What is this pinkish, translucent lizard that gathers on our walls at night? It's Hemidactylus turcicus, more commonly
known as the Turkish or Mediterranean gecko.
Mediterranean geckos are not a native species to Arizona. They are an old-world species, their natural range spanning from
southern Europe to northern Africa. They were most likely introduced when humans unknowingly carried them along with cargo
in ships. They are scattered across the southern United States from Florida all the way to California.
They differ from our native reptile species in several ways: they have sticky toe pads, vertical pupils, and no eyelids--this
is why you will occasionally see them swipe their tongue over their eyes. Mediterranean geckos are also nocturnal; they rest
during the hottest part of the day and come out at night, gathering around lights where they feast upon the insects attracted
to them. During the day they hide in cracks, crevices, and under tree bark. They're also capable of vocalizations, unlike
most native reptile species; the chirps, squeaks, and clicks you can sometimes hear in the early mornings that sound like
they're coming from inside your porch roof are coming from the geckos.
Sticky toe-pads enable the gecko to scale vertical surfaces, and even walk upside down.
The geckos are not dangerous. They're not venomous and they do no damage to our homes. I've had several geckos in my house,
and while they're difficult to catch, I've never even had one bite me while it was in my hands. I should mention, however,
that grabbing a gecko by its tail does nothing but leave you with a wriggling gecko tail in your hand; their tails detach
as a way of escaping from predators who try to catch them. I've found it's much easier to shoo the gecko into a glass, cover
the glass with your hand or a piece of paper, and get them back outside that way.
You can see that this gecko's tail is smaller than the others; it's most likely growing back after being grabbed by a predator
(or by me, before I learned not to try to catch them by the tail when they get in my house)