CaliforniaHerps.com

A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Mediterranean House Gecko - Hemidactylus turcicus

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



Mediterranean House Gecko California Range MapThis lizard continues to expand its range in California. 
Black and Red dots on the map indicate some of the areas where it has been found and could be established.
Click map for a larger view.

If you see a lizard that looks like this one anywhere in California that is not shown on this map, please email me.



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Introduced: not native to California

Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Ocotillo, Imperial County Sub adult, Ocotillo, Imperial County
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Palm Springs, Riverside County
© 2005 William Flaxington
Adult, Palm Springs, Riverside County
© 2003 Richard Seaman
Adult on ceiling, Ocotillo,
Imperial County
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Adult, Fresno County © Patrick Briggs
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
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Juvenile, Davis, Yolo County
© Rachel DuBose
Tiny juvenile, North Highlands,
Sacramento County © Angel Patton
Juvenile, Orange County © Larry Leon
Great Basin Collared Lizard Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Mediterranean House Geckos have soft skin with prominent knob-like tubercles.

Specialized toe pads let this species climb and hang on to almost any surface.h
Mediterranean House Geckos From Outside California
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
  Adult, Dark Phase, Travis County, Texas  
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
  Adult, Light Phase, Travis County, Texas  
The six pictures directly above all show the same large adult gecko.
The gecko was dark in color when I found it during an ice storm underneath a piece of limestone covered with ice and brought it inside for photographs. It lightened up after a few minutes.

Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
  Sub-adult, Travis Co., Texas  
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Juvenile, Travis Co., Texas Adult with re-generated tail,
Travis County, Texas
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Juvenile, Travis Co., Texas Adult, on outdoor motel lamp in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona. Adult, Travis County, Texas
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko
Mediterranean Geckos can climb up sheer surfaces, even glass. Underside of adult, showing toe pads Sub-adult, Travis County, Texas
Mediterranean House Gecko Mediterranean House Gecko  
Adult, Yuma, Yuma County, Arizona

Juvenile found in motel bathroom, Cochise County, Arizona

 
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
Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat Mediterranean House Gecko Habitat
These geckos been spreading up the Central Valley along the Highway 99 corridor in cities including Bakersfield, Fresno, Kingsburg, and Chowchilla.

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 lizard with conspicuous large bumpy tubercles on the skin. Eyes are large with no lids and vertical pupils.
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. The tail is round and ringed with dark and light bands. Juveniles have more prominent tail banding. The toes have broad pads with claws extending beyond them and no webbing.
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.
Behavior
Nocturnal and Crepuscular. Males are territorial and will defend good hunting areas. 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.

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 in central Texas, including one individual I found surviving under a large rock that was completely encased in ice.
Diet
A variety of small invertebrates.
Reproduction
Mates from March to July. These geckos are sexually mature in a year or less. Females lay 1 - 2 calcereous eggs 1 - 3 times per year from April to August in communal clutches. Eggs can be seen under translucent belly skin of females.
Range
Native to the Mediterranean area, the Middle East, Somalia, and India. Reported in the United States in 1955 in Brownsville Texas, (and 1910 in the Florida Keys) this gecko has spread rapidly, and is currently found in scattered urban locations in much of the southern part of the U.S.A. including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida.

Some locations where this gecko has been seen in California are listed below, although it may not be established in all of these areas. 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
Chico

Contra Costa County
Concord Naval Weapons Station

Fresno County
Fresno
Kingsburg

Glenn County
Chico

Imperial County
Brawley
Calexico
El Centro
Holtville
Imperial
Ocotillo
Winterhaven

Inyo
Furnace Creek

Kern County
Bakersfield
Ridgecrest

Los Angeles County
Altadena
Arcadia
Chatsworth
Santa Clarita
Santa Monica
West Covina

Madera County
Chowchilla

Orange County
Anaheim
Brea
Fountain Valley
Orange

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

Sacramento County
North Highlands
San Bernardino County
Devore
Earp
Hesperia
Needles
Redlands
San Bernardino

San Diego County
El Cajon
Escondido
Oceanside
Ramona
San Diego
San Marcos

San Joaquin County
Stockton

Solano County
Vacaville

Stanislaus County
Modesto

Tulare County
Dinuba
Tulare
Visalia

Yolo
Davis
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.
Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
Recently introduced into California, this successful stowaway is expanding its range, although low winter temperatures will probably restrain them to the warmer southern parts of the state. The probable reason for the rapid spread of this gecko is the accidental transport of geckos and their eggs on trucks, cars, trains, etc., in almost any kind of shipmment. One gravid gecko, or one egg mass could be responsible for the establishment of this gecko species in a new location.

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

turcicus Mediterranean House 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 Gecko

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

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 come from the Special Animals List and the Endangered and Threatened Animals List which are published by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.


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

Organization
Status Listing
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

 

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