Hemidactylus garnotii, the Indo-Pacific gecko, photographed in Volusia county, Florida (11 August 2013).
Our first official in-residence Volusia county critter post features, of course, a non-native species of gecko. I say “of course” because, well, there’s a lot of non-native biota scampering and growing about the Floridian peninsula. When it comes to borders and ecology, the rules are pretty much moot down here in Florida. You just never really know what you’re going to find. Range maps simply aren’t definitive and you’ve got to keep an open mind when you see something you’re not too sure about. At the same time, you don’t want to trip over yourself by over-reaching for an identification. In this case, I tripped over myself a bit with this gecko.
When I first spotted the gecko, Hemidactylus garnotii was the most obvious candidate, but I was thinking this may have been Hemidactylus frenatus, the Common house gecko. That non-native species is well-documented farther south in Florida, but not so much up here in the Volusia area. After bouncing back and forth between H. frenatus and H. garnotii, two species I don’t know very well, I threw the question over to Peter May of Stetson University, a master of most things avian and reptile, not to mention an all around swell and generous dude o’ wisdom. His response: Most likely H. garnotii – which, though non-native, is well-documented in this immediate area.
So what of this lovely little Indo-Pacific gecko? I photographed it climbing about our new back wall in The Trails of Ormond Beach, Florida — a back wall mostly made of glass paneling supported by wooden frames. It’s pretty much a gecko-magnet. Why? We have a number of light fixtures set up out back and the bugs, of course, are drawn to the light. The bugs then attract the geckos. #magic.
Of note: in my first night of patrolling the back wall I did not see a single Mediterranean gecko, Hemidactylus turcicus — the non-native gecko species I’m most familiar with. I did, however, see several sleeping Carolina green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) and Cuban brown anoles (Anolis sagrei), as expected. Those posts are coming soon.
So, it looks like we’ll have a solid population of Indo-Pacific geckos on our property. I saw several last night — on both the exterior walls I surveyed. Also known as Garnot’s house gecko, this species (H. garnotii) is native to southeast Asia and the surrounding area. It’s a highly adaptable, resilient species of gecko that competes strongly against other species of gecko. As for the anoles, there’s no significant, negative impact on them by the Indo-Pacific gecko. The geckos are primarily nocturnal and the anoles are typically diurnal.
A great start to our new chapter in Ormond Beach, eh?
Next on Dust Tracks: It’s time to check out our local anole population! RAH!