Common House Gecko
Scientific Name: Hemidactylus frenatus / Common Names: Common House Gecko
This ghostly grayish-white gecko is an agile night stalker, running along walls, tree trunks and branches in search of moths and other insects. Its back is covered with tiny dark spots that may form lines or markings. It's a typical nocturnal species with bulging lidless eyes and toepads. It lacks dorsal tubercles, but rows of spines ring the tail. In Hawaii, the species reaches 4 - 5.5 in. (11 - 14 cm) TL, perhaps a bit smaller in Florida.
Habitat and Range
Common House Geckos are widely distributed through southern Asia, and are naturalized on islands and seaports throughout much of the world’s warmer oceans. In Florida, they are known from a few warehouse areas near Ft. Myers, Homestead, and Key West and Stock Island on the lower Florida Keys. In Florida, it seems confined to the walls of buildings. On Hawaii, they are found on all the larger islands as well as Lanai and Kahoolawe. They are the most common gecko on all the major Hawaiian Islands, not just in urban areas but forested areas as well.
House geckos are largely insectivores, but adults will consume spiders and other invertebrates, and occasionally juvenile geckos as well. They are strongly territorial and can be quite vocal at night, making a series of crisp, rapid chirps. They may make a squeaking noise when captured. Common House Geckos are believed to have arrived in Hawaii during or just after World War II. Since then it has become the most common lizard around house lights at night. Females lay hard-shelled, non-adhesive eggs in pairs under bark, in tree holes, palm fronds or other protected above-ground sites.
The Common House Gecko has only small, if any, tubercles on the back, whereas the Indo-Pacific Gecko may have small tubercles restricted to its dorsum or dorso-lateral rows, and the Amerafrican House Gecko and Mediterranean Gecko have enlarged tubercles on the back. In the Amerafrican House Gecko, the toepads of the fourth toe do not extend to the base of the toe, but in the Mediterranean Gecko, these pads reach to the base of the toe. The Common House Gecko has rows of enlarged spines encircling the tail, however in the Indo-Pacific Gecko, spines are only found scattered along the edges of the tail. Only the last two species are known from Hawaii, but all four species of House Geckos (genus Hemidactylus) have been reported from Florida. The Mediterranean Gecko is the only House Gecko species known outside of Florida, Hawaii or Texas. (A single specimen of the Common House Gecko, Hemidactylus frenatus, was captured in 1988 in the Port of Galveston. None have been observed since, and the specimen is considered to have been a stray, which did not establish a breeding population.)
Conservation & Other Threats
On Hawaii, this species has displaced native Mourning Geckos and Stump-toed Geckos throughout the islands. It is also known to feed on small Mourning Geckos and other species. The Common House Gecko has only been known from Florida since 1993, and is confined to a few small urban locations, so it is unlikely to have much impact on natural environments at this time.
This species profile relies heavily on: Bartlett & Bartlett 1999; McKeown 1996; Meshaka et al. 2004