Scientific Name: Gehyra mutilata / Common Names: Stump-toed Gecko, Four Clawed Gecko
When grasped roughly, this lizard tries to escape with a very alarming escape mechanism: twisting violently, tearing loose large patches of skin, startling the captor and loosening his grip. The damaged areas quickly heal. Its most distinctive feature is the absence or near-absence of a claw on the inner digit of its fore and hind feet. It has a stout body and a row of enlarged scales running along the underside of the tail. They are gray to grayish brown by day, fading to whitish when active at night. The head and body are speckled with light and Four-clawed gecko’s flattened tail is constricted at the base, giving it a carrot-like shape. The finely granular skin is somewhat translucent. Adults are between 3.4 - 4.5 in. (8.5 - 11.5 cm) TL. Hatchlings are just under 2 in. (4 - 5 cm) TL.
Habitat and Range
This species is known from all the larger Hawaiian Islands as well as Lanai and Kahoolawe. Like many Hawaiian geckos, its natural distribution is tropical Asia, from India to New Guinea. It arrived in Hawaii before Europeans, either by stowing away with early Polynesians, or perhaps by rafting across the Pacific Ocean. It has managed to reach most islands of the tropical Pacific, as well as Madagascar, Japan, and the west coast of Mexico. It has also been found in San Diego, California. This species thrives in a variety of habitats, including both forests and urban areas.
Like many other geckos, Four-clawed geckos easily lose their tails, which later regrow. It is an agile climber, and hunts insects and other arthropods at night. It retreats to the leaf axils of palms and other crevices by day. Females lay pairs of round hard-shelled eggs that stick tightly to the substrate.
This gecko’s most distinguishing feature is the lack of a claw on the inner toes of its feet. Indopacific Tree Geckos and Mourning Geckos are smaller. The Indopacific Tree Gecko is very slender with a rudimentary innermost toe on the forefoot. The Mourning Gecko is distinguished from other geckos by a dark line between eyes, another extending from the tip of the snout through the eye and onto the neck. House Geckos have larger heads, and their toepads extend to the base of the toe. Tokay Geckos are much larger and distinctly colored, whereas the Day Geckos are diurnal, green in color and have round pupils.
Conservation & Other Threats
Before Common House Geckos arrived on Hawaii, this species was common both around houses and in forests. House geckos have largely displaced Four-clawed Geckos around humans, especially near building lights.
This species profile relies heavily on: McKeown 1996; Zug 1991