Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Reptiles & amphibians

Moorish gecko (Tarentola mauritanica)

Description

The Moorish gecko is one of the most common and wide distributed reptile species, and also the largest of its kind in Europe. It has a spiky look due to the bumps across its body, also known as tubercles. The usual colour is slightly brownish, greyish or whitish, with the underside either white or yellowish. Meanwhile, the dark bands on the tail are consistent. The Moorish gecko can change its back colour for camouflage from predators. There is no difference in the colour between males and females; the only variation between the two genders only consists on the size, which is bigger in the males. Its eyes are greyish, with very thin and vertical pupils. Tail and body share the same length, and the overall body size can go from 4.5 to 8.5cm. The common gecko is mainly nocturnal, but it still leaves its shelter during the day to get sunlight to balance its body temperature. Male geckos display a territorial behaviour during the mating season and loudly call the females. Common wall geckos do not lay all the eggs at once, but instead they lay two or three clutches with a maximum of two eggs per time, usually in a sheltered place (e.g. under a rock)., and the eggs usually hatch 14 weeks later.

Habitat

The Moorish gecko has a widespread range in the Northern hemisphere. It covers a significant portion of the Mediterranean, going from Spain to Greece, including all the islands in this area. It also covers a broad part of North Africa, from Morocco to the NW Western Sahara. This species has been artificially introduced in the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, more specifically in the USA, Uruguay and Argentina. The Moorish gecko occupies many different kinds of habitat. It is more likely to be found in warm, coastal areas, but it also inhabits inland spaces and high elevations. It favours rocky cliffs, mountains, and trees. Due to its great adaptation, it also lives easily in urban environments, such as cities, houses and ruins.

Diet

The diet of the Moorish gecko consists mainly of arthropods, however it changes depending on the environment surrounding. In its natural habitat, the gecko preys upon spiders, caterpillars, and beetles.

Protection Status

This species is listed as “Least concern” by IUCN Red list.

Interesting Fact

This gecko species is able to lose its tail, and develop a new one, when attacked by a predator. The Moorish gecko has very little, invisible to the human eye, suction pads on its toes, that allow it to climb even on the most difficult surfaces, such as walls and ceilings.

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