|Florida Lizards: Gecko's|
Geckos are primarily tropical lizards that are mostly nocturnal or
crepuscular, meaning to be active around sunset and sunrise. This is
when rocks and walls are still warm from the heat of the sun. The name
is imitative of the cry of a particular species. The skin of some geckos
is covered with small tubercles that look like pimples. Geckos are very
quick to autotomize, or drop off, their tails. Most species of gecko are
quite shy, darting quickly for cover as soon as they see a person
approaching. Most geckos do not have eyelids. Like the snakes, the eyes
of geckos are covered with transparent scales. The gecko keeps this
transparent scale clean by wiping it with his tongue. Most geckos have
extremely fine ridges and bristles on the bottom of their toes. This
feature allows them to cling easily to smooth vertical surfaces, such as
Ashy Gecko- The Cuban Ashy Gecko is the largest of the North American "dwarf geckos," although it only reaches 2.75 inches in total length. The ashy geckos head, body, tail and legs are covered with a network of tiny salt and pepper spots on a dark gray-brown background. Like many geckos, the ashy gecko can be paler at night. Juveniles are strikingly different, with bold black cross bands on the head and body over a greenish gray color and a reddish tail. The ashy gecko has smooth granular scales along the back, with a small spine-like scale over each eye. Native to Cuban and Hispaniola, the ashy gecko has been known from the Florida Keys since the 1920's. Reportedly common in early years, its numbers have dwindled, and they are uncommon today. Ashy Geckos frequent trees, buildings, vacant lots and stands of Australian pine.
House Gecko- 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. 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.
Yellow-Headed Gecko- Yellow-headed Geckos are introduced to the Florida Keys and the Miami area. They are native to the West Indies and Cuba and are also found in Central and South America. They are common on buildings and around rock and rubble piles. Males with their unmistakable yellowish heads and dark blue to black bodies can often be seen clinging to the underside of low horizontal branches. Females are mottled grayish lizards often with a light collar line. Basking Yellow-headed Geckos are dark brown to black, but fade to gray or blue-green (males) at cooling nighttime temperatures. Yellow-headed Geckos have round pupils and lack toepads. In both sexes, yellow-headed gecko tails have white tips. Adult yellow headed geckos are only 2.5 - 3.5 inched long.
Tokay Gecko- With a length of around 14 inches, tokay geckoes are one of the largest geckoes alive today . The body of a tokay is cylindrical, squat, and somewhat flattened on the upper side. The limbs are well-defined and uniformly developed. The head is large and set off from the neck, and they have large, prominent eyes with vertically-slit pupils. The eyelids of these animals are fused together and transparent. They also have a pineal body or “third eye” on the top of their head, which is believed to coordinate their activity with light conditions. The ears can be seen on the outside of the gecko as small holes on both sides of the head. It is possible to see straight through the head of these geckoes through their ears. Their toes that have fine setae on them, allowing them to cling to vertical and over-hanging surfaces and move at fast speeds. Tokay geckoes eat pests such as cockroaches and locusts. In parts of Southeast Asia, tokay geckoes are regarded as harbingers of luck, good fortune, and fertility.
Reef Gecko- The Florida Reef Gecko is a tiny round-bodied gecko with relatively large, overlapping, and strongly keeled scales on the back. Perhaps the smallest lizard in the United States, it is only 2 - 2.25 inches in total length. The reef geckos body and tail are covered with dark spots on a brown background. Females have three broad longitudinal dark stripes on the head, and may or may not have a pair of white, dark edged "eye spots" on the shoulder. The body is covered with large overlapping keeled scales. The only native gecko found east of the Mississippi River, Florida Reef Geckos are known from the Dry Tortugas, Florida Keys and extreme southeastern mainland Florida. These tiny lizards are crepuscular, or active at dusk, when they can sometimes be seen scurrying between holes, debris or other cover on the ground. They feed on tiny insects and spiders.
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