, including the Yucatan Peninsula. Most likely also introduced into Baja California. Introduced into Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and possibly Belize.
 
List of Some California Locations Where H. turcicus Has Been Seen
The earliest museum record documenting Mediterranean Geckos in California I can find is from Ocotillo in Imperial County in 1988, though it's possible they were established before then either in Ocotillo or somewhere else.

Below is a list of the locations that I have heard about where Mediterranean Geckos have been found in California since I started keeping track of them in 2010. I'm sure there are more locations that I don't know about. Most of these locations come from visitors to this web site who emailed me to tell me that they found them. Others come from museum records or other published records. Mediterranean Geckos may not be established in all of the areas listed here and shown on the map. A single lizard might be solitary or it might be a member of a population that was temporarily established but did not survive one or more winters or other environmental stress, but it is most likely that there are many geckos at every location listed. There were only a few locations listed in 2010, but the numbers of locations have grown rapidly and continue to do so.

I will continue to add locations here and on the map as I hear of them.
If you see any or know of any locations not on this list, please email me.

Alameda County
Alameda

Butte County
Chico

Contra Costa County
Concord Naval Weapons Station

Fresno County
Fresno
Kerman
Kingsburg
Sanger

Glenn County
Chico
Oroville

Imperial County
Brawley
Calexico
El Centro
Holtville
Imperial
Ocotillo
Seeley
Winterhaven

Inyo County
Furnace Creek

Kern County
Bakersfield
Ridgecrest
Shafter
Taft

Los Angeles County
Altadena
Arcadia
Azusa
Burbank
Chatsworth
Claremont
Covina
Eagle Rock
Glendale
Glendora
La Crescenta
Long Beach
Los Angeles (Lincoln Heights)
North Hollywood
Palmdale
Pomona
Reseda
Santa Clarita
Santa Monica
Torrance
West Covina
Whittier
Wilmington

Madera County

Chowchilla

Merced County
Merced

Orange County
Anaheim
Brea
Costa Mesa
Fountain Valley
Fullerton
Irvine
La Habra
Lake Forest
Orange
San Clemente
Santa Ana
Stanton

Placer County
Roseville

Riverside County
Blythe
Coachella
Desert Hot Springs
Hemet
Indio
La Quinta
Murrieta
Norco
Palm Desert
Palm Springs
Rancho Mirage
Riverside
Sun City Palm Desert
Wildomar

Sacramento County
Citrus Heights
North Highlands
Sacramento

San Bernardino County
Barstow
Chino
Devore
Earp
Hesperia
Lucerne Valley
Needles
Ontario
Rancho Cucamonga
Redlands
San Bernardino
Yucaipa

San Diego County

El Cajon
Elfin Forest
Escondido
Lemon Grove
Oceanside
Ramona
San Diego
San Marcos

San Joaquin County
Lodi
Stockton
Tracy

Santa Barbara County
Santa Barbara

Santa Clara County
Sunnyvale

Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz

Shasta County
Redding

Solano County
Vacaville

Stanislaus County
Modesto
Oakdale

Tulare County
Dinuba
Exeter
Lindsay
Porterville
Terra Bella
Tulare
Visalia

Ventura County
Camarillo
Simi Valley

Yolo County
Davis
Full Species Range Map

Full Species Range Map
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Recently introduced into California, this successful stowaway is expanding its range, although low winter temperatures in some areas will probably restrain them to the warmer parts of the state.

Unlike some alien species in the state, introduced Mediterranean Geckos are not the result of released or escaped pets. The most likely reason for the rapid spread of this gecko is the accidental transport of geckos and their eggs on trucks, cars, trains, etc., from areas where the geckos have become established, originally the Southeastern part of the US, but now also Southern California.

One gravid gecko, or one egg mass could be responsible for the establishment of this gecko species in a new location.
For example, I was asked to identify a Mediterranean Gecko that was found in Manitoba, Canada in a shipment of pipes from Texas.
People have also told me that they found geckos at their new houses in California shortly after shipping their belongings from Texas and from Florida.

The threat to native species by this invasive gecko is unknown.
Taxonomy
Family Gekkonidae Geckos Gray, 1825
Genus Hemidactylus House Geckos Gray, 1825
Species

turcicus Mediterranean Gecko (Linnaeus, 1758)
Original Description
Linnaeus 1758

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Hemidactylus - half fingered (hemi = half, daktylos = toe or finger)
turcicus - Latin, meaning "from Turkey"

Alternate Names
Turkish Gecko
Mediterranean House Gecko

Related or Similar California Lizards
Phyllodactylus nocticolus - Peninsular Leaf-toed Gecko
Coleonyx variegatus variegatus - Desert Banded Gecko
Tarentola annularis - Ringed Wall Gecko
Tarentola mauritanica - Moorish Gecko

More Information and References
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

GeckoWeb

Stebbins, Robert C., and McGinnis, Samuel M.  Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles of California: Revised Edition (California Natural History Guides) University of California Press, 2012.

Stebbins, Robert C. California Amphibians and Reptiles. The University of California Press, 1972.

Stebbins, Robert C. A Field Guide to Western Reptiles and Amphibians. 3rd Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003.

Behler, John L., and F. Wayne King. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Reptiles and Amphibians. Alfred A. Knopf, 1992.

Powell, Robert., Joseph T. Collins, and Errol D. Hooper Jr. A Key to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. The University Press of Kansas, 1998.

Robert Powell, Roger Conant, and Joseph T. Collins. Peterson Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Conant, Roger, and Joseph T. Collins. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians Eastern and Central North America. Third Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998.

Garrett, Judith M. and David G. Barker. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Texas. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston Texas, 1987.

Life History of a Successful Colonizer: The Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus, in Southern Texas
Kyle W. Selcer
Copeia, Vol. 1986, No. 4 (Dec. 23, 1986), pp. 956-962
doi:10.2307/1445292

Factors Affecting Range Expansion in the Introduced Mediterranean Gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus
KENNETH J. LOCEY AND PAUL A. STONE
Journal of Herpetology, Vol. 40, No. 4, pp. 526–530, 2006
Copyright 2006 Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles

Conservation Status

The following status listings are copied from the 2017 Special Animals List and the 2017 Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

If no status is listed here, the animal is not included on either CDFW list. This most likely indicates that there are no serious conservation concerns for the animal. To find out more about an animal's status, you can go to the NatureServe and IUCN websites to check their rankings.

Check here to see the most current complete lists.


There are no significant conservation concerns for this non-native animal in California.

Organization
Status Listing
NatureServe Global Ranking
NatureServe State Ranking
U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) None
California Endangered Species Act (CESA) None
California Department of Fish and Wildlife None
Bureau of Land Management None
USDA Forest Service None
IUCN

 

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