It’s rare for me to spot a critter I’ve never seen before. As a kid, I was like Arliss from Old Yeller. I chased butterflies through the pasture, green anoles up tress, and crawfish in the creek. I once chased my mama straight into the pier pilings with a sand fiddler (I’m so sorry, mama!). If I know anything, I know my native flora and fauna. That’s why it surprised me to find a lizard on my porch that I didn’t recognize.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, brushing it off as a kid down the street letting loose a pet lizard. But then I saw another and another. Just last week, I saw three crawling up the house towards my porch light. Right then and there, I realized North Carolina has gained a new inhabitant.
Turns out, I was right. It’s Mediterranean house geckos that have taken up residence around our house. Wait, did you say Mediterranean? But I thought you live in North Carolina?! I do. Unbeknownst to me, the Mediterranean house gecko does too.
Ain’t he cute? Native to the Mediterranean region, people first observed his species in Florida back in 1910. They probably arrived as stowaways on cargo ships. In the 1950s, the creation of the interstate highway system allowed the species to establish in new areas. Since its initial appearance in the United States, it has moved into 21 other states, including North Carolina.
Although technically an invasive species, no negative environmental impact has yet been observed from the Mediterranean house geckos presence. Harmless to humans and pets, the insectivores thrive in our settlements. Typically spotted hanging out near porch lights in the evening, they feast on the bugs attracted to the light. In a pinch, they’ll munch on waterbugs and crickets too.
I, for one, am thankful for the services of the Mediterranean house geckos. As long as they don’t displace or decimate native populations, I welcome all cute critters that eat waterbugs. What about you? Have you noticed any of these cuties around your house?
**The information contained in the Invasion of the Mediterranean House Gecko post came from several websites including, tuscaloosanews.com, The University of Texas at Austin Biodiversity Center, and GeckoWatch.