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A Guide to the Amphibians
and Reptiles of California


Moorish Wall Gecko - Tarentola mauritanica

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




Possible locations in California: Red

If you see any lizard that looks like this living in
the wild anywhere in California please email me
and send a picture if you can.



observation link



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Introduced - not native to California

Moorish Wall Gecko Moorish Wall Gecko Moorish Wall Gecko
Moorish Wall Gecko Moorish Wall Gecko Moorish Wall Gecko
The above photos are all views of a single adult gecko found on a building in Hanford, Kings County.
All © Patrick Briggs
Moorish Wall Gecko Moorish Wall Gecko Moorish Wall Gecko
Adult, Kings County
© Patrick Briggs
Adult, San Diego County © Karen Holman
  Moorish Wall Gecko  
  Moorish Wall Geckos have small granular scales with intermittent large tubercles.  
   
Description
 
Size
Adults grow up to 6 inches long (15 cm) including the tail.
Geckos are usually around 3.2 inches long (8 cm) from snout to vent.

Appearance
A robust-bodied lizard with a flat head, prominent tubercles on the upper surfaces, large bulging eyes with vertical pupils and no eyelids, and elongated toe pads.
The tail is easily detached, but it will regenerate. Regenerated tails do not grow tubercles.
Color and Pattern
Color is brownish, grey or sandy with dark and light markings.
Color changes from dark during daytime to light phase at night.
The underside is white to yellow. .
Young
Young geckos have dark bands.

Life History and Behavior

Activity
Nocturnal, but also known to bask in the sun during cooler parts of the year.
Often seen foraging for food under artificial light sources.
A good climber.
Territoriality
Males defending territories make squeaking calls.
Defense
The tail is easily detached and when detached will wriggle for a few minutes which may distract a potential predator from the gecko long enough for it to escape.
Diet and Feeding
Eats small invertebrates and possibly small vertebrates.
Often seen foraging for food under artificial light sources.
Breeding
In its native habitat, 2 - 3 clutches of 1 or 2 eggs are laid around April and June.
Moorish Wall Geckos take several years to reach sexual maturity.

Geographical Range
This lizard has been introduced and established in San Diego County, California.
(Mahrdt, 1998, Herpetol. Rev. 29: 52)

I have received a report that a population of these geckos once inhabited a building in Hanford, King County, and could still be there. Photos of geckos from this location are shown above.

Native to the coastal Mediterranean area of Europe and Africa. Also possibly established in Florida.
Elevational Range
In its natural habitat this gecko is usually found at elevations under 1,300 ft. (400 m) but it can be found as high as 4,600 ft. (1,400 m.)

Habitat
Found in its native habitat on stone walls, boulders, and piles of wood in warm, dry, lowland coastal areas. In Florida, found on outside walls and cinderblock fences.

Notes on Taxonomy
None

Conservation Issues  (Conservation Status)
None
Taxonomy
Family Gekkonidae Geckos Gray, 1825
Genus Tarentola Wall Geckos Gray, 1825
Species

mauritanica Moorish Wall Gecko (Linnaeus, 1758)
Original description
Linnaeus 1758

Meaning of the Scientific Name
Tarentola = Taranto (a city in Italy)
Mauritanica - Latin - "Mauritanian" - from Mauritania

Alternate Names
Moorish Gecko
Common Wall Gecko
Salamanquesa
Crocodile Gecko
European Common Gecko
Maurita Naca Gecko

Related or Similar California Lizards
Hemidactylus turcicus - Mediterranean House Gecko 
Tarentola annularis - White-spotted Wall Gecko

More Information and References and Pictures
Natureserve Explorer

Herp.It


Club 100.net

Gecko Web

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.

Bartlett, Richard D. & Patricia Bartlett. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing, 1999.

Arnold, E. Nicholas. Reptiles and Amphibians of Europe. Princeton University Press, 2002.

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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